This roasted spatchcock chicken recipe is hands-down the best way to cook a chicken, and it’s so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner.

Say goodbye to undercooked thighs and dried out chicken breast. If you want to make the best roasted chicken, you have to learn how to spatchcock one.

roasted chicken on a platter with fresh herbs and lemons

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What is a spatchcock chicken?

From what I gather, the term spatchcock is basically shorthand for “dispatch the cock”, meaning cutting open the chicken.

In modern day, it means to remove the backbone of the chicken and press if flat before cooking. This helps the chicken cook evenly and makes for quicker cooking chicken.

It’s on of my favorite ways to cook a whole chicken. It’s a great recipe for any time of the year, whether you’re looking for a simple weeknight meal or planning for a small Thanksgiving dinner.

seasoned raw chicken on a baking sheet

Here’s what you’ll need to make a butterflied chicken

Ingredients: I’ve used sliced onion, lemons and fresh herbs in this recipe. They definitely add flavor to the dish, but they are totally optional.

How to spatchcock a chicken

Cut out the backbone. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the chicken’s backbone. Try your best to cut between the joints, but you’ll definitely need to use some force.

Flatten the chicken. Turn the chicken over and press down on the breastbone until the chicken lays flat. The cavity opening should lay flat against your baking sheet and the legs should move to the sides.

Season liberally. Don’t be scared to really season your chickens. The little bit of seasoning used in this recipe goes a long way, but salt is necessary to bring out the flavors. Arrange the lemons and onion in your baking dish.

Then, place your chicken or chickens on top and arrange the fresh herbs on top. Bonus points if you put stuff seasoning, lemons or herbs under the skin of your chicken.

Roast the chicken. Put the chicken in the oven for 50 – 60 minutes. The skin should be a crispy, golden brown and the chicken should be close to 165˚F. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest before serving.

roasted spatchcock chicken on a baking sheet

FAQs and tips for making the best roasted chicken

How do you keep chicken from drying out in the oven?

Spatchcock it! If you butterfly your chicken, it will cook faster and more evenly, which will prevent it from drying out. If you’re having trouble keeping your chicken moist, you can cover the breast with foil for the first half of cooking and remove it after to crispy up the skin.

Is Spatchcock the same as butterfly?

Technically, the terms are interchangeable, but I find that, at least in the non-culinary world, the term butterfly is more often used to refer to individual cuts of meat, like a chicken breast or a steak. Spatchcock is definitely a term that only applies to a whole poultry.

What temperature does chicken need to be cooked to?

Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165˚F, or 74˚C, to prevent food borne illness such as salmonella. To prevent overcooking, I recommend removing the chicken at about 155-160˚F and letting it rest for about 10 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook during this time and reach a safe temperature. Always use a meat thermometer to be sure your chicken is safe to eat.

Complete your meal:

More chicken recipes you’ll love:


Roasted Spatchcock Chicken

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 chicken 1x
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 12 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Coarse salt & black pepper
  • Fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  2. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides the spine of the chicken through the rib bones to remove the backbone. Turn the chicken over and press down to flatten the breastbone.
  3. Arrange the sliced onion and lemons on a baking sheet. Place the chicken flat on top.
  4. Brush the chicken with olive oil and liberally season with onion powder, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Add fresh herbs, if desired.
  5. Bake the chicken for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Remove from oven and allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 381
  • Sugar: 3.8 g
  • Sodium: 112.9 mg
  • Fat: 25.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Fiber: 0.9 g
  • Protein: 29.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 115 mg

Keywords: easy, dairy free, gluten free, healthy, chicken

Last Updated on November 12, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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