919 Backyard BBQ: Spatchcock Chicken

This one is in honor of my dad-it’s his favorite dish. Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

For this month, I wanted to share a recipe that is in the weekly rotation in our house… Spatchcock Chicken. This one is super easy – set it and forget it. Since I have started cutting out the backbone on whole chickens – or spatchcocking it, I have not wanted to cook one any other way. 

The spatchcock method allows for the bird to easily sit on the grill/smoker grates and results in a much quicker and even cook, by getting that nice crispy skin all on the outside while maintaining that juicy, flavorful inside. 

Any kind of whole chicken from the grocery store works for this – you can get a whole chicken with giblets for like $7 at most grocery stores ($10 on the high end). You don’t need to buy the organic/smart $20 chicken…they all taste the same from my experience. 


Once you get your chicken, place it on a cutting board with the breast side down and cut directly down the middle on both sides of the backbone with a very sharp knife or some kitchen shears. Next, once you have the backbone removed (save it if you like making homemade chicken stock), scrape out any of the giblets, if there are any. Flip it over and press down on the middle area (breastbone) until you hear a pop, and it will flatten out a bit. Flip the chicken back over and season the bottom of the chicken with your preferred BBQ rub, I will talk more on seasonings in a minute.

Next up, is rubbing down the chicken with a binder – you can use something like olive oil, or just yellow mustard. Then, you’ll want to season it generously with a BBQ rub. My favorites for a whole chicken are Texas Pete dust (if you like spicy you will love this) and Meat Church Holy Cow (less spicy but very pepper heavy.) Any seasoning will work for this, so get creative. You want to let the seasoning sit on the chicken for at least 15 minutes – preferably 30 minutes in the fridge before cooking it… or better yet season it the night before you plan on cooking it for maximum flavor. 

On to cooking! If you’ve read these articles before, I’m sure you can guess, I’ll be cooking this in either a pellet smoker or charcoal kamado grill/smoker. But this recipe works fine in the oven as well. The temperature I have found that cooks the most evenly and gets that perfect crispy skin is 300 degrees and depending on size, almost always takes 2 hours. 


I usually do this in a pellet smoker, with a temperature probe inserted into the thickest part of the breast that will notify me when it has reached 160-165 internal. So after around 2 hours at 300, you can pull it off the cooker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes (up to 15) before carving it up! This is such an easy, set it and forget it, type of recipe that’s great for a weeknight when you want some good home cooked chicken. 


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