How to Butterfly Chicken For The Grill

Struggling to cook a whole chicken? You need to learn how to butterfly your chicken!

Steaks and burgers are flat and generally uniform in thickness. This allows for even heat distribution and relatively easy cooking. Have you ever tried cooking chicken and turkey? They are a whole different ballgame.

They are hollow on the inside, they have thin parts, thick parts, and all types of different bones. Don’t even get started on the skin, which is completely different again!

All these different parts, cook times & the risk of salmonella can be a real turn-off for a lot of people. So, for this type of meat, one solution is to cook each part individually.

However, sometimes you need to have the bird in one piece and look presentable. To achieve this you want to use a method known as spatchcocking or to butterfly chicken.

How To Butterfly and Spatchcock Chicken

How to Cook Your Butterflied Chicken

  1. Once you have your butterflied chicken seasoned/marinated place it skin-side down in the center of the grill. You can also use an electric smoker for the job. Don’t have one?

  2. Let the bird cook for around 18 – 20 minutes or until nicely charred. The secret here is to leave the bird on the grill. Don’t touch it. This will cause the bird to stick to the grill. 

  3. Flip the bird and cook for a further 5 – 7 minutes, or until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F. Make sure you know where to put the thermometer In a spatchcock chicken, it should be in the thickest part, which is the breast and not touching any bones.

  4. Enjoy your first tasty spatchcocked bird!

Want to Spatchcock Your Turkey?

Spatchcocking a turkey is the same method as a chicken. Just remember not to add any stuffing in the cavity when you spatchcock. See my favorite smoked spatchcock turkey recipe, it always comes out juicy with crispy skin.

Looking for a juicy chicken? Make sure see our guide on how to how to tenderize chicken before grilling, we discuss 4 techniques that will produce delicious chicken every time!

How to butterfly chicken

How to Butterfly Chicken (Spatchcocking a Chicken)

Butterflying your chicken can be tricky. Follow my 8 steps below your chicken will be perfect.

Preparing Your Chicken to Butterfly or Spatchcock

How To Butterfly A Chicken

Butterflying or spatchcocking chicken is a great way to took a whole chicken while saving time and keeping it tender and moist! Butterflying a chicken is not as difficult as you may think.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Course: main
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 1 Chicken
Author: Charlie
Cost: 10


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Kitchen scissors


  • 1 whole chicken


  • First, you need to identify what side of the bird you are looking at. You know it is the breast side up when the drumsticks and wing tips are pointing upwards. Get the bird into the breast side down position, the drumstick and wing tips will be pointing down.
    How to butterfly a chicken for grilling step 1
  • In the centre of the bird you will feel a spine running down the full way down the length. Make a cut the full length down one side of the spine, leaving ½ – 1 inch to the spine.
    How to butterfly a chicken for grilling step 2
  • Make the same cut on the other side of the spine.
    cutting chicken in half
  • Remove the spine from the bird and spread open the cavity. Clean out any muck off the spine and set aside for making gravy or stocks.
    How to butterfly a chicken for grilling
  • Flip the bird so the breast side is facing upwards. With both hands or a sharp knife firmly press down on the bird’s breastbone until you hear a crack.
    How to butterfly a chicken for grilling
  • With both hands or a sharp knife firmly press down on the bird’s breastbone until you hear a crack.
    How to butterfly a chicken for grilling
  • Congratulations you have just butterflied your first chicken! The bird is now ready for your choice of seasoning or marinade. Remember if you are using chicken to always wash all utensils, surfaces and your hands!
    butterflied a chicken on a plate

Are You Smoking Your Spatchcock Chicken?

Having spatchcock chicken on your pellet grill? I love to use hickory or cherry pellets.

I find these flavors pair well with chicken. Traegar Grills have a great guide to picking the right pellets for your protein!

You have your friend’s and families health in your hands
If you are using you are using frozen chicken you want to know how to safely defrost your meat.

Wrapping It Up

As much as we love smoking spatchcock or butterflied chicken, our favorite bird would have to be the turkey!

Check out step by step guide to smoking a turkey, This one is a winner with the kids every time. Whats your families favorite bird?

Happy smoking


Wrapping It Up

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