Grilled Spatchcock Chicken With Chermoula Sauce

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This grilled spatchcock chicken is super juicy & has the crispiest skin! Served with homemade chermoula sauce, for next level flavour.

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grilled spatchcock chicken with chermoula sauce

This is a seriously good way to prep & cook a chicken!

Spatchcocking & grilling a chicken might seem difficult but it’s actually really easy! Simply cut out the backbone with a pair of scissors, flatten the chicken out, coat in marinade then grill indirectly over some really good charcoal. That’s all there is to it!

This style of barbecued chicken ensures perfectly cooked, juicy meat & super crispy skin. Served with a punchy, homemade chermoula sauce & a squeeze of charred lemon, this dish serves four people & goes great with a simple salad, grilled veggies or some freshly baked bread.

There’s an ever growing collection of barbecue recipes on the blog! To name a few, there’s pulled pork, lamb shawarma & smoked pork belly. If there’s a recipe you’d like to see, drop us a comment at the bottom of this page!

What You’ll Need

  • Whole Chicken
    We’re using a large chicken for this recipe, weighing around 2kg. This yields 4 generous portions. Make sure that the giblets & any stray feathers have been removed.
  • Marinade
    We’re marinating our spatchcock chicken in a chermoula inspired marinade. This is made with cumin & coriander seeds, lemon, garlic, paprika, olive oil, salt & pepper. For the best flavour, the chicken should be left to marinate for at least an hour.
  • Chermoula Sauce
    This herby sauce works great with grilled chicken & is made with fresh parsley & coriander, garlic, lemon, cayenne, cumin & olive oil. This can be made up to a day in advance & should be stored in the fridge.
  • Charcoal Barbecue
    Chicken is best grilled in a charcoal barbecue! I use a Weber kettle but any type of grill will work as long as you can cook indirectly on it.
  • Lumpwood Charcoal
    A good quality charcoal makes all the difference when cooking barbecue. It’s best to treat it like an ingredient! Meats like chicken work best with charcoal that give a sweet, subtle flavour. I used charcoal made from Ash wood.

Chermoula Marinade

For maximum flavour, we’re serving our chicken with a homemade chermoula sauce and marinating it in a chermoula inspired marinade!

To make our marinade, we toast cumin & coriander seeds for a minute, until fragrant then grind them up in a pestle & mortar. To this, we add lemon zest & juice, grated garlic, smoked paprika, sea salt, black pepper & olive oil. Then once we’ve spatchcocked our chicken, we coat it in this marinade & leave in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 day.

chermoula marinade

How To Spatchcock A Chicken

Spatchcocking is a great way to prep a chicken! Here we’re butterflying a whole chicken, which flattens the meat into an even thickness, whilst still keeping it on the bone (for the best flavour!). This method of prepping a chicken reduces the time that it takes to cook, making it ideal for grilling.

Here’s how to spatchcock a chicken…

  1. Place your chicken onto a chopping board, facing breast side down.
  2. Use a pair of scissors to cut down both sides of the backbone. Be careful to cut close to the spine, to avoid cutting off any meat.
  3. Turn the chicken (if necessary) so that the wings are closest to you then use a sharp knife to cut through the cartilage at the bottom of the breast bone (for a visual guide to doing this, check out the video below!).
  4. Press down on either side of the chicken, to flatten out.
  5. Flip the chicken over, making sure that the legs are pointing inwards & the wings are tucked in.
  6. Coat with marinade then refrigerate for at least an hour before cooking.

Grilling A Spatchcock Chicken

Cooking Indirectly On A BBQ

A large spatchcocked chicken will take a minimum of 40 minutes to cook on a barbecue so we can’t cook it directly over charcoal as it will burn! To get around this, we cook our chicken indirectly. This provides a gentler heat & means that we can crisp the skin up nicely at the end of the cook.

To cook indirectly, we tip lit charcoal into one side of our barbecue (as pictured below), in an even layer. We then place the chicken on the opposite side of the grill, facing skin side up, cook until the meat is almost cooked through then flip it over, to finish cooking directly over the charcoal. We’re using our barbecue like an oven, so make sure to cover the grill with the lid.

This way of grilling, slowly renders the fat in the chicken, making the meat juicier! It also means that the skin will crisp up properly when we flip the chicken over for the last part of the cook.

Grilled Spatchcock Chicken

  1. Light a chimney starter full of lumpwood charcoal with a natural fire lighter & leave to get white hot.
  2. Carefully tip the charcoal into your barbecue, so that it sits in an even layer on one side.
  3. Add the grill & lid back onto the bbq & leave to preheat for 5 minutes or so. We’re aiming for a temperature of 200°c/400°f.
  4. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, so that it is facing skin side up, with the legs pointing towards the hotter side. Add the lid back on the bbq then cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn the chicken so that the legs are facing away from the charcoal then continue cooking until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breasts reaches 65°c/150°f.
  6. Flip the chicken over & continue cooking directly over the charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 74°c/165°f. If the skin starts to brown too much, move the chicken back to the cooler side of the grill.
  7. Once cooked, take the chicken off the grill & leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

How To Carve A Spatchcock Chicken

To carve your cooked spatchcock chicken, cut the legs (with the thighs attached) off first by cutting through the connective skin attaching them to the body. Next, cut the crown down the middle then cut away the wings, if desired – I like to leave them attached to the breasts!

indirect cooking

Chermoula Sauce

Chermoula is a herb based sauce, originating from Northern Africa which can be used as a marinade, a dip or a finishing sauce for barbecued meat & fish. Chermoula sauce has a fresh, earthy flavour with notes of citrus & a hint of spice.

