How to Butterfly and Spatchcock a Chicken

How to Butterfly and Spatchcock a Chicken

Posted on: January 16, 2023

You might have come across the terms butterfly chicken or spatchcock chicken in different recipes and wondered what they really mean or what the difference between the two is. The truth is that you may not be the only one.

You might have come across the terms butterfly chicken or spatchcock chicken in different recipes and wondered what they really mean or what the difference between the two is. The truth is that you may not be the only one. There are probably other people who don’t know the difference between the two. The surprising fact is that the processes are way more straightforward than the names sound. Well, that shouldn’t be a worry anymore. We will share with you what they actually mean and how to perform the two effectively.

To butterfly a chicken simply means to slice a boneless chicken breast horizontally almost three-quarters of the way and then opening it out like a book. On the other hand, spatchcocking a chicken refers to cutting the chicken’s back lengthwise down the spine and then flattening it by pressing on the chest. Spatchcocking a chicken is easier than butterflying one and only demands a pair of poultry scissors to do.

Butterfly Chicken

Butterfly chicken is the process of slicing a boneless chicken when preparing breast fillets to make it easy to cook. Usually, chicken breast fillets vary in size, which in turn can affect the cooking process. It is usually a challenge when dealing with bigger fillets. Bigger fillets require more cooking time, which may lead to overcooking other parts, hence the need to butterfly the chicken.

How to Butterfly Chicken

Butterflying a chicken is an easy process that you can perform at home. It only requires a pair of scissors or knife and a firm grip.

To butterfly chicken fillets:

  • Place a chicken breast on a clean and flat surface, preferably a chopping board.
  • While holding the chicken firmly, use your knife to make a three-quarter cut horizontally through the chicken fillet. Make sure you don’t cut through as you don’t want to end up with two pieces.
  • Open your ¾-way cut chicken fillet to create a book like a shape or one that resembles a butterfly.
  • You can also choose to use a cloth to grip your butterfly chicken fillet for an even thickness.

From the chopping board, you may choose to marinate your chicken as your recipe dictates. Your butterfly chicken will then be ready for the food smoker or pan, and you will be sure to have evenly cooked meat.

Butterflied chicken is perfect for a quick meal, barbecuing, or an easy pan-frying recipe.

Spatchcocked Chicken

To spatchcock a chicken simply means getting rid of the backbone and allowing for easy opening and flattening. This will leave you with a single and easy-to-cook layer.

You would spatchcock a chicken for various reasons, some of which include:

  • Even seasoning – Spatchcocked chicken is one of the easiest chicken cuts to season. You can easily rub or apply your favorite seasoning without much wastage. The even surface implies that the drumsticks and thighs are on the same level and easily accessible.
  • For crispy skin – Opening up the chicken exposes all its skin upwards, which will turn yummy and crispy while cooking.
  • Uniform cooking – We all want tender, smooth, well-cooked, and delicious chicken. Spatchcocking flattens the entire piece of meat, allowing for even cooking. This will save you a lot of time you would have spent waiting for the thighs to cook.
  • For smoking – Spatchcocked chicken is also ideal for barbecue people. The flattened-out piece gives much more cooking control and also speeds up the cooking time. A spatchcocked chicken also occupies less space on the food smoker.
  • Serving – Spatchcocking helps you tear the chicken up, making it easy to lift it while serving. It is also easy to chop it into pieces using a chopping board, making serving easier.

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

Step one involves turning the chicken upside down so that the breasts are on the cutting board’s surface with the back facing you.

Slice the chicken alongside the backbone through the ribs. You will have to apply a little force to get it done, especially along the ribs. The cutting should be slightly beside the backbone and not directly along with it.

If you are using a pair of scissors, ensure you’re cutting using the blade parts close to where they’re stitched together and cut through the backbone.

Flip the sliced chicken and use your hands to press on the breast bone a little until it opens up. We recommend using your palm to press down on the chicken and stopping when you hear a crunch sound. Ensure that the thighs and breasts lie on the same level.

You can choose to marinate or transfer the chicken to the pot or food smoker directly. For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.