How to Grill Whole Chicken: A Complete Guide

How to Grill whole Chicken

Grilling a whole chicken can seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and tips, it can be a delicious and satisfying experience. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned grill master, this guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to grill a whole chicken to perfection.

From setting up your grill to monitoring the chicken’s internal temperature, I’ll cover everything you need to know to grill a juicy and flavorful whole chicken. Whether you prefer using a gas grill or an oven, we’ll explore different methods and cooking times to ensure optimal results.

So, grab your apron and let’s get started on mastering the art of grilling a whole chicken!

Key Takeaways:

  • Grilling a whole chicken requires selecting a fresh, high-quality chicken and properly preparing it with the right seasonings and marinades
  • Setting up your grill and achieving the right temperature is crucial for evenly cooked chicken with crispy skin
  • Direct and indirect grilling methods both have their benefits, depending on your desired result
  • Using a thermometer to check the chicken’s internal temperature is necessary to ensure fully cooked chicken
  • There are different alternative methods to grill whole chicken, such as using a marinade and beer can technique or a pan and burner setup

Choosing the Right Ingredients and Preparing the Chicken

Before you start grilling, selecting a fresh and high-quality whole chicken is crucial. A large bird of at least five pounds is ideal as it’s perfect for the grill. To prepare the whole chicken, remove it from its packaging and take out the giblets, neck, and liver from the cavity. Next, wash the chicken thoroughly and then dry it with paper towels.

You can marinate the chicken with your preferred marinade to add some flavor. If you’re looking to try something new, a beer can marinade is an excellent choice for a juicy and tender bird. Once the marinade is ready, make sure you rub it all over the chicken covering every inch so that it cooks evenly.

For the best grilling results, ensure that the grill is at the perfect temperature. If you’re using a charcoal grill, the temperature should be around 350-450°F. On the other hand, if you’re using a gas grill, heat the grill on high for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to medium for cooking. For the best whole chicken charcoal grill time, grill the bird for 60-90 minutes or until the meat is tender and cooked through.

Recipes to TryHeat Control Technique
Beer Can ChickenIndirect Heat
Lemon and Herb Whole ChickenDirect Heat
BBQ Whole ChickenIndirect Heat

Following these steps will provide a great foundation for grilling the perfect whole chicken on the grill beer can style or with other recipes. A little experimentation with heat control and recipe variation can create some flavoursome grilled whole chicken.

Preheating and Setting up the Grill

Before grilling a whole chicken, it’s essential to properly preheat and set up your grill. This step ensures even heat distribution and required temperature for the meat to be cooked through.

If you’re using a charcoal grill, ignite the charcoal and let it burn for 15-20 minutes. Once completely lit, spread them evenly on one side of the grill to create a hot and medium-heat zone. If you’re using a gas grill, turn it on and preheat it for 10-15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.

While the grill is heating up, it’s a good time to prepare the chicken. Make sure you remove the chicken from the fridge at least 20 minutes before grilling to bring it to room temperature. You can also season the meat and add marinade if desired.

When the grill is at the desired temperature, brush the grates with oil to prevent sticking, and place the chicken on the medium-heat side of the grill, skin side down. Keep the lid closed and cook for 5-10 minutes, until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Flip the chicken over and move it to the cooler side of the grill, skin side up. Cook for another 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of the bird, until the meat’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

Don’t forget to prepare the chicken skin by patting it dry with paper towels before cooking. This helps in achieving a crispy and golden texture.

Grilling Techniques for Whole Chicken

Grilling a whole chicken can be a bit tricky, but using the right techniques can ensure that your bird is juicy and flavorful. There are many ways to grill a chicken, and in this section, I’ll go over some of the best methods to achieve perfect results.

Direct Grilling

This is the most common grilling technique, where the chicken is placed directly over the heat source. To ensure even cooking, start by searing the skin on each side for 5-7 minutes, then move the chicken to the cooler part of the grill to finish cooking. This method is better suited for smaller birds, as larger ones may not cook evenly.

Indirect Grilling

If you have a larger bird, or if you’re concerned about burning the skin, then indirect grilling might be a better option. With this technique, the chicken is placed not directly over the heat source, but on the cooler part of the grill. This allows the chicken to cook slowly and evenly, without burning the skin. To add flavor, you can add wood chips to the grill or baste the chicken with a flavorful marinade or sauce.


A great way to add flavor and moisture to your grilled chicken is by basting it with a marinade or sauce. To do this, brush the chicken with the marinade or sauce every 10-15 minutes while cooking. This will help keep the chicken moist and add tons of delicious flavor.

Using BBQ Rubs

Another way to add flavor to your grilled chicken is by using a BBQ rub. You can either buy a pre-made rub or make your own by mixing ingredients like salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar. Rub the mixture all over the chicken before grilling, and you’ll end up with a juicy and flavorful bird.

