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Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 50 min
  • Calories: 563
whole grilled chicken spatchcocked on parchment paper with a bowl of green garlic sauce grilled lemons

Rubbed with a smoky spice mix, our recipe for grilled spatchcocked chicken could not be easier. Let your grill do the heavy lifting while you whip up a garlicky herb sauce to serve on the side.

All Bang, No Buck.

Well, maybe it’s more like “all bang, very-little buck”—any way you slice it, we’re so excited to share this gosh-darn easy grilled whole chicken recipe with you, because we just KNOW it’s everything your summertime dinner daydreams are made of. A simple spice rub—just brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper—flavors our spatchcocked chicken recipe, and that's all it needs. Hot off the grill, juicy, smoky, and drizzled in a creamy, cooling garlic-herb sauce this—might just be one of the best recipes we’ve ever made.

whole grilled chicken spatchcocked on parchment paper with a bowl of green garlic sauce grilled lemons

The Best Spatchcock Chicken Recipe, Ever. In the Universe. For Real.

Grilling a whole chicken is the kind of showy, secretly easy recipes we live to create—it’s unbelievably simple to pull off, but it still makes for a dramatic dinner-party supper. Butterflied and hot from the grill, laid out on a platter with grilled lemons and a bowl of herb sauce, grilled spatchcocked chicken is a meal imbued with the spirit of sharing and generosity around which every gathering should be built. There’s something so wonderfully classic and inviting about serving a whole chicken—it’s homey and special all at once, and this recipe is easy enough that you’ll be able to relax with the friends you serve it to, which is what this whole dinner-party thing is all about, right?

raw spatchcocked chicken on parchment paper next to ingredients for garlic herb sauce, green onions, mayonnaise, parsley

Spatchcocked Chicken: How To Grill a Whole Chicken Without Losing Your Mind.

Spatchcocked chicken—also known as butterflied chicken—is a whole chicken that has been split by removing the backbone, and then flattened out. Splitting and flattening the bird is dual purpose—you significantly reduce the cooking time, and ensure even cooking. While spatchcocked birds are great for roasting, they’re the hands-down best for grilling. In fact, the dictionary definition of the word “spatchcock” is literally “chicken or game bird split open and grilled.”

How To Spatchcock a Chicken

Most any butcher will be happy to spatchcock a whole chicken for you, saving you time and mess, but it’s also easy enough to do yourself. Good kitchen tools and a little confidence are all you need to spatchcock, or butterfly, a chicken at home. Here’s how to do it yourself:

  1. Cut the backbone out of the chicken, starting from the thigh end and working upwards. You’ll snip through the rib bones as you go, but it shouldn’t be too hard—a good, sharp pair of poultry shears or kitchen scissors really help with this step. Get as close to the backbone as you can, and once you’ve removed it, don’t toss it! It’s great for making chicken stock.
  2. Flatten that bird! Flip the chicken over so that it is skin-side up, and press down hard on the breastbone to flatten the chicken out. Remember: the goal is to make the chicken as evenly-splayed out as possible for quick, even cooking on the grill.

P.S. Friendly reminder—don’t rinse your chicken! And wash your hands super thoroughly before and after handling raw chicken. And, while we’re talking chicken and food safety, always check that your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F before you pull it off the grill or out of the oven.

whole raw spatchcocked chicken with spice rub on it
grilled spatchcocked chicken on a baking sheet

How To Grill a Spatchcocked Chicken

Your chicken has been prepped, rubbed with a paprika-garlic spice mix, and the grill is hot—now what?! Your work is nearly over—it’s time to let your grill do the rest. Our grilled spatchcock chicken recipe works perfectly on either a gas grill or a charcoal grill. Here are a few things to know:

  • If you’re grilling your spatchcocked chicken on a gas grill: start with medium-high heat for the first few minutes of cooking, just until the skin is a nice crispy, golden-brown. Then crank that heat to low.

If you’ll be grilling a whole chicken over charcoal: begin cooking the dry-rubbed, spatchcocked whole chicken over direct heat (the warmest part of the grill) to give the skin a lovely char. After a few minutes, flip and move the chicken so that it finishes cooking over indirect heat.

blender filled with ingredients for garlic herb sauce
blender filled with garlic herb sauce

If You’ve Got 30 Seconds and a Blender, You’ve Got Homemade Herb Sauce.

The best spatchcock chicken recipe is only as good as the herbs and spices that flavor it, and this easy, creamy garlic-and-herb sauce is what pushes the particular whole chicken recipe into overdrive. A whole spatchcocked chicken, fresh off the grill and carved at the table while it’s still steaming and juicy, served with this garlicky, bright, basil-y sauce for dipping and slathering and drizzling—well, let’s just say that it’ll make even the newbiest of new home cooks look like a master. And the best part? You just toss a bunch of fresh herbs in a blender with some mayo and lemon juice and give it a whirl. Herb sauce—made.

whole grilled chicken cut up on a sliver platter with a bowl of grilled lemons

Three Worthy Side Dishes:

A gorgeous, grilled whole chicken is almost a meal in itself—just add a beautiful, colorful salad, and dinner is served. Here are a few of our summery favorites:

Tools You’ll Need:

whole grilled chicken cut up on a silver platter drizzled with garlic herb sauce

Are You a Butterfly Believer Now?

