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Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Fans of smoked foods take note, this Smoked Spatchcock Chicken is fun, delicious, and easy to do. This whole chicken covered in a savory-sweet coffee rub looks impressive and smells irresistible coming off the smoker. When the weather’s right, fire up and nourish your guests with this entertaining, crowd-pleasing dish.

smoked spatchcock chicken

This year has been an opportunity to spend time with old friends and reunite with the family smoker. This recipe is a favorite from one of my best childhood friends. In fact, this is probably the recipe I’ve asked him to make for me most often when we get together – and that’s saying a lot because he’s an amazing cook.

Cooking outside is one of the most underrated joys in the modern world. There’s something about the sunlight, smoke, and sizzle that just makes food taste better when it’s all done.

If you like to grill or smoke foods, you might have run into the same problem I do from time to time. You want to try cooking new things outside but it can be kind of a pain experimenting out there. That’s why you want to have a solid recipe you can use to prepare everything beforehand.

With this one, you can’t go wrong. And if it’s your first time making something like this, prepare to be wowed.

smoked spatchcock chicken recipe

What Makes This Smoked Spatchcock Chicken So Tasty

This recipe calls for three basic steps.
• Prepare your chicken
• Craft the rub
• Smoke that bird!

Spatchcocking‘ is a way to prepare a chicken so it can lay flat while it’s being cooked (similar to ‘butterflying’). To do this, you’ll be removing the chicken’s backbone (more on this below).

The rub is really what makes this dish’s flavor exceptional. It’s a coffee rub with prominent notes of espresso, brown sugar, garlic, and just the right amount of kick from the chili powder and black pepper. The way the smoke mixes with these flavors is perfect.

As far as smoking goes, you won’t have too much to micromanage. The chicken usually takes about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook. You’ll want to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature after an hour or so, and you might want to flip the chicken around then. Other than that, this smoked godsend basically cooks itself.

Let’s say you’ve already got a signature dish you like to smoke. Why bother with this one? Well, short of being in a cooking competition, it’s always the right time to try something new.

I like to try new recipes by myself on my day off. The pressure’s off when I’m alone and it gives me a chance to relax while keeping myself occupied. Sometimes I’ll invite a close buddy over for a little company. But that’s why this recipe is such a winner – it’s simple enough that I can do it without any help, yet it still tastes amazing.

If you’re looking for something to spice up your smoking routine, or are just starting out and want a foolproof recipe to follow, then this Smoked Spatchcock Chicken is perfect for you.

Common Questions

I’ve smoked chicken before. How do I avoid tough skin?

The easiest solution here is to throw it under the broiler for a few minutes once everything is done cooking. Another solution is to turn the temperature of your smoker on high when the chicken is just about done cooking. This will ensure you get crispy, chew-through skin on your smoked spatchcock chicken.

What is spatchcock? Why prepare the chicken this way?

When you spatchcock a chicken, you remove its backbone so it can lay a flat as possible while smoking. Preparing your bird this way means it’s cooking at the same level throughout. Have you butterflied a steak before? It’s the same idea.

Why smoke it? Are there other ways to cook this dish?

You can certainly check out the recipe for the coffee rub and use it in other situations and still have delicious results. However, the way the smoke flavors the chicken and mixes with the ingredients in the rub is pretty hard to beat!

Are there health benefits to smoking food?

Usually, smoked foods use little-to-no oils or fatty sauces. The smoking process also helps eradicate harmful bacteria and enriches your food with iron. In some cases, smoking meat can actually reduce its fat content. So yes, there’s plenty of benefits!

smoked spatchcock chicken electric smoker

Preparation and Kitchen Equipment Needed

These are the main things you will need:
• smoker
• sharp knife or chicken shears
• cooking thermometer

You’ll also need appropriate utensils for handling the chicken while it’s smoking, such as tongs and fire-proof gloves.

To get your smoker going, you need to have the kindling (such as newspaper), and wood and/or charcoal briquettes on hand.

When you prepare the chicken, make sure you have plenty of room and a clean cutting board.

For the rub, you’ll just need the ingredients and a container to mix everything in.

If you’ve got all that covered, the final step is to have quality meat. This Smoked Spatchcock Chicken recipe uses chicken (of course), but you could use turkey if you desire. The important part is that you get the highest quality meat you can get your hands on.

Try to avoid chicken that is packed with added water or injected with other liquids. You’ll want to steer clear of anything that says “enhanced” or “marinated.” Ideally, you’ll want to buy organic chicken from a reputable butcher. If all of this sounds like too much work, just grab the best chicken you see at your local store and get to smoking!

smoked spatchcock chicken crispy skin

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken

Tender and juicy smoked spatchcock chicken recipe

Course Main Course
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours


  • 1 whole Fryer or Roaster Chicken

Coffee Rub Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar


  1. First, prepare the chicken. Remove gizzards from the chicken cavity. Now it's time to spatchcock. To spatchcock a chicken, lay the chicken breast side down and use a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut through the chicken with two cuts: from the tail to the neck on both sides of the backbone. Now you can remove the backbone. Turn over the chicken and press down on the breast bone until you crack the cartilage and the chicken lays flat.

  2. Combine the rub ingredients and mix. Generously rub into both sides of the chicken. If you want to optimize the flavor, place the chicken on a cooking sheet and refrigerate uncovered overnight.

  3. Set your smoker's temperature to 275°F.

  4. Place the chicken in the smoker. Go skin-side down if the heat comes from underneath in your smoker. Skin-side up if heat comes from the top.

  5. Smoke the bird until your probe thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh. Start checking around the 1-hour mark. Rotate and/or flip the chicken if necessary to avoid burning one side.

  6. Once it's reached temp, let the chicken rest for 15 minutes, then cut into quarters (or halves if you’re starving!). Let the devouring begin!

  7. (Optional.) If the skin didn't come out as crispy as you hoped, you can throw it under the broiler for a few minutes before serving.

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