Skip to Content

Air Fryer Spatchcock Chicken

$10.15 Recipe/$1.69 Serving

Air fryer spatchcock chicken is the easiest way to cook a whole chicken in under an hour! The skin gets crispy, the meat stays juicy and tender. Once you make butterfly chicken in the air fryer you are never going to make it any other way! Naturally gluten free, paleo, Whole30, keto and low carb friendly!

Air fryer spatchcock chicken in air fryer.

Why you will love this recipe

  • Juicy, tender chicken that everyone will rave about! Spatchcocking the chicken (removing the backbone and flattening the chicken) allows it to cook evenly and helps create juicy, tender chicken without any parts drying out!
  • Mostly hands off – all of the work is done before cooking, once you put the chicken in the air fryer basket, it’s hands off for 40 minutes! And removing the backbone is easier than you might think, all you need are sharp kitchen shears.
  • Ready in under an hour – cooking a whole chicken is usually very time consuming and typically you end up with dry breast and underdone thighs. But spatchcocking helps resolve that issue and the air fryer helps speed up the process. You get crispy skin and perfectly cooked chicken in under an hour!
  • Budget friendly – typically buying a whole chicken is much less expensive per pound than buying just chicken breast or chicken thighs. You can use the leftover bones to make your own chicken stock or bone broth too, so you can really get your money out of the whole chicken.
Whole chicken, kitchen shears and spices on white cutting board.
This post contains affiliate links. As an amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read my policy and more about affiliate links.

What do you need to make spatchcock chicken in the air fryer

  • Whole chicken – you want to make sure your chicken will fit in your air fryer basket, which typically means you are looking for a 4-5 pound chicken. If you are unsure what you air fryer basket can hold, start with a 4 pound bird and see how it fits.
  • Spices – I use salt and Italian seasoning but you can really use any seasonings you love. Sometimes I use smoked paprika + garlic powder or cajun seasoning. It’s really up to you! The key is to be sure you are seasoning the meat and not just the skin!
  • Sharp kitchen shears – sharp kitchen shears are a must if you will be removing the backbone to spatchcock the chicken yourself.
  • Air fryer – the convection cooking from the air fryer helps to cook the chicken faster than in the oven. You can make spatchcock chicken in the oven as well if you find that your bird doesn’t fit in your air fryer basket or you want to make a larger bird than what will fit.

What is spatchcock chicken

Sometimes called butterfly chicken, spatchcock chicken is a whole chicken that has had the backbone removed so that it can lay flat.

By removing the backbone, the chicken can cook more evenly, allowing the breast and chicken thighs to cook at the same rate.

get my 10 greatest recipes ebook by signing up for my newsletterGET 10 OF MY ALL TIME GREATEST RECIPES
IN THIS FREE EBOOK

How to spatchcock a whole chicken

Start by measuring out the salt and any spices you will use. Put them in a small bowl so you don’t cross contaminate anything when seasoning. Also I like to grab a bowl to put at my work station to collect any of the chicken or packaging I want to discard to try to reduce my trips to the trashcan. This helps to keep the kitchen clean and avoid any contamination. Also use a plastic cutting board so you can immediately put it in the dishwasher.

Next, removing the packaging and the giblets from the cavity of the chicken (if they are included). Cut away any excess fat/skin you see at the top/bottom of the chicken.

Next, flip the chicken over so the backbone is facing up.

Use sharp kitchen shears, start on one side of the backbone and cut down, tracing where you believe the vertebrae for the backbone end. You will be cutting through ribs and eventually have to crack through the joint that connects the legs to spine. Typically, I will cut down from the neck towards the tail and stop when I feel the resistance at the joint. Then I flip the bird so the tail end is closer to me. This makes it easier for me to pop that joint vs. trying to cut through those larger bones.

Once you have one side of the backbone removed, cut the other side as well using the same technique.

After the backbone has been removed, flip the chicken over. Grab the chicken with both hands around the breast/wings and fold the chicken into itself, cracking the ribcage to help flatten the chicken. You can also put your weight into the chest but I find it’s easier to just crack it using the first method.

Steps on how to spatchcock a chicken.

