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.
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
- Ingredients for Roast Spatchcock Chicken
- How to Make this Roast Spatchcock Chicken Recipe
- How to Spatchcock Chicken
- How to Carve Chicken
- What to Serve with Roast Spatchcock Chicken
- You'll Also Like: More Roast Chicken Recipes to Try
- Greek Honey - Thyme, Forest & Wild Herbs
- Roast Chicken With Citrus & Honey Recipe
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Carve (see tips below) and serve. Serve hot, with a spoonful of pan juices over top.
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).
- 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.
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.
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Roast Chicken With Citrus & Honey
For the Seasoning
For the Chicken
- 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into wedges
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1 whole chicken (about 5 pounds)
- 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.
- 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.