To make this Moroccan sauce, we blend fresh parsley & coriander with garlic, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, cumin & olive oil. If you’ve got some preserved lemon in your fridge, this would be a welcome addition to this sauce as well. Once made, chermoula sauce is best served within a day & should be stored in the fridge.

homemade chermoula sauce

Grilled Chicken Tips & Tricks

  • Spatchcock your chicken for a quicker, more even cook.
  • Cook with good quality lumpwood charcoal for the best flavour.
  • Grill indirectly to avoid burning the skin.
  • Check the internal temperature with a food probe, to avoid overcooking.
  • Rest the meat for 10 minutes before serving, for juicier meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my spatchcock chicken be cooked in the oven instead of a bbq?

Absolutely! To cook the chicken in an oven, roast skin side up at 200°c/400°f, until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 74°c/165°f.

How do you avoid dry, overcooked grilled chicken?

The best way to avoid overcooking & drying out your chicken is to use a digital food probe to monitor the internal temperature. Chicken is cooked once it reaches a minimum temperature of 74°c/165°f. Make sure to give the chicken time to rest (10 minutes will do!) before carving it, as well.

What type of bbq is best for grilling chicken on?

Any charcoal bbq will work when grilling chicken, as long as you can cook indirectly on it! I use a kettle barbecue but a drum or ceramic kamado style grill will work as well.

Can chermoula sauce be made in advance?

Chermoula sauce is best served the same day as it was made but can be prepared a day in advance. Any longer than this & the sauce can start to discolour.

What can the backbone from a spatchcock chicken be used for?

The best way to use the chicken’s backbone is in stock. If you’re not making a batch soon, store the chicken in the freezer.

Equipment Used

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Grilled Spatchcock Chicken With Chermoula Sauce

This grilled spatchcock chicken is super juicy & has the crispiest skin! Served with homemade chermoula sauce, for next level flavour.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Moroccan
Servings: 4 People
Author: Ben Racey

Equipment

  • Kettle BBQ
  • Chimney Starter
  • Blender
  • Microplane/Grater
  • Pestle & Mortar
  • Scissors

Ingredients

  • 2 kg Whole Chicken

Marinade

  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Coriander Seeds
  • 2 Garlic Cloves (Grated)
  • 1 Lemon (Zest & Juice)
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil

Chermoula Sauce

  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 20 g Coriander
  • 20 g Parsley
  • ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 60 g Olive Oil

To Serve

  • 1 Lemon

Instructions

Marinade

  • Add the cumin & coriander seeds into a small frying pan then set over a medium heat. Toast for 1 minute or so, until fragrant then transfer to a pestle & mortar.
  • Crush the seeds into a coarse powder then add in the grated garlic, lemon zest & juice, salt, paprika, black pepper & olive oil. Stir to combine then set aside.

Spatchcock Chicken

  • Place the chicken breast side down on a chopping board then use a pair of scissors to cut down each side of the backbone.
    See the video in the post above, for a visual guide on doing this! The backbone can be kept for stock.
  • If necessary, turn the chicken so that the wings are closest to you then use a sharp knife to cut through the cartilage at the bottom of the breast bone*. Press down on each side of the chicken, to flatten out then flip over.
    *This helps the chicken sit flat.
  • Place the chicken into a container/dish & cover completely with the marinade. Cover with clingfilm the leave to marinade in the fridge for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.

Grilling

  • Fill a chimney starter up with good quality lumpwood charcoal, light with a fire starter then leave to get white hot.
  • Once the charcoal is ready, tip it into a kettle bbq, so that it sits in an even layer on one side. Pop the grate & lid back on the bbq & leave to heat up for 5 minutes or so. We want the temperature bbq to sit around 200°c/400°f.
  • Next, place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, so that it is facing skin side up, with the legs pointing towards the hotter side. Add the lid back on the bbq then cook the chicken for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, carefully turn the chicken so that the breasts & wings are now facing the charcoal then continue cooking until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breasts reaches 65°c/150°f. This will take another 15 minutes or so.
  • Flip the chicken over, so that it's facing skin side down & sitting directly over the charcoal. Continue cooking until the skin is crisp & the internal temperature of the meat reaches 74°c/165°f. This will take another 5-10 minutes.
    If the skin starts to brown too much, move the chicken back over to the cooler side of the grill. Make sure to keep the lid closed on your bbq.
  • Once cooked, transfer the chicken to a large plate & leave to rest for 10 minutes, covered loosely in foil.
  • In the meantime, cut a lemon in half then grill on the bbq until well charred.

Serving

  • Spoon the chermoula sauce over the chicken, squeeze over the charred lemon then carve & serve.

Notes

1. Chicken – You’ll need a large chicken for this recipe, which should weigh around 2kg. This will yield 4 generous portions.
2. BBQ – This recipe works best when cooked on a charcoal bbq. I used a Weber kettle grill. To cook inside, roast the chicken at 200°c/400°f, facing skin side up.
3. Chermoula Sauce – This sauce can be made up to a day in advance & should be stored in the fridge.
4. Internal Temperature – For the juiciest chicken, it should be cooked to an internal temperature of 74°c/165°f. A digital food probe comes in handy here!

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