How to cook a spatchcock chicken in the air fryer

Start by removing the backbone and flattening out the chicken (see above for details).

Once the chicken is laying flat on your plastic cutting board, use your fingers to carefully separate the skin from the meat. This allows you to place the seasoning directly on the meat so the meat will be full of flavor, not just the skin.

Combine the seasoning and sprinkle small amounts of spice mix into each area of the chicken under the skin, using your fingers to distribute it under the skin as well as possible. Flip the chicken over and sprinkle the rest of the seasoning onto the backside of the chicken including the legs and thighs.

Once the chicken has been well seasoned, place it in the air fryer basket.

Put the basket into the air fryer and turn on the air fryer to 360F for 45 minutes (can take up to 55 minutes depending on the size of the bird and how it fits in your air fryer basket).

Let the chicken cook in the air fryer for the first 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, pause and check the internal temperature. The chicken needs to be at 165F. I like to check the thighs and the breast in multiple spots to get a good reading. The rest of the cooking time will depend on the temperature reading. If it’s close to 150F at this point, you likely need 10 more minutes.  If any point is not at 150F yet, you will need 15 minutes or so. If the bird is close to 160F, it should be done at the 45 minute range.

Once the chicken is done (crispy on the outside, 165F temperature at multiple points), allow it to rest in the air fryer basket at least 10-15 minutes. This allows the basket to cool slightly and also allows the meat to rest and the juices to redistribute into the meat so that are locked in when you cut into the chicken.

Carefully remove the chicken (I use my hands as we gave the basket time to cool) or you could use tongs but the chicken could fall apart.

Enjoy hot with your favorite side dishes!

Steps to cook spatchcock chicken in air fryer.

Top tips

  • Be mindful at the store that your bird needs to fit in your air fryer basket. I like to choose birds around 4 pounds (or a little less) because our air fryer basket is on the smaller side. Most air fryer baskets should be able to cook a 4-5 pound chicken.
  • Put salt/spices under the skin to ensure the meat gets nice and flavorful. Spices on the outside of the bird can burn with the heating element of the air fryer.
  • When checking the temperature be sure the thickest part reads 165F (this is typically the thighs or the breast). I find that the chicken breast tend to be the last to come to temperature so I like to check the chicken in multiple spots to get a good indication that everything is well cooked. Also be sure you don’t hit a bone when you are taking temperature as that can really mess up the measurement.
  • Allow the chicken to rest 10-15 minutes to ensure all the juices find their way back into the meat.
  • Be sure to wash hands and use a plastic cutting board that can go in the dishwasher when handling raw chicken. I put a large bowl to the side to catch any scraps/the backbone so I can throw everything away at once and not be making trips to the trashcan dripping chicken juice everywhere.
  • Getting the chicken out of the air fryer basket can be tricky. I let the chicken and basket cool together (10-15 minutes) then lift the chicken out with my hands to ensure it doesn’t fall apart.
  • Can use the backbone and other bones collected after cooking to make your own stock or bone broth
  • You can also make spatchcock Cornish hens in the air fryer in 20-30 minutes depending on their size.

Other spices you could use

  • Cajun seasoning – instead of Italian seasoning, you can instead use cajun seasoning
  • Smoked paprika + garlic powder – this is a super simple seasoning that can help the chicken taste like rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. You will want to use 1 tsp. garlic powder + ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Greek – add ½ teaspoon of oregano to the Italian seasoning to give it more of a Greek vibe.
  • Taco – use taco seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Curry – use 1 teaspoon curry powder + ½ teaspoon cumin in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Za’tar – use za’tar seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning
  • Ranch – use 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning.
Spatchcock chicken on white plate.

How to use leftovers

Leftover chicken can be shredded or cubed and used to make:

  • Chicken salad
  • Tacos
  • Chicken fried rice (with leftover rice)
  • Shredded on salad greens
  • Added to taquitos
  • Added to nachos
  • Added to soup

How long will it take to cook a whole chicken in the air fryer

When you spatchcock or butterfly a chicken, it helps to reduce the cooking time because the chicken is flat and has more surface area in contact with the heat.

