Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

A spatchcock chicken on a bed of greens.

This is the best recipe for grilled spatchcock chicken. It has a simple herb garlic-citrus marinade, and the grilling time is cut in half because spatchcocked chickens lay flat on the grill for more surface area in direct contact with the heat. You can cook the spatchcock chicken on a gas or charcoal grill.

A whole chicken on a sheet pan.

There’s something about a grilled chicken that’s special. The crispy skin, the feint char of grill marks, the juicy meat, the flavors of a garlicky, lemony herb marinade. It’s good, folks.

Since we live in South Florida, we grill all year long and cooking a spatchcock chicken on the bbq is one of our favorite ways to prepare it because it doesn’t heat the kitchen, and the prep is minimal.

In this recipe, I’ve given instructions for the spatchcocking and grilling the bird and a simple recipe for making a chicken gravy from the spatchcocked backbone, neck and giblets. (Waste-not want-not, right?)

Newsletter Signup
Join our community of food lovers!

Get my latest recipes, helpful kitchen tips and more good things each week in your inbox.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • You can spatchcock and marinate the chicken up to a day ahead of time.
  • It’s easy to remove the backbone (spatchcocking).
  • The poultry cooks faster.
  • The presentation is a novelty and will impress friends and family.
  • The chicken is juicy, tender and flavorful every time.

Ingredients for spatchcock chicken on the grill

  • Whole Chicken
  • Garlic
  • Lemons
  • Fresh Tarragon
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

So let’s start with the the first order of business: removing the backbone from the bird (a.k.a spatchcocking).

You can use this method on any fowl to splay open the carcass, enabling it to cook faster and more evenly and adding a bit of smoke and bbq flavor to the flesh. I use this method for my Thanksgiving turkey, and it cuts the cooking time by half.

You’ll need some sharp knives or a good pair of kitchen shears for this spatchcock chicken recipe. I recommend these poultry shears {affiliate link}.

They are meant explicitly for dismembering a chicken, and I highly recommend them. I am a petite woman with average strength. With these shears, even I can even quickly remove the backbone.

How to spatchcock a chicken

  • Place the bird on a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet breast side down.
  • Locate the backbone with your fingers.
  • Start at the tail end (that little triangular shaped fleshy bit at the bottom of the chicken.
  • Make your first cut just to the right of the tail and close but not through the backbone itself.
  • Cutting all the way up the chicken and through the ribs until you’ve cut the fowl from stern to stem..
  • Then make the same cuts on the opposite side. Remove the backbone.
  • Flip the chicken over so the breast side is up and press firmly on the upper part of the breastbone to crack it. This will allow the chicken to lay flat.

Marinade for a spatchcock chicken

Once the chicken has been spatchcocked, it’s time to assemble the marinade, and it couldn’t be easier.

  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl or rimmed sheet pan.
  2. Add the crushed garlic cloves, lemon peel, chopped fresh herbs, salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice from one of the lemons.
  3. Rub the marinade evenly over the inside and outside of the poultry so it’s well coated.
  4. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours to marinate.
Coating the chicken in the lemon, garlic and herb marinade in a large white bowl.

You’ll want to remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling to allow it to come to room temperature. (Cooking a very cold spatchcocked chicken will add grilling time).

Grilling the chicken

  1. Heat your gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat, about 450°-475°F.
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pull off the chunks of garlic and lemon peel. Use paper towels to pat dry both sides of the spatchcocked chicken.
  3. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the grates to sear the skin and cook for 18-20 minutes, watching for flare-ups.
  4. Use a grill spatula and grilling tongs to carefully flip the chicken, cooking for an additional 15 minutes or so.
  5. Turn the chicken and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the skin has a golden brown finish.
  6. Test doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone. Poultry is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F. I usually remove it from the grill at around 158° to 160°F because the temperature will continue to rise, even as the chicken rests.
  7. Transfer the spatchcock grilled chicken to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to resettle throughout the meat and give you the tender, juicy flesh you’re craving.


Chicken fat can splatter on the grill grates, leading to flare-ups. I recommend keeping a spray water bottle close to tame any errant flames.

Swaps and Substitutions:

  • Use other fresh herbs for marinating the spatchcock chicken before grilling it. Fresh Rosemary, oregano and sage would also be good options.
  • If you don’t want to marinate the chicken, brine it instead. This simple brine recipe takes less time, about 2-3 hours. (I use the same recipe for pork chops, but it works well on chicken too.)
  • Though I’ve given the recipe for homemade gravy, you can go in a different direction and brush the spatchcock chicken with BBQ sauce instead of marinating it. Add the sauce in the last 15 minutes of cooking to prevent the sugars from burning. Reserve some leftover sauce for serving on the side.
The grilled spatchcocked chicken on a bed of greens with grilled lemons on the side.


Do you flip spatchcock chicken on a grill?

Yes. Cook the chicken skin side down to brown it, then flip to cook the underside. Flip the chicken one more time to finish crisping and browning the skin.

How long does it take to cook a spatchcock chicken?

It depends on the size of your bird. For a large 5-6 pound chicken (which is what I’ve cooked here). It took about 40 minutes to cook through.

Smaller chickens may take less time, so using an Instant Read Thermometer to determine the internal temperature is essential.

