Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken is super delicious and easy, but it isn’t a quick meal. It requires several hours of letting the chicken marinate in the refrigerator. The grilling part is pretty quick, though, compared to regular roasted chicken. And the results are so scrumptious. There are partial step-by-step photos if you scroll down.
Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken—have you heard of spatchcocking? I hadn’t until a couple years ago when I read about it in a magazine. You know how you think you have never heard of something and then all of a sudden, that thing is everywhere? That’s what happened to me with spatchcocking.
What is Spatchcocking?
I looked up the history of spatchcocking and it has been around since the 18th century. But in 2002 New York Times food “minimalist” Mark Bitman created a video about spatchcocked turkey and all of a sudden, the term was trending. His video is entertaining. He shows you exactly how to do it and then puts a big clock around his neck to show you the turkey will be done in 45 minutes. And it looks like it’s about a 12-pound turkey.
Preparing Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken
When you make Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken, you cut the backbone out (save it for making broth) and flatten the bird to increase the cooking surface. I adapted Martha Stewart’s recipe and the combination of onion, garlic, herbs, olive oil, and lemon in the rub made it super good. In the one shown below I used olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Oh my! It’s good.
Watch the video above to see how to cut the backbone out.
Mark Bitman, on the other hand, simply put a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and peeled garlic cloves on it right before roasting (which he did in an oven probably at 375F or 400F degrees, but he didn’t say), and his turkey looked terrific. Take a look at my Easy Oven Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken. It’s SO easy.
Don and I found the flavor of the chicken to be fabulous. It was juicy and fully cooked in about 35-40 minutes a side over a medium-high heated grill using the indirect method of cooking. “Indirect” means that the area where the food is being cooked does not have flames or hot coals directly under it. The heat surrounds it on either side instead.
Sometimes Ya Gotta Eat Fat
This Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken was so good I plan to use this method in the future every time we are cooking a whole chicken (unless, of course, I’m making soup). It’s easy, quick and delicious. It is, however, very high in fat. I think this is from the chicken skin. To test this theory, I reduced the amount of oil in the recipe and re-did the nutrition label, and the results were about the same. You can see this in the second nutrition label. If you are trying to reduce fat, I suggest you don’t eat the skin!
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What You Need
Other than the grill, we didn’t use many special tools. I used my kitchen shears to cut the backbone out, but you can use a good sharp knife. I also used measuring cups and spoons, a small paring knife, my chef’s knife, a cutting board, and my small food processor. And of course, our Char-Broil Gas Grill. What kind do you use?
Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe
Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken
This recipe requires refrigerating the chicken for a couple hours before grilling. Make the rub in the morning, apply it to the chicken, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours while you go about your life.
- 5 pound whole chicken
- 1 small onion (peeled and quartered)
- 2 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs (I used thyme, oregano, and rosemary, leaves only)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
To Spatchcock the Chicken
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken, slicing down both sides of the backbone and removing it. Freeze the backbone to make broth in the future.
- Place the chicken on its back and squash it to open it and flatten it.
To Make and Apply the Rub
Using a small food processor, puree the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, herbs, olive oil, and lemon until smooth.
Spread the puree under the breast skin and over the entire bird. Or simply spread it over the top of the breast.
- Refrigerate for several hours (up to 8).
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and wipe off most of the rub (if it hasn't drained to the pan).
- Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat the grill to medium high heat (around 400 degrees)
When the grill is hot, turn the middle burner off and place the chicken in the center, breast side down, and close the top of the grill.
Cook for 15-25 minutes using this indirect heat method until charred and then flip the chicken to its back.
Cook for another 15-25 minutes (more or less, depending on your grill), covered, until the thickest part of the chicken breast reaches an internal temperature of 165F degrees.
Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
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Recipe Nutrition Information
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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