Grilled spatchcock chicken is packed with Mediterranean flavors! Juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, every bite of this chicken is delicious. Read on for all the tips and tricks we used to make this recipe.
I’m here for all things grilled and grilling spatchcocked chicken is our latest obsession. We’ve done many tasty grilling recipes such as lamb burger, beef shish kabob and chicken shish kabob, but a whole chicken is another level of fun! Like our Persian joojeh kabab, grilled chicken sandwich and Greek grilled chicken, this grilled chicken is packed with amazing flavors and won the approval of our entire family. Read through to learn how to grill spatchcock chicken on a charcoal grill. A few tips make all the difference.
Table Of Contents:
- Why does spatchcocked chicken work for this recipe?
- Grilling on charcoal
- 5 tips for grilling spatchcock chicken
- Direct heat vs indirect
- How to grill a spatchcock chicken
- Grilled spatchcock chicken on gas grill
- Frequently asked questions
- Serving suggestions
- More Grilled Recipes
- Step-by-Step Recipe
Why does spatchcocked chicken work for this recipe?
Since spatchcocked chicken is flat, it cooks faster and more evenly. The skin gets completely crispy and every part of the chicken cooks perfectly without drying out. If you’ve been hesitant about grilling a whole chicken on a charcoal grill, this is the way to go. It’s simple, easy and results in a delicious grilled chicken that’s perfectly crispy on the outside and absolutely juicy on the inside.
You can usually ask your butcher to spatchcock a chicken for you, but if you would like to do it yourself at home, check out this easy tutorial on how to spatchcock a chicken to learn how to do it without a butcher's assistance.
Grilling on charcoal
While gas grills are very convenient and easy to work with, the flavor that charcoal grill gives meat is truly unique (Have you checked out my Persian style grilled chicken wings? Out of this world good!). Of course, you can make this recipe on a gas grill as well, but my personal preference is for charcoal grill because of the nice smoky flavor that goes deep into the chicken.
Middle Eastern and Mediterranean chefs gravitate toward charcoal for most of their grilling recipes. Even though gas grills are becoming more common, people still prefer charcoal - so that's what we're using for today's recipe. And I promise, it’s much easier than what you think! If you are new to charcoal grilling, I strongly suggest that you read about how to start a charcoal grill and make sure you have all the answers you need before you start grilling.
This is not your average salt and pepper grilled spatchcock chicken. Every bit of this chicken is flavored with delicious Mediterranean spices. Here is what you need to make a quick marinade for grilled spatchcock chicken:
- Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil always has more flavor.
- Spices: You need garlic powder, salt, sumac, oregano, paprika, all spice, cardamom and cayenne pepper. The amount of cayenne pepper depends on how spicy you like the chicken to be. You can also use seven spice mix or ras el hanout for this recipe.
- Lemon juice: To brighten up the flavors! It's best to use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
5 tips for grilling spatchcock chicken
- To make sure the chicken is flavored to the maximum, rub the marinade both on and under the skin. Loosen the skin gently with your fingers without ripping it and rub the meat with the marinade Then rub the rest of the marinade on the skin. As you move your hands on the chicken, the marinade also spreads under the skin.
- It’s best to marinate the chicken overnight.. However, if you're in a hurry, 30 minutes will work just fine.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature before you put it on the grill. Cold chicken takes longer to cook and might not cook evenly.
- Start with grilling the chicken on indirect heat (more on that below) and then char the skin on the direct heat.
- When the chicken is ready, let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing so the juices stay in the meat and don't ooze out.
Direct heat vs indirect
When it comes to grilling a whole chicken, it’s best to divide your grill into two zones: indirect heat and direct heat:
Indirect heat means that there are no coals directly under the chicken and the chicken is grilling at a lower temperature. This helps the chicken to cook evenly and not burn while the inside is still raw. This technique works perfectly for large pieces like a whole chicken.
Direct heat is when the chicken is directly above coals which means it gets those nice grill marks and the skin gets all crispy. You want to grill spatchcocked chicken on the direct heat at the end when you’re sure that the inside is pretty much cooked. Otherwise the skin will get charred while the meat is still under-cooked.
How to grill a spatchcock chicken
Marinate the chicken
Mix the olive oil and lemon juice with the spices and rub it under and on the skin of the chicken. Place the chicken in a container and marinade for 4 to 8 hours. However, as noted above, you'll get most of the flavor by marinating for as little as 30 minutes.
Heat up the grill
Heat the grill to two-zone heating. This means you put all the coals on one side of the grill and keep the other side empty. Now you have direct and indirect heat. Heating up a charcoal grill takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
Grill the chicken
Place the chicken on the indirect heat first (where there are no coals under the chicken), cut side down, and close the grill lid. Grill for about 40 to 50 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Then grill on the direct heat skin side down for about 10 to 15 minutes for the skin to get crispy and charred. Check to make sure the skin doesn’t burn. Let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing.
