There’s nothing I love more than grilling a whole chicken. It’s perfect for cook once, eat twice or more weekend meals. It’s perfect for sharing when we’re entertaining. This has been our go-to chicken recipe and we’re not sick of it yet. The smell of it on the grill will make you wait in keen anticipation. And the flavor – the mix of spices and grill flavor – is absolutely delicious.
Our preferred whole bird preparation is to spatchcock. It sounds more intimidating than it actually is. It’s really just butterflying the chicken it rests flat on the grill, allowing it to cook evenly (and faster). Turn the bird so its back (the side that’s connected to the tail) is facing up (meaning breast side is on the cutting board) and use kitchen shears to cut along both sides of the back from the tail to the neck. You’ve just cut out the chicken’s back. Then flip the bird over and flatten the breast with the heel of your hand. That’s it!
After spatchcocking, I separate the skin from the meat so I can spread the rub paste all over the bird. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24-36 hours before grilling.
For the paste, I recommend using dried/powdered (but still fresh in flavor) ingredients. All of the flavor will come through these dried ingredients so getting the most flavorful ones will go a long way.
- 4 lb. chicken, spatchcocked, skin loosely separated from meat
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tbl cumin
- 1 tbl paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbl olive oil
- 1 tbl white vinegar
- juice of 1 lemon (approx. 2-3 tbl for a medium lemon)
- Mix together ingredients to form a paste. Rub into meat underneath the skin and on the skin. Marinate up to 36 hours.
- Preheat gas grill on high for 5 minutes.
- Turn grill to low and place chicken skin side up on the direct heat. Leave it on the grill for 30 minutes.
- Flip the chicken so that the skin side is down. Leave it on the grill for another 30 minutes.
- If you don’t have lemon on hand but you do have white wine, you can substitute lemon for wine one-to-one.
- Here are the ingredients that I especially like for the garlic, paprika and black pepper: