Butterfly Chicken

Spatchcocking or Butterfly chicken is a superb way to cook an entire bird within 30 minutes, without compromising on flavour, texture or moisture!

About This Butterfly Chicken Recipe

When it comes to cooking chicken, due to its complex and unique shape, often parts of the bird, such as the legs and wings, will dry out before the breasts have reached the optimal temperature. That’s why butterflying is perfect!

This butterfly chicken recipe does require some hands-on prep and is not for the faint-hearted. The backbone must be removed and the breast bone is broken. It’s far easier than you may expect and we’ve got step-by-step images to help you along the way.

Not only will butterflying or spatchcocking your chicken allow all parts of the bird to cook evenly, but it also speeds up the cooking time with the removal of the bird’s cavity.

This recipe yields an entire cooked bird within 30 minutes of being in the oven and is a fantastic method for cooking chicken quickly without compromising on flavour, taste, or moisture.

Being such a useful technique, this method allows you to chop and change the flavours as much as you wish yielding a perfectly cooked chicken eat time.

Butterfly Chicken recipe

What You Need for This Butterfly Chicken Recipe

Butterfly Chicken Ingredients

Ingredient Notes

  • Free-range organic chicken: Free-range and organic birds are best for dishes like these. The chickens have had better care and nutrition throughout their lives and this will be shown through the flavour and moisture of the final cooked bird.
  • Olive oil: The best oil for this recipe, as it has a lower smoking point than vegetable oil, meaning the skin will crisp as the rest of the bird cooks. It also marries with the herbs and spices beautifully resulting in an undefeatable final flavour.
  • Sea salt flakes: The best salt to use due to the unique shape of the crystals. Each jagged corner will grab onto the flavours far better than rock salt or table salt. The salt will also draw out the excess moisture in the skin, yielding a wonderfully crispy skin, and will return into the bird during cooking as a superb brine carrying the other flavours into the meat.
  • Cracked black peppercorns: A traditional and straightforward seasoning as an aromatic foundation for the seeds and spices.
  • Sesame seeds: Chicken and Sesame have been flavour partners for millennia. Sesame adds a subtle nutty background flavour to the bird.
  • Nigella seeds: Toasted onion flavours are delivered from the use of nigella seeds and compliment the warmth of the sesame seeds beautifully.
  • Poppy seeds: A little fragrant opium to marry the onion and garlic flavours of the chicken.
  • Garlic flakes: Similar to sea salt flakes, due to their unique shape, garlic flakes grab onto other flavours because of the jagged edges. Garlic, poppy, and nigella seeds are a universal and incredibly versatile trio.
  • Onion salt: The allium flavours from the onion salt work much the same as salt. They lift the other flavours and spices in the blends.
  • Caraway seeds: A fragrant aromatic punch to add a little brightness to the dish. If you wanted to add a kick to the caraway seeds, try toasting them in a dry skillet for a couple of minutes before adding them to the blend.

Video: How to Make Butterfly Chicken from Scratch

Ingredient Substitutions

You can pick and choose the herbs and spices you use in this recipe. If you wanted something that uses more herbs rather than spices, substitute the seeds for rosemary, basil and sage instead! A dollop of tomato puree mixed with the oil would transform this bird into a Mediterranean delight!


What if I don’t have a spare skillet?

If you don’t have a spare skillet, you can always use another baking tray weighed down with dried pasta, rice, or ceramic baking beads! If you have none of those, you can just cover the bird with foil and cook it for a little longer, (10-15 minutes), although the skin may not become quite as crispy.

Will the timings be the same for other sized birds?

No! For a smaller bird (1lb or less), I’d recommend only cooking for 20-25 minutes. Equally, for a larger bird (2 – 3lb) you will need to increase the cooking time to 35-45 minutes.

Can I use the leftover backbone for anything?

Absolutely! As the backbone is packed with marrow and flavour, it can be used in stocks and soups for a real authentic chicken flavour.

Butterfly Chicken

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 1 hr


Spatchcocking or Butterfly chicken is a superb way to cook an entire bird within 30 minutes, without compromising on flavour, texture or moisture! This method offers versatility for you to experiment with flavours on a perfectly cooked bird each time.

Yield: 1 medium chicken


How To Make Butterfly Chicken Step By Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 430F. Begin by flipping the bird over, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove by backbone but cutting half an inch on each side of the bone until you have a long strip.

    Remove Backbone
  2. Next, flip the bird back over so the sliced side is against the worktop. Using both hands, push down on the breasts with confident force until you hear the crack of the breast bone breaking.

    flip the bird back over

    Break the Breast Bone

  3. Tuck the wings behind the breast and pat the bird dry with paper towels.

  4. Drizzle the bird with 2-3 tbsp of olive oil, followed by salt, pepper, spices and massage the spices into the skin.

    Oil Spices and Massage
  5. Drizzle the remaining oil into a large baking tray and place the bird breast side down. Cover with foil and place a large skillet to compress the bird.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the breast registers at 150F and the thighs at 170C.

  7. Remove the bird from the oven, and allow it to rest (covered with the foil) for 5-10 minutes before serving immediately.


  • The bird must rest after it’s cooked, this allows the juices to run back into the meat making for a succulent carve.
  • Once you’ve carved the bird, if there is any meat leftover you should allow it to cool to room temperature and refrigerate immediately in an air-tight container. This meat will be safe to eat for up to 3 days.
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