Grilled Whole Chicken

In the summer heat, my goal is to turn on the oven as little as possible. We have a small kitchen and no air conditioning so, when it gets too hot in the kitchen, we do indeed get out of it.

Thankfully we have a grill. My husband and I got a beautiful grill as a wedding gift. We were eager to get it up and running because we had invited people over for a pre-wedding cookout and our new grill would play an important roll in that event.

Since in a few days we were expecting 50 plus people in our backyard, we opted to go pick up the grill from Sears instead of waiting to have it delivered. Loading the heavy, large, flat box into our truck was the first clue that “some assembly required” took liberties with the word “some.”

Assembling a grill with 42 pages of instructions should be a requirement for all engaged couples. You find out interesting things about your betrothed that may have otherwise taken years to uncover. For instance, you may discover that your wife-to-be always likes to try everything without first reading the directions on the off chance that she can figure it out on her own. Or maybe your groom, when frustrated, tends to use a hammer when other, more appropriate tools, like a screwdriver, might work better.

I’m not saying that if you don’t pass this grill-building test, that you shouldn’t get married; I’m just suggesting that it will give you some important framework to navigate your marriage.

“Oh, Kara, remember the grill incident. Read the directions, honey.”

The pressure of a wedding combined with the impending cookout was intense, as was the usually warm May weather. Knowing us, we probably started the project on empty stomachs with a package of hot dogs on stand by for the fully assembled grill. No matter, we finished the task and still agreed to marry each other, even if we did end up with a couple of wayward bolts.

Since then, I’ve been burning up all kinds of things on the grill. I think I just get excited and want to rush things along. I turn on the grill full blast; throw whatever I’m cooking on. I close the lid and walk away. I am always very disappointed when I open the lid to see that my juicy hamburgers have turned into little black hockey pucks. Dang.

Lately, I’ve decided to master the grill. The first thing I did was read our grill’s manual. Second, I learned the value of indirect heat. Not everything needs a burning hot flame under it to cook. If you have a gas grill, indirect heat is a snap. Just turn on the burners for one half of the grill and cook on the other half. With a charcoal grill, you just have to maneuver the hot coals either to one side or around the edges. Indirect heat is a must for things that require a long cooking time, like a whole chicken.

Real grill aficionados pooh-pooh our gas grill in favor of hardwood lump charcoal. It burns hot and imparts a natural smoky flavor. It’s also usually a natural product without the chemical additives that charcoal briquettes can sometimes have. My interests are certainly piqued and I plan to try it the next time I’m around a charcoal grill.

Until then, I’ll keep perfecting my gas-grilling skills and wait for the day when something falls off our beautiful grill so that we will finally know where those extra bolts were supposed to go.

Grilled Whole Chicken

I love cooking whole chickens, but usually relegate that task to the winter kitchen. I was happy to discover that I can get excellent results with a whole chicken on the grill. Now I can enjoy it year round. Use any leftover chicken for chicken salad and be sure to make stock out of the bones.

I always brine my birds. The process captures and holds moisture, giving you a nice juicy chicken.


Whole chicken, about 3 pounds
1/4 cup salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 orange (or half of a grapefruit or 2 lemons)
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
Pepper, salt, cayenne


  • The night or morning before you plan to grill, place chicken in a large bowl or pot and cover with water.
  • Mix salt and minced garlic in about a cup of warm water and stir until dissolved. Add mixture to the pot/bowl with the chicken.
  • Refrigerate and soak for four to 12 hours.
  • After brining, rinse the chicken in cold, running water. Pat dry.
  • Quarter the orange and place in chicken cavity (make sure you remove the neck and giblets if there are any).
  • Rub the chicken with olive oil or butter and generously sprinkle with pepper and salt. Add cayenne pepper according to your spice preference.
  • Prepare grill for indirect grilling. If using a gas grill, heat one side to medium-high and leave the other side off. If using a charcoal grill, light the briquettes. When they glow red, scoot them to the sides, leaving an empty space in the middle of the grill.
  • Once the grill is hot, you’ll want to oil the grates. This can be done using a basting brush (a silicone one works well. Make sure it is meant for high heat), or you may ball up a couple of paper towels, dip them in oil and, using tongs, rub the towels over the grates.
  • Place chicken, breast side down, on the grill rack over direct heat; close the lid and cook for five minutes. Using tongs inserted into the cavity, turn chicken over, close the lid and cook five minutes.
  • Move chicken over to the indirect heat side. Close the lid and cook 40 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the beast registers 165°. If you don’t have a thermometer, cook until the juices run clear.
  • When the chicken is getting close to done, brush with barbecue sauce, if desired.
  • Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

Serves four.

6 Responses to “Grilled Whole Chicken”

  1. StarryGift | Wedding gifts and collectibles of Chinese and Western styles…

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing….

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  6. Suzanne says:

    I am in grateful awe of anyone who learns to grill, grills well and feeds me grilled treats! That was a fantastic party with extraordinary food! But grilling is still on my list of things I absolutely can’t do. It keeps me humble 😉

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