Perhaps my all time favorite way to cook chicken is simply whole roasted. The different cuts provide different flavors and textures, from the salty, fatty skin, to the tender juicy white meat of the breast, to the “tear flesh off the bone” wings and legs…there is something for everyone.  And roasting a whole chicken is actually pretty easy (at least with the right techniques and practice).  The biggest challenge for me is the time required to cook the bird.  Depending on size, most whole chickens will take 1.5+ hours to roast in an oven. If you’ve got the time, wonderful!! But if you don’t, I’ve got a simple technique that will cut that time in about half, while still giving you all the great flavors, textures, and awesomeness of the traditional method.  The secret is to butterfly the chicken (also called spatchcock)…check out the video and read below to learn the details.

The Fastest Way to Roast Chicken

  • Buy a good quality chicken from your grocery store…if you have free range, great; if not, a regular bird will do.
  • I like chickens around 6 – 8 lbs
  • If you don’t want to remove the backbone yourself, ask the butcher counter to do it, they should be happy to do so
  • Unpack the chicken, remove the innards, and pat the chicken dry with paper towels
  • Lay the chicken breast side down on your cutting board, and grab your heaviest chef knife along with a pair of kitchen shears if you have them
  • Looking at the back of the chicken the spine runs down the center, with the rib cages wrapping around to the breast meat
  • You want to use your knife to cut along both sides of the backbone, cutting through the ribs on each side
  • You’ll likely have to use some elbow grease to get through some parts; If a bone is being particularly stubborn, a nice technique to use is to lay the knife on the bone, and then hit the back of the knife with your free hand, creating downward pressure and breaking through the bone
  • You may also want to use the kitchen shears to cut through at certain points
  • One the backbone is out (you can keep it to make stocks/soups) turn the chicken breast side up, and press down to make it as flat as possible
  • You’ve now got a butterflied (spatchcock) chicken
  • Allow the chicken to sit out, and come up to room temperature, and while it does, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
  • Cut 2 onions & 1 lemon into slices and lay them out on a large baking sheet (you’ll want one with sides at least 1 inch high) roughly in the same shape as the chicken
  • The onions & lemon create steam that keeps the meat moist
  • Season the underside of the chicken with salt and pepper, and then lay the chicken, breast/skin side up on top of the onions & lemon slices
  • Lightly coat the skin with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper
  • Put the chicken into the 450 degree oven, and allow it to roast for 45 minutes
  • Take the chicken out of the oven, and using an instant read thermometer, test various points on the chicken. You want the thickest part of the breast meat to read 160 degrees
  • If it’s under, put back in the oven.  As a general rule every additional 5 minutes in the oven will raise the chicken’s temp by about 5 degrees.
  • Once cooked through, remove the chicken from the oven, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes
  • The onions and lemons that slipped out from under the chicken are likely burned, but those that stayed under will be soft and flavorful….and would make a great sauce with some reduced wine & chicken stock
  • Once rested, slice up that bird and enjoy!
Total Time: 
75mins
Prep Time: 
30minutes
Cook Time: 
45minutes