Moist Roast Chicken (Butterflied)

Heidi Hoerman


We like our chicken well-done (cooked to an internal temperature of 195F) but moist. Roasting a butterflied chicken on a bed of vegetables accomplishes this every time.

You may serve some of the roasted vegetables as a side dish or save them for making stock with the chicken bones.

The easiest way to roast a chicken so that it is evenly cooked all the way through is to "butterfly" ("spatchcock") it. This is easier than it seems once you watch the 4-minute video at

You can do the same to a turkey with strong shears.


★★★★★ 1 vote

20 Min
1 Hr 15 Min


  • 1
    whole chicken (or turkey)
  • ·
    assorted vegetables, cut into large pieces
  • opt.
    herbs or seasonings
  • ·
    salt and pepper
  • opt.
    olive oil or melted butter

How to Make Moist Roast Chicken (Butterflied)


  1. HINT 1: Watch the video at to totally de-mystify how to butterfly poultry.
    HINT 2: Washing a chicken before cooking has become controversial. Recent recommendations are not to wash the chicken because the splash of germs around the sink is more dangerous than cooking an unwashed chicken.
  2. Hint 2: You will need strong scissors and/or a strong, serrated knife the cut the chicken. A good steak knife will work if you have nothing else to hand. If you are doing a large turkey, you may need a cleaver, clean pruning shears and/or a hacksaw.
  3. In a large roasting pan, form a bed of whole or roughly chopped vegetables to act as a rack. The steam from the cooking vegetables will provide moisture for the chicken. They are good (though perhaps greasy) eaten as a side dish and add flavor when used in making stock.

    Suggested vegetables: carrots, celery, onions, garlic cloves, mushrooms, potatoes, and any other vegetable that is good roasted. Shown here is a bed of celery tops, carrots and mushrooms.
  4. Optionally, add a layer of aromatic herbs.

    Suggested herbs: rosemary (shown here), parsley, thyme, cilantro, basil, dill, etc.
  5. Remove the giblets, neck, etc., from the bird's cavity. If you plan to make chicken stock, wash the miscellaneous parts, salt and pepper them, and put around the edge of the roasting pan on top of the vegetables.
  6. Place the chicken, back side up, on the cutting surface. Have the tail ("Pope's Nose," "last part over-the-fence") face you.
  7. Using kitchen shears or a serrated knife, cut along one side of the backbone, starting at the tail. Cut along the other side and remove the backbone.
  8. Cut off any large pieces of fat, remove loose scraps of giblets, and wash the chicken. If you plan to make stock, put the backbone on the edge of the bed of vegetables.
  9. Place the chicken on the cutting surface, neck-end (wing end) toward you. Using a sharp knife, cut the cartilage covering the end of the breast bone (keel bone) until the chicken falls flat easily.
  10. Pop out the keel bone and the blade of cartilege attached to it and discard them. If, as shown here, the cartilege won't come out easily, you can ignore it. The keel bone may be left in as well if it is stuck. Your purpose is simply to have a flat chicken.
  11. Season both sides of the chicken as desired. The chicken shown here is simply seasoned with salt and pepper. Optionally, drizzle melted butter or olive oil on top of the chicken.
  12. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on top of the bed of vegetables and roast in a 400F oven for 1 hour for a broiler-fryer and 1 hour and 15 minutes for a roasting chicken.
  13. Check the internal temperature of the chicken with an instant-read thermometer. The US government food safety pages recommend an internal temperature of at least 165F.

    We prefer our chicken more thoroughly cooked and wait until the bird reaches an internal temperature of 185F to 195F. Even at this high temperature, the chicken remains moist because it has absorbed the steam from the bed of vegetables.

    The chicken shown is a smallish bird and reached an internal temperature over 200F but remained moist.
  14. Serving suggestion: serve chicken and roasted vegetables with juice from the pan spooned over and fresh french bread to soak up the juices.

    Save bones, skin, and remainder of contents of the roasting pan to make stock.

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