This grilled spatchcock chicken recipe is THE one chicken recipe you’ll ever need! Made with easy-to-find ingredients like lime, cilantro and spices you probably already have at home, this spatchcock chicken recipe is full of bright flavors and extra juicy. Also, the charred skin bits are just beyond delicious.
This grilled spatchcock chicken, also known as grilled butterflied chicken, is a major success in my house, and I’m sure you’ll love it, too.
It’s super easy to make and full of simple, yet delicious flavors. It’s a guaranteed hit!
I love to serve it all summer long because it requires barely any work, and I don’t have to turn on my oven.
Plus, everyone always loves it. In fact, they always fight over that charred skin!
So get your caipirinhas (Brazilian lime cocktails) ready because your next barbecue party is about to be a huge hit with this simple grilled spatchcock chicken!
I promise your familia and amigos will keep coming back for more.
Need the perfect cocktail to serve at your next barbecue? Check out our tropical cocktails list!
What you need to make Grilled Butterflied Chicken
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- Kitchen shears or butcher’s knife
- Bowl and whisk
- Large plastic bag – preferably a gallon size
- Cooling rack
- Instant read meat thermometer
Spatchcock Chicken Ingredients
This grilled whole chicken recipe is brilliant because it calls for minimal ingredients and packs in a ton of flavors. Marinating requires 4+ hours in the refrigerator, but I like to let it sit overnight for maximum flavor.
You’ll need the following to make it at home:
- A whole chicken
- Brown sugar — dark or light brown works here
- Ground cumin
- Mustard powder
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Lime juice — from about 2 limes. Please do not use the shelf-stable stuff from the grocery store.
- Olive oil
- Fresh cilantro
How to spatchcock a chicken
In this recipe, we spatchcock the whole chicken so it cooks faster and more evenly.
You can ask your butcher to spatchcock it for you or follow the step-by-step below to do it yourself. You can do this!
Spatchcocking or butterflying a chicken is actually pretty simple to do at home.
All you need to do is remove the backbone with either a butcher knife or some sharp kitchen shears.
I show how to spatchcock a turkey (here) in a video, if you want more visuals. The process for chicken is identical – in fact, it’s even easier since chickens are much smaller.
That’s it! The best part is, you can save the backbone to make homemade stock. It’s so good!
How to make Spatchcock Chicken Marinade
Now that you have butterflied your chicken, flip it chicken breast side down. Cut some incisions on the back of the breasts to ensure the marinade will soak in well.
Next, measure all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Rub the marinade all over the chicken, especially under the breast skin and in the back cavity.
Then, place the chicken in a ziptop bag and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
I like to let this whole chicken marinate overnight.
Why? Because I can prep this bbq spatchcock chicken the night before and simply grill it when my guests are about to arrive.
How to make Spatchcock Chicken on the grill
Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes to an hour before you plan on grilling it. This will ensure the chicken isn’t super cold when it hits the grill. It will also help the chicken cook evenly.
Preheat the grill while the chicken comes to temp. This recipe can be done on a gas grill or a charcoal grill, but keep in mind that it will take charcoal a lot longer to heat up.
PRO TIP! It’s best to turn off the middle burner (if your grill has three), and keep the other two burners at medium to medium-high heat. This way, you’ll run into less issues with flare ups as you grill this chicken.
Remove the marinated chicken from the bag and pat off the excess marinade with a paper towel.
Next, place the chicken on the preheated grill. It needs to be breast side up. Make sure the thighs are facing the hotter side of your grill.
Be sure to stick around as the chicken cooks to monitor any potential flare-up from fat drippings!
Grill for approximately 45-50 mins until an instant read thermometer reads 150F when inserted in the thigh.
Next, flip the chicken breast side down and grill over direct heat until the skin is golden brown. This will take about 5 minutes to get that magical, crispy skin!
Flip the chicken breast side up again, and check that the internal temperature has reached 165F when inserted in the thigh.
If the chicken skin is golden brown, but the internal temperature has not yet reached 165F, reduce the heat and continue to cook it breast side up until it does.
To serve, cut your butterflied chicken vertically, then slice it horizontally to split into four parts and serve with your favorite sides.
Frequently Asked Questions
The word spatchcock is a noun that means u0022a chicken or game bird split open and grilled.u0022 To spatchcock a chicken means to cut it open before cooking it. Spatchcocking a chicken ensures that the chicken will cook faster and more evenly.
On the grill, it takes anywhere from an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, just depending on how hot your grill runs, how many burners you have, etc. The key is making sure the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165F before pulling it off the grill.
More sides to try with this recipe
Other Grilled Chicken recipes you’ll love:
- Grilled Chicken Hearts
- Grilled Chimichurri Chicken Skewers
- Honey BBQ Chicken Wings
- Beer Marinated Grilled Drumsticks
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Grilled spatchcock chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup lime juice about 2 limes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro and more for garnish
- To butterfly or "spatchcock" the chicken, remove it's spine with either a butchers knife or some kitchen shears*
- Combine all ingredients, except for the chicken, in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Flip the chicken breast side down, cut some incisions on the back of the breasts to make sure the the marinade will penetrate well.
- Next, rub the marinade all over the chicken, especially under the skin and in the back cavity. Put put the chicken in a ziplock bag and refrigerate breast side down to marinate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge about an hour before you intend to grill it.
- Next, remove the chicken from the bag, and pat some of the excess marinade using a paper towel.
- Tuck the wings back so they don't burn while grilling.
- Place the chicken on a preheated grill, breast side up with the legs facing the hotter side of your grill, and grill over indirect heat. To do that, turn off the middle burner (if your grill has three), and keep the other two burners at medium to medium-high heat.
- Grill for approximately 40-45 mins, or until an instant read thermometer reads 150F when inserted in the thigh**
- Flip the chicken, and grill it breast side down over direct heat, until the skin is golden brown, and charred, approximately 5 mins**
- Flip the chicken, breast side up again, and using a thermometer inserted in the thigh, check to make sure the internal temperature has reached 165F. If the internal temperature has not yet reached 165F, reduce the heat and continue to cook it breast side up until it does.
- When the thermometer reads 165F, remove the chicken from the heat, place it on a cutting board, or cooling rack, and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
** every grill is different – stay close to monitor potential flare-up from fat drippings