This spatchcock chicken recipe is a jazzed-up version of classic roast chicken, with succulent, crispy-skinned chicken bursting with sweet, garlicky, and citrusy flavor. 

roast spatchcock chicken on a bed of potato wedges and citrus pieces on a sheet pan with a fork surrounded by bowls of salt and pepper, sprigs of thyme and peeled clementine oranges.
Photo Credits: Elana Lepkowski

This spatchcock chicken recipe is inspired by the Greek Island of Crete, where exceptional honey, citrus, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil is produced in abundance. Just like our spiced roast chicken recipe, the chicken is spatchcocked. Also known as “butterflying,” this simple technique removes the chicken’s spine so the bird can lay flat as it roasts. This ensures the meat cooks quickly and evenly and stays juicy. It’s surprisingly easy and I’ll walk through it step-by-step!

The best part of this roast chicken recipe is that you do not need to marinate the chicken prior to baking. Just pour over the deliciously complex sauce and bake away. 

The citrus and honey give this roast chicken a lovely sweet and tart flavor, plus a savory hit from plenty of crushed garlic and oregano. As perfect as the roast chicken is, the sauce is the real star—it’s so good that you will want to mop up every last drop of the juices left in the pan.

This roast spatchcock chicken is an economical weeknight dinner or Sunday roast. And, if in the rare case there are leftovers (which I doubt), you can make chicken sandwiches for lunch the next day!

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Roast Spatchcock Chicken 
  2. How to Make this Roast Spatchcock Chicken Recipe
    1. Get Ready
    2. Roast the Chicken
  3. How to Spatchcock Chicken
  4. How to Carve Chicken
  5. What to Serve with Roast Spatchcock Chicken
  6. You'll Also Like: More Roast Chicken Recipes to Try
  7. Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs
  8. Roast Chicken With Citrus & Honey Recipe
ingredients for roast spatchcock chicken including a whole chicken, potatoes, clementine oranges, naval orange, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, dried thyme and dried oregano.


Ingredients for Roast Spatchcock Chicken 

This spatchcock chicken recipe uses a relatively short ingredient list to make a very juicy roast. Do not be tempted to decrease the amount of citrus! Each variety evokes its own unique taste which gives the chicken a vibrant and delicious flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Citrus: Mandarin, orange, and lemon juice give this dish both its brightness and tartness. It is a great combination, as oranges lend to a sweeter juice whereas the mandarin and lemons add a sour note. The acid in the citrus also helps tenderize the meat. 
  • Garlic: Adds a delicious savory flavor and contains enzymes that help tenderize the protein.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Adds exceptional flavor and helps keep the chicken moist. Learn all about cooking with olive oil in our guide, and find our favorite Mediterranean olive oils at our shop.
  • Honey: Any delicate honey you have on hand will work well, but Greek thyme honey is preferred. It is available at most European grocers, or you can order our favorite Alfa honey from Crete. Thyme honey is mild, adding a subtle sweetness. You do not want a very strong honey or it will be overpowering.
  • Salt: Not only seasons the meat, but also helps to dry out the skin so that it gets crispy as it roasts. 
  • Pepper: Freshly cracked pepper adds a depth of flavor.
  • Oregano: Dried wild oregano adds a bold flavor and strong aromatic quality to the meat. 
  • Chicken: Find a good quality whole bird, or you can substitute with pieces rather than the whole bird, adjusting the cooking time accordingly.
  • Thyme: Thyme accentuates the overall lemony flavor in this dish and adds freshness. 
close up of a piece of sliced roast spatchcock chicken next to a fork.


How to Make this Roast Spatchcock Chicken Recipe

Roasting chicken is quick and easy with this spatchcock chicken recipe. The amount of juice is enough to keep the chicken moist and full of flavor while it bakes. It will seem as though there is a lot of liquid, and there is, but this is where the flavor comes from, and what will prevent the chicken from drying out.


