An easy shortcut for cooking a whole chicken is to flatten or butterfly it prior to cooking. This method lets you grill or roast a whole chicken in nearly half the time and season both the inside and outside of the chicken with ease. 

This technique is called butterflying or spatchcocking (a term that means to partially bone and spread open a bird). Though a bit intimidating to do at first, it’s quite easy to do with a 3- to 4-pound chicken or smaller game bird. You’ll quickly get the hang of it the first time you try. 

Image of person cutting a whole raw chicken to butterfly it.
  1. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. 
  2. Use a pair of heavy poultry shears to cut through the flesh and bone along both sides of the backbone. Cut from the tail end to the head end and completely remove the backbone. 
  3. Then open the chicken up like a book and press down on it with both hands, flattening it. You can either pull the legs out straight or keep them tucked up.