Grilling a Whole Chicken: A Flavorful Delight for Your Palate

Video cooking whole chicken on grill

Who doesn’t adore the succulent taste of a perfectly grilled whole chicken? Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a novice seeking a new culinary adventure, cooking a whole chicken on the grill is a surefire way to impress your taste buds and guests. Let’s dive into the art of grilling a whole chicken and discover the secrets to achieving juicy, flavorful results every time.

Understanding Whole Chicken

Whole chickens come in various sizes, each with its own culinary charm. You may encounter roasters, broilers, fryers, Cornish hens, or poussins in the market. For this recipe, we recommend using roasters or broiler chickens weighing between 4-7 pounds. These types of chickens offer the perfect balance of meat and juiciness. While Cornish game hens and poussins are freezer section finds, they are better suited for individual servings.

One of the major advantages of buying and grilling a whole chicken is the cost-effectiveness. By purchasing a whole chicken, you save on the per-pound price and unlock the bonus of enhanced flavor from the bones and chicken skin. Additionally, whole chickens often come with giblets, such as the gizzard, heart, and liver, tucked inside the cavity. Before grilling, remember to remove these organs and discard them or transform them into a delectable gravy or broth.

Setting Up Your Grill for Grilling Perfection

No matter your grilling equipment—be it a gas grill, charcoal grill, or pellet grill—the key to tender, juicy chicken lies in maintaining indirect heat. Follow these guidelines to set up your grill for grilling success:

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Gas Grill

If you’re using a gas grill, leave one burner off and turn on at least one burner. Adjust the burner temperature until your grill temperature gauge registers between 375-400°F. The chicken will be cooked on the grill grate where the burner is turned off. For an extra burst of smoky goodness, fill a smoke box with wood chips and place it on the hotter side of the grill.

Charcoal Grill

For a kettle-style charcoal grill, push the hot coals to one side. Position the grill grate over the coals and place the chicken on the side without coals. If you’re using a drum smoker or ceramic cooker, use the diffuser to shield the chicken from direct heat.

Pellet Grill

Pellet grills expertly offer an indirect heat zone due to their built-in metal diffuser plate resting over the fire pot. Simply set the grill to 375°F and let it heat up. Once it reaches the desired temperature, you can place the chicken anywhere on the grill with confidence.

The Art of Grilling a Whole Chicken

Now that your grill is perfectly set up, it’s time to dive into the grill master’s domain: grilling the whole chicken. Follow these simple steps to grill your chicken to grilled perfection:

  1. STEP ONE: Remove the chicken from its packaging, making sure to discard the neck and any internal organs. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Take a stick of softened butter and generously spread it all over the chicken, including under the breast skin.


  1. STEP TWO: Sprinkle your choice of barbecue rub all over the chicken, ensuring you reach the joints under the legs and wings. For added flavor, sprinkle some dry rub seasoning inside the chicken. If you desire an eye-catching presentation, you can tie the chicken’s legs together with butcher’s twine, although this step is optional.
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  1. STEP THREE: Let the whole seasoned chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator while you preheat your grill to a temperature of 375-400°F.

  2. STEP FOUR: Once your grill reaches the desired temperature, place the chicken on the hot grill over indirect heat, ensuring the breast side faces up. Close the grill lid to seal in the flavors.


  1. STEP FIVE: Grill the chicken for approximately 15-20 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature by inserting it into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.


Serving Your Grilled Whole Chicken

Once your chicken is grilled to perfection, remove it from the grill and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Allow the chicken to rest for at least 15 minutes, enabling the juices to settle into the meat. Now comes the moment of truth—how will you serve your grilled masterpiece?

You have two delightful options. You can either cut the chicken into traditional pieces, such as wings, thighs, breasts, and legs, or you can pull the meat from the bones to create succulent shreds. Shredded chicken opens up a world of flavorful possibilities, from Southwest Chicken Chili to chicken enchiladas, chicken taquitos, or even chicken sandwiches slathered with your favorite barbecue or Alabama white sauce.


Storage and Culinary Magic

If you find yourself with extra pulled chicken, fear not! Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Alternatively, freeze it for up to six months, allowing you to summon the essence of grilled chicken whenever the mood strikes.

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Don’t discard those precious chicken bones! Transform them into a homemade chicken broth by boiling them with diced onions, carrots, and celery. Strain the broth and store it in the freezer for up to six months, ready to elevate your future culinary creations.

So, grab your apron, fire up the grill, and embark on a flavorful journey with Family Cuisine. For more mouthwatering recipes and culinary inspiration, visit Family Cuisine. Happy grilling!

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