Want the ultimate grilled feast no oven can ever replicate? Learn how to grill a whole chicken over charcoal and dinner will never be the same.
Shortly after my wife and I started dating we took a weekend trip to Chicago. In-between getting lost looking for that giant metallic bean from outer space that landed in Millennium Park, and getting drenched with a deluge of puddle water from a passing car because I wasn’t smart enough to roll up my window, we went to The Publican for a nice meal.
I was really excited to try out one of Chicago’s best restaurants, and it didn’t disappoint. We ordered a very simplistic sounding half chicken and what arrived at my table completely blew my mind! It was the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken that had ever teased my taste buds. Flavor permeated every bite, and I was intoxicated by its essence.
Ever since that day, my eyes have been opened to the miraculous wonder that results from grilling a whole chicken. Now one of my annual bucket list items is firing up the charcoal grill and letting a whole chicken roast to perfection. I always look forward to savoring that deep flavor no oven can replicate.
How to Grill a Whole Chicken
Whether you rub it with bbq seasonings, sauce, or keep it minimalistic, a grilled whole chicken is guaranteed to be a show stopper. The method for grilling I use is very similar to the method perfected by the genius’ at Serious Eats.
The best charcoal to use when grilling a whole chicken is natural hardwood lump charcoal (affiliate link). It burns hotter and longer, so you need less of it. The key is to butterfly the chicken open so it can lay more evenly over the charcoal. Begin cooking it skin side up so the meat can come to temperature. Once it is approximately 30 degrees from done, the chicken is flipped over to allow the skin to crisp.
Are you wondering at what temperature the chicken is done? Chicken is done cooking when the meat reaches 165 degrees with a digital meat thermometer. And unless you are an experienced grill-master and you trust your instincts to perfectly time when your chicken is safe to eat, every household needs to have a good meat thermometer (affiliate link).
Looking for more outdoor chicken creations? Check out my bacon wrapped Smoked Chicken Breasts.
How to Grill a Whole Chicken Over Charcoal
- 1 whole Roaster Chicken
- Seasonings as desired
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- Butterfly the chicken by cutting out the spine.
- Place a skewer through from one thigh across to the other to keep the bird flat.
- Dust with your choice of seasonings. (Salt, fresh pepper, and paprika is a good place to start if you don’t have a seasoning recipe ready)
- Place charcoal on one side of the grill in a pile and light.
- Once the charcoal is hot, clean and oil the grate with a brush. (The grate can be oiled by applying oil to a paper towel and brushing on with the grate cleaning brush.)
- Place the chicken on the grate opposite of the hot coals with the legs facing the heat and proceed to cook skin-side-up until you are within ~30 degrees of the serving temperature.
- Rotate the chicken 180 degrees if necessary if the legs are cooking too fast.
- Move the chicken directly over the hot coals and place skin-side-down to allow for the skin to crisp.
- Continue cooking until the chicken reaches 165 degrees and is safe to eat.
- Let the chicken rest 10 minute prior to slicing to allow juices to settle.
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