How to spatchcock a chicken with a knife?



Spatchcocking is a cooking technique that involves removing the backbone of a chicken or other poultry to flatten it. This method allows for more even cooking and can be done on a grill, in an oven, or on a stovetop. In this article, we’ll guide you through the steps of spatchcocking a chicken using only a knife.

What is Spatchcocking?

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is the process of removing the backbone from a chicken or other poultry and flattening it out before cooking. This method allows for more even cooking, as the chicken will cook faster and more evenly than if it were left whole. It also makes it easier to season the chicken, as the seasoning will be evenly distributed across the meat.

Why Use a Knife to Spatchcock a Chicken?

While there are other tools that can be used to spatchcock a chicken, such as kitchen shears, a sharp knife is the most versatile and effective option. A knife allows for more precision when cutting through the bones, and can be used to remove the breastbone if desired. Plus, most home cooks already have a knife in their kitchen, so there’s no need to buy a specialized tool.

Step-by-Step Guide to Spatchcocking a Chicken with a Knife

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary tools on hand. You’ll need:

  • A sharp chef’s knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen towels or paper towels
  • A chicken to spatchcock

Step 2: Remove the Backbone

Place the chicken breast-side down on the cutting board. Starting at the tail end, use your knife to cut along one side of the backbone, keeping the blade as close to the bone as possible. Repeat on the other side of the backbone until it is completely removed.

Step 3: Flatten the Chicken

Flip the chicken over so it is breast-side up. Use your hands to press down on the breastbone until you hear it crack and the chicken is flattened. You can also use the heel of your knife to press down on the breastbone if needed.

Step 4: Remove the Breastbone (Optional)

If you prefer, you can remove the breastbone for easier carving once the chicken is cooked. Use your knife to cut along each side of the breastbone, then lift it out using your fingers or a pair of tongs.

Tips for Perfectly Spatchcocked Chicken

  • Use a sharp knife to make the process easier and safer.
  • Remove any excess fat or skin before spatchcocking.
  • Use your fingers to loosen the skin from the meat before seasoning.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken – it should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Safety Tips When Using a Knife

  • Always use a sharp knife to reduce the risk of slips and cuts
  • Keep your fingers away from the blade and use a cutting board to protect your countertop
  • Never leave a knife unattended, and store it safely when not in use
  • Always cut away from your body and keep the knife pointed down when walking with it
  • Keep knives out of the reach of children


Spatchcocking a chicken with a knife is a simple and effective way to cook a delicious and evenly-cooked chicken . With a sharp knife and a little practice, you can master this technique in no time. Just remember to take your time, follow the steps carefully, and always practice knife safety.


Q. Can I spatchcock a chicken without a knife?
Yes, you can use kitchen shears or poultry shears to spatchcock a chicken. However, a sharp knife is the most versatile tool for this technique.

Q. What can I do with the backbone and breastbone after spatchcocking a chicken?
You can use the bones to make chicken stock or broth.

Q. Can I spatchcock a turkey using the same technique?
Yes, the same technique can be used to spatchcock a turkey, although you may need a larger cutting board and knife.

Q. Can I spatchcock a chicken ahead of time?
Yes, you can spatchcock a chicken up to a day in advance and store it in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Q. What is the best way to cook a spatchcocked chicken?
Spatchcocked chicken can be grilled, roasted, or pan-fried. The method you choose will depend on your personal preference and the equipment you have available.

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