This easy recipe for spatchcock chicken is great for a midweek meal in the Spring and Summer, or for an alternative to a roast chicken for the weekend!
Simple summer supper
This simple chicken dish is ideal for a midweek meal in the summer, as it takes a lot less time to roast a whole chicken when you have spatchcocked it. Boil some new potatoes and add salad and you have a full meal without too much work.
What does spatchcock mean?
Spatchcocking a chicken means removing the backbone of the chicken and pressing it flat which makes it cook a lot faster. It is the same as butterflying a chicken or flat-roasting it.
It also means no more dry chicken breast when you roast a whole chicken when you have spatchcocked it first, because you don’t need to roast it for as long for it to cook through!
I had always been put off preparing a spatchcock chicken myself in the past as I thought it would be really difficult. In fact it is not that tricky at all, all you need is a good sharp knife and some metal skewers (if you have them, if not you can skip that) to help keep the chicken flat during cooking.
It is a lot more economical to buy a chicken and spatchcock it yourself rather than buy one that has already been spatchcocked. I’ve noticed that the ready-prepared spatchcock chickens here in the UK seem to usually be smaller chickens and much more expensive too because it is pre-prepared, so the meat does not go a long way.
Read on for my step by step guide to spatchcocking a chicken at home below, you’ll find out how easy it is.
Step 1. Turn the chicken breast side down, with the legs towards you.
Step 2. Using a sharp knife or a strong pair of kitchen scissors, from the bottom upwards, make a cut to the side of the backbone which you can feel running down the centre of the chicken. Cut all the way to the top, through the bones.
Step 3. Repeat on the other side, cutting to the side of the backbone all the way to the top.
Step 4. Remove the backbone completely, cutting through any remaining skin or meat holding it in place, and place it to the side.
Step 5. Turn the chicken back over and press down to make it even flatter. With the backbone removed the whole chicken will cook through a lot faster.
Step 6. Mix up your spice rub in a bowl and spoon it over the chicken.
Step 7. Rub it in well to cover all of the meat.
Step 7. Season, sprinkle over some basil then roast in a preheated oven at 180 C for 50 minutes to one hour.
How to serve
In the summer I love this chicken served with potato salad, green salads and slices of French bread.
The shredded chicken is also great in tortillas with salad and rice or used on pizzas, or for meal prep with salads and grains.
If you are following a low carb diet, shred the chicken and serve it in lettuce wraps or with cauliflower rice
In the colder months I sometimes also make a chicken this way and use it in a roast chicken meal with roast potatoes and steamed vegetables, instead of the traditionally roasted chicken with its dry breast meat which takes much longer to cook.
You can switch up this recipe very easily by using a different combination of herbs and spices with your olive oil to rub on the meat.
- For a light summer version – mix olive oil with fresh basil or coriander, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- For a spicier version – add a tablespoon of curry paste and extra chillies.
- For a Spanish version – add chopped chorizo and sundried tomatoes and a squeeze of tomato puree.
More summer recipes
For more tasty recipes, look at my Recipe Index.
Pin for later
- 1 large chicken 1.8 kg
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 0.5 tbsp chilli puree
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp fresh basil leaves torn
- salt and pepper to taste
To prepare the chicken:
- Preheat the oven to 180 C.
- Spatchcock your chicken as follows.
- Turn the chicken breast side down, with the legs towards you.
- Using a sharp knife or a strong pair of kitchen scissors, from the bottom upwards, make a cut to the side of the backbone which you can feel running down the centre of the chicken. Cut all the way to the top, through the bones.
- Repeat on the other side, cutting to the side of the backbone all the way to the top.
- Remove the backbone completely, cutting through any remaining skin or meat holding it in place, and place it to the side.
- Turn the chicken back over and press down to make it even flatter. With the backbone removed the whole chicken will cook through a lot faster.
Make the rub:
- Mix the rub ingredients (olive oil and herbs and spices) in a small bowl.
- Dot it over the chicken then rub into the meat, covering all of the surface.
- Tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a small drizzle more olive oil.
- Roast in the oven at 180 C for 1 hour.