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+ servings
spatchcocked chicken on the grill
5 from 1 vote

How to Spatchcock Chicken

A step by step guide on how to spatchcock chicken (or butterflying) when grilling, smoking, or roasting. The same technique also works for turkey or other poultry.
Prep Time5 mins
Active Time15 mins
Course: Entree, Holiday
Cuisine: Christmas, Thanksgiving
Keyword: butterflying chicken, how to spatchcock, how to spatchcock chicken, spatchcock chicken
Yield: 1 spatchcocked chicken
Cost: $20.00


  • Boning Knife
  • Large Cutting Board


  • 1 whole roaster chicken


  • Place Chicken on Cutting Board: Place the whole chicken on a large cutting board.
  • Prep the Chicken: Stand the the chicken upright so the breast side is facing AWAY from you. You’ll be looking at the backbone.
    Step 1 in how to spatchcock a chicken
  • Remove the Backbone: Using a sharp boning knife or culinary scissors make a small cut on one side of the backbone. You are testing to see where the cartilage and bone meet so you can make heavy downward strokes to cut through the cartilage. Once you make about a 1-inch cut, continue cutting downward along the backbone until you have cut all the way through. If you run into bone, just continue to move the knife slightly further from the backbone until it hits cartilage again.
    Step 2 in how to spatchcock a chicken
  • Repeat: Repeat on the other side of the backbone. Use the backbone for stock or discard.
    Step 4 in spatchcocking a chicken
  • Flatten: Place the bird, breast side down, and press down on each side to flatten. Flip the bird so it’s now breast side up, and press again (you’ll hear bones cracking) until the chicken is flat. Or you can make a cut into the breastbone to make flattening easier. Although pressing firmly works just as well.
    step 6 in how to spatchcock a chicken, flattening it
  • Remove the wing tips or simply tuck the wingtips under the bird and prepare to season.



Equipment and Prep:
  • A large cutting board is important to have so you have room to move the poultry.
  • A good boning knife is easier for spatchcocking because you can move it through the cartilage easier than scissors. But culinary scissors also work if you have them.
  • Be sure the neck and giblets are removed and the chicken is dry to make it easier to cut up. The neck, backbone, and giblets are great ingredients to add to homemade stock.
  • Gloves make it easier to handle the chicken and is better for food safety. Discard gloves after use.
Chef’s Tip: Place a dry towel under the cutting board to prevent it from moving around while you spatchcock the chicken.
Recipes Using Spatchcock Method: See the post for our favorite recipes using the spatchcock method for chicken or turkey.