This Honey-Soy Glazed Spatchcock Chicken is juicy, savory, crispy, and utterly delicious. The umami-packed sauce is everything! I’ll show you the foolproof way of making the perfect whole chicken at home. It makes a fabulous centerpiece for Sunday dinners and the holidays.
What is Spatchcock Chicken
Spatchcock chicken (スパッチコックチキン) is a popular way to prepare a whole chicken at home. Take a whole chicken, remove the backbone and sternum, and flatten it. Since the chicken is butterflied, it cooks more evenly and faster in the oven than cooking the whole bird. Though the origin of the word spatchcock is not clear, it has been around since the 18th century.
You can ask the butcher to butterfly the chicken for you or do it easily by yourself at home. We’ll show you how in the video and recipe below.
Why Spatchcock Chicken?
There are many reasons to do spatchcock chicken at home vs. roasting a whole bird.
- Crispy skin – Since the skin is all facing up, the moisture is able to escape resulting in crispier skin.
- Cooks the white and dark meats evenly – It’s tricky to cook both the white and dark meats of the chicken evenly even when trussed. By laying the chicken flat provides a wide surface and ensures uniform cooking.
- Fast cooking time – The general rule for roasting a whole chicken in the oven is 20 minutes per pound. Spatchcock cuts the cooking time in half! I’ll discuss more in the next section.
- Easier to season – With the chicken flatten and face up, it’s a whole lot easier to spread both dry and wet seasoning on the whole bird without it falling off.
- Foolproof results – With a meat thermometer, we’ll show you the sure-win method to make the perfect juicy chicken every time.
Spatchcock Chicken Cooks Significantly Faster
Roasting a whole 4-pound chicken in the oven takes 1 hour and 20 minutes (general rule: 20 mins per lb), but spatchcock chicken is done around 40 minutes. Half the time!
We recommend using a bird no larger than 5 lbs (2 to 2.3 kg) for spatchcock chicken. We like the skin to meat ratio for this size chicken and it cooks very quickly.
Some people recommend letting the cold whole chicken sit at room temperature to warm up and then cook it so it’ll cook evenly. With spatchcock chicken, you can throw it straight into the oven cold and not worry whether the chicken is at room temp.
Spatchcock chicken is ideal for a weeknight meal or any holiday meal for a small gathering! We recommend 4-5 people per 4-pound chicken.
How to Prepare Spatchcock Chicken
It is super easy to prepare spatchcock chicken but you will need to get your hands dirty. Here are the steps:
- Remove the backbone from the chicken with kitchen shears. We have tried various kitchen shears and this Kuhn Rikon is the victory. It cuts through the chicken bone easily.
- Separate the skin and the meat on the chicken breast (and thighs, if you like).
- Mix kosher salt and pepper and generously spread all over the chicken, and that includes between the breast skin and meat.
- Place on a baking rack and sit in the fridge for 24 hours uncovered. This removes the moisture from the skin allowing it to crisp up easier, and the seasoning gets absorbed by the meat.
- Remove from fridge and season with garlic, ginger, and oil. Avoid using butter as it introduces moisture and the skin won’t be as crispy.
Brining Chicken: Dry, Wet, or None
Brining a chicken is not a must, but we strongly recommend taking the time to do it. Why? Chicken is a naturally lean meat which means it’s prone to dry out.
For this instance, dry brining is the best option as compared to wet brining. Wet brining introduces moisture and you won’t get crispy skin. It also dilutes the natural flavors of the chicken.
On the other hand, dry brining allows the meat enough time to absorb the seasonings all the way through. It also helps keeping the meat moist and tender when you leave it in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Even when you overcook slightly, the chicken will still come out juicy.
In short, the extra step of dry brining will leave you with deeply flavorful, tender meat and shattering crispy skin. That’s the finest tasting chicken we’re after.
Ideal Temperature for Spatchcock Chicken
Most recipes you see will call for cooking the chicken to 165ºF (74ºC). The reason is that 165ºF (74ºC) is the temperature salmonella is destroyed in the chicken for food safety. However, if you do this you will end up with a dry and overcooked chicken.
