This grilled spatchcock chicken recipe is by far the best way to grill a whole chicken. I am going to show you how to spatchcock a chicken and grill it on the type of grill of your choice.
I am grilling the chicken on a gas grill. A lot of people like to bbq a spatchcock chicken on charcoal or a pellet grill. Any of these will work great for this recipe but you want to make sure that you have an area for 2 zones of heat.
- Video – Grilled spatchcock chicken recipe
- 6 steps for a grilled spatchcock chicken
- Remove the backbone
- Flatten the chicken
- Dry the chicken
- Oil and seasoning
- Preheat and grill
- Rest and serve
Video – Grilled spatchcock chicken recipe
- 1 whole chicken 5lbs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 2 tsp onion powder 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- cutting board
- kitchen shears
- chef knife
- instant-read thermometer
- grill of choice
6 steps for a grilled spatchcock chicken
This chicken is by far going to cook a lot better spatchcocked than just adding a whole chicken to the grill.
This is the same as a butterflied whole chicken its just another way to describe this type of cooking.
Follow these steps on how to grill a spatchcock chicken.
Remove the backbone
This can be the hardest part depending on the size of the chicken. If you have a little bird around 4-5 lbs you can typically get away with using a common pair of kitchen shears that come with a knife block.
Cut the backbone from the neck section all the way through to the tail on both sides of the backbone. You want to stay as close as you can to the backbone. If you stray too far in you can have issues with hitting the main bone in the chicken leg.
If your kitchen shears are not up to the task a good heavy-duty chef knife will also do the trick.
Flatten the chicken
Now that the backbone is cut out you want to lay the chicken with the breast side down.
Take a chef knife and make a cut in the center of the breast plate part of the chicken.
Flip the chicken over and spread the breasts out on both sides and push down on the center of the breasts. This should make the chicken flat.
Dry the chicken
Take some paper towels or a kitchen towel and pat the down the entire chicken. You are trying to make it as dry as possible so the oil and seasoning will stick well to the skin of the chicken.
Oil and seasoning
Coat the entire chicken with olive oil. You also want to coat the cavity side that you have now revealed after spatchcocking the chicken.
This oil is going to do two things.
- help the seasoning stick
- prevent the spatchcock chicken from sticking to the grill
Take the kosher salt and spread it on the entire chicken liberally. This is going to bring out the flavor of the bird. Don’t be afraid to use too much salt as you’re going to lose some in the grilling process.
Fresh cracked black pepper
Depending on if you like spice or not add as much as you would like. Remember just like the salt you’re going to lose some in the process of the grilling.
Cover all sides of the chicken.
I like to save spice containers like my garlic one that I use so much of and repurpose them for combinations of rubs I create.
So add the garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a container that you will be able to sprinkle over the entire bird. Go liberal with it and coat all parts of the chicken.
Preheat and grill
I like to get the grill good and hot. I shoot for 450 degrees. It is really important to grill the spatchcock chicken hot so that you get crispy skin.
You want to set up two zones of heat on your grill. This way if you get flare-ups you have somewhere to retreat the chicken to. I have cooked these chickens on direct heat the entire time but I find it easier to have a zone without direct heat.
Grilling a spatchcock chicken
When the grill is good and hot add the chicken to the grill with the breast side down. After you place it you want to leave it!
Crisping the skin
Don’t move it around at this stage because you could end up tearing the skin off of the chicken. You have to wait for the chicken to be browned enough and at this stage, it will not stick.
Flipping the chicken
Check the chicken to see if the skin has released and if you have a nice brown crispy skin. If it’s ready go ahead and flip it over.
You want to brown this side of the chicken as well. Browning is going to bring a ton of flavor to the meat.
If you know of hot spots on your grill it’s ok to move the chicken around a bit so that you’re giving it even heat to the meat.
Move to indirect heat
After both sides are good and brown you want to move it to the side of your grill that you do not have direct heat under.
Leave it here for the rest of the grilling process. I like to spin it halfway through to make sure that the breasts and legs cook evenly.
When the chicken reaches an internal temp of 157-160 degrees go ahead and pull the chicken.
Having a clean grill is really important for preventing flare-ups with a cook like this.
Rest and serve
Resting the chicken after it is cooked is really important. You want the juices in the chicken to spread themselves throughout the meat.
Pulling the chicken slightly under the mark of 165 degrees will allow it to come up to temp in the resting stage.
If you wait and pull the chicken at 165 degrees then it will keep cooking during the resting time and you will end up with a dry chicken… not good!
After the chicken reaches the 165 degrees and has rested for at least 10 minutes then go ahead and serve and enjoy!
What side of the chicken do you grill first?
For chicken thighs, drums and breasts, you want to put the skin side down. This way you don’t risk the skin burning with flare-ups on the grill and it also gives an opportunity for the skin to crisp up before a lot of the juices run out of the chicken.
How do you flatten chicken for grilling?
You spatchcock the chicken. First, you put the chicken breast side down and then cut out the backbone with kitchen shears. Flip the chicken over and cut into the breast bone with a slight slicing cut. Turn the chicken over again breast side up and push down until the chicken lays flat.
Why do you Spatchcock a chicken?
The reason why you spatchcock a chicken is that it allows the chicken to cook more evenly. This allows all the meat to be the same thickness on the grill so that the different chicken parts can cook at an even rate. This way when you pull the chicken you don’t have chicken breasts that are dry and chicken thighs that are undercooked.
The other benefit is more surface area for your rub to coat the chicken.
Grilled Spatchcock Chicken
- 5 lbs whole chicken
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Remove the backbone with kitchen shears. Cut along the backbone on both sides from the neck to the tail section
- Put the chicken breast side down and cut through the breast bone plate at the center and top of the chicken breast.Flip the chicken so the breast side is up and push down on the chicken breast untill the the rib cage flattens.
- Take some paper towels or a kitchen towel and dry the chicken so that the olive oil and seasoning will stick.
- Add the olive oil all over the chicken to coat everything possible. You want to do all sides.
- Preheat the grill to 450°. You want to setup two-zone heating if possible.Add the chicken breast side down when the grill is upto temp. Watch the chicken, when the skin is crispy and brown and not sticking, flip it over and let it cook on the backside.If you were able to setup two-zone heat then move the chicken to the side without direct heat. Rotate from time to time to make sure the chicken cooks evenly.Remove when the temp hits 160°.
- Allow the chicken to rest and come up to temp and to allow the juices to distribute throughout the meat.After the temp hits the 165° and has rested for 10 minutes or so go ahead and cut-up and serve.