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Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  50 min
  • Calories: 590
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: 590

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
  • 2 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
  • Calories590
  • Protein59 g
  • Carbohydrates5 g
  • Total Fat36 g
  • Dietary Fiber2 g
  • Cholesterol234 mg
  • sodium1338 mg
  • Total Sugars2 g

Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

Questions & Reviews

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  • Ms. Pleasants

    I use this rub for turkey and it’s amazing for that as well. Melts in your mouth. Amazing

    Thanks, so happy you love it!

  • Holly

    How long does the herb sauce last in the fridge? Could it be made a couple of days ahead of time?

    2 days should be fine! Hope you enjoy Holly!

  • Carol

    Hi I have a marinated spatchcock from Trader Joe’s-what’s the best way to grill on gas bbq so it’s tender juicy and slightly blackened thanks-should I use foil?

    No need to use foil. You can still follow these instructions for the cooking method. Heat your grill to medium high heat.
    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.
    Once the chicken is cooked remove from the grill let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.

  • Ellen Gitelman

    I have been making this for two summers running and just love it. My question is whether this recipe could also be done as a roast now that it's a bit too cold to grill.

    Yes! I would try oven at 450°F until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 40 minutes.

  • 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!

  • Linsey McCormack

    This was great! I’m thinking of making it again with turkey for thanksgiving. Anything you suggest should be done differently?

    I’ve made the sauce with mayo and Greek yogurt, and it was great.

    Glad you love this! We haven't tried this with turkey, we'd love to hear how it goes!

  • Jennifer

    I made this last night on my Weber gas grill and I believe it is the best chicken I have ever made. I left it skin side down for too long and it got really black. I was afraid that I had ruined it, but it still turned out to be extremely tender, juicy, and flavorful. I did not have the ingredients to make the sauce, but plan on trying it next time. I had a friend over for dinner, and he raved about the chicken as well. It was also delightfully easy to make.

    Thanks Jennifer, we are so glad you found it simple and delicious! Winning duo always, right?!

  • Lynne

    What a great dinner! It was easy to make and delicious...the perfect combination for a casual dinner party. I will definitely make this again.

    Thank you Lynne, we are so happy you enjoyed it!

  • E.M.

    Excellent!!! My first try at cooking a whole bird on my BBQ and it turned out amazing. Sauce was great, too, although a little too much mayonnaise for my taste, so next time I'll probably replace one quarter cup with full fat plain yogourt.

    Thank you, so happy you loved it! Great job grilling the bird for the first time!

  • Mal

    The sauce is soooo good. I have leftovers and plan on adding olive oil to turn it into a salad dressing

    Thank you! So glad you love it and that sounds like a delicious idea!