Lemon Pepper BBQ Spatchcock Chicken


I love cooking whole chickens.  Everybody in the family, even my dog Kobe, gets to enjoy their favorite part of the chicken and there is usually a lot of leftovers for salads, soups, sandwiches, or other creative meals for the next several days.  If you been following No Limit Cooking, you will see tons of chicken recipes and various ways to prepare chicken.  Today, I want to show you guys a chicken technique I learned known as spatchcock chicken, that I like to use when I BBQ the whole chicken.

Spatchcock chicken, also known as a butterflied chicken, involves removing and discarding the chicken backbone and flattening the chicken breast side up.  This cooking technique used to speed up the chicken cooking time, looks great for presentation, and will still produce a juicy, moist, and delicious chicken.  Plus, the skin will be evenly crispy all around!


1 4-5 pound whole chicken, butterflied
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
1 lemon, juiced


Butterfly Chicken – Place the chicken on a cutting board breast-side down. Using kitchen scissors, cut down each side of the backbone. Discard the backbone.  Place butterflied chicken on a sheet pan.

Season Chicken – In a small bowl, combine lemon pepper, smoked paprika, lemon zest, and salt.  Mix well.  Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the chicken.  Sprinkle seasoning liberally on both sides of the chicken.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Prepare Grill – Fill a charcoal chimney 3/4 full of charcoal briquettes. Light up the chimney until coals are fully burned. Spread hot charcoal over one side of the grill to set up a two-zone fire on the grill for indirect grilling.  Add a fruitwood chunk over the hot charcoal.

BBQ Chicken – Place the butterflied chicken skin side up on the indirect side of the BBQ grill. BBQ the chicken with the lid closed at 325-350 degrees. After 30 minutes, open the lid and rotate the butterflied chicken to ensure even cooking. Close lid. After 50 minutes, check the chicken for doneness.  If not, close the lid and continue cooking. Chicken is ready when the internal temperature of the chicken breast reaches ~165 degrees and chicken thigh reaches ~175 degrees.


Carve Chicken – Place chicken onto a cutting board and let rest for about 10-15 minutes.  Carve up chicken into pieces and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken.



  • Smoked Paprika is optional, but I like the red color and makes the chicken skin prettier.
  • Salt the chicken to taste depending on the salt content of the lemon pepper seasoning.  I like to use salt-free lemon pepper seasoning to better control the amount of salt I use on the chicken.

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