More than rotisserie, “Beer Can” or other popular methods for cooking a whole chicken, I prefer to butterfly and roast it. Butterflying a chicken (also called spatchcock) lays the bird flat for quicker and more even cooking. A butterflied chicken can be cooked at higher temperatures, so you are able to more easily achieve a nice, crispy skin and perfectly cooked meat. Whether using a barbecue rub or simply brushing the bird with olive oil, this is my favorite way to prepare chicken. It takes about 35 minutes for a whole fryer laid directly on the grill grate in the indirect cooking zone at 500°F. I remove the bird when the juices from a prick in the thigh meat run clear or when an instant-read meat thermometer reads 170°F. (The USDA recommends 180°F. See our Food Temperature Chart for more information.)
To butterfly a chicken, use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone and discard it. Without cutting through the breast meat, snip the breast bone part way down the middle from the top. Open the chicken out flat with the skin-side-up. The thighs should point in toward the middle with the drumsticks pointing out the back. Tuck the wings up and under.
Keys to the perfect roasted chicken:
- Select a fresh whole fryer chicken (smaller than a roaster chicken)
- Butterfly the chicken for quicker cooking
- Brush it with olive oil, season with salt, and lay it flat in the indirect cooking zone (skin-side-up)
- Roast it quickly at 500°F for 35 minutes