Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

5 from 21 votes

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Grilled Spatchcock Chicken is moist and juicy, seasoned with a salty and spicy dry rub that crisps up the skin for an abundance of flavor and texture. Spatchcocking cuts down on the cooking time so you can spend less time at the grill, and more time at the table!

overhead photo of BBQ Spatchcock Chicken on white marble

Spatchcocking is a quick, simple way to flatten a whole chicken or turkey before cooking. With a spatchcocked chicken, you get an even thickness that allows for faster grilling and even heat distribution throughout. 

With this method, it’s also easy to trim excess fat and meat as you go. These trimmings, along with the backbone removed during the process, are fantastic for freezing and using later to make soup stock. It’s very frugal and cost-effective!

My spatchcock chicken recipe includes a step-by-step guide, including a how-to video (see below in recipe card), on how to flatten and grill a juicy, moist whole chicken with a crisp and flavorful skin. 

For this recipe, I use a basic dry rub of salt, pepper, paprika, and a couple of other spices and seasonings that’s perfect for grilling. I recommend serving with my Alabama White Sauce, a tangy mayo BBQ sauce with just a touch of heat. 


  • Whole Chicken – The grill timing and amount of dry rub ingredients in this recipe is based on a 4 lb chicken.
  • Black Pepper & Salt – These no-brainer seasonings can be found in almost every dry rub. Black pepper adds an even, neutral spice. Salt, alternatively, is important for drawing out some of the moisture and helping the skin crisp up. 
  • Sweet Paprika – Compared to smoked paprika, this variety is fruity and sweet. You could swap out the two, but using smoked paprika will add more heat to the rub.
  • Garlic Powder – To impart a subtle, mild garlic flavor to the meat. Granulated garlic might make a good substitute, though it is coarser and has a stronger flavor.
  • Celery Salt – A peppery, grassy seasoning. Celery seed is an appropriate substitute — just compensate with additional salt.
  • Cumin & Coriander – Cumin is warm and earthy, while coriander is fresh and citrusy. The two are often paired and balance each other nicely.
seasoned spatchcock chicken on marble counter


With a Gas Grill:  Create a “2 Zone” set up in one of two ways. You can light half the grill so that it reaches the desired temperature, laying the meat on the unlit side. Alternatively, you can light both sides of a grill while leaving the center unlit, placing the meat in the center where the temperature is lowest.

With a Charcoal BBQ or Smoker:  Light the charcoal. Similar to the directions above, move the charcoal either to one side of the grill or to both sides while making a space in the center that is unlit. Place the meat where it is not above any lit charcoal. Use a drip pan below the meat.

roasted and basted spatchcocok chicken on grill


  1. Make the Rub. Combine all of the dry rub ingredients with a whisk and set aside.
  2. Remove the Backbone. Lay the chicken on a flat surface, breast-side down. With a pair of kitchen scissors, begin cutting the bird at the neck: cut along both sides of the backbone toward the legs, cutting the rib bones during the process. Remove the backbone and press the chicken open.
  3. Cut the Cartilage. Locate the triangular cartilage in the center where the breastbone starts. Carefully make a quarter inch cut downward. You can now flip the bird and fully flatten with your hands.

    Another Method: Instead of slicing the cartilage, you can spread the chicken open with your hands and flip it. Using the heel of your hand, press down and flatten the breast bone. This butterflies the meat and gives it an even thickness throughout.
  1. Apply the Rub. Massage the dry rub into the spatchcocked chicken. Let sit while preheating your grill to 400°F.
  2. Grill. Lay the whole spatchcocked chicken onto the grill, ribs down, and grill for up to 45 minutes until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 160°F. Every 20 minutes or so, baste with a sauce of your choosing. 
  3. Let Cool & Serve. Remove from the heat and let cool for 15 minutes while the meat continues to cook, climbing up to a safe internal temperature of 165°F.
alabama white sauce getting basted on grilled spatchcock chicken

What is the point of a spatchcocked chicken? 

When spatchcocking poultry, you remove the backbone and flatten the bird. This allows it to cook more quickly and evenly. It also helps the meat stay nice and juicy while developing a crisp outer layer in the process.

Can you roast a spatchcock chicken? 

