Ready to change the roast chicken game? This spatchcock chicken recipe is all you need! A few tips make all the difference in this succulent, juicy chicken with extra crispy skin.  Be sure to read on and watch the video below.

Crispy spatchcock chicken in cast iron skillet

Whole roast chicken is one of those comforting meals every home cook should be able to make.  But I'll be first to admit, when it comes to roasting the entire bird whole, achieving perfection can be tricky.

One of the common problems people run into with whole roasted chicken is that, often times, the chicken breasts dry out before the legs come up to appropriate temperature. While you can just cut up a whole chicken before roasting like I do in my chicken marbella recipe, there's another answer to this pesky problem: Spatchcock!

What is Spatchcock Chicken? 

To spatchcock or butterfly chicken means to split a whole chicken by removing its backbone so that it is flattened. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, but it really is easy enough to butterfly a chicken yourself.

butterflied chicken on cutting board

Why do you spatchcock a chicken?

Whether you're going for a grilled whole chicken or roast chicken, being able to lay the bird flat directly on the grill or in your baking dish allows it to cook more effeciently and evenly. Plus, you get beautifully crispy skins while the meat remains nice and juicy.

How do you spatchcock a whole chicken?

I find that a pair of good kitchen shears is the right and easiest tool to use for this job. Here is what you do:

  1. Remove the neck and gizzards.

    Cutting from the left side of the spine of a whole chicken
  2. Remove the backbone. Start from the tail of the chicken and cut along the right side of the backbone from the tail to the neck. Then do the same on the left side of the backbone.

    You can discard or freeze the backbone to make chicken stock later on.

    Whole chicken with spine cut out and laid on cutting board
  3. Break the breastbone by pressing down on the wings to flatten the bird.

    Hands pressing down on both sides of whole chicken to spread the chicken out
  4. Trim the wings. Flip the bird over and remove the wings (this is optional but especially helpful when grilling and you need to flip the bird on it's back).

    Cutting off the wings on whole chicken

I promised you succulent and crispy roast chicken, so here are few tips that make all the difference...

Tips for crispiest roasted chicken

  • Butterfly the chicken. With a flattened chicken, as I mentioned earlier, we have more surface area foro browning.
  • Salt your bird in advance. In Salt Fat Acid Heat, Samin Nosrat shares one of the simplest tricks to attain a delightfully succulent, crispy-skinned bird. Her trick, in one word: SALT. And when it comes to whole chicken, salt early. Seasoning in advance (I do mine overnight) gives salt plenty of time to diffuse evenly throughout the bird, doing it's quiet work of flavoring and tenderizing.
  • Air chill the chicken. Once salted, another element that is equally important here is air. Chill your generously seasoned bird in the fridge uncovered and with the skin side up.The constantly circulating air dries out the skin. The bird will look, as Samin puts it, "scarily fossilized." But, the dried-out skin cooks up golden and glassy...the crispiest you'll ever have!
crispy roasted chicken with tomatoes and olives in a skillet

How to cook spatchcock chicken in the oven?

  • Season the chicken. To flavor my chicken, salt is the first step, as I mentioned above. And whenever possible, I salt it the night before and leave it to chill in the fridge uncovered. One hour before roasting, apply a simple spice rub. This time, I went for warm Eastern Mediterranean spices and incorporated allspice, paprika, and nutmeg along with a little bit of garlic powder and black pepper.

    The biggest trick when flavoring the chicken is to make sure to rub the spice mixture all over, and especially underneath the skin. Lift the skin up and get under it with some of the spice mixture.
  • Roast spatchock chicken in the oven at 425 degrees F.  While a whole roast chicken can take 1 ½ hours or more to cook through, this butterflied chicken will roast in 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. With my oven, it takes about 1 hour, and I also like my chicken skins on the darker side of gold (rotate the pan or skillet for even color).
Oven Roasted Satchcock Chicken with Tomatoes, onions and Olives on the side

How do you know when a spatchcock chicken is done?

Using a meat thermometer, inserted in the thickest part, you should be able to determine the chicken is ready when its internal temperature registers 165 degrees F.

What to Serve Along?

I had a few Campari tomatoes and onions to use up this time, so I cooked those in the oven to serve along.

But here are many sides that would be great next to this oven roasted chicken like: Quick roasted tomatoes, Greek potatoesItalian roasted vegetables, Greek lemon rice.

For salads, the options are plenty! Radicchio Salad, Mediterranean Orzo Salad, Mediterranean 3-bean salad or Fattoush are a few ideas.

I'll just say this too, a drizzle of my homemade tahini sauce on top of this roast chicken is just magic!

