Beautifully Grilled Half Chicken is elegant comfort food that draws us to the table to enjoy the deliciously crispy skin and tender, juicy meat. The flavor of this meat with our homemade teriyaki BBQ sauce cannot be beaten.
Serving up these bbq chicken halves at your cookouts guarantee that you will receive nothing but praises as every licks their chops and ask for another serving.
🍽️ Why This Works
Inexpensive Meat. Whole chickens are a very inexpensive meat per pound and you can often find them on sale for even more savings.
Juicy, Tender Meat. Grilled whole chickens result in very tender meat throughout and retain all the moisture that makes poultry a household favorite. Cutting the chickens in half will allow you to easily fit the split chicken on your grill and cook it more quickly without losing out on taste.
No Need for Oil or Butter. While fried chicken is pretty tasty and has a place at the table, it’s also pretty bad for you. Grilled chicken has zero added fat, but still has that crispy skin and perfectly cooked meat we crave.
Chicken – Purchase a whole chicken and cut it in half. If your grill is large enough you can cook more than one chicken at a time.
Dry Rub – I recommend this all-purpose dry rub or just use your favorite!
BBQ Sauce – Our delicious Teriyaki BBQ Sauce is the perfect sauce for grilled half chicken, but honestly you can change this up and cycle through your favorite sauces for variety. For the homemade sauce, you will need garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, honey, BBQ sauce.
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Grill. We used our Big Green Egg for this one but if you have a Weber, NextGrill or Charboil, these half chickens will come out delish on all of the brands.
Small Saucepan. The homemade BBQ sauce should always be pre-cooked to help the flavors meld.
Grill Brush. Use the grill brush to keep your grill clean and useable. The easiest way to do this is to clean it while it is still hot after you grill.
Kitchen Shears. A high-quality pair will be able to cut through chicken bone easily.
Step One: With a sturdy, sharp knife, cut through the cartilage to one side of the breast bone. You’ll feel it when the knife cuts through.
Step Two: Open up the chicken and cut through one side of the spine. It is easier to do this from the inside of the bird. If you have poultry shears, you might find using that easier.
Note: You can cut on the other side of the spine as well to remove it altogether, but it certainly isn’t necessary.
Step Three: Liberally coat both sides of the chicken halves with a BBQ dry rub.
Step Four: Set up the grill for indirect heat and bring the temperature to 350°.
Step Five: Place the two half chickens skin side down on the grill and let it cook for 20 minutes.
Step Six: Turn them over and cook with the skin side up for another 20 minutes.
Step Seven: When the chickens are near 165ºF internal temperature, brush the BBQ sauce on both sides and let it finish cooking. Remove when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Don’t forget the last step of putting out the charcoal grill when you’re done.
How Long to Grill Half Chicken
These are cooked over indirect heat for 20 minutes per side and then start brushing the bbq sauce on. Finish cooking when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, per the USDA. These directions work both for a charcoal grill or propane version.
Precooking Chicken Before Grilling
There will be times you will want to try your hand at popping the chicken in the oven before actually grilling it. If you are hosting a cookout and are worried about chicken drying out, this will be your “go-to” option to still come across as the king of the grill.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees and cook the chicken with no sauce added for 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a medium high heat grill where you will finish cooking and applying the sauce right before the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Cooking in the oven ahead of time with foil on the pan will create more steam and moisture in the pan. If the skin is on, it will NOT become crispy. If you want crispy skin, precook in the oven uncovered.
❗ Expert Tips
Temperature Matters. It’s very important to have the right grill temperature! Remember, if it’s too hot the inside will not cook while the outside will overcook. Using the precooking in the oven technique will help you achieve fully cooked, juicy chicken if you are worried at all.
Make-Ahead Sauce. Make the teriyaki BBQ sauce the day before you need it for a perfectly sticky sauce with great flavor. This is one of those sauces that gets better with age, so if you have time to make it the day before, go for it! It thickens up so nicely in the refrigerator and becomes sticky and delicious.
Perfectly Cut Chicken for the Grill. There are two different ways to cut chicken, and this first one will work great for the grill. Cut down one side of the backbone leaving the center of the backbone on one side. The second way to do this is to cut out the backbone entirely which means cutting down the backbone on both sides as you would for a butterflied/ spatchcocked chicken.
Raw chicken should be kept in the refrigerator and used within one to two days of purchase.
Grilled half chicken should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator and will keep for two or three days. You have two choices. You could cut the chicken into pieces and keep them on the bone for reheating to use for lunches. Alternatively, you might cut the chicken off the bone and dice it up so that it is easy to use in future recipes.
Cutting chicken in half is easy when you follow the simple steps on our recipe card. Make sure you have a sharp knife or kitchen shears. You can cut the chicken in half as soon as you purchase it so that it is ready to grill when you come home from work. Make sure to keep the cut chicken halves in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerater.
If removed from the bone, bbq chicken half can be frozen in freezer-safe baggies or containers and used in future recipes such as tacos, rice bowls, salads, quesadillas, or soups. It will keep for up to three months in the freezer.
It can also be cooked over the weekend and used for quick lunchbox meals.
Use the BBQ sauce and Dry Rub of your choice for this recipe. You can make it slightly different each time just by changing up the sauce and dry rub.
Use different chicken cuts with the same approach for excellent results.
Serve the grilled chicken alongside mashed potatoes or potato salad, roasted vegetables or a green salad, biscuits or a loaf of crusty bread, grilled corn on the cob, or creamed corn. The possibilities are endless and this meal will always be the best kind of comfort food.
Here are links to some possible choices.
I recommend a slightly different approach to cut chicken in half for grilling. Cut down one side of the backbone leaving the center of the backbone on one side.
You will need a really great pair of kitchen shears or a good sharp butcher knife to cut through chicken bones.
There are so many variables to this question. The grilled half chicken recipe below will take you about an hour on direct heat. Always cook to temperature of 165 degrees for poultry per the USDA.
Your chicken should be cooked to 165º F internally and allowed to rest off the heat so the temperature goes up even more without drying out the meat. If you are wondering about the temperature of the grill, it should be between 350º and 400ºF. It should not be too hot, as it will dry out the meat if cooked too fast.
Your half chicken will take about one hour to grill. Breast, thighs and legs will take significantly less time than a half chicken.
More Choices for Grilled Chicken
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. You can also stay in touch with me through social media by following me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook!
Grilled Half Chicken
- Small sauce pan
- grill brush
- Poultry Shears
- 1 whole Chicken cut in half
Teriyaki BBQ Sauce
- ½ cup Honey
- ¾ cup BBQ Sauce we used Sweet Baby Ray's
- ½ cup Molasses
- ¼ cup Teriyaki Sauce
- ⅛ cup Soy Sauce
- 3 cloves Garlic
- 2 tbsp Dried Onions
Making the Teriyaki BBQ Sauce
- Add all the ingredients into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir to make sure it is well combined.
- Once it comes to a full boil, stir and reduce heat to low, medium and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool off the heat and the sauce will thicken while it cools and become sticky. **This is even better the next day if you have the opportunity to make it ahead.**
Grilling the Half Chicken
- With a sturdy, sharp knife, cut through the cartilage to one side of the breast bone. You'll feel it when the knife cuts through.
- Open up the chicken and cut through one side of the spine. It is easier to do this from the inside of the bird. If you have poultry shears, you might find using that easier.
- Liberally coat both sides of the chicken halves with a BBQ dry rub.
- Set up the grill for indirect heat to 350-400 degrees. **Remember if it's too hot the inside will not cook while the outside will overcook.**
- Place the two half chickens skin side down and let it cook for 20 minutes.
- Turn them over and cook with the skin side up for another 20 minutes.
- When the chickens near 165 degrees, brush the BBQ sauce on both sides and let it finish cooking. Remove when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before cutting into it to allow the juices to stay inside the chicken.