Craving a whole roasted chicken but refuse to heat up your entire house doing it? Keep reading to learn how to grill a whole chicken. By learning how to spatchcock a chicken you’ll learn how to quickly grill a whole chicken for a comforting, filling meal that will please the whole family without spending a ton of time. A grilled whole chicken in the perfect meal to enjoy on a busy weeknight that feels like a luxury. Cut down on your AC bills and dished by enjoying a grilled spatchcocked chicken tonight.
This post was originally posted 7/23/16 and has been updated with new images and content.
Here’s the thing – once April hits, it’s hard to convince me to cook indoors. For one: I refuse to heat up my house any more than it already is. For two: dishes. Cooking indoors means at least 3 times as many dishes as cooking outdoors makes, which is big since I already feel like I’m doing dishes all. day. long. So if I can subtract a few pots and pans from my daily total, I’m game.
The problem is, grilled food gets boring quicker than you might expect. Especially if you have a relatively picky husband who wants meat and not much fancier than that. Kabobs, burgers, and tacos get boring and sometimes your just want basic, comforting food.
Enter: how to grill a whole chicken.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of roasting a whole chicken during cooler months. It’s cheap, it’s easy, it doesn’t take too long, and it’s delicious. The big problem is that I still crave it come summer. Juicy meat, crispy skin, and tons of left overs. Roasted chicken is perfect by itself, but even better on salads and sandwiches which, I mean, are kind of the epitome of summer food, right? But heating up my oven for an hour or so sounds pretty miserable. So I need an alternative. Chicken in a crock pot is okay, but you don’t get that crispy skin, it takes forever, and it still heats up your house. (also, see dishes.)
Have you ever heard of spatchcocking a chicken? It’s a method of flattening a whole chicken so that it cooks quicker and more evenly, ensuring the most juicy chicken you’ve ever had and the ability to cook it on the grill.
And that, my friends, is how you’re going to grill a whole chicken – by spatchcocking it.
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
Now, before you get all panicky, I promise it’s super easy. So easy, the first time I did it my husband walked me through it via text message. #marriagewin
Your first step for how to spatchcock a chicken is to prep the chicken – rinse your chicken and make sure all of the icky innards out. Pat it dry so it’s not super slipper and thus dangerous and place the chicken breast down on your cutting board. If you’re confused, just make sure the wing tips are facing toward the cutting board.
Using good, sturdy scissors (most preferably kitchen shears, but other big scissor work as well, speaking from experience) cut along the backbone on each side to remove. The ribs should be pretty simple, but there is a solid bone at the top that can be difficult.
Remove the backbone and either toss it or save it for stock later. I like to use mine when making stock for my foolproof chicken soup.
Make a small notch in the center of the breastbone (where the arrow is pointing) and score down the middle to make a guide of sorts.
Flip over your chicken over, and with the heel of your hand, press on the breast bone to flatten. You’ll probably hear a snap – good sign you’ve done it well. And boom! You just learned how to spatchcock a chicken.
But knowing how to spatchcock a chicken is no help if you have no idea how to cool it! Which brings us to..
How to Grill a Whole Chicken
First thing’s first – let’s prep that spatchcocked chicken. This part is optional – drying, seasoning and then grilling or roasting works fine, but this extra step really helps your KILL IT with an amazing chicken.
Completely dry your spatchcocked chicken with paper towels. Season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Put into your fridge for 12-24 hours uncovered (put it on a shelf by itself for contamination purposes) to dry out.
An hour before it’s time to grill, remove from the fridge, pat off as needed, and allow to come to room temp while you heat the grill. Turn your grill on high and allow it to get very, very hot.
Once the grill is heated, place the chicken skin side down. Note: If you have stainless steel grates, consider using some kind of grill cooking spray as there is the potential for sticking. If you have cast iron grates, this is unnecessary.
Turn heat down to medium and close the lid, leaving for 15 minutes. Flip and cook another 15-25 minutes. Timing will really just depend on how big the chicken is. Mine was done in about 35 minutes and it was 5 pounds.
To ensure the chicken is done, make sure the temperature of the breast reaches 160F (it will hit 165 while resting) and that the juice when you cut between the thigh and the breast runs clear (no pink). Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before cutting – the perfect amount of time to get the table set and the sides finished!
Enjoy! I serve ours with a tomato, artichoke and mozzarella salad + corn on the cob or grilled sweet potatoes and broccoli, or coleslaw and watermelon.. really it’s such a versatile meal. You can also chop up or shred the meat to top a salad or this pesto pasta salad. Such the perfect summer meal.
So tell me – do you find yourself looking to use the grill more in the summer? A fan of cooking outside? Let me know in the comments!
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