This Grilled Butterflied Whole Chicken is an excellent technique used to reduce grilling time and results in a more uniform cook. It takes just a couple of easy steps to achieve tender and juicy chicken on the grill.
I am a big believer that the best recipes are the ones that don’t need 50 ingredients to make it delicious. About 15 years ago, we were making something from a magazine and there had to be 20 ingredients in the recipe. It was nuts and the sad part was that after all the work, the recipe fell flat.
You’ll notice most of our recipes have just a few ingredients. We just feel like it is going to taste good or it isn’t. Adding more and more seasoning and spices isn’t going to fix a so-so recipe no matter how hard you keep trying. That is the theme with this grilled spatchcock whole chicken.
This is a “go-to” weekend recipe that you will make again and again. Mix it up and serve Grilled Sweet Potatoes, Grilled Sweet Onions, Grilled Baby Potatoes or Grilled Fennel.
🍽️ Why You’ll Love It
- Easy to follow directions!
- Serves six and you can easily double the recipe.
- Great for meal prepping.
- Ten minutes is all you need to prepare it.
- The butter garlic glaze is incredible!
Chicken | You will need a whole chicken for this recipe. It will cook easily and will give you plenty of light and dark meat.
Butter | Melt the butter before you begin. It’s going to add so much flavor to the skin of the chicken.
Garlic | We typically stick to three cloves of garlic but feel free to use more or less if you wish.
If you have never butterflied a chicken before, let’s get started! It isn’t complicated. Once you start using this version, you will quickly become addicted and apply it to all poultry like we did for the Spatchcock Yucatan Turkey and Cornish Hens.
Butterfly the Chicken
Step One: Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Place the chicken on a platter or sheet pan breast side up.
Step Two: Use your kitchen shears to cut away the cartilage on either side of the breastbone. Start with the opening at the tail end and cut straight up.
You will see after one or two cuts that it actually cuts pretty easy and you can speed it up a bit. Just keep the shears near the center of the bird.
Step Three: Once you have cut to the end, spin the chicken around and cut along the other side.
Congratulations! You have just done the hard part.
Step Four: Open up the chicken in a butterfly fashion. Use a paper towel to remove any excess juices. Press down fairly hard to flatten the chicken. You may hear a few “cracks” as it flattens.
Prepare and Grill
Step One: Melt the butter and mince the garlic. Combine the two ingredients and brush both sides of the chicken generously. These two ingredients make the chicken shine and create a crispy skin that is delicious!
Step Two: Set up your grill with indirect heat. On the Big Green Egg, I used the plate setter. On a gas grill, turn off the middle burners. Bring the temperature up to 325 degrees. This is meant to be a “low and slow” cook. We love to use homemade fire starters as it simply uses trash and I don’t have to invest in brand name starters that cost an arm and a leg.
Step Three: After the temperature stabilizes, place the chicken on the grating, skin side down.
Note: If you have some extra garlic butter, go ahead and spread some more on now. You just can’t go wrong with more, right?
Step Four: Leave the chicken on the grill for 15 minutes. The skin should be golden brown and a bit crispy.
Step Five: Turn the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
That’s it! This is a very easy, but delicious recipe!
💡 Expert Tips
Like a lot of meats, allowing this chicken to come down closer to room temperature before placing it on the grill will allow it to evenly cook and it will lessen the chances of drying out…one of the biggest reasons people don’t like to grill chicken.
When making meat like this that can turn dry if you don’t watch it, always try to use a meat thermometer so it will buzz when it hits the right temperature. Coals can heat up in spots quickly or you can get distracted and not realize the amount of time has already passed. Invest in a thermometer and save yourself the hassle and frustration.
If you want to make this plain with salt and pepper so you can add sauce to it rather than the garlic butter, grill this the same way and when the bird reaches 150 degrees, start brushing on the sauce. This will give it enough time to caramelize and a little sticky.
There is just about always a way to meal prep just about any meal! Here are a couple of ways just in case you need to speed up the process!
- Mince the garlic and store it in a container
- Butterfly the chicken, cover and place in the refrigerator ahead of time. It might save you five minutes, but we all get busy, so I will take what I can get!
I doubt there will be much leftover – but just in case, here are a couple of ideas! The taste is delicious, and mild enough for the following:
– Chicken salad on cucumbers using dried cranberries
– Chicken salad inside celery cutting everything super small to fit
– Lettuce wraps using halved grapes and chicken salad
– Use the chicken to stuff zucchini combining onions, parmesan, mayonnaise, or cream cheese to bind it together
– Shred it and add it to your favorite chili
– Use the Smoked Trout Dip recipe and instead of trout, use the chicken. Use crackers or baguettes to spread. If you don’t have enough, halve the recipe!
– Sheet pan nachos – this one is great because if you only have a small portion, add beans as your protein a well, and nobody will notice you didn’t have enough chicken!
– Make a pasta salad and add shredded chicken to it.
Simply cook two whole chickens! You do need to make sure that you are using a grill that’s big enough to hold both of them. Leave some space between them so there is good air flow and they both cook evenly.
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Grilled Butterflied Whole Chicken
- 3 lb Chicken whole
- 4 tbsp Butter melted
- 3 cloves Garlic minced
Prepare the Chicken
- Cut along both sides of the chicken's breastbone using kitchen shears.
- Push the chicken flat using a little bit of force. You may hear cracking as you do this.
Grill the Butterflied / Spatchcock Chicken
- Preheat grill to indirect heat to 325 degrees. For gas grills, turn off the center burners. For Kamado-Style grills, add a plate setter.
- Combine the melted butter and garlic and brush on the chicken both sides
- Place on grill with the skin side down for 15 minutes. The skin should be a nice golden brown color
- Turn the chicken over and finish cooking for another 20 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees
- Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving