How to Spatchcock (Butterfly) a Chicken

This method will work with any size bird, even turkeys.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 or more servings, depending on the size of the bird


  • 1 whole chicken

Special equipment:


1 Lay the chicken breast side down on a cutting surface. You should be looking down at the chicken's backbone.

2 Using kitchen shears, cut out the backbone. You can start from the top of the chicken or the bottom. Cut slightly to one side of the backbone, so that you're cutting through rib bones and not the backbone itself.

If it feels very difficult to cut through the bones, try repositioning your scissors slightly further away from the backbone.

Cut all the way up one side of the backbone and then all the way up the other. Remove the backbone and set it aside.

How to Butterfly a Chicken cutting out the backbone  Butterfly chicken Using chicken shears to cut along the backbone

3 Use your hands to open up the bird slightly, then flip it breast side up. Now the breast of the chicken should be facing up. Fold the legs so they are facing inward and the majority of the meat is facing up.

Spatchcock chicken recipe flip the bird breasts side up

4 Flatten the chicken: Use the palm of your hand and press down firmly over the breast bone.

The aim is to flatten the chicken so the breast meat and the thighs are at roughly the same level. You will likely hear some crunching (though it's ok if you don't). You can also pick up the chicken and use your hands if that feels more comfortable.

How to spatchcock a chicken Exerting force to flatten and butterfly Chicken

5 Tuck the wings under (optional): The tips of the tiny, thin wings tend to cook quickly and burn during cooking. Tuck them behind the body of the chicken to help slow down their cooking and keep the tips protected.

Roast spatchcock chicken tuck the wings under the chicken Spatchcock chicken recipe tucking the wings under for Crispier Skin

5 Roast or grill the chicken. If roasting, place the chicken in a roasting pan, rub it all over with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 450°F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the chicken registers at least 165°F in both the thighs and the breast.

Butterfly chicken Spatchcocked Chicken in baking Dish How to spatchcock a chicken Evenly cooked Spatchcocked Chicken