Get Ready

  • Get set up. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make the seasoning. Into a large bowl, juice 2 clementines, 1 orange, and 1 lemon. Keep the citrus skins as we’ll use them later. Add 2 minced garlic cloves, ½ cup of olive oil, ¼ cup of honey, 1 tablespoon of oregano, and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper and whisk to combine well.
  • Adjust the seasoning. Taste the juice—it should be sweet and a little over-seasoned at this stage. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Set aside.a citrus, honey, thyme and oregano sauce in a clear mixing bowl.
  • Prep the potatoes. Peel and slice 4-5 medium potatoes into wedges. Scatter them across the prepared baking sheet. Season with a big pinch each of salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Spatchcock the chicken. Remove the chicken’s backbone (see tips below), flip, and press down hard on the breastbone to flatten. Place, breast side up, on top of the potatoes.a raw spatchcocked chicken on a bed of raw potato wedges on a parchment lined sheet pan.
  • Dress the chicken and potatoes. Insert your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the bird. Pour some of the the citrus mixture under the skin and rub it into the meat. Pour the remaining liquid over top, ensuring the chicken is well coated. There will be a lot of liquid. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over the chicken. Tuck the juiced citrus skins around the potatoes.an uncooked spatchcock chicken on a bed of uncooked potato wedges and citrus pieces on a sheet pan.


Roast the Chicken

  • Bake the chicken. Bake for 30 minutes, then baste the chicken with the pan juices and allow to cook until chicken is golden and juices have evaporated by half, about 30 minutes more. The internal temperature at the thickest part of the thigh should read 165°F.roast spatchcock chicken on a bed of potato wedges and citrus pieces.
  • Carve (see tips below) and serve. Serve hot, with a spoonful of pan juices over top.a close up of a knife and fork cutting into the roast spatchcock chicken.


How to Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcocking chicken is a straightforward method involving the removal of the backbone and flattening of the bird. This promotes even and faster cooking. Unlike whole chicken, where the breast cooks faster than the thighs, spatchcocking prevents dryness in the breast meat by ensuring it cooks evenly alongside the thighs. Here's how to do it:

  • Get ready. On a large, sturdy cutting board, lay the chicken, breast side down, with its legs towards you. 
  • Remove the backbone. Locate the backbone running straight down the middle. Using kitchen scissors, cut along each side of the backbone down the entire length of the chicken (if you’d like, save the bone for making stock). a whole raw chicken in the process of being spatchcocked with a pair of kitchen shears.
  • Flatten the chicken. Flip the bird over and press down hard in the center with the heel and palm of your hand so the bird lays flat. You should hear a crack or two.


How to Carve Chicken

The process of carving spatchcock chicken is essentially the same method for carving any chicken. It can even be a bit easier since you’re working with a flatter surface. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Separate the legs and thighs. Use a sharp knife to cut through the skin and meat that connects the leg and thigh to the body. Gently pull the leg away from the body to expose the joint. You can pop out the joint by pressing on the back towards you, or use the knife to cut through it, separating the leg and thigh from the body. Repeat on the other side.
  • Separate the wings. Pop out the wing joints or use the knife to cut through them, separating the wing from the body. Repeat on the other side.
  • Carve the breast meat. Locate the center of the breastbone. This is the part you pressed down on earlier to flatten the chicken. Place the knife parallel to the breastbone and make a gentle cut along one side of it. Follow the contour of the breast, slicing the meat away from the bone. Repeat on the other side.
  • Slice the breast meat. Lay the breast halves on the cutting board with the skin side up. Slice the breast meat against the grain into thin, even slices. This helps to maintain tenderness and ensures each slice is easy to chew.
a piece of sliced roast spatchcock chicken with potato wedges and a salad on a plate next to a fork, sprigs of fresh thyme, and the sheet pan with the rest of the chicken and potato wedges.


What to Serve with Roast Spatchcock Chicken

This roast chicken with potatoes is a filling and nutritious meal all in one. You really don’t need any other sides, but a fresh crisp salad, like traditional Greek salad or Maroulosalata, is a great way to get the party started.

