Spatchcock Chicken Roasted with Lemon, Garlic, and Ginger Marinade

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Spatchcock ChickenOne fine summer day, I asked my butcher for a whole chicken. “Do you want it spatchcocked?” he asked. Before I knew what spatchcocked meant, I said “Yes.”  Then, I watched him deftly remove the  backbone, and splay it out, flat– “See, I like to call it “roadkill chicken,” he said with a sly grin. I bought it. And I think he may come to regret ever showing me spatchcock chicken. I’ll link to a video on how to remove the backbone of your chicken, for those of you without a friendly butcher nearby.
I love to cook whole chickens– but it takes time, and it’s a little tricky to do on the barbecue in the summer (although I have tried and enjoyed the classic beer can chicken.)  We started buying spatchcock chicken every week, and now that the weather is warming up, I have gotten two at a time for the last couple weeks, since they make such great leftovers.
 This is what we ate after a long, beautiful day touring the Wimpole Estate and kitchen gardens.

Spatchcock Chicken


Spatchcock Chicken Roasted with Lemon, Garlic, and Ginger Marinade

Spatchcocked Chicken

Spatchcoking a whole chicken and then roasting or grilling it is one of the fastest ways to cook a chicken– and it comes out so juicy and delicious! The skin is crispy, garlicky and salty with just the right little tang.

  • Author: ariana
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25
  • Total Time: 40
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


1 Spatchcocked Chicken (how-to video)
1 small bunch of thyme
4 cloves garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger root, sliced
1 T sea salt
juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
3 T olive oil
pepper to taste
a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)


1. Make the marinade: Put all of the marinade ingredients into a small food processor and blend until everything is chopped fine and blended like a salad dressing.
2. Put the chicken in a wide glass dish (like a pie pan) pour the marinade over it. Turn it over so both sides get covered. I often make two chickens at a time, laying one on top of the other, marinated, with the insides facing each other. Reserve a little marinade to brush the chicken with as it cooks.

3. Cover with wax paper or a lid and put the chicken back in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour. Honestly, the marinade is so flavorful that I have had great results with little rest time. But if you have the option, longer is better.
4. Heat your oven to 450º F or 235º C.
5. Put your chicken skin-side-down on an oven rack (with a pan beneath to catch the drips) and roast for 25 minutes, or until the meat is turning a delicious golden-brown color.
5. Turn the chicken over. This is kind of tricky— you may need to employ the use of two pairs of tongs, or tongs and spatula. The trick is to move quickly. You’ll get better with practice, I promise. Once it’s skin-side-up, apply the reserved marinade, and continue roasting until the skin is getting crispy and brown– about 25 minutes. Since the chicken is flat, it cooks much more quickly, and somehow (magically?) retains lots of moisture.
Ooh, la la!
6. When your chicken is ready, take it tenderly out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes (you can cover it with tented foil if you don’t want to lose too much heat) so the juices don’t run out when you cut it up.


Here’s an extra little tip– if garlic is sometimes hard for you to digest, take out the little green stalk that may be growing in the middle– this bit is full of a substance designed to protect it from being eaten in its most tender stage, and this is usually what we are sensitive to.

Spatchcock Chicken(Optional– have your kid(s) set up a nice table in the middle of your back yard, which is probably the optimal place to enjoy a meal like this.)Eat it with your fingers.  OK, you don’t have to. But it’s SO good that you will probably want to. The skin is crispy, garlicky and salty with just the right little tang. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon over ours, and we also like having it with some homemade saurkraut on the side.Spatchcock ChickenAs I mentioned before, this chicken is great for leftovers, and wonderful for picnics! We made this every week all summer, and as soon as the sun came out, it was the first thing I started craving. An important note– this is awesome grilled on the barbeque! The skin will get more charred, but I like that, too!


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70 Responses to Spatchcock Chicken Roasted with Lemon, Garlic, and Ginger Marinade

  1. Noël McNeil April 24, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    This looks delicious! And I love that word…spatchcocked. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

      Yes, it’s a really fun word to say!

