Spicy Spatchcock Chicken on the Big Green Egg: An Outsider-Approved Summer Recipe

by Jim Casey
photo by Outsider

Of the myriad ways to cook a chicken, spatchcock is my favorite (a close second is beer-can chicken, but we’ll tackle that recipe another day). Don’t be intimidated by the word “spatchcock.” It simply means cooking (preferably on the grill) a whole chicken after splitting it open (along the backbone). Why do I love it? It’s simple to do, the meat cooks evenly, and the skin gets crispy.

Credit the Irish with the origin of the lively portmanteau, a combination of “dispatch” and “cock.” Now that your history lesson is out of the way, let’s get grilling. On today’s menu: Spicy Spatchcock Chicken on the Big Green Egg. If you don’t have an Egg, a barrel smoker or grill will work just fine. And if you’re looking for more Big Green Egg recipes from Outsider, check out our Best Damn Brisket.

Spicy Spatchcock Chicken Recipe

  • 4-pound whole chicken
  • 1 tbsp. coarsely ground salt
  • 3 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 4 oz. hot sauce
Four simple ingredients: chicken, hot sauce, salt, Cajun seasoning.

First, buy an organic whole chicken, about 4 pounds (typically labeled a “Roaster Chicken”). I like the 4-pound range because the chicken cooks evenly (as opposed to a larger bird, where the breasts can dry out while the thighs get to temp).

Lay the chicken on a cutting board, breast-side down. With a sharp knife or shears, cut the chicken open along one side of the backbone (either side is fine). Some recipes call for cutting the backbone out completely, but I like to leave it (after cooking, it makes fantastic chicken stock). After splitting the chicken, press the bird flat until the breastbone cracks.

Cut the chicken along one side of the backbone (left) and press the bird flat (right).

Sprinkle the skin-side with 1 tbsp. coarsely ground salt and let rest for 15 minutes (this will help the skin get crispy). Cover the entire bird with hot sauce, which serves as a binder (you can use yellow mustard for a non-spicy binder). Now, cover the entire chicken with Cajun seasoning, making sure to sprinkle some rub between the skin and meat, which can be accessed at the top of the breasts (you can use lemon-pepper, BBQ, or all-purpose chicken seasoning instead of Cajun).

After salting the skin, cover both sides of the chicken with hot sauce (left) and Cajun seasoning (right).

Big Green Egg Setup

  • Lump charcoal
  • Pecan chips
  • Fireproof gloves
  • Foil pan
  • Water

Fill up your Egg with lump charcoal and ignite. Wait for the Egg to get up to 500-600 degrees (usually takes about 20 minutes). Place a metal/foil pan directly on the charcoal (you’ll need fireproof gloves for this), filled with two cups of water and a couple handfuls of wood chips (I love pecan for chicken). Add a couple more handfuls of wood chips directly on the charcoal. Now you’re smoking!

Place the convEGGtor (indirect convection shield) on the Egg. Add the grate. Place the chicken on the grate (skin-side up). Close the lid. Set temperature to 250 degrees. A fluctuation between 240-260 degrees is normal.

Spatchcock chicken after 2.5 hours on the Egg.

Cook the chicken for about two to three hours, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the breasts and 180 degrees in the thighs. The skin should be crispy at this point. You can crank the Egg up to 300-350 degrees for the last 5-10 minutes to increase the crispiness.

Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes before cutting/serving.

This 4-pound chicken took 2.5 hours.

5 Step Spatchcock

  1. Buy 4-pound roaster chicken (preferably organic).
  2. Cut the chicken along one side of the backbone, and press flat.
  3. Salt the skin, then cover the entire chicken in hot sauce and Cajun rub.
  4. Cook in the Egg at 250 degrees (about 2.5 hours) until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (breasts) and 180 degrees (thighs).
  5. Let chicken rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Behold, your Spicy Spatchcock Chicken masterpiece.