For killing salmonella in chicken, there are actually two factors. Time and temperature. At 165ºF (74ºC) all the salmonella will be killed instantly, however, if you keep the chicken at 150°F (66°C) for 3 minutes it has the same effect according to the USDA.
One thing to keep in mind is that the outer part of the chicken meat is going to be much hotter than the inner part. So when the thickest part of the chicken hits 150°F (66°C), the outer layers are around 180ºF (82ºC).
When the chicken is taken out from the oven, the remaining heat continues to increase the temperature. So when the meat thermometer says 150°F (66°C), the temperature is sustained or even keep going up for 5-10°F after removing from the oven. For more details, check out the experiment from Thermoworks and Kenji’s Lopez’s article on Serious Eats.
This makes having an oven probe extremely important, you don’t want to keep opening the oven door to test if the chicken is at 150°F (66°C).
If your oven doesn’t come with the probe function, we highly recommend this Thermoworks Chef’s Alarm for cooking.
Honey Soy Glazed Sauce
For this recipe, 10 minutes before the chicken is ready when it’s around 135 ºF (57 ºC), we brush our favorite gluten-free honey soy sauce on the chicken skin. The sauce adds a bit of sweetness, umami from the tamari soy sauce, and enhances the flavors overall. We use Kikkoman’s gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce to create this sauce.
A Honey Soy Glaze gives the chicken a glossy, flavorful coating to complement the meat’s flavor and dress up its appearance.
Watch How to Make Honey Soy Glazed Spatchcock Chicken
This Honey-Soy Glazed Spatchcock Chicken is juicy, savory, crispy, and utterly delicious. The umami-packed sauce is everything! I’ll show you the foolproof way of making the perfect whole chicken at home.
Review Key Points and Important Tips to Remember
- Use a whole chicken (ideally “air-chilled”) no larger than 5 lbs (2.3 kg) for spatchcock chicken.
- Season the whole chicken liberally, on all sides. I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt and 16-mesh coarse ground black pepper.
- Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for 24 hours before roasting. This allows the skin to dry out slightly and crisp up better during roasting.
- Roast at 450°F (232°C) with a convection oven or 475ºF (246ºC) with a conventional oven. Convection cooking uses a fan to evenly distribute hot air throughout the oven and promotes more even browning, particularly for meat.
- Baste the chicken with the glaze 10 minutes before the chicken is done cooking to avoid burning.
- Roast chicken until thickest part of breasts close to bone registers 150°F (66°C) on the oven meat probe or on an instant-read thermometer.
- Tent loosely with foil for at least 10 minutes and allow the chicken to rest before carving. This allows the chicken to keep 150°F (66°C) for 3 minutes (equivalent to the safe internal temperature for cooked chicken 165ºF (74ºC) according to USDA. Also, it allows the juices in the chicken to distribute themselves more evenly throughout the meat, resulting in juicier meat.
Perfect Holiday Meal for a Small Gathering
When the chicken is ready to be served, we carve up the chicken into individual servings and pour the delicious and flavor-packed sauce on top. I am getting hungry by thinking about how tasty this easy recipe is.
If you’re planning to serve a whole chicken at a small family gathering, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. It’s really easy and as long as you spatchcock chicken, dry brine, and use a meat probe thermometer!
Delicious Sides to Serve With This Chicken
- Green Beans with Yuzu Vinaigrette
- Maple and Miso Glazed Roasted Carrots
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Shio Koji
- Warm Mushroom Salad with Sesame Dressing
- Kabocha Squash Soup
- Macaroni Gratin
- Green Beans with Yuzu Vinaigrette
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Honey Soy Glazed Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 (4-lb) whole chicken (1.8 kg; No larger than 5 lbs or 2.3 kg; preferably air-chilled)
- 1 Tbsp roasted sesame oil (I used Kikkoman Sesame Oil)
- 1 knob ginger (about 1 inch, 2.5 cm)
- 1 clove garlic
Honey Soy Glaze
- sage (for decoration)
- pomegranate (for decoration)
- Cranberries (for decoration)
- Gather all the ingredients. If your chicken comes with giblets, remove them.