Grilled spatchcock chicken on gas grill
To grill a spatchcock chicken on a gas grill, turn on all the burners on to medium high heat and when the grill is hot, turn the middle burner off and lower the other burners to medium.
Grill the spatchcock chicken skin side up on the middle burner for 45 minutes then flip and move the chicken to the side burner and grill until the skin is golden and charred, 10 to 15 minutes. The chicken is cooked and ready when an instant thermometer inserted both in the breast and thigh registers at 165°F.
Frequently asked questions
Depending on the size of the chicken, it might take anywhere between 45 minutes to one hour and 15 minutes to grill a whole spatchcock chicken. For a 3-4 pound chicken, you're probably looking at about an hour of grilling time.
The internal temperature of a perfectly cooked chicken should be 165°F. Be sure to check both breasts and thighs for this temperature. It’s best to rotate the chicken a couple of times when grilling.
You can store the leftovers in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Use the leftovers in salads or wraps.
I love serving our summer favorites with this grilled spatchcock chicken. Here are a few suggestions:
Salads: fattoush salad, Turkish ezme, Greek salad, tabouli salad, sumac onions and Turkish tomato salad.
Rice: Lebanese rice and vermicelli, Greek lemon rice, Persian herb rice and Persian tomato rice.
Vegetables: Mediterranean grilled vegetables, batata harra, Greek potatoes, Greek style baked fries and Mediterranean potato salad.
Looking for a sauce to enjoy with the chicken? Our toum, Greek tzatziki or Middle Eastern tahini sauce would be perfect!
More Grilled Recipes
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Grilled Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 3-4 pound whole chicken spatchcocked
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon juice of
- In a bowl mix olive oil and lemon juice with garlic powder, sumac, oregano, paprika, allspice, cardamom, cayenne pepper and salt.
- Gently loosen the skin on the chicken with your fingers so you rub the marinade under the skin and on the meat.
- Rub some of the marinade on the cut side of the chicken and the remaining under and on the skin. Let the chicken marinate for 4-8 hours. If you don't have the time, 30 minutes would work just fine.
- Heat the grill to two-zone heating. Meaning have all the coals on one half of the grill and keep the other half empty. Now you have direct and indirect heat. Heating up a charcoal grill takes about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Place the spatchcocked chicken on indirect heat, cut side down and grill for about 40 minutes until the internal temperature registers at 165°F. Then move the chicken to the direct heat and grill, skin side down for about 5 to 10 minutes to get the grill marks and the crispy skin. Check the chicken after 5 minutes to make sure the skin won't burn.
- Rub the marinade both on and under the skin. Loosen the skin gently with your fingers without ripping it and rub the meat with the marinade Then rub the rest of the marinade on the skin. As you move your hands on the chicken, the marinade also spreads under the skin.
- It’s best to marinate the chicken overnight, but if you don’t have time, 30 minutes work just fine.
- You can use homemade seven spice blend for the marinade.
- Make sure the chicken is at room temperature before you put it on the grill. Cold chicken takes longer to cook and it might not cook evenly.
- Start with grilling the chicken on indirect heat (more on that below) and then char the skin on the direct heat.
- When the chicken is ready, let it sit for 10 minutes before slicing for the juices to stay in the meat and not ooze out.
- Here are a few suggestions for side dishes to serve with grilled spatchcock chicken:
- Salads: fattoush salad, Greek salad, tabouli salad and Turkish tomato salad.
- Rice: Lebanese rice and vermicelli, Persian herb rice and Persian tomato rice.
- Potatoes: Greek potatoes, Greek style baked fries and Mediterranean potato salad.
- Looking for a sauce to drizzle over the chicken? Our Greek tzatziki would be perfect!
Excellent marinade! thanks so much for the delicious recipe. Great instructions.
This looks really delicious and fairly simple to make! Can't wait to try it out! thanks for the recipe 🙂
We're in the middle of a heat wave and there is no way I'm turning on my oven. I can't wait to make this for dinner! It looks amazing!
This was absolutely delicious! So easy.
Turned out great! I used the lemon’s zest as well as juice as a sub for the sumac. Very tender and flavorful.
this chicken recipe has been just so helpful, and I cannot wait to make this again!
Thanks for breaking this down. It was my first time making spatchcock chicken and it was fantastic!
What a delicious marinade! I am al6 looking for new spices or marinades that I can use... I almost have all the Ingredients need to get few.. so excited to try this recipe.
Such a great way to change up our normal chicken dinner routine! I'm so happy we live in an area that grilling season is just about all year long!
I love a spatchcocked chicken -- and yours is going to be made this weekend. Looking forward to tasting all those warm spices on some succulent chicken!
Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
Spatchcock chicken always goes down well in my house! Definitely going to make some to have with salads while the weather is hot!
LOVE sumac!! Bookmarking this to make the next time we have a whole chook to cook!! Those spices! YUMMMY!!
I love all of the spices you added to this recipe! It makes it so flavorful and delicious!
This chicken looks perfectly cooked. It will be great for a summer BBQ
This chicken looks amazing! I love the combination of spices you used for this recipe. It should taste magnificent!