How do you cook a spatchcock chicken on a Weber grill?

Use a direct-heat cooking method whether you’re using a Weber gas grill or a Weber charcoal grill.

For a gas grill: light all burners on the grill until it reaches the proper temperature.

For a charcoal grill: Light the coals and let them heat until they glow orange-red and are ashy. Spread the coals into an even layer (use a hoe or other long-handled instrument). Place the rack over the coals and place the chicken skin side down on the grill grate.

Cook as instructed and watch for flare-ups.

Can I make a spatchcock chicken on a Traeger or other pellet grill?

Yes. The beauty of pellet grills is infusing the meat with smoke. The cooking method with smokers is an indirect heat, which takes longer.

The downside of smoking a spatchcock chicken is that the skin tends to be tough and chewy instead of crispy. The meat will have a lovely smoke flavor, however.

I recommend brining a chicken before smoking it to keep it juicy, so skip the marinade if this is how you intend to cook your bird.

A gravy boat filled with chicken gravy.

Grilled spatchcocked chicken is a simple recipe that will go with almost anything. We like it with the homemade chicken gravy (pictured above) made from the fowl’s back, neck and giblets.

If you’re making the gravy, I recommend making a side of mashed potatoes to go with it for the ultimate comfort food meal.

What side dish to serve with:

We are arranging the carved chicken on a platter.

Freezing and Storage for leftovers:

  • Keep leftover chicken pieces in an airtight container or well-wrapped in aluminum foil for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
  • To freeze leftover chicken, wrap the pieces in freezer paper and seal. Freeze for up to 2-3 months.. Defrost before reheating in a warm oven 325° for 10-12 minutes.
A white plate serving grilled chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy with a green salad.

If you’re like me and want to transform leftovers into another meal, here are a few suggestions:

What to do with leftovers:

Three slices of chicken sauced with homemade gravy and a side of mashed potatoes.

More grilled chicken recipes:

Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.

Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.

We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!

A whole spatchcock grilled chicken on a serving platter with greens and grilled lemons.
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

A spatchcocked chicken has the backbone removed so that it lays flat to cook. We marinate and grill our spatchcock chicken, which cooks in about 45 minutes. The skin is crispy and golden, and the meat is juicy & tender. It couldn't be easier.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword #grill, spatchcock, whole chicken
Dietary Restrictions Egg Free, Low-Carb
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6




  • 5-6 pound whole chicken
  • 8-10 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil


  • giblets, neck and back bone of chicken (you'll remove the backbone and use it for the stock.)
  • 1 small onion roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼-½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala wine, sherry, or Vermouth optional
  • 3 cups chicken stock recipe given
  • 1 teaspoon Gravy Master or Browning liquid optional



  • Place the chicken breast side down so the tailbone is facing you. Use a pair of sturdy kitchen scissors to cut along one side of the chicken backbone, all the way up the spine, then cut along the other side of the backbone and remove it from the chicken (save the backbone for stock, recipe here).
  • Flip the chicken over so the breast side is up and use two hands to press down on the top of the breast to crack the bone and allow the chicken to lay flat.
  • Transfer the chicken to a large, shallow bowl.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the lemons in large 1" x 3" pieces.
  • Lay the cloves of garlic on a cutting board and place the flat side of a knife over the cloves. Whack the FLAT SIDE of the knife with you fist or palm to crush the garlic cloves. Remove the skins.
  • Add the lemon zest, garlic, tarragon, thyme, kosher salt, black pepper and olive oil to the chicken. Cut one lemon and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Use your hand to rub it all over, scattering the herbs, lemon and garlic evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator about 1 hour before grilling so it can come to room temperature.
  • Use kitchen scissors to snip off the tips of the chicken wings (they tend to burn on the grill — and we can use them for the stock).


  • Place the chicken neck, gizzards, wing tips and backbone into a small pot. Add the onion, carrots, black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, so that the stock is bubbling. Cook the stock, uncovered for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until the stock has reduced to about 2 ½ or 3 cups of liquid.
  • Use a pair kitchen tongs to remove the neck, back bone and wing tips to a cutting board to cool.
  • Strain the chicken stock through a strainer into a glass measuring cup with a spout. Set aside.
  • When the chicken neck, etc are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and pick out the bits of meat that are clinging to the bones. Set aside.


  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Whisk or stir in the flour, remaining salt and ground pepper. Cook for one minute until there's no dry bits of flour left and the mixture is bubbly.
  • Add the wine, sherry or vermouth to the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly add the chicken stock a little at a time, whisking constantly. Bring the gravy to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the reserved chicken bits to the gravy. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary. Set aside.


  • Heat your gas or charcoal grill to 450°.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and pull off the large chunks of garlic, and lemon peel. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Place the chicken skin side down on the grill to sear and brown the skin. Cook the chicken for 18 -20 minutes, watching for flareups, then use your spatula and tongs to flip the chicken.
  • Cook the chicken for an additional 15 minutes, or so.
  • Flip the bird again and cook for 3-5 minutes more just to add extra browning to the skin. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure your chicken cooked and is in the safe range of 165°.
  • Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the gravy.


Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 1716mg | Potassium: 596mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1938IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg

Pin it for later!

A pin to save for later.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    This came out super juicy and tender. Love that marinade too.