How to Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock Chicken on the grill

Spatchcock chicken is a technique used in cooking where the backbone of the chicken is removed and the bird is flattened resulting in even cooking and crispier skin. This method is also known as butterflying. Spatchcocking allows for quicker cooking times and also ensures that both white meat and dark meat cook evenly. It is a popular technique among chefs as it allows for greater control over doneness, resulting in juicier meat with crispy skin. A variety of seasonings can be added before grilling or roasting, making spatchcock chicken a versatile option for any cuisine. Whether seasoned with herbs or spices, this method of preparation results in delicious, tender, and juicy chicken every time.

Why Spatchcock?

Roasting a whole bird can be a lengthy process. If you want tender juicy meat when roasting there are several more steps to take. It’s not a “set it and forget it” process. Some people use injections, some baste, and others are ok with dry ordinary meat.

Spatchcocking a chicken can cut your total cook time in half, you can season how you desire, and it’s almost (besides checking temp) the “set it and forget it” process.

Faster, juicier, and crispier...just seems like an easy yes, yes, and yes!! Now, here at Lane’s, we are going to opt for smoking, because why not? Enjoy a beverage and make your side dishes while your bird cooks. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?  

The Spatchcock Method

  • Remove the Backbone - Place the chicken breast side down. Do you want to start at the neck or tail? Your choice, but find what works for you. Using a sharp pair of kitchen shears cut down the side of the backbone. Don’t be afraid of the sounds. There will be some cracking and popping, all of that is normal.
  • Break the Breast Bone - Then you can cut/pop breast bone applying pressure allowing the bird to lay flat. Just pretend you're giving it CPR, but one hard push until you feel the breast bone break.
  • Position the Bird - Flip the bird over bones down breast up(legs pointing at you) it should lay flat on your cutting board. Sometimes the legs will get out of place, just make sure they are angled towards each other flat. Tuck wings behind the shoulder, they might fight back just keep going - they will stay.  

Advanced Tips

Now, if you want to be a little more advanced you can use a knife to spatchcock which will allow you to remove the ribcage if you do not want to cut through it. Take your boning knife (start at an end) and cut along the backbone. When you get to the ribcage use your knife to cut away the breast. Follow the ribs around until you return to the backbone, then finish your cut. You should have the spine with the ribs still attached. If you do not want to remove the ribcage then you can cut through it with your knife just as if you were using shears. (You can use the backbone/backbone and ribcage to make great chicken stock. Follow This guide for making stock/broth) 


Once we have our chicken spatchcocked we like to (carefully) create a gap between the skin/meat on the breast and thigh sections. We season and put a pad of butter in those gaps, then we season the skin. We love our Spellbound or Signature rub for these cooks. However, this is where you get to experiment and have fun. After you’re done seasoning your bird (don't forget to season both sides) put it on the smoker at 275 breast side up and walk away. Around 45min we would suggest checking your internal temp. You can pull it around 155-60 and let it rest for 10-15min. It will continue to cook reaching the 165 internal target temperature during the resting period.

Spatchcock Times and Temps

Chicken Temp Weight Time Spatchcock Internal Temp
Roast 375 3.5 - 4lbs 90min 45min 165
4.5 - 5lbs 60min 60min 165
Smoke 275 3.5 - 4lbs 2hrs 60min 165
  4.5 - 5lbs 3hrs 90min 165

1 comment

Mike Bauer

Mike Bauer

Great Thanks!

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