    • Amethyst June 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      I worked at a butcher for years, and even though I said it often, I still got a little juvenile giggle from saying it 😀

    • Joan Kaye April 13, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

      I first heard of spatchcock on a tv cooking programme,and have finally decided to give it a try so i have now D/L this recipe and am now going to give a try fingers X for me lol

  2. Meghan @ Whole Natural Life April 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    This looks so good, Ariana! I usually just do our roast chickens with salt and pepper, but I will have to try your method!

  3. Anonymous April 25, 2013 at 1:44 am #

    This looks really good! I’ve seen spatchcocked chicken in recipe books but I’ve never tried to do it. We do grill chicken a lot during the summer though, usually two at a time because we enjoy the leftovers too. This marinade sounds delicious and I plan on trying it soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      Let me know how it comes out, Julie– it’s perfect for doing two chickens with, and really doesn’t feel like much work.

  4. Nathan April 25, 2013 at 1:51 am #

    I’ve been doing spatchcocked or halved chickens on the grill weekly with coconut oil Tandoori paste and it has been a favorite in our house. Makes for great leftovers throughout the week too.

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:37 pm #

      That sounds super good. I will have to try a tanoori marinade. And coconut oil? Perfect!

  5. Anonymous April 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Yum! Your marinade sound delicious. I think cooking at 425 also makes a tasty difference. I want to try this. Heidi

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Yeah, I think the higher heat helps keep things juicy, instead of cooking too long and drying out.

  6. Winnie May 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

    Just wanted to let you know….your recipes and photos make me happy.

  7. Hazel May 3, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    ‘Keep up the nice work fellows’ indeed!

    I’d planned to defrost belly pork and barbecue that tonight, but then discovered my husband has been painting the top half of our new-to-us dresser (hutch) on top of the freezer…
    I remembered your post and spatchcocked poultry is something I’ve been meaning to try for ages, so tonight…we will have barbecued spatchcocked chicken 🙂

    Can’t pass up an opportunity to cook and eat outside!

  8. Hazel May 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    Absolutely delicious! And incredibly juicy still. My son said he liked your recipes when I said it was from your blog!

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

      Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and report, Hazel– that made my day! 🙂

  9. Anonymous May 4, 2013 at 6:30 am #

    Hi Ariana, good to know that you and I used the same ingredients when roasting chicken .Sometimes I used paprika instead cayenne pepper. I used the leftovers if any , as fillings for sandwiches, great for lunchboxes . Lina

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

      That sounds perfect, Lina. I like to add smoked paprika to some of my marinades– it totally changes it, and makes it taste really Spanish. Mmmm…

  10. allmussedup May 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Your garden looks so very inviting…how lovely to be able to eat outside!

    • Ariana Mullins May 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Yes, eating outdoors is the essence of “the good life” for me. I pretty much wait around for at least half of the year for the Sweet Season to arrive, and then we’re out there whenever possible, even if we’re wearing jackets!

  11. Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm #

    I have my chicken marinading for tonight’s dinner. My chicken is pastured, though, and I’m wondering if that would change the cooking directions.

    • Ariana Mullins May 20, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi there! I only cook pastured chickens myself, so these instructions are for you. I hadn’t really thought about non-pastured… Hopefully this also works well for those. 🙂

    • Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

      Thanks so much Ariana. I am really looking forward to tonight’s dinner.

    • Anonymous May 20, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

      The chicken turned out great. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Ariana Mullins June 1, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      So glad it turned out well! Thank you for coming back to tell me, that made me happy. 🙂

  12. Amethyst June 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    Any recommendations for doing this on the BBQ? Offset heat? How hot?

    • Ariana Mullins June 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm #

      Hi Amethyst, I would cook it pretty hot over low coals (no flame.) I am not a BBQ expert, but the goal is to cook the chicken quickly without burning the skin off. I hope that helps!

  13. Miriam Ellis July 5, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I made this for our 4th of July barbecue and it was a huge hit! People couldn’t believe how moist and juicy it was. I’ve never been able to make a chicken like that myself, so I’m thrilled. Thank you!

