How to Spatchcock a Chicken

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Spatchcocking is probably the most intimidating way to cook a chicken for regular home cooks. Instagram and YouTube chefs all seem to do it effortlessly, but how do you actually do it without ruining the chicken?

It turns out that it is actually incredibly easy to do at home; you just need a chicken and a pair of strong poultry shears!

If you can’t find poultry shears, you can use a regular pair of kitchen scissors as long as make sure to sharpen them beforehand.

Make sure to prepare your chicken using our Spatchcock Chicken recipe, or perhaps a Spatchcocked Baked Honey Mustard Chicken instead.

raw chicken on a sheet pan next to kitchen shears.

Step 1: Make the Cut

Using your sharp poultry shears or kitchen scissors, start cutting alongside the spine of the chicken with firm, stiff cuts. It will probably start off a bit challenging, but as you start to cut through, it will start to get easiest.

To help guide your shears, grip the tip part of the chicken that sticks out of the rest of the carcass – this is actually called the chicken’s rump.

Cut all the way alongside the spine, making to cut through any small bones or bits of cartilage that you find as you go through.

A chicken upside down, with a pair of hands gripping the rump and beginning to cut along its spine.

Step 2: Mirror the Cut

Once you’ve cut all the way through one side of the spine, take your shears and start doing the same thing on the other side of the spine.

This cut will be a bit harder because you won’t have as much stability with gripping the chicken as one side is already broken away. You also need to take care not to cut yourself on any of the sharp exposed rib bones.

Same as before, cut all the way down the spine using your shears with firm, determined cuts until you reach the very end.

An upside down chicken, its spine half cut and the second half beginning to be cut by scissors.

Step 3: Peel Away the Spine

Once you’ve cut all the way down the spine on both sides, grip the spine firmly with one hand and peel it away from the carcass. You might need to tear it away from the carcass, especially if there is any stray fat or cartilage clinging to the spine.

A chicken's spine being removed from the carcass of a spatchcocked chicken.

If needed, use your shears to sever any fat or cartilage, so that you don’t hurt yourself trying to remove the spine.

Don’t throw that spine away, though! Use it as a base for chicken stock or gravy to add a ton of rich, savory chicken flavor and plenty of gelatin as well.

A chicken with its spine removed, showing the empty cavity.

Step 4: Break the Breastbone

Probably the most gruesome part of Spatchcocking any bird is that you now need to break the breastbone so that it lays flat.

Flip the chicken over so that the breasts are putting upwards and place your hands over one another right where the two breasts meet.

Using firm, downward pressure (almost like you are giving CPR!) push down on the chicken. If done right, you should hear the breastbone audibly snap and separate, and the chicken should now be laying flat. You can see in the photo below how the breast is flattened now.

Step 6: Lay Out Your Spatchcocked Chicken

Now, you’re all done! The only thing you need to do is to lay your Spatchcocked chicken on a sheet pan and top it with your favorite seasonings and other ingredients to make a great roast chicken.

Using a delicious herb butter, like in our Spatchcock Chicken recipe, will help ensure that your chicken will not only cook evenly but come out deliciously tender and flavorful as well.

A spatchcocked chicken laying flat on a foil lined sheet pan, covered in herb butter.



Hope this helps inspire to try spatchcocking a chicken! It’s easier than you think!





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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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    Love your recipes!!! I print many of them twice!!! One for home & one for our cabin at the lake.
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