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Dinner doesn’t get any better than lemony, garlicky marinated spatchcock chicken in a cast iron skillet. Great with or without gravy. Ready in under an hour.

sliced spatchcock chicken breast with gravy over mashed potatoes with broccolini in a bowl
Psst…I’m smitten with these bowls. Get them here.
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Why we love this recipe

Truth be told, when I buy a whole chicken, I don’t tend to spatchcock it myself. I’m perfectly happy roasting it as-is. But now that we get the majority of our meat from subscription services, there’s sometimes a butterflied bird in the mix. I’ve come to love this method of roasting a chicken.

Spatchcocking (sometimes called butterflying) a whole chicken means cutting out the backbone so that you can flatten the bird for cooking. It makes grilling easier, and it also makes a great shape to pop into a 12-inch cast iron skillet and roast.

This recipe is:

  • Bathed in a garlicky, lemony, herb-flecked marinade that you can use in advance or right before cooking
  • Easy to cook evenly
  • Special-feeling yet totally unfussy
  • Make-ahead friendly and great for meal prep
  • Equally good with or without gravy, depending on your preference

(For kicks, here’s a dissenting viewpoint on spatchcocking. I’m slightly exhausted just reading it, but hey.)

What you’ll need

Here’s a glance at the ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe. If you’re making gravy, please refer to the recipe card below to see what else you’ll need.

ingredients in bowls
  • A good-quality whole chicken that’s been spatchcocked. Buy it that way, ask your butcher to do it for you, or do it yourself. (You can easily find videos on YouTube to show you how.)
  • I love herbes de Provence — a beautiful blend that typically includes thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and/or bay leaf. It quickly elevates a simple recipe. You can type it into the search bar to find more ways to use it.
  • I’ve pictured my favorite herb salt, but you can use good old kosher or fine sea salt.
  • When buying lemons to zest, look for ones that haven’t been painted or waxed if possible, and wash them well.

My favorite sources for meat & pantry staples

For years, I’ve been sourcing our meat from ButcherBox. We love this curated meat delivery service, which provides grass-finished beef, heritage breed pork, organic chicken, and more from small farms direct to the customer. You can learn more in my extensive Butcher Box review and unboxing.

I love Thrive Market for a wide variety of products. Often described as one part Whole Foods, one part Costco, they’re a membership-based online market for healthier products at discounted prices. Plus, they’re mission-driven, engaged in the community, and not currently owned by a giant corporation. You can learn more in my Thrive Market review and unboxing.

How to make it

Here’s what you’ll do to make a beautiful marinated spatchcocked chicken in a cast iron skillet. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details — including instructions for making the gravy — in the recipe card below.

step by step
  1. Add all the ingredients for the marinade to a mortar, a small food processor or blender, or a bowl if you don’t have any of those.
  2. Mix up the marinade, grinding it to a very rough paste.
  3. Place the chicken into the skillet and spread the marinade evenly over the it. At this point you can let it marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, overnight in the fridge, or pop it right into the oven, whichever you prefer.
  4. Roast in the center of a 425°F oven for about 40 minutes, depending on size, until the juices run clear when you prick a knife between a leg and thigh, and the breast meat reads 150°F on an instant read thermometer. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Make gravy (according to the directions below) if you like.

Expert tips and FAQs

What’s the difference between spatchcocking and butterflying?

Butterflying is a more general term for a method of preparing meat, fish, poultry, and more. It means slicing the item almost in half but leaving it attached at one end so that you can open it up like a book and cook it flat. It’s so named because the result is shaped a bit like a butterfly.

Spatchcocking is a term specific to whole poultry and game birds. The idea is the same, but the opening specifically refers to cutting out the backbone.

Can I make marinated spatchcock chicken in advance?

You sure can. You can roast the chicken and even make the gravy in advance. Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat the gravy in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a little extra broth if necessary.

What to serve it with

In the photos here, I’ve pictured the chicken with mashed potatoes and simply steamed broccolini. It would also pair fabulously with:

More great ways to roast a chicken

a roasted spatchcock chicken in a cast iron skillet

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a roasted spatchcock chicken in a cast iron skillet
4.47 from 15 votes

Marinated Spatchcock Chicken in Cast Iron

By Carolyn Gratzer Cope
Dinner doesn't get any better than spatchcock chicken in a cast iron skillet with a garlicky, lemony marinade. Great with or without gravy.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 4
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Ingredients 

For the chicken

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon herbes de Provence
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 good-quality whole chicken, about 4 pounds/1800 grams, spatchcocked

For the gravy (optional)

  • ½ cup (60 grams) flour
  • 2 cups (475 ml) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon marmite, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center.
  • To make the. marinade, lace the olive oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper into a mortar. Zest the lemon directly into the mortar, and add the lemon juice.
  • Bash the mixture with the pestle, crushing the garlic against the sides and bottom, to form a rough, chunky marinade.
  • Dry the chicken well with paper towels and place it skin-side-up in a 12-inch cast iron skillet.
  • Pour the marinade overtop and use your hands to distribute it evenly over the chicken.
  • At this point you can roast right away or leave the chicken to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Roast for about 40 minutes depending on size, until the juices run clear when you insert a knife between a leg and thigh, and breast meat reads 150°F on an instant thermometer.
  • Let the chicken rest or at least 10 minutes before carving.
  • If you’d like to make gravy, set the skillet over medium heat while the chicken rests. Whisk the flour into the pan drippings.
  • When incorporated, pour in the broth and whisk until smooth.
  • Bring to a boil, them simmer for five minutes until thickened. (You can adjust the amount of broth to suit your preference.)
  • Whisk in the soy sauce and marmite and serve.

Notes

  1. You’ll start with a good-quality whole chicken that’s been spatchcocked. Buy it that way, ask your butcher to do it for you, or do it yourself. (You can easily find videos on YouTube to show you how.)
  2. I love herbes de Provence — a beautiful blend that typically includes thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and/or bay leaf. It quickly elevates a simple recipe. You can type it into the search bar to find more ways to use it.
  3. I’ve pictured my favorite herb salt, but you can use good old kosher or fine sea salt.
  4. When buying lemons to zest, look for ones that haven’t been painted or waxed if possible, and wash them well.
  5. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, no worries. You can pulse the marinade in a small food processor or blender, or simply use a chef’s knife to smash the chopped garlic together with the salt until it forms a rough paste and then stir it into the remaining ingredients.
  6. For a gluten-free gravy, use a 1:1 GF flour blend, tamari or another gluten-free soy sauce, and omit the marmite.
  7. You can roast the chicken and even make the gravy in advance. Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat the gravy in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a little extra broth if necessary.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 479kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 45g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 135mg, Sodium: 1095mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Chicken
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @umamigirl or tag #umamigirl!

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About Carolyn Gratzer Cope

Hi there, I'm Carolyn Gratzer Cope, founder and publisher of Umami Girl. Join me in savoring life, one recipe at a time. I'm a professional recipe developer with training from the French Culinary Institute (now ICE) and a lifetime of studying, appreciating, and sharing food.

4.47 from 15 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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