My First Time Spatchcocking

I had wanted to try spatchcocking a chicken for years, but I was too scared too. It seemed like it was everywhere though, on every cooking show I turned on, in ever magazine I bought. It was going to be so juicy, it was going to cook so much faster, it was going to be so easy to make.

Every other experience I have had in life with that many promising promises has led me to learn one thing though: too good to be true.

Although… this nagging thought kept poking though the back of my mind. There’s always an exception to every rule…

And so, I finally bit the bullet and spatchcocked a chicken. Thanks goes to “Mad Hungry” by Lucinda Scala Quinn. I finally picked up the book that I’d wanted for ages and the picture looked too good not to try.

My quick explanation of  a spatchcocked chicken is this: a chicken with its backbone cut out, that it then flattened into a “butterflied” whole chicken.

I, admittedly, didn’t know where to start. So I started where I always did in this situations: Martha Stwearts Cooking School. I felt a lot better when I saw there were only 2 photos needed to describe the process.


First off, cut the backbone out of your chicken with a pair of kitchen sheers (nice, heavy duty scissors). Don’t be worried about this part. It was easy, like, SO much easier then I thought it would be, and not nearly as gross sounding as I had worked myself up to expect (now a really sound like some sort of a pansy).


Flip your bird over.


Put your hand over the breastbone and push down. Hard. You’ll actually probably need two hands for this, but you know, for photos sake…


Beautiful! A spatchcocked chicken is your’s, you did it, and it was easy (I could hardly contain myself at this point, so full of pride I felt over this smallest of things). Don’t forget to generously salt and pepper the whole chicken.


Now, get the biggest oven safe skillet that you have, and crank it up over high heat.


Add 1 tablespoon of each, butter and extra virgin olive oil.


Put the chicken in the skillet, skin side down, and let it cook for 3 minutes. Do not touch the chicken during this time, just let that baby brown.


Three minutes are up. Turn off the heat and flip over the bird. See, we were just getting the skin a little crispy, and adding a little flavour to the bottom of the pan for later. Throw in some of your favorite herbs and lemon (I’m a rosemary and lemon person, personally. Toss it in the oven now.


45 minutes later and we’re looking at this (that’s right, 45 minutes, totally hands off, brillant)


Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Skin: super crispy   Meat: tender and juicy   Spatchcock: win


Here are a couple of quick options to drizzle over the meat when you serve: First a note on them though. When I first made and tasted them, I thought they were horrible and tasteless, but Bo and I both really liked them once they were drizzled over the chicken. Sometimes you’ve just gotta trust and see it through. Lesson learned.

For a pan sauce, get some garlic cloves peeled and crushed. Toss them into the now empty pan, along with some butter and fresh lemon juice. Swirl around with the pan juices.


For another quick and easy drizzle, mix together some olive oil, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes.


Here’s your printable:

My First Time Spatchcocking

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serving Size: 4

My First Time Spatchcocking


  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4lbs, backbone removed.
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • fresh rosemany sprigs
  • 1 lemon, sliced thinly
  • 3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed


  1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF.
  2. Spatchcock your chicken by cutting the backbone out with a pair of kitchen shears. Flip the chicken over and spread out the legs, skin side up, then flatten by pressing down on the breast bone until it pops down. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a large, oven safe skillet over high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter together with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook for 3 minutes without moving. Turn off the heat and carefully flip the chicken over, trying not to tear the skin.
  4. Add the rosemary and lemon slices, and place in the oven. Cook for 40 to 45 minutes, until a thermometer reads 165ºF and juices run clear.
  5. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving up.
  6. To make the oil sauce: mix 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and 2 cloves of smashed garlic together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the sliced chicken just before serving.
  7. To make the pan sauce: Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice,1 tablespoon of butter, and 3 cloves of crushed garlic to the chicken-less pan (chicken, rosemary, and lemon slices having been removed, just the juices remain). Pour in any of the juice that has accumulated on the cutting board beneath the resting chicken. Swirl together over high heat for a minute or two, until well combined. Drizzle over the cut up chicken just before serving.


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