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Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

This Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken features a whole butterflied chicken that is marinated before cooking under a weight on an outdoor grill. Perfect summer food!

One of the most pleasurable of all summer activities, in my opinion, is grilling. Cooking food over an open fire outdoors creates flavors that just can’t be achieved in an indoor kitchen. It’s funny – on almost every weekend in the summer, you can smell the grills going in our neighborhood from late afternoon into the evening. Everybody loves grilled food.

Finished chicken on a serving platter with lemon wedges on the side.

Now, you might call it “barbecuing,” but not in the South. In the South, we don’t “barbecue.” We grill or cookout. To a Southerner, the term “barbecue” means any food to which a barbecue sauce has been applied. Said food may or may not have been cooked outdoors over an open fire. If it was, then it’s grilled whether or not a barbecue sauce was involved. Confused? Sorry.

This delicious Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Chicken is not barbecued. It is most definitely grilled.

This is a butterflied chicken that has been marinated in a mixture of olive oil, rosemary, lemon, salt, and pepper and cooked under a weight on an outdoor grill. Not barbecued.

It makes for an easy and delicious summer supper. I won’t go into the difference between dinner and supper in the South. I’ve already confused you enough as it is.

🛒 Ingredient Notes


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  • Chicken – If possible, choose a whole chicken weighing between 3 1/2 and 4 pounds for this recipe. I prefer smaller chickens for cooking whole and often find them with the organic meats in my grocery. If you don’t want to prep the chicken yourself, ask the butcher to spatchcock it for you.
  • RosemaryFresh rosemary adds a fragrant and earthy flavor to the marinade. You can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried rosemary if fresh is unavailable.
  • Olive Oil – Use high-quality olive oil to enhance the flavor of the marinade.
  • Lemons – Freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest provide a bright and tangy flavor to the marinade.

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Chicken


Prep the Chicken

Collage illustrating how to spatchcock a chicken.
  1. To spatchcock a chicken, you start by removing the backbone. Use a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp, heavy knife to cut down either side of the backbone.
  2. Turn the chicken over and press down on the upper breast area until the bones crack and the chicken is flattened.
  3. The last step is to make a shallow cut between the leg and thigh. Why? Well, that’s usually the last part to cook through, and making a little cut there will help the dark pieces to cook at about the same time as the lighter pieces. You’ll have nicely done chicken without dry white meat.

👉 PRO TIP: I know this process sounds a bit gruesome, so if you want, you can ask your butcher to do the prep for you. Though really, it’s not difficult to do yourself.

Make the Marinade

Marinade ingredients in a plastic bag suspended in a bowl.
  1. In a large re-sealable bag, combine the rosemary, olive oil, juice and rinds of the lemons, salt, and pepper.

Marinate at Least 4 Hours

Chicken added to the marinade in a resealable plastic bag.
  1. Add the chicken. Turn it several times so that every part is well coated with the marinade.
  2. Refrigerate it for 4 hours, or overnight.

Cook the Chicken

  1. When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
  2. Prepare either a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking.

👉 PRO TIP: Indirect cooking is where you place the hot coals (or lighted burners) on one side of the grill and food on the opposite, or cool, side of the grill. That way, the chicken fat and olive oil don’t drip directly into the hot coals and flare-ups are reduced to a minimum.

Cooking the chicken on a grill weighted with a brick.
  1. Make sure the grill grate is well oiled, and place the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill.
  2. Top it with a brick wrapped in foil for weight. You could also use a heavy cast iron skillet. You just want something to weigh the chicken down and press it flat while it’s cooking.
  3. Cook for about 25 minutes.
  4. Turn the chicken over, replace the brick and cook for an additional 25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160F.
  5. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with additional lemon slices if desired.
Finished chicken on a serving platter with lemon wedges on the side.

🔀 Recipe Variations


You can easily customize the recipe to suit your tastes. Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Citrus Variation: Experiment with different citrus flavors by using oranges or limes instead of lemons. The zest and juice of these fruits will add a unique twist to the marinade.
  • Herb Substitutions: Replace the rosemary with other fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, or basil to create different flavor profiles.
  • Spice it Up: Add 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes or a few dashes of Tabasco to the marinade.
  • Smoky Flavor: Enhance the smoky grill flavors by adding a sprinkle of smoked paprika or using a smoky barbecue seasoning in the marinade.

