Removing the backbone of a chicken allows it to lie flat, which significantly speeds up the cooking time and helps the chicken cook evenly and fast. This simple technique is known as ‘spatchcocking’ (or butterflying) and requires just a pair of kitchen scissors. This spatchcock chicken can be prepared on the grill, smoker, or in your oven. Add our flavorful, sugar-free rub and you’ve got an easy, fool-proof spatchcock chicken recipe that you’ll use every time.

This recipe was originally posted June 9, 2021; Updated August 3, 2022.

what is Spatchcock Chicken?

To “spatchcock a chicken” means to remove the backbone, press the whole chicken down as flat as you can, and then cook it quickly, easily, and perfectly juicy. That’s it! Spatchcocking a chicken sounds harder than it really is, but we promise that it’s not! We think you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to do. And since our method uses kitchen scissors or poultry shears (rather than a knife) to remove the spine of the chicken, it’s far less intimidating. Once you have one grilled spatchcock chicken under your belt you’ll wonder why you ever made chicken any other way. Give it a try. We promise you’ll LOVE to cook a whole chicken like this!

Spatchcock Chicken Recipe: The Perfect, Juicy, Whole Chicken Cooking Method

While there is nothing wrong with making a whole roasted chicken in the oven or making a whole chicken in the Instant Pot, but you’ll soon find that this method for making a spatchcock chicken produces an evenly-cooked, ultra-flavorful meal with minimal fuss.

We know that the first time you try anything new in the kitchen that it can be a little intimidating so that’s why we’re breaking it down step-by-step below. But before we jump into the “How” let’s take a look at what you’ll need.

What you need to make Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Here are the ingredients you need to make this easy smoked chicken recipe, which can be cooked on a grill, on a smoker, on a smoker-grill, and in the oven:

Whole chicken – any size chicken will work for this recipe. Smaller chickens (5 lbs or less) will cook faster, while larger ones will require more cooking time. When you’re shopping for whole chicken and wondering what all of the terms (like fresh, natural, free-range, and more) on the labels mean and how to choose high-quality poultry? Check out this post!Avocado oil or olive oil – both oils are great options for this spatchcocked chicken recipe, so use what you have on handOnion powderGarlic powderSmoked paprika – smoked paprika gives the rub just a bit of smoky flavor without the heat or spiciness. If you don’t have smoked paprika, regular paprika or sweet paprika may also be used Dried thymeGround cuminFine salt and black pepper – use kosher salt, sea salt, or fine salt (whatever you have on hand will do)

Tools You Need to Spatchcock a chicken

These are the simple kitchen tools you need to make perfect chicken every time:

Kitchen shears or scissors – no Chef’s knife needed, just a nice sturdy pair of kitchen scissors, which are sometimes referred to as poultry shears Cutting boardPaper towelsRimmed baking sheet or large platterInstant-read thermometerGrill, Smoker or Oven – see the recipe card below for instructions on how to prepare the chicken on the grill, on a smoker, on a smoker-grill (such as a Traeger) or in the oven

We recommend reading through this blog post for our step-by-step instructions and photo tutorial showing you exactly how to make a smoked butterflied chicken. For the printable directions, ingredient amounts, and complete nutrition analysis that lists calories, protein, carbohydrates, sodium, and more per serving, scroll down to the recipe card below.

<img width="683" height="1024" data-pin-title="Perfect Spatchcock Chicken (Photo Tutorial