The easiest way to grill a whole chicken is just tossed on the grill. A little butter and some seasoning and you’re ready to cook. There is no real secret. As Thoreau said, “simplify, simplify.”
We all need easy, dependable recipes. Something you can just do. Well, this is it.
To research this recipe, I read a lot of recipes. Lot’s of very odd things going on out there. Some of the recipes were not too bad, just non-specific.
Not one suggested a grill temperature. No mention of surface temperature. Some even just said “preheat” with no suggestion of amount. A few would say to use “high,” but there is huge variability in grills so not helpful.
There were other errors that make the recipes unworkable to the point of “did they really try this” and it showed in the comments.
So what I wanted:
- I wanted the chicken left intact. Not cut up or butterflied, I wanted simple.
- While I was going to season with just butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, it should be a basic recipe people could season to their taste.
- It should be adaptable to most grills.
A great toy, the Thermoworks Therma Q Blue – A Father’s Day Recommendation
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I did have an alternative motive in doing a whole chicken. I wanted to play with my new toy. My toy is the new ThermaQ Blue from the fine folks at Thermaworks. But is it a worthy suggestion for Father’s Day?
Now if you frequent this blog, you know I’m attached at the hip to my Thermapen thermometer. It seems like all I do is yell about cook to a final temperature and not by time. I do it over and over and over.
When Thermoworks offered me there new ThermaQ Blue, I jumped at it. The ThermaQ Blue is a multichannel remote thermometer. It is competition accurate and connects by Bluetooth, and a Wi-Fi version is available.
While I received the ThermaQ free to evaluate, there was no suggestion of a review (although I’m sure they are ok with that). But I love a good toy, and this is a really good one for Father’s Day, so I rushed a recipe for a test drive. My conclusion…. a great toy that any grilling father would love for years.
First the quality of the construction. As always with Thermowork product, industrial grade. The build quality is always top of the line. They are calibrated and tested at the factory, and the certificate comes with it. I ran my test with one of my most reliable surface thermometers. Yep, perfect.
Next the Bluetooth. Apps are available for iOS and Android. Extremely simple to set up. One button to connect. Simple to set alarms and if you want, you can see a temperature graph ( important for the smokers out there).
The range of the Bluetooth is stated as 150 ft. line of site. I went from my deck to my basement media room and still had a signal. Only about 50 feet but several walls and a floor between us and it still worked. I don’t guarantee you will get the same results but impressive.
While there are multiple probes available, I had a meat probe and a grill surface probe which are part of the standard ThermaQ Blue Kit. I would say, they are exactly what a backyard warrior needs and considering the quality, they will last for years.
My verdict. A wonderful, easy to use toy that will make grilling more accurate, easier and most importantly more fun. I will use this for years. The surface probe is easy to set up in seconds and monitored remotely. The meat probe is also great, but lots of my grilling involves a lot of flipping so not as useful as the surface probe to me.
Now back to our recipe.
This was an amazingly good chicken. Great skin, very moist and almost no work. A high 4 or low 5. My wife broke the tie, and she says 5. My wife wants more skin next time, and I got the “you can do this anytime you want.”
Pro Tips: Notes on Grilled Whole Chicken
First, you do not need the ThermaQ to do this recipe, but you do need to be able to check the surface temperature and final meat temperature.
My local store only had 5 to 8 pound whole chickens. I got the smallest at 5 pounds, but after removing the giblets and trimming some chunks of fat, I ended at a 4 pounds 3 oz.
I would not be doing this with a very large chicken or small turkey. You can try but be sure the final internal temperatures are correct.
I was trying to make this recipe ultra-simple. So no fancy this or that. No brine, no stuffing things under the skin or inside and no smoking. You can do those things if you want and the recipe will still work fine.
If you want BBQ, give it a light brushing of your favorite sauce about 5 minutes before the finish. Now you have the best BBQ whole chicken.
This recipe depends on indirect cooking. The chicken is cooked in an area of the grill with no heat under it while the other burners are turned on. Grills will vary how you do this. But it is not that hard. I don’t feel there will be enough drainage to require a drip pan.
One side of the chicken will be towards the direct heat and get cooked faster, so rotation once in the middle is needed. I angle one chicken thigh and leg towards the direct side since you want their final temperature higher than the breast anyway.
When I rotate in the middle of the cooking, the other thigh will be on the hotter side. When the breast hit 165, the thigh and legs were 185-190. Exactly where I wanted them.
My recommendation for seasoning is a nice brushing of melted butter along with salt and pepper to taste. In my house, garlic is also required, so I went with my 7:2:2 seasoning.
Other Whole Chicken Options
Start with setting up your grill for indirect cooking. Clean and oil the grates. Turn your burners that will be on to full and watch grill surface temperature. Aim for 350 to 400 degrees.
Clean, trim and pat dry the chicken. Be sure to remove any giblets. I have a hard time not rinsing the interior of a bird. If you do it, do it carefully and clean up after done. See my discussion on Chicken… To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave and brush all sides of the bird. Save the remainder for brushing the bird during the rotation on the grill. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Garlic powder or other things if you wish. I used my 7:2:2 seasoning.
Place on the grill with indirect heat angling one thigh and the leg to the direct heat side. Close the lid and don’t touch for 40 minutes.
Rotate the bird at 40 minutes angling the other thigh towards the heat. Give it a brush of butter and continue grilling until the internal temperature of the breast is 165.
Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
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Grilled Whole Chicken on a Gas Grill
- 4 pound whole chicken
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 7:2:2 seasoning or just coarse salt and pepper - Or seasoning of your choice.
- Start with setting up your grill for indirect cooking. Clean and oil the grates. Turn your burners that will be on to full and watch grill surface temperature. Aim for 350 to 400 degrees in the indirect area.
- Clean, trim and pat dry. Be sure to remove the giblets. I have a hard time not rinsing the interior of a bird. If you do it, do it carefully and clean up after done.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave and brush all sides of the bird. Save the remainder for brushing the bird during the rotation on the grill.
- Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Garlic powder or another seasoning if you wish. I used my 7:2:2 seasoning.
- Place on the grill with indirect heat angling one thigh and leg to the direct heat side. Close the lid and don't touch for 40 minutes.
- Rotate the bird at 40 minutes angling the other thigh towards the heat. Give it a brush of butter and continue grilling until internal temperature of the breast is 165. Total cooking time for me was 80 minutes.
- Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- A good estimate of cooking time is 15-20 minutes per pound.
- Get the grill set up correctly is the key to doing this right the first and every time.
- Grill surface temperature and the internal temperature of the chicken must be monitored.
Nutrition is generally for one serving. Number of servings is stated above and is my estimate of normal serving size for this recipe.
All nutritional information are estimates and may vary from your actual results. This is home cooking, and there are many variables. To taste ingredients such as salt will be my estimate of the average used.
Originally Published June 11, 2017