Dry Brined Butterflied Roasted Chicken

4.80 from 20 votes
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Dry brined with herbs, this butterflied roasted chicken is super flavorful and juicy! Using the spatchcock technique allows for even cooking in less time than a traditional roast.

Dry brined with herbs, this butterflied roasted chicken is super flavorful and juicy! Using the spatchcock technique allows for even cooking in less time than a traditional roast.

Nothing is better than filling your home with smells of a fragrant roasted chicken. I especially like cooking the bird on a hearty bed of root vegetables, similar to my lemon and herb roasted chicken recipe. It’s a full meal all in one! But I wanted to try a few new techniques to make an even more flavorful meal.

As the holidays are approaching I feel like this year’s culinary buzz words for cooking your poultry are dry-brine and spatchcock, aka butterflied. Both of these preparation and cooking techniques are designed to save you time in the kitchen while adding flavor and even cooking.

Whole uncooked chicken on a baking pan

Allowing your poultry to sit in a saltwater brine or dry brine sprinkled on the surface helps slightly break down and loosen the muscle fibers, which in turn causes less contraction of the proteins when cooked, and less moisture is lost. During the process of brining, moisture can be absorbed into the muscle fibers, resulting in a juicier bird.

After reading more about dry brining, I decided to try a salt herb dry brine. The salt added directly to the surface of the chicken at first draws out the moisture through osmosis, the salt is dissolved in the liquid, then gets reabsorbed, creating concentrated salty goodness! Wet brines can leave the chicken flavor a little more diluted than dry brining.

A mixture of oregano, thyme, and bay leaves in a jar

I made a dried herb (oregano, thyme, and bay leaves) and salt mixture, then liberally sprinkled it on the surface and inside the cavity of the chicken, and wrapped it in plastic wrap for 24 hours. I then rinsed the surface of the chicken and dried very well before removing the backbone.

Spoon pouring dry brine over top a whole uncooked chicken

To get an even crispier skin, you can allow the brined chicken to air dry in the refrigerator with skin exposed about another 24 hours before roasting. Dry brining is not for the salt averse, the savory flavors come through, and it’s terrific yet strong.

Butterflied chicken on a rack after roasting

Now for the cooking… Spatchcock or butterflied preparation is mostly cutting the backbone out of the poultry. This technique allows you to open up and flatten out the bird, evenly exposing the entire chicken to the roasting temperatures in the oven. What does this mean? Shorter cooking time and even cooking of the breast and thighs. No more dry meat, yay!

Serving platter of sliced pieces of roasted chicken

A little muscle and grit to remove the backbone, and you’re all set! If you become a fan of this method, heavy-duty kitchen shears to more easily remove the backbone may be an excellent investment.

Combining these two techniques are a winning team! You can serve this butterflied roasted chicken with your favorite holiday sides like mashed potatoes, green beans, or sauteed brussels sprouts with bacon, yum!

A serving platter with sliced cuts of chicken breast and drumsticks

Benefits of butterflying a chicken

  1. Even Cooking– The chicken breasts and legs lay flat while cooking, the breast, and thigh should finish cooking around the same time. Shoot for 150-165°F for the breasts and 165-170°F for the thighs.
  2. Crispier Skin– The surface area of the skin is almost equally exposed to the heat when butterflied.
  3. Faster Cooking– Flattening the chicken out makes the meat thinner and quicker to cook, nearly cutting the cook time in half!

Dry Brined Butterflied Roasted Chicken

Dry brined with herbs, this butterflied roasted chicken is super flavorful and juicy! Butterflying the chicken allows for even cooking for less time.
4.80 from 20 votes
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients  

  • 5 pound whole chicken
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 dried bay leaves, finely crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions 

  • Combine salt, oregano, thyme, ground pepper and crumbled bay leaves.
  • Dry the outside and inside of the chicken. Evenly sprinkle skin and cavities of chicken with salt mixture, about 2 tablespoons inside, and the rest rubbed onto the outside of the bird.
  • Wrap chicken in plastic wrap and place in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  • Set wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, set aside.
  • Remove chicken from plastic. Rinse inside and out; pat dry with paper towels.
  • Using sharp kitchen shears, remove spine from chicken, cutting along the spine from the neck down to the tail. Discard the backbone.
  • Flatten chicken by placing skin-side up on a cutting board and applying firm pressure to the breast bone.
  • Transfer chicken to the wire rack and position it so that breasts are aligned with the center of a baking sheet and legs are close to the edge. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Set oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat to 400°F.
  • Rub chicken on all surfaces with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Lightly season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Roast until the thickest part of breast registers at least 160-165°F using an instant-read thermometer and the joint between thighs and body registers at least 165-170°F, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Notes

  • For a crispier skin, you can refrigerate the butterflied chicken on a sheet pan on top of a wire rack uncovered, for 24 hours.
  • If you like a saltier chicken, butterfly the chicken first then season with salt just on the surface of the skin (breast, thighs, and wings), but not on the cavity. Refrigerate uncovered on a sheet pan on top of a wire rack for 24 hours, then roast (do not rinse). You want to season generously, but not have a thick salt crust.
  • MAKE IT WHOLE30: Use extra-virgin olive oil, and use sea salt for kosher salt.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 662kcal (33%)Carbohydrates 0.4gProtein 56g (112%)Fat 48g (74%)Saturated Fat 12g (60%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 267mg (89%)Sodium 547mg (23%)Potassium 9mgFiber 0.2g (1%)Sugar 0.01gVitamin A 2000IU (40%)Vitamin C 9.1mg (11%)Calcium 10mg (1%)Iron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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11 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. mira says

    I’ve never tried dry brining chicken/turkey, but after reading your wonderful recipe and suggestions, I’m definitely planning to try this soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Mira, I hope you get a chance to give it a try sometime! Give it a try with a chicken first to see if you like it 🙂 Happy thanksgiving!

  2. Carol says

    This was so easy and hands down the best roast chicken I’ve ever made! I’m going to make it again tonight!

    I’m looking forward to trying more of your recipes soon.

    Thank you, Carol

  3. Nola says

    Hi Jessica,

    Thank you for the recipe you posted.
    I have been using wet brine recipes for a couple of years. I had read about dry brine and your recipe was so simple. I chose to butterfly the chicken first. I also swapped the oregano to tarragon. The chicken was amazing so tender.

    Thank You
    Nola from Australia

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Nola! I’m so glad that you gave dry brining a try. It’s so much easier with less mess. I love that the salt flavor isn’t diluted. Happy cooking!

  4. Cody Jemes says

    I did as instructed and while I got the crispy skin. The chicken itself was much to moist and it was about the quality of a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. It turned into a good chicken salad, but definitely not what I’d hoped for.