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Grilled Citrus Herb Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Plated grilled spatchcocked chicken

Kick up your grilled chicken with this foolproof recipe.

When I was a kid, grilled chicken always meant bone dry meat buried under a thick layer of burnt on BBQ sauce. Fortunately as I grew older, I began to realize that grilled chicken could be infinitely better than what was served to me for so many summers.

In fact, my first encounter with properly grilled chicken came in the form of a whole chicken that had been flattened like a book (a technique that I later learned was called spatchcocking). The bird was then cooked until the meat was moist and tender, the skin was perfectly crisp, and a mouthwatering aroma of smoke filled the air. It was so juicy and flavorful that there was absolutely no need for a sticky sweet BBQ sauce.

In honor of that game changing chicken, I created the following grilled spatchcocked citrus herb chicken recipe. By removing the backbone from the chicken and grilling it bone-side down, you not only allow the chicken to slow roast without drying out or burning from direct flame but also make sure the dark and white meat cook evenly.

Grilled Citrus Herb Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe


Spatchcocked chicken on the grill
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4.49 from 108 votes
Elevate your grilled chicken game with this recipe for citrus herb rubbed spatchcocked chicken. Not only is it juicy and flavorful, the spatchcocking method ensures all parts are cooked evenly. Not familiar with spatchcocking poultry? The video below shows you how!

Serve with: a citrus IPA.


Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Difficulty: Moderate

Makes:

Servings: 4 servings

Takes:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 4-pound whole chicken
  • 2 teaspoons Mortons coarse kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Notes:
About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. To spatchcock the chicken, use kitchen shears or poultry shears to cut along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone.
    Removing the backbone from a chicken
  • Turn the chicken over and flatten it by pressing down on the breasts with your palms. You may hear the breast bone crack, which is fine.
    Flattened spatchcocked chicken on cutting board
  • Prepare the citrus herb paste by combining the salt, lemon zest, rosemary, paprika, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, and olive oil in a small bowl. Blend well until all ingredients are incorporated into a paste.
  • Rub the chicken skin all over with the citrus herb paste.
  • Fire up. Prepare a smoker for indirect cooking. Alternatively, you can set up a charcoal grill for 2-zone cooking by placing a chimney full of pre-heated charcoal briquets on one side of the grill's charcoal grate in order to create direct and indirect cooking zones. Adjust the smoker or grill vents to bring the temperature to about 325°F and add 2 to 3 chunks of your favorite smoking wood to the charcoal for flavor. On a gas grill, adjust the temperature knobs so that one half of the grill is off and the other half is heated enough to maintain a temperature of approximately 325°F on the indirect side.
  • Cook. Place the spatchcocked chicken skin side up on the indirect side of the grill, positioning it so that the legs are facing the heat source.
  • Cover the grill and allow the spatchcocked chicken to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F, approximately 1 hour. Place the chicken skin side down over direct heat and cook until the skin is crisp, approximately 4 minutes.
  • Serve. Remove the chicken from the grill, carve, and serve immediately with any juices from the cutting board.
    Carved and plated chicken

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Published On: 4/27/2018 Last Modified: 3/26/2021

  • Clint Cantwell - Clint Cantwell is AmazingRibs.com's Senior Vice President of Whatever, charged with creating recipes, writing articles, shooting photos, and a little bit of everything else. He was named one of the "10 Faces of Memphis Barbecue" by Memphis Magazine and was the winner of Travel Channel's "American Grilled: Memphis".


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