This spatchcock chicken recipe is the perfect fall meal. Covered in warm fall spices, this chicken is spatchcocked for a quicker, more even roasting and is finished with a delicious cider gravy.
If you remember from my last post when I shared a recipe for maple-chipotle grilled salmon, I was struggling to let go of summer. The struggle was real, but I finally learned to move on and fully embrace fall. And you know what helped me with the transition?
Oh, and let’s not forget about roasted meats. There’s nothing more comforting than a beautiful roast chicken, and this oven roasted chicken makes for a perfect fall spin on a classic recipe.
What Is Spatchcock And Why Do You Spatchcock Chicken?
With a funny name like “spatchcock”, you might wonder why you would spatchcock a chicken in the first place. And I get it. Spatchcock isn’t the most attractive name, but it’s an awesome way to prepare whole poultry.
Spatchcocking is when you remove the backbone to split and flatten the bird. This makes for faster and more even cooking, which is a win-win in my book. While it may sound intimidating, it’s actually super easy. And I’m going to walk you through the process with step-by-step instructions and pictures of how to apply the spatchcock method to a whole chicken.
Ingredients You’ll Need
To make this delicious roasted spatchcock chicken, here’s everything you’ll need. Your whole chicken needs to be completely thawed. If you’re using a frozen chicken that hasn’t completely thawed, it’s not going to cook evenly and won’t turn out.
Make sure the butter is soft because you’re going to mix the spice mixture with the butter and rub it over the chicken. My spice mixture contains cumin, ginger, smoked paprika, brown sugar, cinnamon, and coriander. I also add some fresh sage. And we can’t forget the cider. You can use hard cider or nonalcoholic for this recipe.
Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
Preparing The Chicken
First, we are going to start out by checking the cavity of the bird. Most of the time, some innards will be in a plastic bag inside the cavity, so we want to remove those. Rinse the chicken on both the outside and inside of the cavity. Then, pat dry with paper towels and generously sprinkle with salt.
Expert Tip: I like to do this the day before. I then store the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator. This gives the skin a chance to dry out, which makes for crispy skin. If that’s not possible, it’s fine but prepping ahead of time to get that extra crispy skin is a plus! It’s also one less step you have to worry about when trying to get dinner on the table.
Once you’re ready to cook, it’s time to spatchcock. Flip the whole bird over so that the little tail is on top and facing you. If you run your finger along the chicken from that tail, you’ll feel the backbone. Using a good pair of kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone.
Now, cut along the other side of the backbone.
Turn the bird over and press down to flatten. You may need to use both hands, and you’ll likely hear a little cracking.
Roasting the Chicken
You’re now ready to slather it with butter and spices and roast it on a bed of potatoes, onion, and orange in the oven at 450°F.
After about 35 or 40 minutes, add the apple cider and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F.
Once it is cooked all the way through, move it along with the potatoes, onion, and orange to a cutting board and cover with foil. If you used a cast-iron skillet, you can put that directly on the stove or pour the drippings into a skillet if you used a roasting pan. Whisk in a little cornstarch and then cook until the liquid thickens. Finish with butter.
You are now ready to cut the oven roasted chicken into pieces, top with the apple cider gravy, and serve.
When I’ve baked a whole chicken, it can sometimes quickly overcook and become dry if I’m not watching my digital thermometer and monitoring the internal temperature. But I’ve never experience that when I spatchcock a whole bird. The chicken breasts and chicken thighs turns our super moist and tender. This is the best chicken recipe and you’re going to love the succulent and robust flavors in this one.
Expert Tips and FAQs
- When you spatchcock, every part is cooked more evenly and it yields the most juicy and flavorful meat, similar to the results of a rotisserie chicken.
- If you’re not comfortable rinsing the whole chicken due to the risk of spreading bacteria, skip that step.
- I always use a digital meat thermometer when making this dish to ensure I don’t overcook the meat.
- The word “spatchcock” is often referred to as “butterflied”. While similar, it’s not the same. I butterfly a chicken breast. I spatcock a whole chicken or turkey.
- You can use a hard apple cider, but feel free to use a non alcoholic cider if that’s more your style.
Looking for More Recipes?
It’s obvious we love apple cider in this recipe so we might as well make our own, right? This Homemade apple cider recipe is perfect for the fall and you’re going to want to get cozy with a steamy mug of homemade apple cider.
I’m from Denver and my Colorado-style pork green chile is a regional favorite and so delicious and comforting in the fall.
And if you’re looking for the ultimate fall cupcake, you’re in luck. Try my Apple spice cupcakes with praline filling and brown sugar frosting. We’re talking amazing flavor!
Did you find this blog post and step-by-step instructions helpful? I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. If you try it, leave a comment and rating below. I love hearing from you! You can also sign up for my newsletter on my website here and FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food I’m creating!
Roasted Apple Cider Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 Tablespoon unsalted butter softened, divided
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 small yellow onion, quartered
- 1 orange, quartered
- 1 1/2-2 lbs petite potatoes
- 1 1/2 cups hard or nonalcoholic cider
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 2-3 Tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
- Check the cavity of the bird to see if there are packaged innards. If so, remove them.
- Rinse the outside and inside of the chicken with cold water. Pat dry.
- Sprinkle generously with salt and store uncovered in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
- Place the chicken on a large cutting board breast-side down with the tail facing you. Using sturdy kitchen shears, cut along one side of the backbone. Then, cut along the other side of the backbone to remove. Flip and press down on the breast bone until the chicken flattens. You should hear a cracking.
- In at least a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or roasting pan, add the quartered onion, orange and petite potatoes. Place the chicken cut-side down on top.
- In a small bowl, mix the spices with 3 tablespoons of softened butter. Rub the butter-spice mixture all over the chicken skin as well as some underneath the skin on the breasts.
- Cook for 35 minutes. Pour in the apple cider and cook for another 10 minutes. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the temperature at the inner thigh. If it's 160-165°F, it's ready to pull. If not, continue cooking until it reaches that temperature range.
- If cooking in a cast-iron skillet, transfer the chicken and potatoes to a cutting board and cover with foil. If using a roasting pan, pour the drippings into a skillet and cover. Discard the onion and orange quarters.
- Over medium heat, whisk in cornstarch into the drippings. Keep whisking to prevent any lumps. Cook until the drippings thicken into a gravy.
- Cut the chicken into pieces and top with fresh sage. Serve with apple cider gravy.
- Start step 2, 3, and 4 the day before making the chicken. Then, store the chicken uncovered in the refrigerator. This gives the skin ample time to dry out, which makes for crispy skin. If that's not possible, it's fine but prepping ahead of time to get that extra crispy skin is a plus! It's also one less step you have to worry about when trying to get dinner on the table.
- When you spatchcock a, every part is cooked more evenly and it yields the most juicy and flavorful meat, similar to the results of a rotisserie chicken.
- If you're not comfortable rinsing the whole chicken due to the risk of spreading bacteria, skip that step.
- I always use a digital meat thermometer when making this dish to ensure I don't overcook the meat.
- The word "spatchcock" is often referred to as "butterflied". While similar, it's not the same. I butterfly a chicken breast. I spatcock a whole chicken or turkey.
- You can use a hard apple cider, but feel free to use a non alcoholic cider if that's more your style.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in October of 2018, but was re-published with updated step-by-step instructions, pictures and tips in September of 2020.