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Spatchcock Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

5 from 4 community reviews

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Roast a bird in half the time with this recipe for spatchcock chicken for the oven, roasted with garlic, lemon and rosemary.

A spatchcocked (butterflied without backbone) chicken on a cutting board, garnished with a lemon wedge and parsley sprigs

Before you start thinking that I’m going all medieval on my poultry, let me explain what it means to spatchcock a chicken:

What does “spatchcock” mean?

  • To spatchcock a bird means that the backbone (and sometimes the breastbone cartilage) is removed from a chicken (or other poultry) and laid out flat —otherwise known as a butterflied bird.
  • A spatchcocked cooks more quickly and more evenly because the surface of the bird lies flat on the pan or grill.
  • Food historians guess the word “spatchcock” derives from an abbreviation of the phrase “dispatch the cock,” and might have originated in Ireland.

This is such a great way to roast a whole bird since you can season it well under AND over the skin with aromatic fresh herbs, lemon and garlic. Plus, using this method means the chicken cooks faster and more evenly than it would in its usual form.

How to spatchcock a chicken (remove the backbone or butterfly)

All you need is a whole chicken and good pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife!

  1. Put the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down.
  2. Cut along the backbone on either side with a pair of scissors or a sharp knife.
  3. Remove the bone and discard, or save it to add to homemade chicken stock

Or, to make things even easier, you can always ask the professional person behind the meat counter to do the dirty work for you!

Besides cooking faster and evenly, butterflying your bird allows better access to the skin pockets, which means you can push more seasonings onto the bird. That means more tasty chicken, too!

An image of a golden brown roasted butterflied chicken on a cutting board with wedges of lemon and rosemary herb sprigs.

While the oven is on, it’s a perfect time to slide a pan of vegetables alongside the roasting chicken to complete the meal, like these crazy-delicious crusty smashed potatoes or roasted cumin-lime carrots.

Spatchcock Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Karen Tedesco
An easy recipe for simple roasted spatchcock chicken with lemon and rosemary.
Print Pin
5 from 4 community reviews
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Chicken
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 pounds), backbone removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond kosher salt, or 2 teaspoons Morton brand salt, or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
  • 1 lemon


  • Heat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Tuck the chicken's wing tips behind the breast bone and place it skin side up on a shallow rimmed sheet pan.
  • Mix together the olive oil, salt, rosemary, and garlic in a small bowl. Carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers, and smear half the mixture over the meat and skin. Flip the bird over and rub it with the rest of the seasoning.
  • Place a large ovenproof skillet (such as cast iron) over medium-high heat until very hot. Coat the pan with a little oil.
  • Put the chicken in the pan skin side down and place another heavy skillet on top of the chicken to weigh it down. If you don’t have another heavy pan, use a skillet weighed down with a can or two of tomatoes.
  • Cook 10-2 minutes, until the skin is dark golden brown.
  • Remove the weight, then gently turn the chicken over with tongs, so you don’t tear into the delicious, crisp skin. Slice the lemon in half and place it flesh side down in the pan.
  • Transfer to the oven to finish cooking, about 20 more minutes. The legs should wiggle freely and the juices run clear. Cool the chicken 15 minutes. Carve the chicken into pieces and serve.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

To remove the backbone from a chicken:
  1. Put the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down.
  2. Cut along the backbone on either side with a pair of scissors or a sharp knife.
  3. Remove the bone and discard, or save it to add to homemade chicken stock


Serving: 1g | Calories: 881kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 93g | Fat: 53g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Sodium: 675mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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  1. Jo, that sounds pretty darn good…

  2. I love it…I do mine a bit differently. I mix a season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and tarragon. I put this under and on the skin and roast at 475 for 35 to 40 minutes….delicious.

  3. All-rooty-toot-tutti!


  4. Tony, for you, I would spatchcock a tofurky any day. How about some Tofutti for dessert?

  5. I find there’s nothing tastier of a Friday evening than a spatchcocked tofurky.