The cooking time will depend on how large your chicken is and the wattage of your air fryer. Typically a 4 pound chicken that has been butterflied will take between 45-55 minutes to cook in the air fryer.

Smaller birds may be done around 30-35 minute mark and larger birds (5-5.5 pounds) typically take about 55-60 minutes.

Can you make spatchcock chicken in the oven?

Yes. Be sure to use a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack to keep the chicken off the baking sheet so more air can circulate over and under the chicken. Fat and juices will drip off the bird as it’s cooking, so I like to line the baking sheet with foil for easier clean up.

Be sure to put the spatchcock chicken in the middle or slightly lower in your oven. If you cook it too close to the heating element, the fat from the skin can pop up and hit the heating element, causing some smoke/steam.

Cook in a 425F oven for 55-65 minutes for a 4-5 pound bird that has been butterflied.

If the chicken has not come up to 165F at that time, reduce the heat to 350F so the skin doesn’t burn as you continue to cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F at the thickest point.

Storing leftovers

Fridge: Store leftover chicken in a well sealed container for up to 3 days in the fridge. It’s easiest to remove the chicken from the bones when the chicken is still warm/room temperature, so be sure to remove the chicken from the bones before putting into the fridge.

Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Be sure to remove the chicken from the bones first. Label the freezer bag to include name, date and use by date.

Air fryer basket with spatchcock chicken.

Reheating leftover spatchcock chicken

  • Air fryer – Reheating food the same way it was cooked helps ensure it doesn’t overcook. Reheat leftover spatchcock air fryer chicken in the air fryer at 350F for 7-10 minutes.
  • Microwave – if you have removed the skin, you can simply microwave your leftover chicken for 1-2 minutes until warmed through. The skin will not get crispy when microwaving.
  • Stovetop – reheat cooked chicken in ¼-1/2 cup of liquid (water, stock, sauce) over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes until heated through. The added liquid can help ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out.

If you love this recipe, you should try

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below!
Spatchcock chicken in air fryer basket.

Air Fryer Spatchcock Chicken

$10.15 Recipe/$1.69 Serving
Air fryer spatchcock chicken is so simple to make and ready in under an hour. Crispy skin, juicy, tender chicken that turns out perfectly cooked everytime! Perfect for Sunday dinner or weeknight meals.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer butterfly chicken, air fryer spatchcock chicken
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Rest: 10 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Start by measuring out the salt and any spices you will use. Put them in a small bowl so you don’t cross contaminate anything when seasoning.
    Also I like to grab a bowl to put at my work station to collect any of the chicken or packaging I want to discard to try to reduce my trips to the trashcan. This helps to keep the kitchen clean and avoid any contamination. Also, use a plastic cutting board so you can immediately put it in the dishwasher.
  • Next, removing the packaging and the giblets from the cavity of the chicken (if they are included). Cut away any excess fat/skin you see atthe top/bottom of the chicken.
  • Flip the chicken to ensure the backbone is facing up.
  • Use sharp kitchen shears, start on one side of the backbone and cut down, tracing where you believe the vertebrae for the backbone end. You will be cutting through ribs and eventually have to crack through the joint that connects the legs to spine. Typically, I cut down from the neck towards the tail and stop when I feel the resistance at the joint. Then I flip the bird so the tail end is closer to me. This makes it easier for me to pop that joint vs. trying to cut through those larger bones.
  • Once you have one side of the backbone removed, cut the other side as well using the same technique.
  • After the backbone has been removed, flip the chicken over. Grab the chicken with both hands around the breast/wings and fold the chicken into itself, cracking the ribcage to help flatten the chicken. You can also put your weight into the chest to crack the breastbone.
  • Once the chicken is laying flat on your plastic cutting board, use your fingers to carefully separate the skin from the meat. This allows you to place the seasoning directly on the meat so the meat will be full of flavor, not just the skin.
  • Combine the seasoning and sprinkle small amounts of spice mix into each area of the chicken under the skin, using your fingers to distribute it under the skin as well as possible. Flip the chicken over and sprinkle the rest of the seasoning onto the backside of the chicken including the legs and thighs.
  • Once the chicken has been well seasoned, place it in the airfryer basket.
  • Put the basket into the air fryer and turn on the air fryer to 360F for 45 minutes (can take up to 55 minutes depending on the size of the bird and how it fits in your air fryer basket).
  • Letthe chicken cook in the air fryer for the first 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, pause and check the internal temperature. The chicken needs to be at 165F. I like to check the thighs and the breast in multiple spots to get a good reading.The rest of the cooking time will depend on the temperature reading.
  • Once the chicken is done (crispy on the outside, 165F temperature at multiple points), allow it to rest in the air fryer basket at least 10-15 minutes. This allows the basket to cool slightly and also allows the meat to rest and the juices to redistribute into the meat so that are locked in when you cut into the chicken.
  • Carefully remove the chicken (I use my hands as we gave the basket time to cool) or you could use tongs but the chicken could fall apart.

