Grilled spatchcock chicken

Many years ago, I bought this utensil that allowed me to cook a whole chicken, almost like the popular beer can chicken recipe.  Although it cooked the chicken evenly, one of the drawbacks was that the inside of the chicken was never flavored well.  This problem is solved with this easy grilled spatchcock chicken recipe.  The thick pasty semi-dry rub is rubbed into every crevice of the chicken and every biteful of chicken is delicious!

Growing up in South Africa, I loved the rotisserie chickens from a store called Fontana.  I remember the somewhat peri-peri (chili) taste as I sucked the ribs of the chicken.  (That actually was my favorite part!) I wanted to recreate that flavor and this recipe reminds me of that delicious chicken that is etched into my memory!  This easy grilled spatcock chicken combines a tasty marinade with an easy grilling method, making it a super simple dish to prepare, especially for company.

Tips for making easy grilled spatchcock chicken


A spatchcock chicken is made using a whole chicken.  When spatchcocking a chicken, the backbone is cut away and the chicken is flattened, allowing the chicken to cook more evenly than if it still had the body cavity.  Cut the chicken using kitchen shears (scissors) on either side of the spine through the ribs, which is a lot easier than through the dense spinal column.

The marinade is made up of a blend of herbs, spices, tons of garlic and lemon juice. Paprika and cayenne pepper gives it the distinct South African peri-peri flavor with a savory spiciness.  The lemon juice provides the acid that helps tenderize the chicken. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 24 hours.  The longer the better.  Every so often, flip the chicken over to allow the marinade to penetrate the chicken evenly.

Marinated spatchcock chicken

Marinated spatchcock chicken

Cooking the easy grilled spatchcock chicken.

Since this chicken is flat, it makes grilling it on the BBQ much easier since the heat from the grill will be more uniform.  In the video, I show some tips to make it easier to flip the chicken. When using the BBQ, the chicken should start with skin side up.  Half way through the cooking process, flip the chicken so that the skin side is down.  To avoid the skin from burning, extinguish the flame that is directly underneath the chicken and ignite the burners on the sides of the chicken.  Allow the latent heat to cook the chicken. After 20 minutes, ignite the burner that is located directly under the chicken to allow the skin to crisp, making sure it does not burn!

BBQ Spatchcock chicken

BBQ Spatchcock chicken.

When cooking indoors using the oven and broiler, the chicken should start with skin side down. Bake for 20-25 minutes and then flip so that the skin is facing the broiler.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes.  Turn on the broiler element and broil the chicken for the last 5 minutes to crisp the skin, making sure it does not burn!

Testing to see if the chicken is cooked.

The best way to test whether the chicken is cooked is to check that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 162 degrees Fahrenheit or 72 degrees Celsius.  Use an instant read thermometer to test the chicken by inserting the thermometer into the breast of the chicken at its thickest part.  If you don't own an instant read thermometer, pierce the chicken in the thickest part.  The juices should run clear and not pink.  

Leave in / Instant read digital meat thermometer

Instant read thermometer.

Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy and let me know what you think in the comments.

Grilled spatchcock kitchen with sides

Grilled spatchcock chicken with sides

Grilled spatchcock chicken


Michelle Sam
This is the EASIEST way to grill a whole chicken and it's not only tasty but also super moist and juicy!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Marinating 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 313 kcal


  • 1 whole chicken approximately 5 lbs
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 5 cloves fresh peeled garlic large
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼-½ tsp cayenne pepper More if you like spicy!
  • 1 lemon


  • Spatchcock the whole chicken (See video)
    1 whole chicken
  • In a hand blender, combine ingredients for marinade.
    4 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 5 cloves fresh peeled garlic, 2 tsp paprika, 2 tsp fresh rosemary, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 lemon, ¼-½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • Blend the ingredients until it forms a thick paste.
  • Rub the entire chicken with the marinade.
  • Allow to marinate for 24-48 hours.
    Marinated spatchcock chicken
  • Remove from refrigerator 2 hours before grilling to allow chicken's temperature to come to room temperature.

BBQ Grill

  • Preheat BBQ
    BBQ Spatchcock chicken
  • Place chicken on rack and grill at 375° F or 191° C for 20 minutes with skin-side up.
  • Place another rack on the top of the chicken and flip the chicken over so skin side is down on new rack.
  • Because the skin tends to burn easily, turn off flame directly beneath the skin and turn on other burners so that the chicken can cook with indirect heat. Allow to cook for 15 minutes.
  • Turn on the burner directly under the chicken for the last 5 minutes to crisp the skin WITHOUT burning it.
  • Using an instant read thermometer, chicken is done when internal temperature in the breast meat reaches 162°F or 72° C.
  • Remove from grill with skin side facing up to keep skin crispy. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!

Oven grill

  • Preheat oven to Bake 375° F or 191° C.
  • Place chicken on rack and grill at 375° F or 191° C for 20 minutes with skin-side DOWN.
  • Place another rack on the top of the chicken and flip the chicken over so skin side is UP on new rack.
  • Cook for 15 minutes
  • Turn oven to BROIL for last 5 minutes carefully watching that the chicken skin does not burn.
  • Using an instant read thermometer, chicken is done when internal temperature in the breast meat reaches 162°F or 72° C.
  • Remove from oven with skin side up.
  • Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!



Serving: 6gCalories: 313kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 3gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 9309mgPotassium: 272mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 560IUVitamin C: 75mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 1mgNet Carbohydrates: 13g
Keyword chicken, grilled whole chicken, spatchcock
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was or if you have any questions or suggestions!
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