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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4.92 from 71 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
    We just had this for an early dinner. WOW! This is a great recipe. Very easy to make and so delicious. My chicken came out juicy, and crispy with the lovely taste of the spices.

    Thank you for a recipe I will make many more times.

  2. 5 stars
    I buy a Tuscan or Greek seasoned spatchcocked chicken which saves time. This recipe is excellent and easy. It comes out perfectly every time.

  3. Made this for Christmas Eve dinner (just the two of us, due to Covid). Had this with roasted potatoes and balsamic glazed brussel sprouts. WOW!!! Will be making this again and again, I use 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt - will cut down to 1 teaspoon next time. I've made Thomas Keller's spatchcocked roasted chiken several times before, and it was nice to add the Mediterranean twist. Searing it in a cast iron skillet that then went into the oven was great - heat retention plus! Paired this with Tattinger champage (why not? - tis the season!) and it was quite the magical meal. Thank you and Happy Holidays, Suzy!

    PS: Roasted chicken leave a lot of residue in the oven - does anyone have a solution?

  4. This chicken comes out amazing. It became one of the meal I make on regular basis and the family just loves it. Thank you!

  5. 5 stars
    This was perfect! I followed your directions exactly re: refrigerating the salted bird without cover overnight. The spice rub was wonderful, and the crispy skin was a huge hit! This recipe is a keeper!

  6. Wonderful flavors. We usually make Thomas Keller's version of spatchcocked chicken - it's nice to have your recipe to add to the mix. It's just as tender, with the added benefit of the flavorful spices. We had some leftover of the spice mix, which we used to pan fry some chicken tenders with the following week - SCORE! Nice to be able to use the spices for another delicious meal. LOVE your recipes - thank you!

  7. 5 stars
    I didn't make this particular recipe, I watched your video on how to spatchcock the chicken and used your lemon chicken recipe as a marinade. We cooked the chicken on the gas grill and it was AMAZING. The color was beautiful, the flavor was awesome. I've made your lemon chicken recipe many times but with boneless thighs. I make triple batches of the seasoning so I always have it on hand. Thanks for so many great recipes.

  8. 5 stars
    Great timing to have stumbled upon this recipe. I've been thinking about spatchcoked turkey this year for thanksgiving, but wanted to "practice" a bit first. Not only does this chicken sound so tasty, but it's also going to be the ideal practice situation. Thank you!!!

  9. 5 stars
    What a beautiful dish and such a helpful tip to roast a chicken! Thank you for making busy dinner times a bit easier!

  10. 5 stars
    I have heard of spatchcocked chicken but have never had it or tried making it. I love how colorful you made it with the tomatoes.

  11. 5 stars
    This was our dinner last night and it was incredible! I have always been intimidated to make this but it was easy! Thank you!