How to Spatchcock and Roast a Chicken

roast_spatchcock_chicken_finished_3027

There are many ways to roast a chicken on the barbecue. Many popular ways include roasting it whole, beer can chicken or over a rotisserie. There has been lots of discussion over the years about beer can chicken being a waste of a beer or just plain dangerous from various sources over the years.

Rotisserie roasted chicken is fantastic, but unless you have one you are out of luck. That leaves roasting a chicken whole. Trouble with roasting a chicken is the leg meat needs to reach a higher internal temperature than the breast meat before it’s done. When cooked the leg meat will be 82°C and the breast meat will be 71°C.

A properly cooked chicken will be 71°C in the breast and  82°C in the leg

Spatchcocking a chicken has yielded consistent results every time. Spatchcocking is a really simple way of evening out the cooking surface of the chicken and reduces the overall time needed for cooking the chicken as well.

Spatchcock Chicken

Whole Chicken Ready to Spatchcock

Begin with placing the chicken breast side down on your favourite wooden cutting board, the legs should be underneath and the wings on top.

Cutting out the Backbone to Spatchck a Chicken

With a pair of kitchen scissors cut along one side of the backbone and through the rib cage. Repeat on the other side and remove the entire backbone.

Spatchcock Chicken with Backbone Removed

Open up the chicken and flatten it out.

Flattened Spatchcock Chicken

With a sharp knife, cut down the length of the breast bone and push down to separate completely.

Slicing the breastbone for Spatchcock Chicken

The chicken is now spatchcocked and ready for roasting.

Spatchcock Chicken Rubbed and Ready to Roast

How to Roast a Spatchcock Chicken on the Weber

Once the chicken is spatchcocked it doesn’t take long to roast having its cooking time reduced by up to a third. A size 16 bird should take around an hour to cook.

Begin by preparing the Weber for indirect high heat, get the temperature of 180-200°C for roasting a chicken.

Use half of a lemon to rub the entire chicken both over and under the skin. Generously coat the chicken with your favourite rub.

Rubbed Spatchcock Chicken

When the Weber is at cooking temperature place the bird on the cooking area of the barbecue skin side up. Insert the temperature probe into the thickest part of the breast to monitor the internal temperature and close the lid.

Roasting a Spatchcock Chicken

After 30 minutes check the temperature of the leg meat with an instant read thermometer keeping the digital probe in the breast. Flip the bird so that the skin side is now facing down, replace the lid and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes. After an hour the bird will be at the magical cooked temperatures of 71°C in the breast and  82°C in the leg.

Remove from the barbecue and let it rest on a wooden cutting board for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving.

Roasted Spatchcock Chicken Ready to Serve

Keep up to date, SUBSCRIBE to my email list

19 comments

  1. Rachel · February 28, 2014

    Awesome shot of the bird here Scott! I use this same prep technique when I roast a chicken in the oven too. Works great! Do you ever brine your meat? I like a heavy saltwater brine–what’s your opinion on that? And what’s a size 16 bird in U.S. terms, do you think?

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      Hey Rachel, I don’t usually brine my meat unless i am preparing way ahead of time. I really don’t find too much of an issue keeping the meat moist using this method and rubbing with the lemon, sometimes mixed with olive oil and then the dry rub.

      A size 16 bird is around 1.5 kg so maybe 3.3 pounds?

  2. SLA · February 28, 2014

    I followed your instructions and the chicken came out perfect! I shared the experience on my food blog and with my Facebook group. I have a new obsession now! Thanks for sharing!

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      Hey SLA, I’m happy to hear that your spatchcocked chook turned out awesome for dinner! Thanks for sharing with your facebook group, hopefully they have clicked through and found something else. Be sure to keep an eye out the next couple of weeks for some more great ways to use your grill.

  3. Maggie · February 28, 2014

    The chicken looks amazingly delicious! I always marinate chicken before roasting, by brining or spices. It’s a great thing to know that you don’t need to prepare the meat ahead and still get juicy texture.

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      For sure! It’s great, I will usually prepare and rub the chicken and let it sit while I get the grill or oven to temperature!

  4. Debra @ Worth Cooking · February 28, 2014

    The way I do standing (beer can) chicken is by putting a smallish bird (3lbs) on a narrow mouth pint sized mason jar which I fill with liquid of choice. It makes the meat very juicy. I really do not care for the idea of roasting on a can, so that is what I came up with.

    That being said this is beautiful. I have never cooked a chicken on a grill, but this makes me want to try it. We love butterflied (spatchcock is probably the proper name, but I have always heard butterflied) chicken around here.

    • Debra @ Worth Cooking · February 28, 2014

      I bet you could not do the glass jar on the grill though.

      • Scott · February 28, 2014

        Hey Debra, nah I wouldn’t use glass in the grill, I do have a wire roaster sitting unused at home if the need ever arose though 🙂

        Looks like this.

  5. JoeGuy · February 28, 2014

    Scott you’re killing me – I can’t pull out the BBQ yet with all this snow. I know you can do this in the oven but I love my BBQ!

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      How bad is the snow 🙂 clear a little area and away you go 😉

      I’d like to think that, that is what I would do.

      • JoeGuy · February 28, 2014

        Lately the temperature around here has been hitting -30 with the wind chill. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather eat raw carrots for a week then stand in that cold 🙂

        This week however we have finally started to see more seasonable temps. I think another week and I might just go for it.

        • Scott · February 28, 2014

          I am so glad right now that we do not experience these types of temperatures all the way down here 🙂

          Here’s hoping that it warms up for you soon 😉

  6. Justin · February 28, 2014

    Looks great! I will have to give this a try now that it feels like summer here in San Diego.

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      Fantastic man, make sure to get one of those awesome locally brewed beers to go alongside it 😀

  7. Pingback: Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken - Simple Roots
  8. Wayne · February 28, 2014

    I have to agree with the comments about how great this looks! Do you use a drip pan under the bird?

    • Scott · February 28, 2014

      Hey Wayne, thanks!

      Yes use a drip pan – saves getting the bowl unnecessarily messy. Best way to make gravy as well 😉

  9. Paul B · February 28, 2014

    Lit up the bbq this afternoon and am giving this a go. It smells amazing in my garden already. Cheers for the recipe. Bon appetite y’all.