Grilled Butterflied Whole Chicken with Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Butterflied Whole Chicken Barbecue Sauce

One of my favorite dinners to make for my family is oven roasted whole chicken. But, this is Las Vegas, and in the summer, turning on my oven is the last thing I want to do. I avoid it as much as possible.

My solution for enjoying inexpensive whole chickens in the summer is throwing them on the grill. And I don’t mean cutting them up and grilling the individual pieces — I grill spatchcocked (or butterflied) chicken. Okay, okay…I don’t actually grill it, my husband does. Must give credit where credit is due. But I get it ready and that accounts for something, right?

What is a butterflied or spatchcocked chicken? It means cutting the backbone out of a whole chicken so it can be pressed flat. And it’s very simple to do. And I’ll show you how.

For this recipe, we’ll be brushing our butterflied chicken with barbecue sauce.  I used our favorite homemade Sweet & Spicy Barbecue Sauce, but feel free to use your favorite barbecue sauce recipe or a bottled BBQ sauce.

Whole chickens are on sale this week (July 4th – July 10th) at Smart & Final, so this is a great time to stock up. I went over to Smart & Final this week and picked up the chickens, plus everything else I needed, such as onion powder for our barbecue sauce. Smart & Final sells their chickens in a twin value pack, which works great for our family. I grill both chickens and the leftovers are great for lunches or to use in other meals during the week.

Now, here’s how to make a grilled butterflied whole chicken. First, get your your whole chicken…

Open the packaging and remove the liver, gizzard, neck, etc (whatever you find) from the inside cavity of the chicken. Give the outside and inside a rinse with cold water. Place the chicken on a cutting board.

Turn the chicken over so the breast side is laying down on your cutting board, but the back of the chicken is facing up. Using kitchen shears, cut along the backbone of the chicken. Cut one side and then the other side. This can also be done with a knife, but I find the shears to be the easiest way to do this. I usually give it another rinse with water after I remove the backbone.

Set the backbone aside and now you will be  to flatten the chicken. I find it helpful to cut a bit at the top of the breastbone with a sharp knife to help the chicken lay more flat.

Turn your chicken over, rub with some olive oil, and season with some salt (and pepper, if you like) and it should look something like this:

You start by grilling your chicken breast side down until you develop a nice char and grill marks on the skin. If your chicken needs help laying flat, you can lay a large cast iron skillet on top of the chicken, or even a brick covered in foil works well too.

Once that is done, you carefully flip the chicken over to continue the cooking. You’ll grill it until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F.

Once it reaches 155 degrees F, brush with barbecue sauce.  If you would like barbecue sauce on the underside too, carefully flip your chicken over and brush the other side, and then flip it back over and remove from the grill.

TIP: When I am flipping and/or removing the chicken from the grill, I do it mostly with a large BBQ spatula and with the help of pair of BBQ tongs.

Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes. Then, cut it into pieces. I like to cut it into 6 servings: 2 leg quarters (the leg and thigh together), the 2 wings, and the 2 half-breasts. Other ideas are to cut the whole chicken into quarters for 4 large servings or cut the leg quarters into separate legs and thighs, which would give 8 servings.

Enjoy with those that make you happy! That’s a must.

Grilled Butterflied Whole Chicken with Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 First Street Whole Chicken (on sale July 4th - July 10th at Smart & Final)
  • Olive oil (can use other oils if desired)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Barbecue Sauce
  1. Heat grill to medium.
  2. Remove and discard the liver, gizzard, neck, etc from the inside cavity of the chicken. Rinse inside and outside of chicken with cold water.
  3. Place chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone of the chicken. Discard backbone. Open and press chicken flat. If necessary, cut with a sharp knife a bit at the very top of the middle of the breastbone to help the chicken lay more flat. Rinse chicken again. Rub inside with some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken over, and also rub the top of the skin with some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place chicken, skin side down, on the grill. Grill until skin has grill marks, is a golden brown and nicely charred. When it's reached this, turn the chicken over carefully (I use a large BBQ spatula with the help of BBQ tongs). Continue to cook until internal temperature is 155 degrees F.
  5. Brush with barbecue sauce. If you wish, you can also flip the chicken again and apply barbecue sauce to the underside, and flip back again. Remove from grill to a plate. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and then cut into serving pieces.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. and Smart and Final #SFSmarties #CBias #SocialFabric


Like this post?
Subscribe to the free Home Cooking Memories Newsletter!


  1. says

    Can I please come to dinner at your house!! This looks great! And thanks for the step by step instructions on how to do this properly. Looks amazing.

  2. says

    Thanks for putting all the instructions down. I’d never done it before – you could say I was a bit of a “chicken”!

    Also tried your sauce since I had everything on hand. It was really good and kept the chicken moist.

  3. says

    I love love grilling meat, but there is something about good old bbq chicken! Your bbq sauce sounds delicious:-) Hugs, Terra

  4. says

    Spatchcocking a chicken is definitely the way to go. Cooks faster, the legs and thighs get done at the same time as the breast. Definitely a winner. Also works for Cornish game hens and turkeys, just so you know.

    Great looking bird. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Rick Radford says

    I have always loved home made/cooked BBG whole chicken better than anything else, but was annoyed by the hassle and generally just it in similar sized pieces. All legs, or chunks of breasts and such. I cannot wait to give this a try. I see a dry rub and a sauce finish in the immediate future. Wil post up results.


Leave a Reply

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

Rate this recipe: