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Grilled Spatchcocked Chicken With Honey, Chile and Lemon

This recipe fulfills the fantasy of grilled chicken that is both juicy and charred. Spatchcocking and slashing the bird allow it to cook evenly and remain succulent as the spiced honey and lemon marinade caramelizes into a golden crust. A low-temperature grill and attentive flipping are essential to cooking the bird through without singeing the outside. Pay close attention to the skin during the first few minutes of cooking to make sure the grill isn’t too hot, then turn and baste regularly to cultivate bronzed, savory-sweet skin.

Cook Time 2 hours

Course Main Course

Servings 4




  • 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 lemons
  • cup clear runny honey
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried Calabrian chile flakes or red-pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Greek yogurt for serving (optional)


  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano or marjoram leaves
  • Sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed




  • The day before cooking, spatchcock and season the chicken: Remove the spindly wing tips by cutting through the first wing joint with heavy-duty kitchen scissors. Lay the chicken breast side down. Using the scissors again, snip along both sides of the spine to remove it. (Reserve or freeze the spine for stock.) Open up the chicken and flip it over, placing it breast up and with the legs toward you on your cutting board. With one palm on top of the other in the center of the breast, press down until you feel the cartilage crack and the bird lies flat.
  • Use the tip of a sharp knife to make three parallel slices in each breast, then three in each leg; each incision should go down to the bone and be about 3 inches long. Rub the sea salt all over, including in the incisions, seasoning more heavily on the underside of the bird.
  • In a small bowl, mix the juice of 2 1/2 lemons with the honey, oregano, chile flakes and pepper. Pour 1/3 cup of this marinade over the chicken and refrigerate the remaining marinade for grilling.
  • Trim the ends of the 1/2 lemon, then slice it into 12 very thin half-moons and remove any seeds. Tuck the lemon slices into each of the incisions on the chicken, sliding the cut side in and leaving the peel exposed.
  • Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, breast side up, and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 12 or up to 24 hours.
  • Two hours before cooking the chicken, take it out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
  • Prepare the grill: Clean the grate thoroughly and light the coals. The bird should cook over low, indirect heat. The coals are ready when they’re gray and dusty, rather than glowing red.


  • Place the bird on the grill, breast side down, discarding any liquid left behind. Watch your chicken like a hawk for the first few minutes and flip the bird if the skin starts to char. When the chicken is lightly colored, or after 10 minutes, flip it over and baste with the reserved marinade. Close the lid on the grill and cook for 40 to 50 minutes more, flipping and basting the chicken every 10 minutes.


  • Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. When it’s a chunky paste, stir in olive oil and lemon. In a large shallow serving bowl, toss the chickpeas with 1/4 cup dressing and season to taste with sea salt. (Reserve the remaining dressing for the chicken.)


  • When the chicken has been cooking for 60 minutes, take its temperature: The meat should feel firm and an instant-read thermometer should read 165 degrees when inserted near the bone of the thickest part of the breast and leg. The chicken may need another 5 to 10 minutes grilling with the lid closed. If you want more char on the breast, cook breast side down; if there is enough color, continue to cook breast side up.
  • Once the chicken is cooked, set it on top of the chickpeas. If you have any remaining baste, pour it over the bird. Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving on a cutting board.
  • Use a large knife or cleaver to remove both thighs and legs. Separate both breasts, then cut each in half crosswise, creating 8 pieces. Place the chicken pieces back on the chickpeas and drizzle the chicken with the reserved oregano dressing. Cut the remaining lemon into quarters for squeezing on top, and dollop with Greek yogurt, if desired.