Pic of BBQ spatchcock chicken

BBQ spatchcock chicken

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BBQ spatchcock chicken

Serves 4 40 min
Spatchcocking is a great BBQ technique to cook a whole chicken. It flattens out the bird and gives a larger surface area in contact with the griddle, enabling a more even and speedy cook. The marinade is quick and effective; simply bash the living daylights out of the main ingredients and throw them together with the chicken. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar, just scrunch the zest, oregano and bay in your hands and bash the garlic with something heavy and blunt. You can play around with the herbs; thyme, rosemary and sage all work well. You can throw the spent herbs and garlic on the coals beneath the chicken to create aromatic plumes of smoke, too.


For the spatchcock chicken

  • 1 medium chicken
  • 2 long skewers
  • salt

For the marinade:

  • 2 lemons
  • bunch of oregano
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • olive oil
  • black pepper
Image of BBQ spatchcock chicken


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 30 min
  • Step 1

    To prepare the chicken, you’ll need a robust pair of scissors or ideally some poultry shears. Place the bird breast-side down on a chopping board, with the cavity end facing you. Now cut between the spine and the ribs on either side of the spine bone so that the whole spine piece can be removed. Flip the chicken back over and then press down evenly on the breasts to flatten the bird out; you should feel a little crack as the breastbone flattens.
  • Step 2

    To make the marinade, use a peeler to remove the zest from the lemons in long strips. Halve the lemons and squeeze out all the juice. Place the lemon zest, oregano, bay leaves and garlic in a pestle and mortar and give them a good bash; this helps to release the oils in the zest and leaves, which is where all the flavour resides. Don’t smash it to a pulp – you just want it to look a bit bruised and battered, and for the garlic cloves to have split open. Throw everything into a roasting tray or shallow container (nothing aluminium, as it reacts with the lemon) and add the lemon juice, a generous glug of olive oil and a few good turns of black pepper. You may as well roughly chop the juiced lemons and add those too; it can only add to the flavour.
  • Step 3

    Place the chicken in the tray, turning and rubbing it in the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight. Turn it a few times if you get the chance.
  • Step 4

    When you are ready to cook the chicken, get your BBQ to a nice, steady heat; nothing too fierce. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and season it generously on all sides. Now thread the skewers in a cross shape across the chicken, each one going through the leg muscles and then the opposite breast. This helps to keep the bird flat and rigid enough to turn easily with a pair of tongs.
  • Step 5

    Cook the chicken for 20-30 minutes over a medium heat, turning often, until the skin is golden and the meat on the thigh is cooked through to the bone. Baste it with the remaining marinade at regular intervals and transfer it to a cooler part of the griddle if it looks like burning before it cooks through. Remove from the heat and leave to rest for 10 minutes, before pulling out the skewers and carving.

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