Notes

Top tips
  • Be mindful at the store that your bird needs to fit in your air fryer basket. I like to choose birds around 4 pounds (or a little less) because our air fryer basket is on the smaller side. Most air fryer baskets should be able to cook a 4-5 pound chicken.
  • Put salt/spices under the skin to ensure the meat gets nice and flavorful. Spices on the outside of the bird can burn with the heating element of the air fryer.
  • When checking the temperature be sure the thickest part reads 165F (this is typically the thighs or the breast). I find that the chicken breast tend to be the last to come to temperature so I like to check the chicken in multiple spots to get a good indication that everything is well cooked. Also be sure you don’t hit a bone when you are taking temperature as that can really mess up the measurement.
  • Allow the chicken to rest 10-15 minutes to ensure all the juices find their way back into the meat.
  • Be sure to wash hands and use a plastic cutting board that can go in the dishwasher when handling raw chicken. I put a large bowl to the side to catch any scraps/the backbone so I can throw everything away at once and not be making trips to the trashcan dripping chicken juice everywhere.
  • Getting the chicken out of the air fryer basket can be tricky. I let the chicken and basket cool together (10-15 minutes) then lift the chicken out with my hands to ensure it doesn’t fall apart.
  • Can use the backbone and other bones collected after cooking to make your own stock or bone broth
  • You can also make spatchcock Cornish hens in the air fryer in 20-30 minutes depending on their size.
Other spices you could use
  • Cajun seasoning – instead of Italian seasoning, you can instead use cajun seasoning
  • Smoked paprika + garlic powder – this is a super simple seasoning that can help the chicken taste like rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. You will want to use 1 tsp. garlic powder + ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Greek – add ½ teaspoon of oregano to the Italian seasoning to give it more of a Greek vibe.
  • Taco – use taco seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Curry – use 1 teaspoon curry powder + ½ teaspoon cumin in place of the Italian seasoning.
  • Za’tar – use za’tar seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning
  • Ranch – use 1 tablespoon of ranch seasoning in place of the Italian seasoning.
Storing leftovers
  • Fridge: Store leftover chicken in a well sealed container for up to 3 days in the fridge. It’s easiest to remove the chicken from the bones when the chicken is still warm/room temperature, so be sure to remove the chicken from the bones before putting into the fridge.
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover chicken in a freezer safe bag for up to 3 months. Be sure to remove the chicken from the bones first. Label the freezer bag to include name, date and use by date.
Reheating leftover spatchcock chicken
  • Air fryer – Reheating food the same way it was cooked helps ensure it doesn’t overcook. Reheat leftover spatchcock air fryer chicken in the air fryer at 350F for 7-10 minutes.
  • Microwave – if you have removed the skin, you can simply microwave your leftover chicken for 1-2 minutes until warmed through. The skin will not get crispy when microwaving.
  • Stovetop – reheat cooked chicken in ¼-1/2 cup of liquid (water, stock, sauce) over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes until heated through. The added liquid can help ensure the chicken doesn’t dry out.
See how I calculate food cost.

Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
313
Fat
 
22
g
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
Fiber
 
1
g
Sugar
 
1
g
Protein
 
27
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
DID YOU LOVE THIS RECIPE?Let others know by rating and leaving a comment below!

Recipe Rating