Cozy up around a traditional roast for your next Sunday dinner: This Garlic Butter Lemon Spatchcock Chicken is easy, juicy and full of flavour.
To me, there is not much greater joy than sitting down to a Sunday dinner.
It is cozy, a family tradition. It is writing a story into the book of our children, one they will carry with themselves for the rest of their lives.
“Remember how we always had those great Sunday dinners?” they’ll say. And the memories will bring back that cozy, fuzzy, warm feeling deep down in their stomachs. The same feeling we all have when we sit down to that meal.
It is far more important to have regular, predictable traditions in your family than going all-out once in a while.
It certainly doesn’t always have to be a roast, or a hugely big affair. Sometimes we only steer away a little and eat roasted pork tenderloin, but just this past Sunday we enjoyed a simple Chicken Dijon with rice and green beans. It is still special if your heart is behind it!
But since the classic Sunday roast is just that – the classic – I wanted to share my family’s favorite roast chicken recipe with you.
It’s fairly quick to make since it is spatchcocked (some call it butterflied, it’s the same thing). Don’t worry, I’ll show you how that works in a minute – it’s not hard.
From all the herbs, the butter and the lemon it has an incredible taste, always turns out juicy – and we unashamedly finish a small bird between the four of us.
Serve it with some simple roast potatoes and a side of baked carrots – and let your Sunday dinner tradition commence.
How to spatchcock a chicken:
Start by placing the chicken, breast-side down, in a roasting tin in front of you. The legs should point towards you.
Locate the bottom of the chicken and feel where the spine starts.
With poultry shears, cut left and right up along the backbone all the way to where the chicken’s head used to be. Your goal is to remove the entire backbone.
Now turn it over and very firmly push down on the breastbone of the chicken until you hear it crack and the chicken lays flat.
That’s it! You just spatchcocked your chicken. Keep the backbone in the freezer for homemade chicken stock.
Now you can flavor and fill your chicken.
How to make juicy, flavorful spatchcock chicken:
To give the greatest flavor and juiciness to your spatchcocked chicken, you should stuff the breasts.
It is the part that dries out most easily. Adding aromatics underneath the skin will also help develop a great taste.
My favorite thing to make is a simple garlic herb compound butter.
Once it is stirred together, you need to gently separate the skin over the chicken breast from the meat. Don’t rip it!
Then you can fill the pockets with the butter.
Placing lemon, herbs and garlic in the tin around the chicken will create even more flavour as the butterflied chicken bakes.
All you need is a drizzle of oil on the chicken (this is not a low fat chicken dish. Let me repeat: this is not a low fat chicken dish. But no worries. It’s a treat.).
Then simply rub a few spices on top (we like sea salt and black pepper here) and bake.
How long does a spatchcock chicken take to cook?
Wondering how long it takes to roast a butterflied chicken, and if the effort is worth it?
I’ll come right out and say it: It IS worth the extra few steps.
Where it usually takes at least 75 minutes to roast a whole chicken, a medium spatchcock chicken can be done in just 45 minutes.
All you have left to do while it roasts is some simple, rustic sides – and then you can simply carve it right at the table.
I hope you’ll make this for your family – and please share your experience and memories of traditional family dinners. I’d love to hear!
Get the printable recipe for this garlic butter lemon spatchcock chicken:
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For the compound butter:
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary needles
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
- 2 heaping tablespoons stick butter
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus extra)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
For the chicken:
- 1 whole chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- Handful thyme sprigs
- Handful Rosemary sprigs
- 4 garlic cloves (halved)
- 1 lemon (cut into wedges)
- Olive oil
- Make the compound butter: Stir all ingredients together very well. Set aside (don't refrigerate if you're using it right away).
- Spatchcock the chicken: Place the chicken breast-side down in a large roasting tin in front of you, with the legs pointing towards you. Remove the backbone by cutting left and right of it through the ribs with shears. Turn the chicken around and press down on the breastbone until you hear it crack and the chicken lays flat (see post for images).
- Prepare the chicken: Preheat the oven to 410°F (210°C). Place the thyme and rosemary sprigs in the roasting tin around the chicken, along with the cut garlic and lemon. Gently separate the skin over the chicken breast from the meat without ripping it. Fill the pockets with the prepared compound butter. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub it with salt and pepper.
- Roast the chicken: Place the chicken in the preheated oven and roast it for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 360°F (180°C) and roast until internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C). This will take about 30 minutes. Start checking after 20 and keep roasting until the thickest part of your chicken reaches the safe temperature.