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Spatchcock vs. Poussin: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 23, 2024
Spatchcock refers to a poultry preparation method where the backbone is removed for even cooking, while poussin is a young chicken, typically less than 28 days old, known for its tender meat.

Key Differences

Spatchcock involves removing the backbone of poultry, flattening it for more even and quicker cooking. This method is often used for larger birds, such as chickens or turkeys, to ensure they cook uniformly on the grill or in the oven. The term "spatchcock" is also used as a verb to describe this preparation technique. Poussin, on the other hand, refers to a young chicken, usually weighing around 1 to 1.5 pounds and less than 28 days old. Because of its youth, the meat of a poussin is particularly tender and delicate, making it a gourmet choice for certain dishes. It is typically cooked whole due to its small size, often roasted or grilled.
Spatchcocked poultry cooks faster and more evenly than whole birds, which is beneficial for larger chickens and turkeys. This method helps in achieving a crispy skin and juicy meat throughout. It's a popular choice for outdoor grilling and high-heat oven roasting. Conversely, a poussin’s small size means it cooks relatively quickly even when left whole, without the need for spatchcocking. Its tender meat is often prized in fine dining and French cuisine. The cooking methods for poussin usually emphasize maintaining its delicate texture and flavor.
Spatchcocking can be applied to various poultry types, including larger chickens and turkeys, enhancing their cooking efficiency. This versatility makes it a useful technique in many culinary settings. It's a practical approach that simplifies the cooking process for larger birds. In contrast, poussin specifically denotes a particular age and size of chicken, not a preparation method. Its unique qualities make it a specialty item rather than a general technique. Poussin is often reserved for special occasions or gourmet meals due to its tender and flavorful meat.

Comparison Chart


A method of preparing poultry by removing the backbone
A young chicken less than 28 days old


Any size poultry, often larger birds
Small, typically 1 to 1.5 pounds

Cooking Method

Flattened for even cooking
Usually cooked whole

Culinary Use

Improves cooking time and evenness
Known for tender meat

Common Preparation

Grilled or roasted
Roasted or grilled

Spatchcock and Poussin Definitions


A technique used primarily for poultry.
He demonstrated how to spatchcock a duck for the cooking class.


Weighs about 1 to 1.5 pounds.
The chef preferred poussin for its tender meat.


Removing the backbone of a bird for flat cooking.
The chef decided to spatchcock the turkey for a faster cooking time.


Cooks quickly due to its small size.
The poussin was ready in no time, perfect for a quick dinner.


Enhances flavor and texture during cooking.
Spatchcocking the bird resulted in a perfectly crispy skin.


A young chicken under 28 days old.
The menu featured roasted poussin with herbs.


A preparation method for even cooking.
Spatchcocking the chicken helped it cook evenly on the grill.


Known for delicate and tender meat.
Poussin is a favorite in gourmet recipes for its flavor.


A dressed and split fowl for roasting or grilling.


Often used in fine dining.
The elegant dish was made with a perfectly roasted poussin.


Flattening poultry for roasting or grilling.
To ensure even cooking, she spatchcocked the chicken before roasting.


A chicken reared to be eaten at a few weeks of age.


To prepare (a dressed fowl) for roasting or grilling by splitting open.


A Cornish game hen.


To introduce or interpose, especially in a labored or unsuitable manner
"Some excerpts from a Renaissance mass are spatchcocked into Gluck's pallid Don Juan music" (Alan Rich).


French painter in the classical style (1594-1665)


Poultry which has been cut along the spine and spread out for more even cooking.


(cooking) To cut (poultry) along the spine and spread the halves apart for more even cooking.
For the party, he spatchcocked and grilled some chickens.


(figuratively) Often followed by in or into: to interpolate or insert (something into another thing); to sandwich (something within another thing).


See Spitchcock.


Flesh of a chicken (or game bird) split down the back and grilled (usually immediately after being killed)


Prepare for eating if or as if a spatchcock;
Spatchcock a guine hen


Interpolate or insert (words) into a sentence or story


What does spatchcock mean?

Spatchcock refers to a method of preparing poultry by removing the backbone to flatten it for even cooking.

Can you spatchcock any bird?

Yes, you can spatchcock any bird, including chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

Is poussin the same as Cornish hen?

No, poussin is a younger chicken than a Cornish hen and typically weighs less.

How does spatchcocking affect cooking time?

Spatchcocking reduces cooking time by allowing the bird to cook more evenly.

Why spatchcock a chicken?

Spatchcocking a chicken ensures it cooks more evenly and faster, especially on a grill or in an oven.

What tools are needed to spatchcock a bird?

You need kitchen shears or a sharp knife to remove the backbone and flatten the bird.

What is a poussin?

Poussin is a young chicken, typically less than 28 days old, known for its tender meat.

Is spatchcocking difficult?

Spatchcocking is relatively simple with practice; it involves cutting out the backbone and flattening the bird.

Can you spatchcock a poussin?

Yes, you can spatchcock a poussin, although its small size often makes it unnecessary.

How do you season a poussin?

Poussin can be seasoned with herbs, garlic, lemon, and other flavors that complement its delicate meat.

What dishes commonly use poussin?

Poussin is commonly used in gourmet dishes and fine dining, often roasted or grilled.

Why is poussin considered gourmet?

Poussin is considered gourmet due to its tender, flavorful meat and its use in fine dining.

How do you cook spatchcock chicken?

You can cook spatchcock chicken by grilling or roasting it, which helps achieve even cooking and crispy skin.

Is spatchcocking necessary for small birds?

Spatchcocking is not usually necessary for small birds like poussin but can be done for even cooking.

What makes poussin different from regular chicken?

Poussin is a much younger chicken with more tender and delicate meat compared to regular chicken.

Can you grill a spatchcocked bird?

Yes, grilling a spatchcocked bird is common and results in a crispy exterior and juicy interior.

Are there any other names for poussin?

Poussin is sometimes referred to as spring chicken or baby chicken.

What size is a spatchcocked chicken?

The size of a spatchcocked chicken can vary but it is typically a standard-sized bird that has been flattened for even cooking.

What is the best cooking method for poussin?

The best methods for cooking poussin are roasting or grilling to maintain its tenderness.

Does spatchcocking affect the flavor?

Spatchcocking can enhance the flavor by allowing for more even seasoning and cooking.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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