Butterflied Roast Chicken

A simple roast chicken is a technique that everyone should master, but it’s not easy. One of the first things they teach you in culinary school is that the test of a good chef (or restaurant) can be determined by their roast chicken and not their most elaborate dish. I’m totally serious. And I’ve tested this theory many times over the years, even at some of the finest restaurants. But the reality is, roast chicken perfection is difficult to achieve, especially if you’re trying to roast that chicken whole. This is my butterflied roast chicken recipe and it’s truly a game changer.

To butterfly something means to cut it horizontally almost but not entirely in half, and then to open it like a book. The benefits of this cut are twofold: the meat or poultry will cook more evenly and more quickly. I butterfly the boneless skinless chicken in other dishes I make, but here we are applying this technique to a whole chicken. This is a technique that sound tricky at first, but is actually somewhat easy and in tis recipe,  it cuts cooking time in half. This technique is at times also referred to as “spatchcocked”.butterflied roast chicken

In my butterflied roast chicken recipe I season the chicken with butter and some simple spices before cooking, so that the flavors penetrate the flesh all the way to the bone. This is true whether you’re rubbing the bird with salt, spices and aromatics — and it’s often called a wet brine. If the fat omitted, it would be called a dry brine.

To be honest, there is nothing worse than an overcooked chicken which leads to a dry, stringy texture. This is even harder to avoid when roasting a whole chicken, so the butterflied method may just solve your problem and may get your family loving a simple chicken dinner all over again. My butterflied roast chicken yields a flavorful, juicy chicken with crispy skin expected from a true chef. So there you have it, one of my biggest cooking secrets revealed.

Recipe: Butterflied Roast Chicken

: 4 : 10 min : 45 min : 1 hr : Medium


  • 1 large whole organic chicken, about 3 to 4 pounds
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • Step 1 Place oven rack in upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with two pieces aluminum foil so there is a little overhang on all sides. Set near your work station. In a small bowl add kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. set aside.
  • Step 2 To Butterfly the Chicken: Place the whole chicken breast-side down on a cutting board or directly on the baking sheet you are using. Using kitchen shears, remove the spine from chicken and discard.
  • Step 3 Using your hands, flatten chicken by placing skin side up on a cutting board and applying firm pressure to breastbone.
  • Step 4 Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the chicken on both sides with the melted butter. Sprinkle the spices all over chicken. Place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet skin side up.
  • Step 5 Place the chicken in the oven and roast, rotating once, until thickest part of breast close to bone registers 150 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer about 35-40 minutes.
  • Step 6 Remove the chicken carefully from oven, transfer to cutting board, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and allow to rest 5 minutes before carving. Serve hot with some of the pan juices drizzled on top.
About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

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