The Difference Between Spatchcock Chicken And Whole Chicken: You Won’t Believe It

spatchcock chicken vs whole chicken

Chicken is one of the most versatile ingredients because there are countless ways to prepare and cook it.

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Spatchcock and whole are two types of chicken that you can use for your recipe, but what exactly are they, and will spatchcocking make any difference? Let’s figure it out in this article.

What is spatchcock chicken?

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Spatchcock chicken refers to the whole chicken that has been spatchcocked or butterflied.

The word “spatchcock” means to split open like a book and flatten out.

This technique requires a sharp blade to remove the backbone of the chicken.

The rib cage is going to fall away from the vertebrae on both sides of its spinal column, allowing the bird to be flattened while still retaining some semblance of its original shape.

Spatchcocking chicken is packed with many advantages.

It helps cook faster and more evenly because the heat can reach all parts of the chicken on a flat surface.

Moreover, you can get more crispy skin while roasting a spatchcock chicken.

Since the only difference is how we process the chicken, there is basically no difference in the texture and flavor of the bird.

However, spreading it out makes it easier to work with the chicken, like easier basting and easier flipping, which turns out to result in a more flavorful and crispier dish.

What is whole chicken?

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A whole chicken is basically a chicken that has every part intact.

The chicken is sold after being slaughtered and feathers removed.

In most Western countries and in the United States, a whole chicken is sold without the neck, head, feet, and offals.

However, in some Asian states like China or Vietnam, people keep everything intact from the inside out.

This also results in the different ways of cooking in these cuisines.

In Western and American cuisine, the whole chicken is used in the recipe that calls for broiling, baking, roasting, or rotisserie.

It is meant to serve in a big family’s meal on special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or birthdays.

Otherwise, people are likely to work with individual cuts like chicken breasts, chicken wings, or chicken legs because it is easier to cook and divide into equal portions.

In Vietnam and China, whole chicken with its giblets is used to boil or roast.

Typically, it takes longer to cook a whole chicken, and if you don’t keep your eyes on the chicken while cooking, chances are you will end up with a chicken that is overcooked in some parts and uncooked in other parts.

Therefore, it is best to use a cooking technique that uses even heat surrounding the chicken, or you need to turn it occasionally so every side is cooked evenly.

What are the differences between spatchcock chicken vs whole chicken?

There are definitely numerous differences between a spatchcock chicken and a regular whole chicken, in the way they are prepared, how they look and work while cooking.

The comparison table below will give you details: 

 ComparisonSpatchcock chickenWhole chicken
PreparationWhole chicken that has backbone removed and flattened into a flat surfaceWhole chicken (after being slaughtered and removed the feathers) Typically without giblets (some Asian countries keep the giblets intact)
Cooking timeShorterLonger
TextureThe skin is crispier, the chicken is cooked more evenlyCan end up with unevenly cooked chicken
Cooking methodUsually used to bake, roast, or broiledCan be used to boil, steam, bake, roast, rotisserie

What are the similarities between spatchcock chicken vs whole chicken?

As already mentioned, the only key difference between spatchcock chicken and the whole chicken is how they are prepared.

This has resulted in other differences between them, like the cooking time or the texture you can achieve.

But basically, they are just the same.

Below are the similarities between spatchcock chicken and whole chicken:

1. Spatchcock chicken and whole chicken have the same nutritional content

If you have two chickens, one is kept whole and the other is spatchcocked, there will be no difference in the nutritional content between them.

Obviously, they are just chicken which is processed in different ways.

Both are rich sources of protein, B-vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, niacin, folate, and amino acids.

2. Spatchcock chicken and whole chicken taste the same

Another thing in common is that spatchcock chicken and whole chicken have the same taste.

They have the taste of chicken, which is mildly sweet.

The meat is succulent and juicy and the skin can be crispy and more flavorful with the flavor from the spices that you use to marinate the chicken.

Which one is better?

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Spatchcocking and whole chicken are two ways to prepare chicken before cooking it.

The process of spatchcock is similar to butterflying, which results in a flat surface of chicken that will cook evenly and quicker.

There will be no difference in the taste of the resulting dish no matter if it is cooked from a spatchcock chicken or a normal whole counterpart.

With little effort, you will see spatchcocking benefits in many ways while cooking.

So which one would you choose? Spatchcock chicken or whole chicken?