This recipe is for the best smoked butterfly chicken, also known as spatchcock chicken. It’ll be your go-to method for smoking a whole chicken on a pellet grill that’s Whole30, gluten-free, low carb and paleo. The dry rub is made with simple, sugar-free ingredients and by using the spatchcock method, the chicken skin gets crispy while keeping the meat tender, juicy and full of flavor. This is a great family friendly recipe that works well for meal prep, too.
Smoked Butterfly Chicken Ingredients
This recipe for smoked spatchcock chicken is incredible easy, which makes it the go-to in my house. We make it almost every week! It only requires a few spices, and of course a whole chicken. Your chicken should be about 5-6 pounds, with the insides removed already (or discarded prior to preparing).
You’ll need common spices like smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper. I get my spices and oils from Thrive Market for a discount (new members get a $20 shopping credit!), but they’re also easily accessible at your local grocery stores!
A great option to use for a pre-made spice blend is the Traeger Fin & Feather seasoning, which is very similar to this homemade dry rub, and doesn’t contain any sugar. If you use a pre-made blend, you’ll just want to make sure to use 3-4 tablespoons, or enough to coat the entire chicken really well.
How to Prepare a Butterfly Chicken
The term butterfly chicken is synonymous with spatchcock chicken. Spatchcock chicken or butterfly chicken as it refers to a whole bird is a cooking method that entails cutting out the backbone and laying the chicken flat. There are many benefits to cooking a whole chicken this way. It cooks faster and more evenly. Because there’s a larger area of exposed skin and meat, the bottom of the bird cooks the same as the top, as opposed to getting soggy from the juices dripping down the sides. Flattening it lets the juices drip right off instead.
To prepare a butterfly chicken, you’ll first pat it dry, and then place it onto a cutting board so it’s breast side down. Then, using sharp poultry scissors, just a little bit off to one side of the spine you’ll cut all the way from the bottom of the bird to the top. Make the second cut on the other side of the spine to be able to completely remove the spine and discard.
Flip your chicken over so the breast side is facing up, use the palm of your hand to flatten the bird by placing your palm towards the top middle of the two chicken breasts and press down firmly. You’ll hear a bit of a crack, and the chicken will then lay flat and be more pliable, completing the spatchcock or butterfly process. Then it’ll be ready for you to add your dry rub to!
Smoking Your Whole30 & Low Carb Chicken
I’ve tried smoking whole chickens at different temperatures, and this is by far my favorite way. You’ll set the smoker to 450 degrees F. Smoking it at this temperature instead of a lower temp means the fat will drip off of the skin and crisps it up much better, while still keeping the chicken meat tender and super juicy.
Smoking it at this temperature also allows a whole chicken to cook much faster, about 90 minutes. However, the total time will depend more on the weight of your chicken and should be based off of the internal temperature. You’ll need a meat thermometer to be inserted into the thickest part of the chicken without touching bone. Once it reaches 165 degrees F., your chicken is done.
For this smoked butterfly chicken recipe I recommend using mesquite pellets, signature pellets or hickory wood pellets.
Serving & Storing a Smoked Spatchcock Chicken
This whole chicken is easy to serve by cutting it into quarters, or slicing off the meat. It’s great served with simple vegetables, fruit or along side a potato salad such as a classic mustard potato salad, southwest potato salad or buffalo ranch potato salad
This chicken keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Let it cool prior to storing, and then either store it whole, or you can dice or shred the leftovers and use like rotisserie chicken throughout the week. We love making a whole chicken on the weekend, and then using what’s left in other chicken recipes for lunches. Some great ways to use up your leftover smoked chicken are listed below.
- Classic Chicken Salad
- Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Chicken & Bacon Alfredo Casserole
- Harvest Chicken Salad
- Taco Chicken Salad
Other Healthy, Whole30 Smoker Recipes You’ll Love:Print
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Best Smoked Butterfly Chicken: Whole30, Paleo, Keto, GF
This recipe is for the best smoked butterfly chicken, also known as spatchcock chicken. It’ll be your go-to method for cooking a whole chicken that’s Whole30, gluten-free, low carb and paleo. The dry rub is made with simple, sugar-free ingredients and by using the spatchcock method, the chicken skin gets crispy while keeping the meat tender, juicy and full of flavor. This is a great family friendly recipe that works well for meal prep, too.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 90
- Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Smoker
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
- 5–6 lb whole chicken, insides removed
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- Heat your smoker to 450 degrees F. Combine all of the spices in a small dish
- Prepare the whole chicken by patting it dry and then using kitchen or poultry scissors to remove the backbone of the chicken. Do this by placing it breast side down on a cutting board and cutting on both sides of the spine from the top to bottom. Discard the spine
- Flip the chicken breast side up and use your palm to press down on the breasts to flatten. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken. Rub in well with your hands, getting under the skin on the breasts and thighs
- Place the chicken flat onto the smoker, breast and skin side facing up. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken breast, without hitting the bone
- Cook for approximately 90 minutes, or until the thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes before quartering or slicing
Serve with vegetables or along side a potato salad such as a classic mustard potato salad, southwest potato salad or buffalo ranch potato salad
Keywords: Whole30 smoker recipes, traeger, pellet grill, smoked whole chicken, smoked butterfly chicken, whole30 chicken recipes, keto chicken, paleo chicken
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Reader Reviews & Comments
Great blend of spices. Probably on of the best chickens I have ever had. However I didn’t cook it according to the directions. I smoked it low and slow for 2hrs at 200°, kicked the heat up to 350° and flipped the bird three or four times to brown over direct heat. So juicy, such a great flavor, my favorite recipe.
Jennifer Riley says
The title of this recipe is correct! It is absolutely the best smoked chicken I’ve ever made. Quick to prepare and it cooked in the 90 minutes stated. So delicious.
I’m SO glad you loved it!! Thank you so much! <3 - B