Yes. Put the spatchcocked chicken into the oven at 450°F for 30-35 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the meat — once it reaches 160°F, remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes while the meat continues cooking up to 165°F.

How long does it take to grill spatchcock chicken? 

It takes 40-45 minutes of grill time, plus an additional 15 minutes for the meat to rest before slicing and serving. 

grilled spatchcock chicken on white marble with alabama white sauce
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overhead photo of BBQ Spatchcock Chicken on white marble

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

5 from 21 votes
Learn how to make a Spatchcock Chicken for shorter cooking time, extra flavor, maximum moisture, and perfectly cooked meat every time!
Servings: 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 5 minutes


Dry Rub


  • In a small bowl whisk together the dry rub ingredients and set aside.
  • Be sure to have the chicken on a clean cutting surface breast side down. Starting at the neck area using kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone towards the legs to remove it, cutting through the rib bones as you go. Discard the backbone or freeze for soup stock.
  • In the center area there will be a triangle of cartilage right where the breastbone starts. Using a sharp knife, cut down a quarter inch and spread the cut area open to reveal the breast bone. Flip the chicken over and press down. OR after removing the back bone, spread the chicken out and turn over. Flatten the breastbone using the heel of your hand so that the meat is butterflied and all one thickness.
  • Sprinkle the dry rub all over the chicken and using your hand rub into the skin to adhere. Set aside while you start up your oven, grill or smoker to heat 400°F.
  • Place the spatchcocked chicken rib bones down on and roasting sheet (oven) or the grill and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 160°F.
  • I used hickory wood chips/pellets and baste with you favorite sauce every 20 minutes.
  • Remove chicken from grill/smoker and allow to rest 15 minutes, it will continue to cook and reach 165°F before cutting up into pieces or shredding.



  1. To grill using Indirect Heat: for gas grill do what’s known as the 2 Zone set up, which is either half the grill is lit to achieve desired temperature and the meat is placed on opposite side, or have sides lit leaving the center NOT on or lowest temperature. To grill using indirect heat on a charcoal BBQ or smoker, ignite charcoal and place it to one side of the grill, creating a space for the food or the center with meat you’re cooking not directly over those lit coals. Typically use a drip pan under the meat to avoid any flareups.


Calories: 481kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 736mg | Potassium: 466mg | Vitamin A: 795IU | Vitamin C: 3.7mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2.7mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Western
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
grilled spatchcock chicken on white marble top with basting brush


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. Kevin: This sounds so good.
    I’m not like most people who have to cook chicken until it is dead twice over.
    As soon as there is no pink, I stop cooking.
    Is your timing right with that or is it for longer?
    I like my chicken super juicy.

    1. This is correct Charlie. For a 4 pound chicken 40-45 minutes at that heat should do it. Most recipes have you grilling 15 minutes breast side down, then flip and grill for 30 and flip for another 10-15 minutes. I keep it simple. Insert a meat thermometer and just be sure it reaches 160°F in the thickest part of the bird (it continues to cook to 165°F as it rests). Time does vary with size of each chicken.

  2. 5 stars
    That’s one yummy looking meal, Kevin! Love the spice blend on there too! Can never go wrong with a perfectly cooked chicken and salad for dinner, if you ask me 😉

  3. How do you think the sauce would come out if the horse radish was left out? I really dislike it.

    1. It adds that kick and a little heat, but would be fine without if you prefer Linda. Let me know what you think. 🙂

      1. 5 stars
        I made it without horse radish. This was the best grilled chicken I’ve had. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. I have not, but if I did I think 450°F for 30 or 35 minutes would do. Check to be sure it’s 165°F then it’s done.

  4. 5 stars
    If you’re one to not eat the skin, but still cook with it attached is there any benefit from a rub? If not, suggestions?

    1. Honestly the skin renders and bastes the chicken with the fat and gets crispy. I would do the recipe as is and remove the skin after myself if yo don’t want any Eric. Although feel free to do skinless and please let me know!

  5. 5 stars
    We love to spatchcock chicken and turkey – must try this spice blend of yours. That skin looks like perfection!

    1. Feel free to baste with whatever sauce you like, but the Alabama White Sauce is great if your aiming to make the sandwich, too. Thanks Marissa!