Juicy butterflied roast chicken with crispy skin and tender meat. This cooking method ensures that the chicken cooks faster and evenly.
This is our favorite way of roasting a whole chicken. A roasted butterfly chicken is perfect for a Sunday lunch but quickly done for a regular weeknight dinner; one of those easy recipes that you will make again and again; it works, and your whole family will love it.
Table of contents
Why should you butterfly your chicken?
Removing the bird’s backbone and laying it flat on the baking sheet ensures that the meat is cooked more evenly. The problem with an entire chicken is that the breast cooks faster than the legs. Thus, the breast might dry when the legs are cooked through.
By butterflying or spatchcocking or flattening the bird, the breast lays in the middle of the tray at the same level as the legs. The oven’s heat is usually stronger at the sides of the pan, meaning that the breast meat (which lies in the middle and needs less cooking time) and the dark meat (which always needs a longer cooking time) will be done simultaneously.
Another bonus: I find this butterflied roast chicken recipe perfect for cooking very large birds. It allows an entire chicken to cook slowly and evenly, ensuring that the meat is cooked without getting dry.
Whole chicken: My bird weighed almost 3 kg/ 6.6 lbs, which means that it was larger than average. However, the spatchcock method is perfect for birds of any size.
Marinade ingredients: Lemon juice from 1 large lemon or 2 smaller ones, canola or vegetable oil, red chili flakes, garlic powder, sweet paprika powder, fine sea salt (or Kosher salt), and ground black pepper.
How to butterfly a chicken?
- You will need a sturdy cutting board, kitchen shears, and a chef’s knife.
- Place the bird breast-side down on a large carving board with the neck cavity facing you.
- Cut out the backbone with the poultry shears. Cut down on each side of the spine through the ribs (1,2).
- Release the pieces of skin still attached here and there with a sharp knife.
- Open the bird’s body and flip it over with the breast side up.
- Place the palms over the breastbone and press firmly to break that bone; you will hear a crack (3).
And if you would like to learn how to butterfly a breast, check out Nando’s Butterfly Chicken.
- Mix the marinade in a small bowl.
- Butterfly the poultry and place it on a large piece of aluminum foil in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan.
- Rub the bird with the marinade (4), wrap it in foil and marinate it in the refrigerator for about 2 hours (5).
- Allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting.
- Unwrap and crumble the foil around the bird (6).
- Roast at 220°C/425°F for about 1 hour or until cooked through (7).
- Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
Butterflied chicken cooking time
- Medium: 2-2 ½ kg/ 4 ½ - 5 ½ lbs will need about 45-50 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
- Large: 3-3 ½ kg/ 6 ½ - 7.7 lbs will need about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
- Always check that the meat is cooked through without overcooking it. The best way to check is with an instant-read thermometer; the internal temperature should be 75 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit (Amazon affiliate link).
- Butterfly, spatchcock, or flattened chicken are all the same thing. In Germany, we even call this a Highway chicken.
- Don’t wash poultry; this will only spread the bacteria all over the sink without removing it all from the bird. Only heat will destroy this bacteria.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before marinating.
- Stock: Use the backbone and the leftover roasted bones to make homemade stock or bone broth. If the chicken wasn’t frozen before you cut out the bone, you could freeze the backbone. However, never freeze anything that has already been defrosted.
Cut into the thickest part of the thigh; the juices should run clear; no pink is allowed. To be really sure, I make a small cut near the bone; the meat should be completely white.
Sure, anything you like. You can also rub the bird under the skin with seasoned butter and dot it all over with some of the butter as well.
Definitely, I actually only grill spatchcocked or halved chickens. Otherwise, it takes forever.
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge.
Reheat in the preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for about 20 minutes or until heated through.
What to serve with the flattened chicken?
- To make a simple dinner, serve it with oven-roasted potato wedges and green salad with vinaigrette, Yogurt Dressing, or Raspberry Vinaigrette.
- More starchy sides: Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes, Smashed Potatoes, BBQ Rice, Buttered Rice with Garlic, Sweet Potatoes Dauphinoise, etc.
- More vegetable side dishes: French-Style Green Beans, Buttered Peas, Buttered Vegetables, Whole Baked Cauliflower, Roasted Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, etc.
More popular chicken recipes
Butterflied Roast Chicken (Spatchcocked Chicken)
- Cutting board
- Kitchen shears
- Chef’s knife
- Baking sheet
- 1 whole chicken Notes 1, 3
- 2 lemons
- 4 tablespoons oil canola or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes Note 2
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Marinade: Mix lemon juice, oil, chili flakes, garlic powder, sweet paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bow. Set it aside.
- Butterfly the chicken: Place the bird breast-side down on a large cutting board with the neck cavity facing you. Cut out the backbone with the kitchen shears. Cut down along the sides of the spine through the ribs. Open the chicken’s body and flip it over with the breast side up. Place the palms over the breastbone and press firmly to break that bone; you will hear a crack.
- Marinate the chicken: Dry the bird thoroughly (don’t wash it). Place a large piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Place the chicken on top, pour the marinade over it and rub it well to coat it with the marinade. Wrap the bird in the foil.
- Refrigerate the chicken for 2 hours. Remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before roasting it to allow it to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.
- Roast the chicken: Open the aluminum foil and crumple the sides around the bird. Roast the chicken until cooked through; the internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer should be 75°C/165°F (Amazon affiliate link). Don’t overcook it!
- Cooking times:
- Medium bird: 2-2 ½ kg/ 4 ½ - 5 ½ lbs - about 45-50 minutes at 220°C/425°F.Large bird: 3-3 ½ kg/ 6 ½ - 7.7 lbs - about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
- Rest the chicken for 10 minutes before serving.
- The chicken can weigh between 2 – 3 ½ kg/ 4 ½ - 7.7 lb. The cooking time depends on the size.
- Cooking times:
Medium bird: 2-2 ½ kg/ 4 ½ - 5 ½ lbs - about 45-50 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
Large bird: 3-3 ½ kg/ 6 ½ - 7.7 lbs - about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes at 220°C/425°F.
- This makes the marinade pretty hot; use fewer chili flakes for a less spicy chicken.