Want to know how to spatchcock a chicken? Here’s how to do it like an expert for perfect roasted or baked chicken every time!

Spatchcock is a brilliant thing to do if you’re roasting poultry and let’s admit, it’s an all-around hilarious word.

It’s actually hilarious enough that I was once startled when I opened my mailbox—a few weeks post girls night—to find I’d ordered a golden nameplate necklace that says it. Let me say, I absolutely love it and sober me giggles knowing wine soaked me thought daytime me would get a laugh from it. No regrets.

What Does it Mean to Spatchcock a Chicken?

In the much more serious culinary sense, knowing how to spatchcock a chicken is a great cooking hack. It also could not be easier and it’s a really smart thing to try next time you’re baking or roasting chicken. Essentially, it means to remove the backbone from a bird, then opening it up like a book so it can lay flat while cooking.

Why would you do this? Every home cook needs this tip. It cuts down on your cooking time, helps keep the meat from drying out, it’s a dream if you’re a fan of sheet pan recipes, or like me, tend to roast things in the not-so-roomy toaster oven.

Step-By-Step: How to Spatchcock a Chicken

The method is about as simple as can be. Here’s how to spatchcock a chicken:

Get Ready

You’ll need paper towels, kitchen shears or a very sharp, a heavy chef’s knife and a cutting board. To be completely honest, this method can also require a bit of strength, so get those muscles ready.

Prep the Chicken

To begin, make sure your hands are clean and dry. Take anything like giblets out of the cavity of the bird. Set those aside to make dirty rice or dressing, or discard. Pat your bird down with a paper towel and throw out the paper towels.

Remove the Spine

Next, identify the spine. Hopefully it’s pretty obvious, but if not, it runs the length of the bird and is attached to the ribs. There isn’t any meat over it.

To remove the spine with kitchen shears, place the bird spine side up on a cutting board. Get the shears about ¼ inch out from the spine and with a bit of force, cut through the ribs from the head to bottom. Repeat that step on the other side of the spine.

Quick Tip

Definitely save that backbone to make chicken stock, either right away or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.

Flatten the Chicken

You should then arrange the bird skin-side up. Using your hands, spread it out until it is as flat as you can get it. You may need to smash down on the joint where the thighs meet the leg with the palm of your hand to help. 

Alternatively, you can prop the chicken up as if it’s sitting and use a sharp knife to cut down through the ribs on both sides of the backbone, then open the bird up.

Now you know how to spatchcock a chicken!

How to Cook Spatchcocked Chicken

Once your bird is spatchcocked, it’s ready be roasted on a parchment-lined sheet pan.

Try coating it with butter, then season with salt and pepper. Arranging on top of large, torn pieces of day-old bread mixed with olive oil or melted butter, sage, chopped celery, and onion. Or place it on top of a single layer of sliced and salted potatoes or any root vegetables.

The possibilities are endless, and this method works for all poultry. Maybe you’ll like it so much that next year you’ll even try it with the Thanksgiving turkey.

What to Serve With Spatchcocked Chicken

Spatchcocked chicken is perfect for pairing with Mashed Potatoes, Cauliflower Au Gratin, or simple Roasted Brussels Sprouts. If you have a roomy sheet pan, you can roast vegetables alongside the chicken as it cooks.

Favorite Chicken Recipes

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About Kasey Schwartz

Hi, I’m Kasey, Founder of All Things Mamma – where I am dishing up family favorite recipes that are easy to make with simple, everyday ingredients. Plus – tips and tricks for living your best life!

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