Spatchcock Chicken

with Grilled Lemon

  • Serving Size: 8
  • Difficulty

Essential Tools
8 cups hickory, fruitwood or pimento woodchips
Cutting board
Kitchen scissors
Rimmed baking pan
Oven thermometer
Kitchen brush
Instant-read thermometer

2 (4-pound) whole roasting chickens
6 Tbsp Twist’d Q™ Smokin’ Applewood All-Purpose Rub (Currently in stores as American Royal Smokey Applewood Rub)
1/2 cup olive oil, melted butter or lard
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
2 lemons, cut crosswise in half

Prep Woodchips

  1. Place the woodchips in a large bowl and cover with water. Allow woodchips to soak while setting up the grill (at least 30 minutes).

Prep the Chickens

  1. Have the butcher remove the backbone from the chickens. To do this yourself, place each chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board with the neck cavity facing toward you. Take a strong, sharp pair of kitchen scissors and cut along both sides of the backbone all the way through to the sides of the tail and remove.
  2. Flip the chickens onto their backs and gently press down on all areas of the bird to flatten.
  3. Run the chickens under cold water, cleaning inside the cavity, if necessary. Transfer to a paper towel-lined rimmed baking pan and blot dry with additional paper towels.
  4. Sprinkle outside and inside the cavities of the chickens with the Smokin’ Applewood Rub.

Set up Charcoal Grill for Indirect Grilling/Smoking

  1. Remove the top grate from the charcoal grill. Place coals in a chimney starter. Spark the coals and let the coals burn until they are covered with a thick layer of gray ash.
  2. Spread the coals on one side of the bottom grate.
  3. Drain the woodchips and place 1 cup on the hot coals. Close the grill and open the vent, also known as the damper, on the lid. The damper helps to control the heat: opening the vent creates more heat, while a slightly opened or closed vent helps reduce or maintain the heat.
  4. Once the woodchips start smoking, remove the lid. If the grill does not have a built-in thermometer, attach an oven thermometer to the top grill grate, replace the top grate and close the grill.

Smoke the Birds

  1. Once the temperature of the smoking chamber reaches 325°F, use tongs to place the chickens breast side up onto the hot grill grate over the unlit part of the grill.
  2. Close the grill and smoke the chickens for 1½ hours. To maintain the temperature of the grill at 325°F, carefully add additional coals periodically through the opening at one side of the top grill grate or in between rungs of the top grill grate. In the same fashion, periodically add woodchips onto the hot coals as smoking decreases.
  3. With a kitchen brush, apply the oil to both sides of the chickens. Turn the chickens breast side down.
  4. Close the grill and smoke 1½ hours longer or until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thighs reaches 160°F.
    Transfer the chickens to a clean cutting board. Using a kitchen brush, apply the BBQ sauce to the chickens. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand 20 minutes before carving.
  5. Serve chickens with grilled lemon halves.

Grill the Lemons

  1. While the chickens stand, place lemons cut side down on hot grill grate directly above the coals. Grill the lemons uncovered for 8 minutes or until grill marks appear.


  • Let the chickens stand at room temperature for 1 hour before seasoning and grilling.
  • The less moisture on the skin of the chicken the crispier the chicken will be.
  • Experiment with different flavored woodchips for varied flavors: Hickory woodchips produce a strong smoke flavor; fruitwood woodchips produce a sweet, fruity smoke flavor; pimento woodchips produce spicy peppery smoke flavor.


To smoke the chickens on a gas grill: Prepare the grill for indirect cooking and heat to 325°F. Place the soaked and drained woodchips in an aluminum foil pan. Place the pan with woodchips on the hot grill grate directly over the flame and close the grill. Once they start to produce smoke, place the chickens breast side up on the hot grill grate over the unlit part of the grill.