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Have you ever smoked a whole chicken on your pellet grill? I’ve smoked quite a few whole chickens on my Traeger using the beer can chicken model, but my favorite way to cook a whole chicken is by spatchcocking it… Are you still with me?

In this post, I’m going to share with you a sure fire way to make delicious chicken, with a deep flavor, and plenty of moisture. If you’re looking for a new way to cook chicken, this smoked spatchcock chicken recipe is just what you need.

How do you Spatchcock Chicken?

One of the first questions I get when I say I spatchcocked a chicken is “what the hell is that?”. Spatchcocking a chicken is a simple way to prepare a whole bird to lay flat on your grill surface. Since all of the meat on the bird sits at the same level while cooking, the meat cooks more evenly and you get a more flavorful and moist cook.

Spatchcock is a funny name! After doing some research I found that the theory is that the word is an abbreviation of ‘dispatch the cock,’. A phrase used to indicate a summary way of grilling a bird after splitting it open down the back and spreading the two halves out flat.

The Simple Steps

Spatchcocking a chicken might sound like a lot of work, but it’s really quite simple. All you need is a sharp knife or some chicken shears.

Start with a whole chicken laying breast side down. Locate the spine of the bird, and cut all the way from top to bottom on each side of the spine. This will allow you to remove the spine completely from the bird. Save that spine for some homemade chicken stock!

Make a small cut into the cartilage on the breastbone of the bird, and then flip the bird over. and push it flat. Placing the small cut in the breastbone cartilage will help you break the breastbone once it’s laid flat.

smoked spatchcock chicken
If you’re spatchcocked chicken looks like a monster’s face, you did it right.

Salt the bird

After the bird is spatchcocked you could just throw it in your smoker with your favorite seasoning, but I have one additional step I highly recommend. Salt the bird!!

Lightly salt the underside of the bird first. After you’ve hit the underside, flip the bird over. Now, slide a few fingers up under the chicken skin, being careful not to rip it, then put a little bit of salt under the skin on the breasts, thighs, and legs.

Once the bird is salted, place it on a baking sheet and cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. This simple step might sound like a hassle, but I’ve found that this really helps chicken hold moisture, and give you better flavor!

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Once you’re ready to cook the chicken, get your smoker set up for indirect heat and set the temp at 300 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the fridge, and lightly season the underside of the bird with your favorite seasoning. I’m in love with Traeger’s Fin and Feather rub right now, so that’s my first choice, but any good rub will work. Try to pick a rub with a little lower salt content, since you’ve already put some salt on the bird.

After you’ve hit the underside, flip the bird over again and get as much seasoning as you can under the skin. If I’m short on time I just do my best to get the seasoning in there. If you have a few extra minutes, mix your seasoning with a few tablespoons of soft butter. This will make it easier for you to put the seasoning under the skin and hold it in place, AND give you better flavor at the end.

smoked spatchcock chicken - pellet smoked whole chicken - barbecue - My favorite way to smoke a whole chicken, is to spatchcock it!

Cook the Bird

Now that the chicken is seasoned, all you have to do now is throw it on the smoker, with the breasts facing up. Be sure to tuck your wing tips behind the breasts to keep them from burning. After about two hours on the smoker (when the internal temp hits 155) turn your heat up to high. Let the spatchcocked chicken cook for an additional 10 minutes. This will crisp up the skin on the chicken. If you don’t eat the skin, you can skip this step. Always make sure your chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees before removing it from your grill or smoker.

That’s it! You’re done! I love cooking a chicken this way because of how easy it is to cut the bird once it’s done. Just a few cuts and you have 2 thigh/leg combos, and 2 breasts.

Love this concept? You can do the same thing with a Turkey, and get fantastic results! Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? I’d love to hear about what you did differently!

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Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Have you ever smoked a whole chicken on your pellet grill? I've smoked quite a few whole chickens on my Traeger using the beer can chicken model, but my favorite way to cook a whole chicken is by spatchcocking it... Are you still with me?
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue
Keyword beer can chicken, chicken, spatchcock, whole chicken
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 335 kcal
Author Nick

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Favorite Seasoning I like Traeger's Fin and Feather Rub
  • 2 tbsp butter optional

Instructions

  1. Locate the spine of the bird, and cut all the way from top to bottom on each side of the spine. This will allow you to remove the spine completely from the bird.
  2. Make a small cut into the cartilage on the breastbone of the bird, and then flip the bird over. and push it flat. Placing the small cut in the breastbone cartilage will help you break the breastbone once it's laid flat.
  3. Lightly salt the underside of the bird
  4. After you've hit the underside, flip the bird over. Now, slide a few fingers up under the chicken skin, being careful not to rip it, then put a little bit of salt under the skin on the breasts, thighs, and legs.
  5. Once the bird is salted, place it on a baking sheet and cover it, and place it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.
  6. get your smoker set up for indirect heat and set the temp at 300 degrees.
  7. Remove the chicken from the fridge, and lightly season the underside of the bird with your favorite seasoning.
  8. ry to pick a rub with a little lower salt content, since you've already put some salt on the bird.
  9. After you've hit the underside, flip the bird over again and get as much seasoning as you can under the skin. If I'm short on time I just do my best to get the seasoning in there. If you have a few extra minutes, mix your seasoning with a few tablespoons of soft butter. This will make it easier for you to put the seasoning under the skin and hold it in place, AND give you better flavor at the end.
  10. all you have to do now is throw it on the smoker, with the breasts facing up. Be sure to tuck your wing tips behind the breasts to keep them from burning. After about two hours on the smoker (when the internal temp hits 155) turn your heat up to high.
  11. Let the spatchcocked chicken cook for an additional 10 minutes. This will crisp up the skin on the chicken. If you don't eat the skin, you can skip this step. Always make sure your chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees before removing it from your grill or smoker.

Recipe Notes

Love this concept? You can do the same thing with a Turkey, and get fantastic results! Have you ever spatchcocked a chicken? I'd love to hear about what you did differently!