Juicy meat, crispy skin, even cooking, and awesome flavor are just a few ways to describe grilled spatchcock chicken.
This grilled spatchcocked chicken is our new favorite way to eat grilled chicken because it saves us time, cooks evenly, and has a great presentation with amazing flavor. I believe the even cooking makes it even better than our old favorite, Beer Can Chicken, which tends to get a little too done on the legs.
What Is Spatchcock Chicken?
The term “spatchcock” is a 17th-century term with Italian influence which, in short, says “dispatch the cock”. This means to open a chicken to cook it. This spatchcock procedure requires splitting the chicken and removing the backbone so the chicken can be opened and flattened out for more even and much faster cooking.
What Is Perfect Grilled Chicken?
Spatchcocking chicken is a way to get perfectly grilled chicken, but what is perfectly grilled chicken?
- Crispy skin, with a golden brown blistered surface all over with a light char.
- Moist and tender breast meat.
- Cooked through leg meat.
- A whole chicken presented cooked through golden brown, with a light char.
Chicken is hard to cook evenly due to its odd shape. If you are not careful, it can turn into a bad grilled chicken.
The best ways to describe bad grilled chicken:
- Soft spots with rubbery fat.
- Stringy, dry overcooked surface meat that is leathery in texture.
- Mutilated chicken, in pieces with rubbery skin and missing skin.
- Raw meat at the leg joint… This is the absolute worst result! NASTY!!
The Benefit of Spatchcocking A Chicken
Spatchcocking a chicken cuts the grilling time in half, which means it doesn’t have to take all night to cook. For even more time savings and even cooking, you can use foiled-covered bricks, which flatten the chicken even more and help to give it a nice, even heat. The dark meat and white meat get ready at about the same time.
Grilled spatchcocked chicken under bricks will quickly become your new favorite way to grill chicken!
This method gives you flexibility and makes you more spontaneous with grilled chicken. You won’t believe how evenly spatchcocked chicken cooks up.
No brine is needed because there is no fear of drying out. Not to mention the presentation a grilled spatchcocked chicken can make on your guests and its amazing flavor!
This spatchcock chicken recipe comes from our friends at Weber Grills. They sent us their New Real Grilling Cookbook in appreciation of one of our Instagram posts a few years ago. I only wish we had tried this recipe sooner!!
How to Spatchcock a Chicken
Follow the steps below to spatchcock a chicken for cooking and grilling.
STEP 1: Remove the Backbone
Place the chicken breast on a clean work surface. Use kitchen shears to cut from the tail along both sides of the backbone. Remove the backbone and discard it or boil it to make chicken stock.
STEP 2: Flatten the Chicken
Turn the chicken over so it is breast-side up. Use your hands to flatten the chicken. Press down firmly to crack the rib cage. The chicken should now lay flat on the surface.
STEP 3: Secure the Wings and Drumsticks
Cut a small hole in the loose skin of the thigh and pull the end of each drumstick through the hole. This will keep the legs in place when placed on the grill. You can also do this with the tips of the wings if you have a problem keeping them against the breasts.
Ingredients Needed For Grilled Spatchcock Chicken
The recipe card at the end of this post lists the full ingredient list with measurements.
Chicken: You’ll need a 4-5 pound whole chicken. Using a larger or smaller bird is ok, but your cook time may need to be adjusted.
Poultry Rub: After you spatchcock the chicken, season it with the rub mentioned in the recipe below, or spice that beautiful bird up with any favorite rub you like. We make our own blend of herbs and spices, including chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Barbecue Sauce: Sauce is optional. We like dipping the chicken into a homemade Horseradish White BBQ Sauce. You may not want any sauce at all.
How to Grill Spatchcock Chicken
Here’s a basic overview of how to make grilled spatchcock chicken. The recipe card at the end of this post provides detailed instructions with times and temperatures.
Prepare the Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce
- If you make our homemade sauce do it first and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour for the flavors to meld together.
Prepare the Chicken
Spatchcock the Chicken: Follow the 3-Step Guide above to spatchock the chicken for the grill.
Rub the Chicken: Coat the chicken with the poultry rub generously all over.
Grill the Chicken
- Prepare a charcoal grill for indirect cooking and heat to 450 to 550 degrees F.
- Grill the chicken, skin side down, over indirect heat with foil-wrapped bricks on top. Close the lid and grill until golden around the edges; about 25 minutes.
- Put on heat-resistant grilling gloves and remove the bricks. Carefully turn the chicken over ensuring that the skin remains intact and does not tear. Replace the bricks and close the lid.
- Cook until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer reads between 160 and 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part; about 20 to 25 minutes more.
- Rest: for at least 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve: Cut into serving pieces and serve warm with the Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce.
If you are tired of working yourself to death outside over a hot grill to get chicken done, try this grilled spatchcocked chicken this weekend!
Grilled Spatchcock Chicken Under Bricks With White Horseradish Barbecue Sauce
- 1 whole chicken 4-5 pounds
- Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce (recipe to follow)
- 1 teaspoon prepared chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce
- 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice fresh
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- hot sauce to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Prepare the Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce
- Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl. Pour the barbecue sauce into a jar with lid. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour to allow the flavors to meld together.
Spatchcock The Chicken:
- Turn the chicken over, so that it is breast side up. Use your hands to flatten the chicken. Press down firmly to crack the rib cage. The chicken should now lay flat on the surface.
- Cut a small hole in the loose skin of the thigh and pull the end of each drumstick through the hole. This will keep the legs in place when placing on the grill.
- Combine the poultry rub ingredients together, then coat the chicken with the poultry rub generously on both sides.
Fire Up The Grill!
- Prepare the grill for indirect cooking and heat to 450 to 550 degrees F.
Grill The Chicken:
- Place the chicken, skin side down, over indirect heat. Place the foil-wrapped bricks on top of the chicken. Close the lid and grill until golden around the edges; about 25 minutes.
- Put on heat-resistant grilling gloves and remove the bricks. Using a large spatula and a set of tongs, carefully turn the chicken over ensuring that the skin remains intact and does not tear. Replace the bricks and close the lid. Continue to cook until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer reads between 160 and 165 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part; about 20 to 25 minutes more.
- Remove from the grill and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Cut into serving pieces and serve warm with the Horseradish White Barbecue Sauce.