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How to BBQ a Whole Chicken

Updated on July 31, 2010

Taking a golden browned whole chicken out of the BBQ at mealtime always seems to impress people more than taking that same chicken out of an oven for dinner would – although really, there is no reason why it should, as cooking a chicken in your BBQ is no more difficult!

The key here is to think of your BBQ as an oven, albeit an oven with a few extra features. (For clarity, I am not talking about a smoker here, just a regular propane backyard covered BBQ)

  • Grilling a whole chicken over direct heat is hard – it’s pretty tough to keep the exterior from overcooking (or burning) before the interior cooks through.
  • Cooking a whole chicken over indirect heat in a BBQ is a cinch – you just use the burner on one side of the grill to heat the covered BBQ and put the chicken on the grill on the other side – as far as you can from the lit burner. Now, your BBQ works like an oven and you can ‘roast’ a chicken on a hot summer’s day without worrying about overheating your kitchen!

BBQ Whole Chicken

  1. Take one 4 to 6 pound chicken
  2. Ideally, brine or marinate this overnight in advance of cooking (check brining instructions for recipes)
  3. When ready to cook, preheat the BBQ to medium (using only the heating element on one side – the side where you won’t be cooking the bird!)
  4. When the BBQ is hot, place your chicken breast side up on the grill, as far as possible from the flame. Cover the lid and let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 45 minutes, or until cooked through to 180 in the deepest section of the thigh (Use your instant read thermometer here – actually, you can get away with chicken cooked a little less well done than this, but in my experience no-one likes looking at chicken that has even a hint of pink to it)
  5. If desired, a few minutes before the end of cooking, brush the chicken with a finishing sauce of your liking.

That’s it! So easy and it makes a great hot-day family dinner. Once you get the hang of this very simple technique there is no end to the changes you could make to suit your tastes - Using different marinades (jerk chicken, wine marinades etc.) or cooking with a little smoke from wood chips in the BBQ or whatever else you can think of.

Happy grilling!


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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Yummy! I could eat one of that now. I´ll try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      Kari Weber 5 years ago

      I had success with this, and added lemon to the cavity for extra flavor.

      I am trying to become a grill queen... my last name is Weber after all!

    • profile image

      Jeff 5 years ago

      I gave tried this recipe twice. The chicken is great once it's done, but 45 minutes is definitely not enough time. I've had it on the grill twice as long as that and it's still not done yet.

    • bbqsmokersite profile image

      bbqsmokersite 6 years ago from Winter Haven, Florida

      The brine part is KEY! So many folks skip right past that part, but it's imperative to get that succulent texture and juiciness!

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Hope you have good luck with it Jim

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 7 years ago from ma

      I use this method for the bear can chicken recipe and it comes out great. I have never tried marinating or brining a chicken before though. So I should give that a try.

    • John D Lee profile image

      John D Lee 7 years ago

      Thanks for the comments - and Chirls - best of luck with your goal for ALL OUTDOOR COOKING!

    • chirls profile image

      chirls 7 years ago from Indiana (for now)

      I never think of cooking a chicken on the BBQ like this, but it's a great idea because I love roast chicken but rarely have it in the summer. That gets me one more step towards cooking every meal on the BBQ!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      The chicken looks good and I appreciate the recipe.