What is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking a whole chicken is easy to do and gives you a bird that cooks more evenly and is easier to carve. Here’s how to pull it off with ease.

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Traditionally, a spatchcocked chicken or small bird is grilled. The bird is butterflied, or split open so it lays flat, like an open book. It makes the bird easier to handle and carve, and helps it cook more evenly. It gives more surface area for basting or slathering on compound butter. And it allows more room for stuffing seasonings under the skin. Why stop at grilling? We spatchcock chicken for roasting and broiling, as well. The process is simple, but we take precautions.


To split a whole chicken or small bird open, use a pair of sturdy kitchen or poultry shears.


A heavy, sharp knife or cleaver work, too, but neither offers quite the control that shears do. Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Use the shears to cut out the backbone.


Open up the chicken like a book and press on it to flatten it. Save the backbone for making stock.

The perfect shears for spatchcocking and all your kitchen needs

These Japanese-made Shun Classic Kitchen shears are among the most useful tools for the kitchen. Offering one serrated and one straight blade, they’re ideal for a multitude of tasks – from trimming meats and slicing dried fruit to shaping parchment for baking pans.
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  • Crafted by Kershaw, a Japanese company that has produced fine cutlery for more than 90 years

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