Grilled whole chicken is the perfect summertime meal – easy, versatile, & always-satisfying! There are 3 secrets to the perfect grilled whole chicken: spatchcocking it, soaking it in a delicious marinade, & slowly, gently cooking it with 2-zone grilling.
This particular grilled spatchcocked chicken (butterflied chicken) is seasoned with a spicy-sweet chili-lime rub, which gets deliciously caramelly & crisp on the grill. See blog post, above, for serving suggestions & easy variations.
- 1 (one) 4-5 pound Never Any! Fresh Whole Chicken, spatchcocked (see Recipe Notes)
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil of choice, such as Simply Nature Grapeseed Oil
- 2 limes, zested & juiced
- 2 tablespoons Simply Nature Organic Wildflower Honey
- 1 heaping tablespoon Stonemill Chili Powder
- 1 tablespoon Stonemill Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Stonemill Dried Oregano
- optional: up to 1 teaspoon Stonemill Crushed Red Pepper
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
optional: for the buttermilk brine:
- 2 cups buttermilk (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
for the creamy jalapeño sauce:
- 2–3 jalapeños, deseeded as desired
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 large, juicy limes, juiced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup neutral oil of choice, such as Simply Nature Grapeseed Oil
- 1/3 cup packed cilantro leaves & tender stems
- Optional: Brine the chicken: Pour buttermilk & salt in a large bowl, airtight container, or resealable bag. Whisk or mix to combine. Add smashed garlic & spatchcocked chicken to buttermilk mixture, submerging the chicken as much as possible. Cover or seal, then transfer to the refrigerator to brine for up to 24 hours.
- Mix the chili-lime wet rub: Add oil, lime zest & juice, honey, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, & cayenne pepper (if using) to a small bowl or jar. Stir to combine & set aside, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Marinate the chicken: At least 60 minutes before grilling, remove chicken from the refrigerator (& the brine, if using). Use paper towel to pat chicken very dry. Place chicken breast-side up on a large plate or baking sheet. Season chicken liberally with kosher salt & ground black pepper. Massage chili lime wet rub all over chicken, using your hands to work marinade between the skin & meat. Set aside to marinate. If marinating longer than 1 hour, be sure to set in the refrigerator – you can marinate for up to 24 hours.
- Preheat the grill: Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, creating a zone of direct high heat & a second zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes before grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. (To learn more about zone grilling, be sure to check out this post.)
- Grill the whole chicken: Place chicken on the indirect side of the grill, breast side up, as close to the fire as possible without being over the direct heat. Close grill lid. Cook chicken, stopping to rotate it 180 degrees every 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 160 degrees F. Depending on the size of your chicken & temperature of your grill, this could take as little as 25 minutes or up to 1 hour.
- Prep the creamy jalapeno sauce: At some point while the chicken grills, place jalapeños in the direct heat zone of the grill, grilling 5-10 minutes until blistery & charred. Remove from the grill. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skin off the peppers & roughly chop. Place in a food processor with garlic, lime juice & kosher salt. With the food processor running, slowly stream in the grapeseed oil, until the sauce is thickened & creamy. Add the cilantro & pulse to combine. Set aside or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Finish the chicken: Move chicken over direct heat, carefully flipping it so its skin-side is down. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the chicken skin is charred as desired.
- Rest: Remove chicken from the grill & set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes. Carryover heat will cause the internal temperature to continue to rise as it rests. The chicken will be ready to serve once an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Serve: Carve the chicken as desired & serve immediately, with whatever you love most – grilled veggies, a simple green salad, summery pasta or potato salad, etc. Enjoy!
- How to spatchcock a chicken: Spatchcocking is a poultry butchering technique in which the poultry’s spine is removed so the poultry lays completely flat during the cooking process. Spatchcocking a chicken for the grill is really simple, you just need a whole chicken & kitchen shears. Here’s what you’ll do!
- Use paper towel to pat chicken very dry. Place breast-side down on a large plastic cutting board.
- Using a sharp knife or very sharp kitchen shears, carefully snip along each side of its backbone until completely detached. Discard, or set aside for the next time you make chicken broth.
- With breast side of the chicken still facing down, use your hands to gently stretch open the rib cavity of the chicken. Place the heel of your knife at the center of the wishbone. Tap the spine of the knife with a rolling pin, until the wishbone snaps and the breastplate cracks.
- Flip the chicken so it lays flat, breast side facing up – you just spatchcocked a chicken!
- Brining alternatives:
- Homemade buttermilk: If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you can quickly DIY it by adding 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to 2 cups of milk.
- Beer brine: If you don’t want to use buttermilk to brine the chicken, beer is an awesome substitute. Beer brined chicken is simply the best! Even if you don’t love the flavor of beer or you’re not typically a beer drinker, a beer brine adds rich, earthy flavor to chicken that’s pretty hard to beat. For the best flavor, use a big, hoppy beer such as an IPA.
Keywords: grilled whole chicken, spatchcocked chicken, butterflied chicken, grilled chicken, grilling recipes, barbecue, easy entertaining, weeknight dinner, backyard BBQ, summer