How to Butterfly a Chicken

Butterflying or spatchcocking a chicken allows you to lay it flat on the grill or in a multi-use spit basket for cooking. There are two main benefits to cooking the chicken this way. The first is that it will cook more quickly and evenly. The second and much better reason is that you get more of the chicken exposed to the flame and (if you choose to use it) covered with a great rub like the Flaming Coals Clucking Mad Chicken Rub. More flame exposure and more rub mean more crispy, crusty delicious chicken to eat!

Butterflying chicken is pretty straightforward.

Here are the steps you need to take to get it ready to lay flat.

  • First, prepare a clean dry surface to work on and pat your chicken dry.
  • Lay your chicken with the breast side down and locate the spine - it runs down the middle of the back. You can use a knife, but kitchen shears are easier for this step. From the bottom of the chicken, cut along each side of the spine completely through to the top of the chicken. When you have cut all the way through to the front on both sides, the spine should come away from the rest of the chicken. You can discard the spine piece or save the bones for stock.

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  • When the spine has been removed the chicken should start to lay out flat, but not flat enough yet. The next step is locating the white piece of cartilage that comes from the breastbone near the neck end of the chicken. With the chicken breast side down, use a sharp knife to cut around 1cm (depending on the size of the chicken) into that cartilage.
  • When that cartilage is cut, the chicken should lay much flatter and allow you to see the top of the breastbone just below it. If you wish to, you can trim down the sides of the breastbone to remove it, but I have also seen them left in for cooking.
  • With that done, add your rub to the inside of the chicken then turn it over to add the rub to the outside as well.

All done - your chicken is butterflied and ready to cook!


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by: Mat Holbrook