Grilled whole chicken isn’t as difficult as many assume! With the appropriate blend of flavors and the correct grilling method, you’ll be ready to cook. This recipe contains a tempting Mediterranean-style chicken marinade and some grilling techniques that you’ll definitely want to know!
If you want to make a big splash at your next barbecue, grilled whole chicken is the way to go!
Many people, myself among them, usually choose simpler options like grilled chicken thighs or souvlaki. However, my friend Justin, known as our “grill guru,” has taught me that preparing a whole chicken on the grill is not as difficult as it might seem.
From this uncomplicated recipe, you can anticipate a whole chicken that’s filled with flavor and juicy, and finished with a perfectly crisp skin!
Yes, grilling a whole chicken requires a bit more time, but the process boils down to three primary steps.
Three main steps to a grilled whole chicken
- Grill over indirect heat
Spatchcock Chicken Grill
Cooking an entire chicken on the grill can sometimes lead to uneven results – some parts might be too dry, while others might be underdone.
The solution? Try spatchcock!
We have previously discussed the method of spatchcock a chicken. Essentially, it involves cutting or butterflying the chicken to make it flat. To do this, you’ll first take out the backbone, then snap the breastbone by pushing down on the wings, flattening the chicken entirely.
Spatchcock or butterflying a chicken makes it perfect for grilling. When laid flat on the grill, the chicken chars seamlessly, soaking up the smoky taste. This technique ensures a crispy exterior while retaining a juicy core.Several grocery stores have whole chickens that are already butterflied, and if not, your butcher can typically prepare one upon request of you.
The chicken marinade
Let’s delve into the taste! The secret lies in the enchanting Mediterranean-inspired marinade.
When it comes to grilling a whole chicken, my preference leans towards a garlic and citrus marinade featuring top-tier extra virgin olive oil. This marinade showcases a fusion of inviting warm spices and vibrant herbs such as oregano and thyme, in contrast to the yogurt-based chicken marinade I used to use.
The presence of olive oil in the marinade significantly contributes to enhancing color and facilitating the crisping of the chicken skin.
Ingredients of the marinade (detailed proportions available in the recipe below):
- Extra virgin olive oil. For this, I prefer Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil.
- Lemon juice and zest from two lemons.
- Dried oregano.
- Fresh thyme.
- Black pepper.
- A touch of cayenne pepper.
- Garlic cloves. Opt for fresh ones; I incorporated 12 minced garlic cloves.
Recommendation: For an enhanced taste, marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours prior to grilling.
How long does it take to grill whole chicken?
We utilized an outdoor gas grill in the execution of this recipe. Once we’ve spatchcocked the chicken, it will require approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour of cooking time over indirect heat.
As the grill reaches a temperature of 400 degrees F, the burner(s) situated directly beneath the chicken are switched off, while the surrounding burners remain active. This technique defines our use of indirect heat (for a visual guide, make sure to view the video below depicting Justin method of placing the chicken on the grill).
Why opt for indirect heat? Employing indirect heat while grilling a whole chicken is the secret to achieving a succulent and thoroughly cooked outcome. Indirect heat effectively roasts the chicken to an ideal level of doneness, all while minimizing concerns like flare-ups, overly charred skin, or unevenly cooked meat.
How to grill a whole chicken?
Please bear in mind that you should have already spatchcocked the chicken (as previously explained), or you can simply request the butcher to assist with this step. Afterward, proceed with the following instructions (you’ll find a recipe suitable for printing and a video below):
1) Ensure the chicken is properly seasoned. My personal approach involves initiating the seasoning process by generously applying kosher salt to all sides of the chicken. It’s also essential to carefully place some salt underneath the skin.
Useful Tip: You can even undertake this step a night ahead, allowing the chicken to air-chill in the refrigerator. This period of time will permit the salt to effectively infuse flavor and tenderize the chicken.
2) Prepare the chicken marinade. Blend olive oil, lemon juice, spices, herbs, and a generous amount of fresh garlic in a small bowl. Whisk the mixture until well-combined. Spread the marinade, paying special attention to getting it beneath the chicken skin and covering the entire surface. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours, allowing the marinade to infuse the flavors effectively.
3) Grill on indirect heat. Preheat the gas grill to 400 degrees F (ensure the grates are oiled). Position the chicken on the grill and deactivate the burner or burners situated directly beneath it, while keeping the surrounding burners active (this will enable the chicken to cook via indirect heat).
Grill for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. As demonstrated in the video below, my colleague Justin employs a meat thermometer resembling this one (affiliate link).