You'll Also Like: More Roast Chicken Recipes to Try

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Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs

Dress your chicken with the highest quality honey from the Greek island of Crete.

a jar of greek honey from the mediterranean dish.
4.89 from 9 votes

Roast Chicken With Citrus & Honey

photograph of author Ruth Bardis.Ruth Bardis
roast spatchcock chicken web story poster image.
This is a whole-roast chicken turned into a quick and easy sheet pan meal thanks to a simple technique: spatchcocking! The bird lays flat, allowing it to cook faster and more evenly. A flavorful citrus, honey, thyme, and oregano sauce keeps the bird juicy as it roasts. Though this recipe is easy enough for a weeknight, it’s certainly festive enough for a dinner party, perhaps with a crisp green salad on the side.
Prep – 10 minutes
Cook – 1 hour
Total – 1 hour 10 minutes
Cuisine:
Greek
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree, Entree/Poultry

Ingredients
  

For the Seasoning

  • 2 clementines
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

For the Chicken

  • 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)

Instructions
 

  • Get ready. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Make the seasoning. Juice the clementines, orange, and lemon into a large bowl. Keep the juiced citrus skins as we’ll use them later. Add the garlic, oil, honey, oregano, and thyme. Season generously with salt and pepper and whisk to combine well.
  • Adjust the seasoning. Taste the marinade—it should be sweet and a little over-seasoned at this stage. Add more salt or pepper if needed. Set aside.
  • Prep the potatoes. Scatter the potato wedges across the prepared baking sheet. Season with a big pinch each of salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  • Spatchcock the chicken. On a large, sturdy cutting board, lay the chicken breast-side down with its legs towards you. Locate the backbone running straight down the middle. Use kitchen scissors to remove the backbone of the bird. This will help it cook evenly. Start by cutting along each side of the bone down the entire length of the chicken (if you’d like, save the bone for making stock). Flip the bird over and press down hard in the center with the heel and palm of your hand so the bird lays flat. Place the chicken, breast side up and splayed out, on top of the potatoes.
  • Dress the chicken and potatoes. Insert your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the bird separating it a bit. Pour some of the citrus mixture under the skin and massage it into the breast and legs of the chicken. Pour the remaining liquid over top, ensuring the chicken is well coated. There will be a lot of liquid. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over the chicken. Tuck the juiced citrus skins in around the potatoes.
  • Bake the chicken. Bake for 30 minutes, then baste the chicken with the pan juices and allow to cook until chicken is golden and juices have evaporated by half, about 30 minutes more. The internal temperature at the largest part of the thigh should read 165°F.
  • Carve and serve. Serve hot, with a spoonful of pan juices over top.

Notes

  • You can prepare the whole dish a few hours in advance. Have everything assembled, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake. 
  • Roast chicken and potatoes can handle a lot of salt. Season generously to enhance the flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 615.6kcalCarbohydrates: 44.7gProtein: 27.3gFat: 37.4gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 21.1gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 95.2mgSodium: 99.4mgPotassium: 969.2mgFiber: 5gSugar: 17.5gVitamin A: 254.3IUVitamin C: 63.7mgCalcium: 71.1mgIron: 3.1mg
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Ruth Bardis is an international award-winning cookbook author, food stylist, publisher, and photographer passionate about all thing’s Greek food.  She was born in Australia to Greek parents. Her strong ethnic heritage and love of nourishing food facilitated her switch from fashion designing to cooking, photography, and writing. 
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Very delicious. Subbed wedged carrots and rutabaga in for the
    potatoes. Citrus sauce would be great on salmon or pork as well. My 3.5lbs chicken took closer to 50 mind to cook through which was a good thing b/c the veg were just crisp tender after that time.

    1. Hi Tina, Devin here from the Mediterranean Dish team. So happy to hear you loved this dish, and thank you for sharing your swaps and tweaks!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this sheet pan dinner, but with chicken thighs. It was so delicious and I can hardly wait to have leftovers tonight! I also used sweet potatoes which paired wonderfully with the citrus sweetness! So very good! Thanks, Suzy!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this yesterday. So easy to prep and delicious! The chicken is tender and so juicy. This will definitely go into the rotation. I think adding carrots and sweet potatoes would also be delicious.

  4. 4 stars
    looks very haven't tried yet , a tip the a small piece of foil and wrap tip of breast expose with no skin helps all moisture in