Adding Wood Smoke

To give your grilled chicken a smoky flavor, you can add wood chips to your grill. Soak the chips in water for about half an hour before grilling, then sprinkle them over the hot coals or place them in a smoker box. This will infuse your chicken with a rich, smoky flavor that is sure to impress.

By using these tips and techniques, you’ll be able to grill a whole chicken that is juicy, flavorful and delicious. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods and seasonings to create your perfect chicken recipe.

Monitoring the Chicken’s Internal Temperature

One of the most crucial steps in grilling a whole chicken is ensuring that it is fully cooked. To do this, it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken. This can be done using a reliable meat thermometer.

To start, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, taking care not to touch the bone. The chicken is fully cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). If the temperature is lower than this, continue grilling for a few more minutes before checking it again.

In addition to monitoring the temperature, it’s also important to properly prepare the chicken before grilling. Adding a tasty rub or marinade can enhance the flavor of the chicken. You can also brush on some sauce during the last few minutes of grilling to add extra moisture and flavor.

When placing the chicken on the grill, be sure to position the breasts side up for even cooking. Take care not to overcrowd the grill, allowing each chicken to have plenty of space to cook properly.

Grilling Alternatives for Whole Chicken

If you don’t have access to a grill, or you prefer different cooking methods, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy a perfectly grilled whole chicken. Below, I’ll share a couple of alternative techniques that can yield delightful results.

Marinade and Beer Can Technique

One popular way to grill a whole chicken without a grill is to use the marinade and beer can technique. This method uses a marinade to infuse flavor into the chicken and a can of beer to keep the chicken moist during cooking.

  1. First, prepare your marinade by mixing your desired herbs, spices, oil, and vinegar.
  2. Place your chicken in a resealable bag along with the marinade, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
  3. Next, remove the chicken from the marinade and pour out about half of the beer from the can.
  4. Place the can of beer in the center of a baking dish and position the chicken on top of the can.
  5. Roast the chicken in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pan and Burner Setup

Another way to achieve grilled chicken without a grill is to use a pan and burner setup. This method requires a large, oven-safe skillet or roasting pan and a burner on your stove.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Season your chicken with salt and any desired herbs or spices.
  3. Heat the skillet or roasting pan over medium-high heat on your burner.
  4. Place the seasoned chicken, breast side down, into the hot skillet or roasting pan.
  5. Cook the chicken for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until the skin is browned and crispy.
  6. Place the skillet or roasting pan into the preheated oven and roast the chicken for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using a marinade and beer can technique or a pan and burner setup are both excellent alternatives to grilling a whole chicken on a traditional grill. These techniques produce tasty and juicy chicken that will have your guests asking for seconds.


Grilling a whole chicken is not only a satisfying experience but also a healthy one. It’s a great way to enjoy a delicious meal while keeping your calorie intake in check. By following my step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to create a perfect grilled whole chicken that will impress your guests at any barbecue or dinner party.

Remember to experiment with different recipes, seasonings, and techniques to find your perfect grilled whole chicken recipe. Whether you’re using a gas grill, charcoal grill, or an oven, the key to juicy and flavorful chicken is proper preparation, heat, and monitoring.

If you’re looking for more tips on how to grill whole chicken or grilled whole chicken recipes, check out my video tutorial on my website. There, you’ll find additional information, including a salad recipe that perfectly complements your grilled whole chicken.

Thank you for reading my article on how to grill a whole chicken. I hope you found it informative and helpful.


Can I grill a whole chicken on a gas grill?

Yes, you can grill a whole chicken on a gas grill. It’s important to preheat the grill and set it up for indirect heat. This will ensure even cooking and prevent the chicken from burning. Follow the recommended grilling times and use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

How long does it take to grill a whole chicken?

Grilling times for a whole chicken can vary depending on the size of the bird and the grilling method used. On average, it takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours to grill a whole chicken over indirect heat. However, it’s essential to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure it reaches 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption.

What’s the best way to grill a whole chicken?

There are several ways to grill a whole chicken, but a popular method is using indirect heat. This involves placing the chicken on the grill away from direct flames. It allows the chicken to cook evenly and helps retain moisture. Adding a flavorful rub or marinade before grilling will enhance the taste.

How do I ensure my grilled whole chicken is juicy and flavorful?

To ensure your grilled whole chicken is juicy and flavorful, consider brining the chicken before grilling. This involves soaking the chicken in a saltwater solution, which helps retain moisture and infuse flavor. Additionally, marinating the chicken or using a dry rub can add extra depth of flavor.

Can I grill a whole chicken in the oven?

Yes, you can grill a whole chicken in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C), place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan, and cook for about 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Basting the chicken with a sauce or marinade can enhance its flavor.

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