More Cozy Recipes to Try:

Greek Chicken and Potatoes

Cornish Hen Recipe with Mediterranean Garlic Spice Rub

Crock Pot Italian Beef Stew

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4.93 from 69 votes

Crispy Spatchcock Chicken Recipe

The Mediterranean Dish
Crispy spatchcock chicken in cast iron skillet
Succulent and juicy spatchcock chicken with the crispiest skin ever! All thanks to a few tricks including salting the chicken in advance and air-chilling in the fridge. You'll love the Eastern Mediterranean flavors here, but you can also change them up! Be sure to watch the video and check out out my step-by-step tutorial in the post
Prep – 15 mins
Cook – 50 mins
Rest in refrigerator (if you have the time) 12 hrs
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 5 up to
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

Optional 

  • 8 Campari tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet onion (peeled and quartered)
  • Handful green olives

Instructions
 

  • Spatchcock (butterfly) the chicken. Place the chicken on a cutting board with its backbone facing you. Using a pair of sturdy kitchen shears, cut out the backbone by cutting along both sides of the spine. Remove the backbone. Push down on the breasts to flatten the chicken. Flip the bird over and remove the wing tips. (See the step by step tutorial in the post showing how to spatchock chicken.) You can also ask your butcher to do it.
  • Salt the chicken. (If you have time, do this the night before). Place the chicken, breast side up, on a large cutting board. Push down on the breastbone. Generously season with kosher salt on both sides. Place the chicken, breast side up, on a shallow roasting dish. Refrigerate uncovered (you can leave it in the fridge to airchill for a couple of hours or overnight).
  • Bring the chicken to room temperature. One hour before you plan to roast it, pull the chicken out of the fridge and set at room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fand adjust an oven rack right in the middle.
  • In a small dish, mix the spices. Season the chicken on both sides. Pull the skin up, and apply some of the spice mix underneath as well.
  • Sear the chicken. In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, add just enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the bottom. Heat over medium-high. As soon as the oil is shimmering, add the chicken, breast side down. Brown for 6-8 minutes, then flip over and brown on the other side another 5 minutes or so.
  • Roast the chicken. Transfer the cast iron skillet to the heated oven middle rack. Slide it all way to the back of the oven, with the handle of the pan facing left.
  • After 20 minutes, using oven mitts, carefully, turn the skillet 180 degrees so that the handle is now pointing right. Push to the back of the oven again. Roast for another 30 to 45 minutes, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear or until the chicken is done and its internal temperature registers 165 degrees F.
  • Option to Add Vegetables. If you like, about 20 minutes or so before you pull the chicken out of the oven, add the tomato and onion to a small roasting dish. Toss with olive oil and salt. Place on the lower rack of the oven to roast. When done, add a handful of spicy green olives to the roasted veggies and serve with the chicken. (see more ideas for what to serve along)
  • Let rest before carving. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Video

Notes

Nutrition

Calories: 404.7kcalCarbohydrates: 6.9gProtein: 33.3gSaturated Fat: 7.5gCholesterol: 130.6mgFiber: 1.1g
Tried this recipe?

*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2017 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    First time making this recipe but not the last. The chicken cooked perfectly, and the spice rub made it delicious. I served with roasted fennel, cauliflower, onions and radishes. The whole meal was perfect. Thanks!!

  2. 5 stars
    My first spatchcock but not my last! Added some preserved lemon and green olives to tomatoes and off we went to Nights in Tunisia!

  3. I'm planning to make this but I see what looks like slivered nuts of some kind in the pictures that aren't called out in the recipe. What nut are they? Thank you.

    1. Hi, Mike. The nuts used here were pine nuts and sliced almonds. Totally optional. I just added them as I had some on hand to use up. Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    Would this work on the barbecue using the same method of turning the pan one way and then the other. Would it be direct or indirect heat on the barbecue? Lid up or down?

  5. 5 stars
    My family LOVES this! I have made it 3 times since discovering your website. This time I added some Harissa (ordered from your page 😉 )and it was once again a hit. I forgot to toss in some tomatoes this time, so I just made a salad and used some Greek dressing from a local small Greek restaurant. (I did tomatoes and onions as a side with the lemony chicken and potatoes from your site the other night.) A yummy crusty bread was perfect for sopping up juices. Salting early and letting it sitting in fridge as well as browning first really makes a huge difference and is worth the time.

  6. 5 stars
    The first time I tried this I strayed from the recipe a bit by adding sliced cherry tomatoes to the onions and olives and using that as a bed to lay the chicken on as it cooked - similar to your one pan recipes. Once served, my family dug into it before I had a chance to even try it and they asked me, "What glaze did you put on these vegetables?" I hadn't done anything other than add olive oil and salt, but when cooked all together a deliciously sweet glaze had begun to caramelize over the veggies! Definitely would recommend!

  7. I made it tonight ... it was super delicious. Love all your recipes !!! Wish I could send you a picture!