We’re crazy for this recipe, and we think you will be, too! Snap a photo of your grilled spatchcocked chicken and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you share it with! Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 50 min
  • Calories: 563

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 5 lb Chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 10 Basil leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup Cilantro leaves, packed
  • 4 Green onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp Lemon juice

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Pat chicken dry using a paper towel. With your hands coat the chicken on all sides with the spice rub.
  3. Heat your grill to medium high heat.
  4. Once grill is preheated, brush grates with olive oil. Grill the chicken skin side down over direct heat, until golden brown, crispy and lightly charred, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, flip the chicken over. ** Continue to grill until skin is golden brown all over, juices run clear, and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 165°F. This will take about 45 minutes.
  5. While the chicken is cooking add the basil, cilantro, green onions, garlic cloves, mayonnaise, salt and lemon juice to a blender and blend on high and set aside.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked remove from the grill let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve alongside the green garlic sauce and enjoy!

**If using a charcoal grill, move chicken away from indirect heat while cooking to be sure you don’t dry it out. This method may take longer than 45 minutes, so be sure to use a thermometer for doneness.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories 563
  • Protein 83 g
  • Carbohydrates 9 g
  • Total Fat 19 g
  • Dietary Fiber 0 g
  • Cholesterol 224 mg
  • sodium 1212 mg
  • Added Sugars 3 g

Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

Questions & Reviews

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  • Marlene Bialeck Piskin

    Made this last night. The dry rub is definitely a keeper! Absolutely delicious and crispy. I made it on my Weber gas grill. The only thing was, I didn't know if I was supposed to keep the lid down or leave it open. I kept the lid down for most of the time the result was a bit dry. Next time, should I leave the lid up?

    Glad you liked it! The most important thing when grilling is to check the temperature often. If you closed the lid and walked away for 45 minutes, I can see how it might have overcooked. So sorry about that. But if you want to cover it next time as well, just be sure to test the internal temperature often to avoid ever overcooking your chicken. Thanks for the review!

  • Gates Cooney

    I would like to try this recipe this weekend. I really don’t like cilantro at all, could I substitute something else without ruining the recipe?

    Go ahead and use flat leaf parsley instead!

  • Jen

    Do either of you, or any readers, have recommendations for settings using a Traeger? I’m guessing I’ll start on high and then reduce it to 325? I should note that our Traeger goes from 375 to 450 with nothing in between! 😒

    This is what I gathered from their website for a spatchcocked chicken! Hope it helps! When ready to cook, start the Traeger on smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 450 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. (Prepare the chicken according to our recipe) Place the chicken, skin-side down on the grill. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until there are good grill marks. Turn the chicken over and cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Enjoy!

  • Maria

    I didn't make the sauce, just the chicken. Husband hates cilantro, he's one of the people that thinks it tastes like soap. I could try substituting parsley. That chicken was amazing, so moist and flavorful. I used a Weber charcoal grill. I was able to go from direct to indirect easily using the charcoal baskets I bought for my grill. Took about the same amount of time called for in the recipe to come to temperature. I kept the lid down and stayed on it so the chicken wouldn't dry out. I also rested the chicken for 10 minutes before slicing. Husband devoured quite a bit. I'm looking forward to the tacos we're going to have. This recipe is a keeper on the chicken alone. Everyone needs a good spatchcocked chicken recipe.

    Thanks for letting us know! Glad you loved it!

  • AnneS

    Made this for the first time today. Outside of the fact that my butcher somehow doesn't know how to spatchcock (butterflied it with the backbone intact and center of the finished efforts?!) - this was easy and delicious. My teenager said, repeatedly "This is Really Good". It's a keeper, thank you. And if anyone is short on mayo (oops), mixing some sour cream to fill in the gap works, too.

    So glad it was a hit!!

  • char Baker

    I am on my probably 6-8 time I have made this in a couple of months. Cooking 2 now for leftovers. Just . Outstanding. My family loves it. Charlotte

  • Jane

    This recipe is so so good. So easy with huge payoff. The flavor is incredible and presentation impressed our guests. We ran out of mayonnaise and only had a tablespoon or so so we added in some greek yogurt as well and the sauce still turned out amazing. Thank you!

    Great! Way to improvise!

  • Kristen P

    Tried this recipe tonight and had a Mortal Kombat moment when I removed the backbone. Yes, my husband told me to stop. But either way, very juicy and smokey. I let the chicken sit in the rub up to 2 hours. Hubby, 2 picky kids and adult child who should of moved out but yet will eat anything in sight - loved it.

    Ha. Love this review! Thanks for taking the time to leave it!