[The Day Before Roasting]
- In a small bowl, combine salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken breast-side down with the tail side facing towards you on a cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears*, remove the backbone of the chicken by cutting along both sides of the spine (Cut closely to the spine so that you do not remove any excess meat). *We have tried various kitchen shears and this Kuhn Rikon is the victor
- Open the rib cage, trim off any fat, and clean up inside the chicken.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels on both sides.
- Place breast side up. Using the heel of your hands, flatten the chicken by pressing down firmly on the chicken’s breastbone until you hear a crack. The legs and breasts should lay completely flat so all parts of the chicken is roasted evenly.
- Carefully separate the skin from the breasts (and thighs, if you like), by gently lifting the skin.
- Rub the seasoning under the skin of chicken breasts (and thighs).
- Sprinkle the seasoning on all sides and rub it to distribute the seasoning. I use this Maraca Sifter for even sprinkling.
- Transfer to a wire rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and position chicken so that breasts are aligned with the center of the baking sheet. Store the chicken, uncovered, at the bottom shelf of your refrigerator, for at least 12 hours or up to a full day, which allows the skin to dry out slightly and crisp up better during roasting. Be sure it is not touching other fridge items.
To Make the Honey Soy Glaze
- In a small saucepan, whisk together the ingredients for Honey Soy Glaze. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat.
- When boiling, turn heat to low to maintain a simmer and reduce the sauce in half, about 25 minutes. You can leave out the sauce overnight at the kitchen counter or refrigerate if you live in a humid environment.
[The Day of Roasting]
- Preheat the convection oven, with a rack in the upper-middle position, to 450°F (232°C). Convection cooking uses a fan to evenly distribute hot air throughout the oven and promotes more even browning. If you don’t have the convection oven, preheat to 475ºF (246ºC).
- Peel and grate the ginger. You will need 1 tsp grated ginger. In a small bowl, combine sesame oil, grated ginger, and crushed garlic from one clove.
- Rub the sesame oil mixture all over the chicken.
- Rub the sesame oil mixture under the skin.
- Insert the oven meat probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast close to the bone. Optionally, you can tuck wing tips under the chicken so they don't burn (I skipped).
- Set the target temperature of the meat probe* to 150°F (66°C). Roast chicken at 450°F (232°C; convection oven), for total 40-45 minutes. Roughly 10 minutes before the chicken is done, when the probe thermometer registers at 135ºF (57ºC), pull out the baking sheet and glaze the sauce. *If your oven doesn’t come with the probe function, we highly recommend this Thermoworks Chef’s Alarm for cooking.
- While the chicken is being roasted, prepare a brush and the Honey Soy Glaze. If you kept it in the refrigerator, bring back to room temperature.
- As the chicken approaches doneness, around 135ºF (57ºC), pull out the baking sheet and quickly apply Honey Soy Glaze so you don’t lose the heat.
- Continue to roast chicken until the thickest part of the breast close to bone registers 150°F (66°C) on the oven meat probe or on an instant-read thermometer. The temperature of the chicken will increase as it rests as much as 5-10ºF, so you do not want to remove the chicken any later, or the chicken breast will begin to dry out.
- Remove chicken from oven, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest 10 minutes before carving. This allows the chicken to keep 150°F (66°C) for 3 minutes (equivalent to the safe internal temperature for cooked chicken 165ºF (74ºC) according to the UDSA) and the juices in the chicken to distribute themselves more evenly throughout the meat, resulting in juicier meat.
- Transfer to a serving platter or a cutting board and decorate the chicken with garnish (optional). Remove the legs (cutting the drumsticks from the thighs, if desired), then remove the entire chicken breasts and carve at a slight angle against the grain of the meat to create tender cuts of meat.