Butterfly Chicken

Butterfly chicken, also known as a spatchcocked chicken, is a superb way to cook an entire bird within 30 minutes, without compromising on flavor, texture, or moisture!

About This Butterfly Chicken Recipe

When it comes to cooking chicken, you have to pay more attention to certain parts 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 a chicken is the perfect cooking technique to ensure an even cook while retaining all its juicy flavors!

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 needs to be broken. But it’s far easier than you may expect, and we’ve laid out the entire process step-by-step to help you along the way.

Butterflying or spatchcocking the chicken not only allows all the parts of the bird to cook evenly but also speeds up the cooking time as the bird’s cavity is removed.

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 the flavor, texture, or moisture.

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, which will reflect in the flavors 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 be crisp as the rest of the bird cooks. It also marries with the herbs and spices beautifully, resulting in an undefeatable final flavor.
  • Sea Salt Flakes: The best salt to use due to the unique shape of the crystals. Each jagged corner will grab onto the flavors far better than rock salt or table salt. The salt will also draw out the excess moisture from the chicken skin, yielding a wonderfully crispy skin, and will return into the bird during cooking as a superb brine carrying the other flavors 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 flavor partners for millennia. Sesame adds a subtle nutty background flavor to the bird.
  • Nigella Seeds: Toasted onion flavors 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 flavors in the chicken.
  • Garlic Flakes: Similar to sea salt flakes, garlic flakes also grab onto other flavors because of the jagged edges. Garlic, poppy, and nigella seeds are an incredibly versatile trio.
  • Onion Salt: The allium flavors from the onion salt work much the same as salt. They lift the other flavors 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 also 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 (1 lb or less), I’d recommend only cooking for 20-25 minutes. A larger bird (2-3 lb) will need a longer cooking time of 35-45 minutes.

Can I use the leftover backbone for anything?

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

Butterfly Chicken

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


One of the best ways to cook an entire chicken in less than an hour, spatchcocked or butterfly chicken delivers a delectable meal with no compromise on flavor!

Yield: 1 medium chicken


How To Make Butterfly Chicken Step By Step

  1. Preheat the oven to 430℉. Begin by flipping the bird over, breast side down. Using sharp kitchen shears, remove the backbone by 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, and 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 150℉ and the thighs at 170℉.

  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.