The Pretend Chef

whole roasted chicken butterflied

Meat, Recipes | December 25, 2016 | By

Whole roasted chicken never fails to impress and is loved by everyone. In Nigeria, we love our meat, beef, goat meat, ram, various bush meat, chicken, especially whole roasted chicken. This recipe for whole roasted chicken butterflied is easy and straightforward, you will get a juicy, flavourful meat with crispy skin.

Growing up, during church bazaar sales, the different women groups will have basins filled with fried whole chicken which they will give as gifts to church members, usually men of course, who came to honour them with huge sums of money as donations to their group. The number of birds given to each person, depended on the amount he donated. When the chickens were brought home, we all munched on the flavourful, succulent flesh with crispy skin, those bazaar chickens were exceptional. There were also lots of rotisserie at different street corners, most people will rather go and buy from them than tackle the challenge of whole roasted chicken. 

Many people shy away from roasting chicken whole because of its many pitfalls. The breast getting done ahead of the thigh and cavity. Sometimes it will taste bland or the flesh will be too dry and the skin rubbery. It might also be the length of time it will take to brine and roast the chicken or having to truss or tie it up with twine.

For such a simple dish, there should be a better and easier way. So if you don’t have the time or care about the having that pretty whole bird shape, then butterfly or spatchcock your whole chicken and most of your problems will be solved. You will still impress your family and friends. Since I learnt to butterfly my whole chicken, it has been my go-to method. Did I mention that the chicken will be done in much less time too. My Renaissance man who used to roast most of our whole chicken is also pleased with it.

Whole roasted chicken butterflied, makes a lovely centerpiece for Christmas dinner or any dinner for that matter.


To prepare whole roasted chicken butterflied

1 1/2 kg chicken
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry chili pepper
1 seasoning cube
2 teaspoons onion powder*
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons vegetable oil/ butter
6-8 tiny onions

*If you don’t have onion powder, grind dry onions or dry shallot in your blender dry mill.

If chicken is frozen, defrost fully in the refrigerator before use.

In a small bowl mix together salt, dry chili pepper, seasoning cube, onion powder and baking soda. Set aside.

Peel tiny onions. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 220 deg C.

Turn the chicken on its breast and cut along the side of the backbone with kitchen shears or strong pair of scissors.

You can cut both sides and completely remove the backbone or on one side like me. I like to suck on that bone after. Press on the breastbone firmly to flatten the chicken.

Pat chicken dry with kitchen napkins. Moisture on the skin will prevent crispiness. 

Rub oil or butter all over the chicken, and sprinkle dry rub all over the chicken.

Drizzle a little oil on a baking sheet lined with aluminium foil, place chicken breast side up on the center of the baking sheet.

Push tiny onions ball into crevices underneath the chicken.

Roast for 40 minutes to 1 hour.

If it is browning too fast just reduce the heat to 200 deg. C.

To check if the chicken is ready, make a small cut in the thigh up to the bone, the juices coming out should be clear. Take out of the oven and remove the onion balls underneath.

Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Pick out the onions, add 1 tablespoon of the chicken dripping from the pan, a little salt and pepper.

Mash everything up and you have a delicious dip. Serve and enjoy with your chicken.


Please let me know how much you enjoyed your whole roasted chicken butterflied.


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  1. Florence Itanola
    January 19, 2017

    Really good thanks

    • gaga
      January 19, 2017

      Thank you Florence.

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