Every single Thursday (except those that I forget to take a chicken out of the freezer, oops), we have chicken. We call it Chicken Thursday – imaginative, huh?

Each week it’s a different flavour, because I have trouble sticking to one thing, but one thing I always like to do is butterfly the chicken (aka spatchcocking).

A whole chicken that has been butterflied and is ready to grill

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What does it mean to spatchcock a chicken?

Spatchcock chicken and butterflied chicken are the same thing. It is the simple process of flattening out a whole chicken before you cook it.

Why butterfly chicken?

There are two main reasons you would butterfly (or spatchcock) a chicken;

  • If you want it to cook quicker (anyway you choose)
  • If you want to cook it on a barbecue or grill

The fact that the chicken is flattened out makes it cook more quickly and more evenly.

How to Butterfly a Chicken

First flip the chicken so that it is breast side down on a chopping board.

  1. Locate the parsons nose (tail), then use a pair of kitchen or chicken shears to cut on one side of that, all along the backbone.

2 photos showing how to use kitchen shears to cut one side of the backbone of a whole chickek

  1. Cut along the other side of the backbone to remove it completely (optional). I actually leave the other side intact most of the time as my hubby loves the parsons nose and it saves on one cut.

Collage of 2 photos showing how to use kitchen shears to cut the backbone out of a chicken

  1. If it’s a smaller bird you can move on to the next step, however, larger birds benefit from another couple of cuts. Press the chicken out then locate the collar bone. This will be a thick bone between the wing and the breast bone on each side. Cut this with the shears as well

Collage of 2 photos showing a whole chicken that has been cut open

  1. Flip the bird back over and flatten out the legs. Press down firmly on the breast to flatten it there as much as possible. If you skipped the last step, you may hear a crack as you break those bones on a smaller chicken.

Collage of 2 photos showing a butterflied chicken on a white enamel tin

That’s it you now have a butterflied or spatchcocked chicken. Pretty easy huh?

How to prepare the butterflied chicken for cooking?

Loosen the skin

Preparation will depend on how you plan to cook it but one thing I always do is separate the skin from the meat – not to remove it but to create a pocket under the skin.

  1. You can do this by reaching under the skin of the breast at the wing end (the skin at the leg end is prone to tearing)
  2. Gently work your hand under the skin over the breast and legs, making sure not to poke any holes in it. Now you have a pocket …
  3. … where you can add extra flavour (flavoured butters are great).

3 photos showing how to stuff butter under the skin of a whole chicken

Skewer it

If you’re going to grill / barbecue your chicken, a great trick is to skewer it. This will stop it from being floppy and make it easier to handle and turn.

  1. Starting with the legs, push the skewer first through the thigh, then the drumstick, the tail and out through the drumstick and thigh on the other side
  2. Tuck the wing tips under the wing, then push the skewer through the middle section of the wing, right through the breast and out through the middle of the wing on the other side.

2 photos of a whole butterflied chicken with skewers pushed through, ready for grilling

There you go, that’s all the tips you need to butterfly a chicken. How about trying this Sticky Harissa Chicken this weekend.

Chicken recipes to try