    • Ariana Mullins July 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      SO glad it turned out so well for you! Thank you for stopping by to tell me, Miriam– that always makes my day.

  14. Michelle July 14, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    I made this tonight for our dinner guests. It was a big hit! I’m excited that I have leftovers to look forward to as well. It’s amazing how subtle the ginger flavor is. I wasn’t daring enough to ask the butcher to spatchcock the chicken, I just requested that he butterfly them. Such contrasting words, butterfly vs spatchcock!

    • ariana January 3, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

      Your comment about butterfly vs. spatchcock made me smile, Michelle. So glad you and your guests loved it!

  15. Icarus August 16, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Thank you for posting the marinade recipe. I’m using it for dinner tonight.

  16. Peter September 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

    Thank you. We are trying your version tonight for a change. I made a really good discovery this summer: put the chicken and the marinade in a large polythene bag (freezer bag) – more contact between marinade and chicken. Also I cook in a small roasting tin so that juices are eaten too – maybe something that soaks them up like cous cous or Bulgar wheat. No need to turn. I have been doing a lebanese version with tarragon, paprika, preserved lemons, cumin, thyme and cayenne pepper. Also discovered that it works well with chicken thighs (cheaper) for hungry teenagers. Also grill for a few minutes at end to get slightly charred skin.

  17. Liene September 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    I have this marinading in the fridge as we speak. Now be honest, how big of a mess does it make cooking it on an oven rack? I’m tempted to put it in a baking dish, as I’m not looking forwards to scrubbing the cooked remains off a rack, but I totally see that would change the chicken, as it would be partially cooking in its own juices. What do you think?

    • Ariana Mullins September 9, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

      I definitely understand wanting to skip the extra cleanup on this one! Someone recently said that they did it in a roasting tin and didn’t turn it, and that it turned out well. I think it depends on how much you’re craving “grilled/ barbecued” chicken, versus a really good roast chicken– both are good! Let me know how it comes out!

    • Liene September 10, 2013 at 2:20 am #

      It was delicious! I’m one of the lucky few that has a “friendly butcher” so this will be a repeat. Thanks!

  18. recipes for weight loss December 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Wow! Perfect this holiday!Thank you for posting this kind of recipe. I should follow this too.

  19. Jennifer January 3, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    This looks fantastic! I cook my chicken this way also – I don’t have a roasting pan, and this is a great way to get crispy skin all over.

    • ariana January 3, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

      Awesome, hope you love it Jennifer!

  20. Anya Vien January 15, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    What an amazing recipe!

  21. Linda July 9, 2014 at 1:17 am #

    This is definitely one of my fave recipes Ariana. As soon as you posted it, I was off to Wholefoods for my turn?.unfortunately, the butcher didn’t know what “spatchcocked” meant. After a quick explanation, he prepped it for me. After that first time, I’ve done it myself at home! Delicious and fun to make! <3. Linda KJ

  22. April January 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

    Hi there! I have a favourite whole roast chicken recipe but this weekend need to cook for 11 so thought spatchcocking would solve my problems however as I’ve never spatchcocked a chicken I’m unsure of the cooking times. How many kgs was the chicken you used in this recipe so that I can more closely rely on your cooking times? Sincerely hope you can get back to me before this Saturday! Thanks either way!

  23. Sarah November 15, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    Hello. Just wanted to tell you I just made this and it was absolutely delicious. I used dried thyme and I only marinated it for about 3hrs. I’m amazed by how simple it is but packing in flavor. Thanks and I’ll definitely make it again.

  24. Sarah September 18, 2017 at 2:13 am #

    I made this tonight for dinner. It is absolutely delicious. Followed the recipe but put the chicken on the grill. We had a 4+lb bird and it took about 50 minutes with a 10 minute rest. I will make this again and again. Thanks!!

  25. paul rennison August 24, 2018 at 8:39 am #

    to turn the chicken over just put a cooking rack on top of the chicken and turn 180 simples


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