Juicy & Tender Spatchcock Chicken – The Best Grill Recipe

Juicy & Tender Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

What is a spatchcock chicken?

The term “spatchcock” refers to an old cooking technique that consists of splitting in half a bird, such as quail, chicken, or cornish hen, and then flattening it for roasting. The idea behind spatchcock chicken is not only aesthetic, but also convenient. The meat cooks through perfectly in less than 30 minutes, for an entire chicken. 

Juicy & Tender Spatchcock Chicken – The Best Grill Recipe

Another way to call spatchcock chicken is “butterfly” chicken. This is because, as the word implies, the final product looks like the bird is laying down with wings spread out.

The basic idea behind spatchcock chicken is to remove the backbone of the bird. Once the backbone is removed, the breastbone is made flatter, and then the chicken is spread open like a book. 

Which meats are best to “spatchcock”

Most any bird is worth spatchcocking. The idea is that the bird has enough meat and skin to make the process fun. If you do a quick internet search of spatchcocked birds, you may come across some very interesting candidates such as: 

  • Turkey
  • Quail 
  • Cornish hens
  • Chicken
  • Duck
  • Goose
  • Game hen

Why do people spatchcock anyway?

The idea behind spatchcocking a bird is to concentrate on cooking the meat of the bird without any added bones. It is also can be pleasing for those with culinary abilities to do a presentation that is not often thought of.

Another great benefit of spatchcocking is that it shortens the cooking time to half the usual time. For example, to roast a chicken in an oven may take up to an hour. You already know that a turkey takes a huge amount of time as well. Not with spatchcocking. A spatchcocked bird, the entire bird, can be thoroughly cooked in 30 to 40 minutes.

The recipe that you are about to see spatchcocks a regular, whole supermarket chicken weighing about 4 pounds. It is recommended that you thaw out the chicken, and pat dry it, prior to seasoning it.

This recipe is for grilling the spatchcock chicken. However, you can cook these birds however you want, from oven-baked, to air-fried!

We grill here! That is what we do! We promise you that the taste of the grill goes perfectly on this kind of cut. It takes care of the meat through indirect heat, and then it crisps the skin altogether, searing in the most amazing flavors you can imagine. 

Flavors:

As with any chicken, the seasoning is up to you. These days, there are all sorts of rubs and sauces to marinate chicken prior to grilling. There is something called “chicken salt” which is a blend of seasonings designed specifically for the unique tenderness and flavor of chicken. 

Some popular seasonings for chicken include:

  • Adobo
  • Sazon (Accent brand, with saffron)
  • ​Kosher Salt
  • ​Black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Curry
  • Lemon pepper rub
  • Garlic Salt

In this recipe, the “flavor” of the chicken, as well as its tenderness, will come from the butter and yogurt blend that you will rub in and out of the chicken, ensuring that all of its natural juices remain preserved. 

You will need for the spatchcock chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
  • A clean cutting board
  • Kitchen shears or scissors

For the seasonings, you will need butter, yogurt, and a combination of spices that will be further explained after the spatchcoking process is fully explained first. 

Happy grilling, and don’t forget to give us a shoutout telling us how your own chicken came out! 

Prepare The Bird Season The Chicken

The Spatchcocking Process

Pat dry your whole chicken and place it facing down (on its breast). Locate the thigh end of the chicken. Holding down the chicken with one hand, start cutting along the side of the backbone with the shears. To cut the other side of the backbone, turn the chicken around, and cut across the other side.

Now that there is no backbone, you will be able to spread out the chicken by its legs. Do this by turning the chicken around one more time and spreading its legs and wings open. The breastbone will still make the chicken bulge up a bit, so press it down with your hands to make it flat.

Now that your chicken is “spatchcocked,” let’s focus on the recipe!

You will need:

  • 1 ½ cup salted butter (regular butter works, too)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt
  • ½ adobo (combination of salt, pepper, garlic salt)
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Olive oil

*if you have never tried white truffle-laced olive oil, you are in for a treat. If you have some, add it to the mix. You will not regret it. 

The Blend

​In a small bowl mix together the butter, yogurt and seasonings. Place in the refrigerator to cool. 

Seasoning the chicken

Take the ​whole bird out of the refrigerator. Sprinkle adobo all over the chicken, making sure to also include the meat under the skin. Once the chicken is completely covered in adobo, take out your butter and yogurt mix. For this part, your hands will get messy.

Use your hands to rub the butter mix all over the chicken. It is important to lift the skin and butter the inside of the chicken as much as possible. 

Seasoning the inside

Locate the meatier parts of the chicken (breast and thigh) and slice through them, without cutting anything out. These cuts will serve as “pockets” full of flavor. Be sure to “stuff” a lot of the butter/yogurt mix in the “pockets.” Be sure to coat the chicken with the butter/yogurt mix prior to placing on the grill.

Grill And Have Fun Tender & Juicy Meat

Grilling

Set up your grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, or to medium high heat. Heat only one side of the grill. You will place the chicken on indirect heat by putting the chicken over the unheated part of the grill.

Place the chicken skin side down to cook for 30 minutes. Then, flip the chicken ​skin side up for it to cook nice and crispy. It will only take an approximate 10-15 minutes until it achieves the “finish” that you desire. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The rest is the fun part! Carve it, divide it up, and use your favorite sauces to lather the deliciously tender and juicy meat!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do they call it Spatchcock?

Why would you spatchcock a chicken?

How long do you cook a spatchcock chicken?

Should you brine a spatcocked chicken?

How do you spathcock a chicken?

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