If you’ve never spatchcocked a chicken before, now is the time to try it! This is one chicken cooking method everyone should try. This Traeger spatchcock chicken recipe is easy and delicious. The chicken cooks quickly on the grill, and the flavor is amazing. You’re going to love this smoked spatchcock chicken recipe!
Spatchcock Smoked Chicken ( whole chicken )
Here at BBQ Grill Academy, we are big fans of grills and smokers, and for this article, we will use our trusty Traeger pellet grill. We like using our Traeger grill when smoking big cuts of meat like a whole chicken because the grill automates the process and makes it as easy as using a kitchen oven but with a fantastic wood-fired flavor. So we would like to call this concoction “Traeger Chicken.”
Traeger spatchcock chicken is an excellent recipe for quickly grilling up a whole bird. All you have to do is remove the backbone so the bird can lay flat on the grate and grill or smoke. I will get into the details of the cook later in this article.
What is spatchcocking?
Spatchcocking is removing the backbone of a whole chicken, so it lays flat. This allows for even cooking on the grill and also helps the chicken cook faster. You can say it is the equivalent of “butterflying” a chicken.
Spatchcocking a chicken is easy to do and only requires a few minutes and a sharp knife. You can ask your butcher to do it for you too.
Why remove the backbone?
Smoked Spatchcock Chicken cooks faster than a whole chicken because the bird is flattened. The exposed skin also crisps up nicely and evenly. Who doesn’t love crispy skin!
How to spatchcock a chicken
Take the chicken out of the packaging and rinse it using cold water. Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Use a sharp butcher knife or poultry shears to cut along each side of the backbone to remove it.
Once the “backbone” is removed, open up or split the chicken so it lays flat. You may need to break the breastbone so the chicken will lie completely flat.
Now that your chicken is spatchcocked, it’s time to season it. We like to use a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and garlic.
We like to use a simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and garlic. Rub it all over with olive oil Oil helps crisp skin. Then season each side with your favorite dry rub.
But this is where your creativity and culinary skills come into play. Some folks like pepper, while others don’t; some people like the taste of pasta, while others don’t. The point here is to experiment and see what you prefer in terms of seasoning.
Season chicken with Traeger’s Chicken Rub
Traeger’s chicken rub is a great way to add flavor to your spatchcock chicken. It’s a simple mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic, and it pairs well with just about any type of chicken seasoning. If you’re looking for a good all-purpose rub for your Traeger spatchcock chicken, Traeger’s
I like using Traeger’s Chicken Rub; it keeps things simple, but any dry barbecue rub will do.
Traeger Chicken? Yes, but you can spatchcock chicken with a gas or charcoal grill too.
Even though I use my Traeger smoker for this while chicken cooking method, you can use a gas or charcoal grill or even another brand of pellet grill. As I mentioned before, the reason we enjoy the Traeger is that thanks to its advanced features and automation, it makes our lives easier, and we use the app to live free and go about our day while testing and cooking these recipes.
No Traeger? No problem!
If you use a charcoal or gas grill, set the grill to indirect heat, so the chicken does not come into direct contact with direct flame. You can achieve this by setting the coals over one side of the grill or, in the case of the gas grill, only using burners on the opposite side of the chicken, turning off the burners underneath the chicken.
The Recipe: Smoked Spatchcock Chicken, Tools, and Ingredients:
- Traeger Pellet Grill or any grill
- BBQ Brush
- Meat Temperature Thermometer
- Your Favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 (4 to 5-pound) whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme leaves
- Garlic Salt or garlic powder
- Traeger Chicken Rub or any Rub You Like
(BBQ Grill Academy’s signature chicken rub recipe)
1. Preheat Traeger to 375 degrees F.
2. Remove the bird’s backbone by cutting along both sides of the backbone with poultry shears or a good knife. Be careful not to cut yourself. If you don’t have poultry shears, a sharp knife will do. You can also beg your local butcher ( just kidding ) to spatchcock the chicken if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself.
3. Don’t forget to season the inside of the chicken too! You can use salt, pepper, thyme leaves, or whatever seasoning blend you prefer. In our case, we are using Traeger’s Chicken Rub.
4. Next, rub Traeger Chicken Rub all over the outside of the bird. You can’t have too much! Be generous with the rub.
5. Place chicken on the Traeger grill grate breast side up and smoke it for about one hour per pound until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. You can push the temperature a bit higher but don’t overdo it.
6. Remove from the chicken grill and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Once the grill is hot, place chicken on the indirect cooking side, breast-side up. Smoking temperatures are lower than grilling temperatures so you can expect the bird to be in the smoker longer.
The cooking process for smoked spatchcock chicken is the same as grilling. Expect you will cook it at lower temperature and use more wood smoke to add even more flavor to the meat.
Cooking the meat at lower temperatures, “smoked meat” yields a good smokey flavor. It allows the entire chicken to absorb more smoke and flavor.
However, you need to grill the chicken or smoke it at higher temperatures to get a nice crispy skin. Spraying apple juice can help crip the skin of the chicken when smoking it.
Keep chicken as wide as possible. Smoke for about an hour per pound or until it reaches 165 degrees F.
Getting chicken prepared for the grill is relatively easy — just be sure to set the legs pointing away from the fire to avoid burning them.
If you want to add smoke flavor without using a smoker, you can use wood chips and a smoke box in your charcoal or propane grill.
Make sure the bird breast side is on the grill, and if using a pellet cooker, turn up the heat and make sure you have plenty of wood pellets.
If using a charcoal grill, bank the coals on one side and place the chicken over indirect heat. If using a natural gas or propane grill, turn off burners directly underneath the chicken and light only on the opposite side.
Grill the chicken breast side down first to crisp the chicken skin. Then, flip the chicken with the lid closed until your wireless thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the bird, away from the bone. Make sure the chicken is evenly cooked.
If you’re in a hurry, don’t have a grill or smoker, or the weather’s not permitting, you can cook your smoked spatchcock chicken in the oven, well without the “smoked” part, that is.
Your kitchen oven will not produce that BBQ smoky flavor, but it will still turn out a delicious bird. Preheat your kitchen oven to 375 degrees F and place the spatchcocked chicken in a baking dish. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Saucing the bird
While the chicken is cooking, you can mix up a bowl of sweet heat sauce or whatever sauce you like. We like to use our Homemade BBQ Sauce, but any store-bought or homemade sauce will work.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and brush it with sauce. Let is rest and enjoy.
For a more tender bird, let it rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Carve and serve as you would any roasted chicken.
The Traeger spatchcock chicken is a quick and easy way to cook up a whole bird, and the end result is delicious, crispy-skinned chicken that is moist and flavorful.
Traeger and Z Grills smokers are perfect for this type of cooking, but you can also use a gas or charcoal grill if you prefer.
What to serve with smoked chicken?
Smoked and grilled chicken pairs well with typical BBQ sides like mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and BBQ beans.