🍽️ How to Serve


This recipe pairs well with a variety of side dishes and accompaniments. Here are a few suggestions to complete the meal:

  • Serve a medley of grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant.
  • Offer a fresh green salad of lettuce, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers with a light classic vinaigrette.
  • Enjoy roasted baby potatoes seasoned with herbs and garlic.
  • Add a few ears of fresh corn to the grill for a classic summer side dish.

🍚 How to Store


Follow these tips for storing any leftovers:

  1. Let the chicken cool completely before refrigerating.
  2. Store the leftovers in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in foil.
  3. Refrigerate within two hours of cooking and consume within 3-4 days.
  4. Reheat the chicken in the oven or microwave until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.
Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

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Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Chicken - butterflied chicken marinated in olive oil, rosemary, and lemon - cooked under a weight on an outdoors grill. https://www.lanascooking.com/rosemary-lemon-spatchcocked-chicken-recipe/

Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken

Rosemary Lemon Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken features a whole butterflied chicken that is marinated before cooking under a weight on an outdoor grill.
4.75 from 4 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Marinating Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 332kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary roughly chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Spatchcock the Chicken:

  • Remove the backbone from the chicken by cutting down both sides of the backbone and through the ribs using kitchen shears or a sharp, heavy knife.
  • Turn the chicken over and press down on the upper breast area until the bones crack and the chicken is flattened.
  • Make a cut between the leg and thigh to promote even cooking.

Marinate the Chicken:

  • In a large re-sealable bag, combine the rosemary, olive oil, juice and rinds of the lemons, salt, and pepper.
  • Add the chicken, turning to coat well.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight.

Grill the Chicken:

  • When ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
  • Prepare either a charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking.
  • Place the chicken skin side up on the cool side of the grill.
  • Top the chicken with a brick wrapped in foil for weight.
  • Cook for 25 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken over, replace the brick and cook for an additional 25 minutes or until an internal temperature of 160 is reached.
  • Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with additional lemon slices if desired.

Notes

To store, allow the chicken to cool completely. Place in an airtight container or wrap tightly in foil. Refrigerate for 3-4 days. Reheat the chicken in the oven or microwave.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 332kcal | Carbohydrates 3g | Protein 18g | Fat 28g | Saturated Fat 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat 5g | Monounsaturated Fat 16g | Trans Fat 1g | Cholesterol 71mg | Sodium 213mg | Potassium 218mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 1g | Vitamin A 140IU | Vitamin C 16mg | Calcium 18mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on July 25, 2014. It has been updated with additional information.

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19 Comments

  1. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles says:

    Lemon and rosemary are the perfect combo for chicken – love this spatchcocked method!

  2. Colleen (Souffle Bombay) says:

    I TOTALLY agree with you! Their is almost nothing better than grilled food!! well maybe my kids & husband, lol! Your chicken looks delicious!

  3. A simple recipe but how marvelous! I definitely need to do this but oven baked. I love lemon with chicken!

  4. Oh, this looks good and it is something that I want to do. Nice photos, thanks :)

  5. I have lots of bricks! Count me in.

    Miss P

  6. my mouth is watering! I love lemon and rosemary on chicken!

  7. Kim Beaulieu says:

    This is fantastic Lana. I love chicken, particularly on the grill. And lemon is perfect for it.

  8. christine says:

    I had never heard the term spatchcocked before. I’ve never been brave enough to grill a whole chicken like this. It looks amazing and I might just have to give it a go.

  9. I love brick chicken! Great tutorial!

  10. Lauren @ Healthy Delicious says:

    I’m totally craving grilled chicken now!

  11. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I love grilling in the summer. Your marinade is similar to what I do for when I roast the chicken in the oven. The aroma while it cooks is amazing! Great step-by-step photos, Lana!!

  12. Brenda@SugarFreeMom says:

    I’ve never cooked chicken like that but now I surely want to try it!

  13. Rose | The Clean Dish says:

    I don’t think we ever cooked chicken this way! Printing this for my husband now (he’s the meat handler in our house) as I would love to try it! I bet it’s super flavorful after marinating in rosemary and olive oil for a few hours. Yum!!

  14. Ginny McMeans says:

    The brick is a great idea!

  15. The Food Hunter says:

    This is a great one

  16. Amanda @The Kitcheneer says:

    Yum! I’ve never had spatchcocked chicken on the grill! Looks delicious!

  17. Jenn @ Deliciously Sprinkled says:

    YUM, I can’t wait to try your recipe! Adding it to my weekly meal planner for next week! :)

  18. Renee - Kudos Kitchen says:

    Delicious!

  19. Love lemon and rosemary together!