Servings6
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time2 hours
Skill Leveleasy

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If you’ve never smoked a spatchcock chicken, then you’ve definitely been missing out on one of the best ways to cook a whole chicken! Not only does it allow for more smoke to penetrate the meat, but it cooks quicker and more evenly. Try smoking a spatchcock chicken next time and you’ll never look back. Happy smoking!

How do you get crispy skin on smoked spatchcock chicken?

Air drying! If you have the time - before seasoning the spatchcock chicken - sprinkle with Kosher salt and place it on a wire rack in the refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours to remove any excess water from the skin. This will help help make the skin crispy when smoking the chicken.

If you didn't have time to air dry the chicken in the refrigerator, add a tablespoon of baking powder to the seasoning. Additionally, smoking the chicken at a higher temperature towards the end of the cooking process can help crisp up the skin.

What is smoked spatchcock chicken?

Smoked spatchcock chicken refers to a cooking method where a whole chicken is prepared by removing its backbone and flattening it before smoking it to impart a smoky flavor.

How do I spatchcock a chicken?

To spatchcock a chicken, place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut along both sides of the backbone and remove it. Flip the chicken over and press it firmly to flatten it.

What temperature should I smoke a spatchcock chicken at?

Aim for a smoking temperature of around 225-250°F (107-121°C) for a spatchcock chicken. This allows for a slow and even cooking process, resulting in tender and juicy meat.

Ingredients

Spatchcock Chicken

  • 4 pounds whole chicken (15% off here), preferably air chilled
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, preferably smoked
  • 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

BBQ Tools

Steps

  1. Air dry the spatchcock chicken before smoking

    This is the key to tasty, crispy skin! If you have the time, place the spatchcock on a wire rack, coat evenly in 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt (under and over the skin), and refrigerate uncovered for up to 24 hours to remove any excess water from the skin. This will help help make the skin crispy when smoking the spatchcock chicken.

  2. Preheat the smoker

    Preheat smoker to 225°F. Most pellet grills don’t need it, but you can add a pan of water in the corner of the smoker to keep moisture inside. If using a Traeger with the Super Smoke setting, turn it on as well.

  3. Mix together seasonings

    In a medium sized bowl, mix together brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).

    Smoked Spatchcock Chicken - Seasoning
  4. Spatchcock the chicken

    Place the chicken breast side down. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the chicken’s backbone and remove it. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breastbone to flatten the chicken. Rub the chicken all over with the seasoning mixture, over and under the skin.

    Smoked Spatchcock Chicken - Cut Along Both Sides of the Backbone
    Smoked Spatchcock Chicken - Remove backbone
  5. Smoke the spatchcock chicken

    Place spatchcock chicken in the smoker breast side up and smoke at 225°F until it hits an internal temperature of 110°F in the thickest part of the breast, approximately 45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. I recommend using an internal meat thermometer to easily keep track the temperature.

    Once the smoked spatchcock chicken hits the target temperature of 110℉, increase the temperature of the smoker to 400℉. Continue to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160℉ in the thickest part of the breast. The smoked spatchcock chicken will continue to cook once removed from the smoker and eventually reach a final temperature of 165℉ in the breast. Remember, always cook to temperature and not time!

    Smoked Spatchcock Chicken in the Smoker
  6. Rest the smoked spatchcock chicken

    Remove the smoked spatchcock chicken from the smoker and transfer it to a carving board. Let it rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat and not run out when slicing. There's no need to tent it with foil as it will make the skin soggy.

  7. Serve the smoked spatchcock chicken

    Once the chicken has rested for at least 20 minutes, carve it and serve. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Eric Dordick
    November 15th, 2023
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    This is my first time smoking a spatchcock chicken. Do you use salted or unsalted butter? Do you melt the butter before rubbing it on chicken and is that done after you brine over night w/ salt and before you add the rub?
    Reply
    1. Allan Kiezel
      November 17th, 2023
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      I usually use unsalted butter, but it shouldn’t matter much. I would brine it overnight with salt first and then put the butter on before cooking. You'll want to soften the butter, not melt it. Let me know if you have any more questions!
      Reply
  2. steve
    October 18th, 2023
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    Nate - did you air dry in frig for 24hrs as suggested? I've tried this once adding the baking powder since I didn't have 24 hours to spare and skin was not crispy like I like it. thanks, steve
    Reply
  3. Nate
    October 12th, 2023
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    To answer the butter/oil question, I rubbed butter on the outside of the skin and inside the skin also. And that resulted in perfect crispy chicken.
    Reply
  4. Charlie
    May 28th, 2023
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    ['m a little confused you said "If you didn't have time to air dry the chicken in the refrigerator, add a tablespoon of baking powder to the butter mixture." but I don't see a butter mixture in the recipe. Also the photos show a small bowl of oil next to the rub, do I brush this on before adding the rub? it's not mentioned in the recipe. It sounds good and i'm going to give it a try later today but am confused about these things
    Reply
  5. Drl Karl Kinkead
    May 7th, 2023
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    Awesome recipe, thanks. I'm trying it tonight for Sunday dinner
    Reply
    1. Allan Kiezel
      May 12th, 2023
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      Let me know how it comes out! Appreciate you trying recipe.
      Reply
  6. Ethan
    November 30th, 2022
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    I have made this recipe 3 times now and love it every time! It’s the best way to roast a whole chicken!!
    Reply

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