BBQ Holidays Chicken Gatherings Gluten-Free Main Dish Paleo

Simple Juicy Grilled Spatchcocked Whole Chicken

By Chris Capell

It’s no secret that I love to cook chicken.

Grilled chicken might actually be the sweetest smell known to man! When it comes to cooking a whole chicken, there are many methods that can get the job done, but the most difficult challenge with cooking a whole bird is getting the dark meat done before the breast is overcooked.

Spatchcocking may not be the world’s most pleasant word (you can call it “butterflied” if you want to), but removing the backbone and spreading the bird out flat is my favorite way to grill it. The breast meat becomes perfectly moist, and the dark meat easily pulls away from the bone. Plus, it is super easy as long as you pay attention to coaxing the bird to golden brown perfection over a direct fire.

Here’s a video we made for this recipe:


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  • 1 whole chicken (recipe was cooked using a 5.5 lb small roasting chicken)”

4 Tbsp (or enough to generously coat to your liking) Dizzy Pig Tsunami Spin poultry seasoning


  1. Preheat your grill to approximately 325-350°F with a direct fire. We used a Big Green Egg with a raised grate so that the bird cooked about 12 inches above the charcoal. Controlling your fire and not using too much charcoal are both important to avoiding over-charring the chicken.
  2. Rinse bird if desired, then remove backbone by cutting on each side. I prefer sharp kitchen shears, as it makes the process very quick. The trickiest part is cutting between the thigh bone and the backbone where they meet, but it is not difficult.
  3. Once the backbone is removed (remember to save it for making stock), turn the bird over and, with the palm of your hand, press firmly on the top of the breast to flatten out.
  4. Season your chicken with Tsunami Spin (or your favorite rub – other seasonings that we’ve used are Dizzy Dust, Crossroads, Shakin’ the Tree, Peruvian-ish, and Mediterranean-ish) liberally on the inside (or bottom… however you want to look at it).
  5. Wait 5-10 minutes until rub has “melted” in.
  6. Flip chicken and evenly season the skin.
  7. When your grill is heated, and most importantly that your fire is burning clean, place chicken on the grill skin side up. Generally, direct fires are hotter in the middle, so I place the dark meat over the center and the breast over the outer part of the fire.
  8. Rotate the grate 180° after 30 minutes to ensure even browning.
  9. Once the bottom is well-browned and the rub on top of the skin is set up and firm (45 minutes to an hour), carefully flip your bird skin down, and reduce cooking temps to 300°F so as not to over-brown the skin.
  10. Cook until the temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 155-160°F and remove from grill. If the skin is well-browned before meat is done, simply flip it back to the skin-up position until finished. Our 5.5 lb. bird took 1 hour and 30 minutes to cook.
  11. Rest for 10-15 minutes.
  12. Remove the legs and either pull the dark meat to serve, or cut into thigh/drumstick.
  13. If possible, remove breasts with skin attached. From center of breast, cut between breast and rib cage to remove breast and tenderloin in one piece, then slice crosswise so that each piece can be served with some skin.
  14. Enjoy! And remember, your grilled chicken carcass makes a great lightly smoky stock.