Smoked Spatchcock Chicken (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)

4 minute read

Mouthwatering, juicy and oh so tender smoked chicken is a lot easier than you think and everyone will soon be calling you the “pit master!”  This is my favorite way to make smoked chicken for a family meal, smoked chicken salad, or when we are having a cookout with friends and neighbors.  I love to serve this delectable chicken with bacon potato salad and poppyseed apple kale slaw!

What does spatchcock mean?  Spatchcock is when you remove the backbone of a whole chicken, turkey, duck or other poultry before cooking. 

Why should I spatchcock before cooking? 

  • By removing the backbone and flattening out the bird, you are increasing the cooking surface area resulting in faster cook times.
  • Spatchcocking levels out the playing field and enables the breast meat to cook at the same rate as the legs and thighs.
  • It is incredibly juicy! 

How to Spatchcock Chicken*

1.  Throughly dry the chicken and place it on a clean cutting board, backbone side up, neck facing you.

2.  With kitchen shears, start up at the neck and begin cutting on either side of the neck down towards the tail of the chicken.

  • Be sure to watch your fingers and take it slow the first few times until you get the hang of it.
  • If you are having a hard time, try flipping the bird around and start from the tail cutting towards to neck until you are able to remove the backbone (save for some broth later!)

3.  Flip the chicken over and lay out the legs and gently press down on the center of the breast bone.  You may hear a crack as you do this and that’s okay, this is so you can flatten the chicken.

4.  If necessary, flip the bird back over and slightly cut through the breast meat to completely flatten.

5. If the wing tips are still on you may want to remove those with the kitchen shears as well, but you don’t have to.

6.  You are ready to go!

*If you are unable to do this or just don’t want to, no problem!  Most of the time if you ask the butcher, they can do it for you! 

Why Chicken is So Good For You!

We all know that chicken is a tasty and fantastic source of protein, but do you know why it is so good for you?  Chicken, along with many other sources of animal protein, such as beef, eggs and fish, are a complete source of protein.  This means that all nine essential amino acids are present and available to you when you eat these foods.  When it comes to nutrients, anything labeled as “essential”  means that your body cannot make or synthesize this nutrient, so it must be provided to your body by the foods you eat.

As mentioned above, there are nine essential amino acids that we must eat everyday to provide our bodies energy as well as the building blocks necessary in everyday functions such as growth and repair, immune support, and in the synthesis of our hormones and neurotransmitters.

The nine essential amino acids and their roles are [1]:

  • Histidine: necessary for the production of histamine and also plays a role in nervous system health
  • Valine: necessary in energy production as well as muscle growth and repair
  • Phenylalanine: building block for neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine (adrenaline), and in the production of other amino acids.
  • Leucine: necessary in stimulating wound healing, muscle repair, and blood sugar regulation.
  • Isoleucine:  necessary in immune function and energy regulation.
  • Tryptophan: necessary building block for serotonin.
  • Methionine: necessary in detoxification, metabolism, and in your body’s ability to absorb selenium (supports thyroid health) and zinc (necessary in production of HCl in your stomach).
  • Threonine: necessary in skin and connective tissue health.
  • Lysine: necessary in hormone production and your body’s ability to absorb calcium (bone, heart, muscle and nerve health.)

So grab a whole chicken and let’s get cooking!

Spatchcock Smoked Chicken

Serves 4-6

1 Whole Chicken, preferably organic free range

2-3 Tbsp of your favorite BBQ Dry Rub


Dry Rub Recipe:

1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika

1 Tbsp Chili Powder

1 Tbsp Coarse Sea Salt

2 tsp Onion Powder

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Dry Mustard

1 tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (opt)

How to Make Spatchcock Smoked Chicken

1. Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.

2.  Mix all of the ingredients for the dry rub in a small bowl with a fork or whisk to evenly combine.

3.  Season both sides of the chicken with your barbecue rub and place it on the smoker, cavity side down, for about 3-5 hours depending on the size of the chicken, smoking until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

4.  Remove the chicken once it’s finished cooking and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before carving. 


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Q: Where do I put my meat thermometer in a spatchcock chicken?

A:  Insert the probe into the breast of the chicken, at the thickest part.

Q: Do I flip spatchcock chicken?

A: On the smoker?  No, because it is cooking over indirect heat anyway.  On the grill? Yes, you can to crisp the skin in the last few minutes of cooking.

Q: Is spatchcocking a chicken the same as butterflying it?

A: No, spatchcocking is done to the whole chicken while butterflying chicken is cutting 3/4 of the way through the middle of a chicken breast lengthwise to thin it out, opening it like a book.

If you like this recipe, check these out!

Oven Roasted Split Breast Chicken: This baked chicken dish is so good with all the smoked salt, black pepper and garlic, I make it at least twice a month for dinner!

Paleo Honey Chicken:  Mouthwatering umami forward flavor balanced with sweet honey and earthy garlic, this simple chicken thigh recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal!

Smoked Chicken Texas Twinkies: Stuffed with tender seasoned chicken breast and red onion, these savory and spiced Texas twinkies are super easy to make and are perfect for your next barbecue, dinner, game day snack or get together. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. – Amy

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to the products and kitchen gear I love. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting Almond Milk and Cookies!


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Welcome to Almond Milk and Cookies where good food, health and lots of flavor go hand-in-hand!

I am a holistic nutritionist with an auto-immune disorder, a love of cooking, and a passion for holistic health.

Sharing what I make and eat with all of you…in hopes that you find inspiration here to fuel your body and feel your best with nutrient dense whole foods and clean eating.

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