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Grilled Whole Chicken Is As Easy As It Gets With This One Simple Tip

Take the shortcut to evenly cooked grilled whole chicken by cutting out the backbone and flattening the bird before grilling.

grilled spatchcocked chicken

Imagine a method for grilled chicken so simple and foolproof that cooking it on the grill for about 45 minutes is all it takes. No worrying about turning the bird while grilling and fretting over whether it's overcooked, unevenly cooked, or, even worse, undercooked. Turns out that fowl dream can be a never-look-back reality—the secret lies in spatchcocking the bird. In case you didn't know spatchcocking is snipping out the backbone using kitchen shears, then flipping it over and cracking the breastbone with the heel of the palm so it lies flat. Voila! Now you have a chicken of an even thickness, rendering rubbery, overcooked chicken parts a dreaded thing of the past. The average whole chicken takes about one and a half hours to grill, this technique cuts that time in half—this is a chicken grilling tip not to be ignored.

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Photography by: Jonny Valiant

Why This Works So Well

Once the spatchcocked bird's been placed on the grill, skin-side up, the heat of the grill renders the chicken fat for browned, evenly crisped skin allover. The dark leg meat is able to cook through without drying out the leaner white meat, which sits atop the breastbone, a natural buffer between the heat source and the lean white meat. The total cooking time is about 45 minutes, and there's not a thing you're required to do during the duration of its being grilled. Remembering not to forget the chicken on the grill is the only real task at hand—remember to set a timer!


Get our Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

So Simple, So Delicous, So Versatile

Seasoning the chicken with salt, pepper, and some olive oil is all that's needed for delicious results, but one of chicken's most loveable, delicious traits is how easy it is to pair with other flavors. Squirt fresh lemon juice over the freshly cooked bird, just pulled from the grill. Or slather it in your favorite barbecue sauce for the last 10 minutes of cooking—barbecue sauce is typically high in sugar, which tends to burn after prolonged exposure to high heat.


Once the 45 minutes have passed and the skin is browned and crisp, pierce the chicken in the thigh and check that any juices run clear to ensure doneness. Let the grilled bird stand on a cutting board for 10 minutes before slicing to let the juices redistribute evenly throughout.


And if your grilling surface is large enough to accomodate more than one bird, go for it! Leftover grilled chicken is never a bad thing, as the smoky nuanced flavor adds to many dishes, from chopped chicken salad to a sandwich made with sliced grilled meat.


Ready for our Smoky Grilled Butterflied Chicken Recipe?

Watch how easy it is to spatchcock a chicken—you'll never want to cook chicken any other way again!