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Quick-Cooking Spatchcock Chicken Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 • 2 min read

Spatchcocking is a simple technique for cooking a whole chicken that yields crispy skin and evenly cooked, juicy meat.



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What Is a Spatchcocked Chicken?

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is a method of preparing a whole chicken that involves removing the backbone and breaking the breastbone of the chicken.

Spatchcocking ensures that a whole chicken cooks evenly. Since different parts of the chicken cook at different rates, whole roast chicken often ends up with overcooked chicken breast meat and undercooked dark meat. A spatchcocked chicken, on the older hand, stays juicy because the thighs are exposed to more heat than usual. Spatchcocking also exposes more of the skin to heat, which allows it to get extra crispy.

Simple Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
3 hr 10 min
Cook Time
50 min


  • 1 4-pound chicken
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  1. Spatchcock the chicken. Pat chicken dry with paper towels to make it easier to handle. Remove any giblets or water from the inside of the chicken. Set the chicken breast side down on a large cutting board, and remove the backbone with kitchen shears. Follow our step-by-step guide to spatchcocking a chicken here.
  2. Flip the chicken over. Using the palm of your hand, press firmly down on the center of the breastbone until it breaks. Then, massage the chicken to lie as flat as possible.
  3. Cover the wing tips with aluminum foil, or tuck them underneath the breasts. Place chicken skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Make the marinade. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper, and paprika.
  5. Gently slide a finger underneath the breast and thigh skin to create a pocket between the meat and the skin, being careful not to rip the chicken skin. Spoon some of the marinade under the chicken skin and drizzle the remaining marinade all over the chicken, rubbing to coat.
  6. Refrigerate marinated chicken, uncovered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  7. An hour before you plan to cook, bring the chicken to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 445 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. Bake chicken until the skin is golden brown, juices run clear, and an instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit, about 40–50 minutes. Let the chicken rest at room temperature, lightly tented under foil, 20 minutes.

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