TIP: Monitor every 15 minutes, and if you notice one side of the chicken becoming nicely browned, rotate it by approximately 90 degrees. The side of the chicken that’s closest to the direct heat tends to brown faster, so rotating it ensures a more uniformly browned skin.
4) Let the chicken rest before serving. Take the fully grilled chicken off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a tender and juicy chicken.
Pair your grilled Mediterranean-style whole chicken with these delectable side dishes for a complete and satisfying meal:
- Toum Garlic Sauce: This creamy garlic sauce complements the chicken perfectly and adds an extra layer of flavor.
- Grilled Vegetables: Freshly grilled seasonal vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant, make a nutritious and colorful addition to your plate.
Greek Fries: Crispy seasoned fries seasoned with oregano, garlic, and lemon zest add a Mediterranean touch to your meal.
At what temperature should I grill whole chicken?
Grill whole chicken at a temperature of 350°F to 375°F to ensure even cooking and a crispy skin.
What is the perfect grill time for chicken?
For whole chicken, grill for about 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Should you cover chicken when grilling?
Yes, covering chicken retains heat, ensures even cooking, and helps in achieving a smoky flavor. However, monitor for flare-ups.
Is grilled whole chicken healthy?
Yes, grilled whole chicken is a lean protein source. However, avoid charring and limit marinades high in sugar or fat for the healthiest results.
How can I ensure the chicken remains moist when grilling?
Brining or marinating the chicken beforehand can help it retain moisture and flavor during the grilling process.
Do I need to flip the chicken while grilling?
For even cooking, it’s beneficial to flip the chicken occasionally. Ensure each side gets ample grill time.
What internal temperature indicates the chicken is done?
The safest internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165°F when checked with a meat thermometer at the thickest part.
Should I let the chicken rest after grilling?
Yes, allowing the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes helps in redistributing the juices, making it more tender and flavorful.
Can I apply sauce during the grilling process?
If using a sauce, especially one with sugar, apply it during the last 10-15 minutes to prevent burning.
How should I clean the grill after cooking chicken?
After the grill cools slightly, scrub with a grill brush. Cleaning while warm helps in removing residue easily.
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper more if you like spicy
- 12 garlic cloves peeled and minced
- 3 ½ lb Whole Chicken
- Prepare the Chicken: Lay the chicken on a chopping board with the backbone upwards. Use strong kitchen scissors like these (affiliate link) to snip along either side of the spine, removing it. Press down on the breast area to make the chicken flat. Turn it over and detach the wing tips.
- Seasoning: Ensure the chicken is dry. Generously sprinkle salt over it and also slide some beneath its skin for thorough seasoning.
- Preparing the Marinade: Combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, assorted spices, and crushed garlic in a small mixing bowl.
- Marinating Process: Position the chicken in a spacious dish with raised edges to prevent marinade overflow. Focus on tucking most of the marinade under the skin for richer flavor, but don’t forget to smear some on the chicken’s reverse side. Lay the chicken flat, skin-side up, and refrigerate for a duration of 2 to 4 hours.
- Grilling Instructions: Warm up an outdoor grill until it’s medium-hot (about 400°F). Remember to lightly grease the grill grates. Set the chicken on the grill so it’s not directly over the flame (Justin demonstrates this in the accompanying video). Maintain this indirect heat, cover the grill, and let it cook for between 45 minutes to an hour. Ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Keep an eye out and turn the chicken occasionally if it browns unevenly.
- Post-Grilling: Once cooked, transfer the chicken away from the grill and let it relax for around 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
- Cook’s Tip: For optimal taste, let the chicken marinate chilled for a period of 2 to 4 hours.
- Cook’s Tip: Remember to turn the chicken while it’s on the grill. The portion nearest to the heat will darken faster, so rotating ensures a uniformly golden-brown exterior.
- Pair with a delightful Mediterranean salad and complementing sides such as charred veggies, asparagus topped with Mediterranean salsa, fries with a Greek twist, and a smooth Toum garlic dip.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 394Total Fat: 31.3gSaturated Fat: 7.2gCholesterol: 95.3mgCarbohydrates: 3.3gFiber: 0.8gProtein: 24.3g
I’m Calvin Lamb, an LA-based culinary enthusiast with a decade’s experience in five-star kitchens. My innovative dishes, inspired by seasonal flavors and sustainable practices, blend classic and modern cuisine. Besides crafting unique culinary experiences, I relish exploring new eateries and devising fresh recipes.