Natural Summer BBQ: How to BBQ a Whole Chicken

Do you want to learn how to BBQ a wonderfully moist chicken? The key: stuff the chicken under the skin! This simple technique imparts such a lovely moisture and flavor that is beyond delicious, especially when that stuffing is butter creamed with roasted garlic and freshly grate Parmesan cheese, seasoned with herbs. As the chicken roasts, the herb butter melts beneath the skin imparting flavor and juiciness to the meat. This chicken is an excellent main course served over mashed potatoes with gravy from the juices. This recipe can be prepared in a similar fashion in the oven or crockpot. Yum!


1 whole chicken (3 1/2 – 4 lbs)
1 head garlic
4-5 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, including parsley, chervil, basil, rosemary, oregano, and/or chives
3 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
coarse salt and black pepper


Garlic Butter:

1. Wrap the garlic head in tin foil (or in a small covered glass oven safe pan), and place in the oven/toaster oven at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until softened. Allow garlic to cool to room temperature.
2. Place the butter, herbs, and Parmesan in a small mixing bowl and beat with a spoon until light and fluffy. Cut the garlic head in half through the cloves and squeeze the garlic from each half into the flavored butter. Season with salt and pepper and beat to mix.

Stuffing the Chicken:

1. Remove the giblets from the body cavity. Rinse and dry the chicken.

2. To stuff the chicken, start by working one finger under the skin at the top of the neck cavity. Carefully loosen the skin from the meat, guarding against tearing the skin, if possible. Gradually widen the gap between the skin and meat until you can fit two fingers followed by your whole hand. Loosen skin from the breast, thighs, and drumsticks.
3. Spoon the garlic butter by hand under the skin. Spread the butter all over the chicken meat by gently rubbing the skin with your fingers.

4. Dash the exterior of the chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Ideally, you will want to truss the chicken at this point, but up till now we have got away without it.

5. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a drip pan in the center. For our charcoal grill, we light the charcoal and form two heat zones by raking the coals into two piles at opposite sides of the grill. Our weber performer grill has baskets, which makes this easy to divide the coals evenly between the two, placing the drip pan between.

6. Place the chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the hot grill grate over the drip pan and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Grill until the chicken is deep golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals per side after 1 hour. Internal temperature should be 180 degrees.

7. Transfer chicken to a platter to rest for 5 minutes. Carve as desired.

8. Pour the juices from the drip pan into a small pan on your stove top to prepare a gravy. I add arrowroot powder, salt and pepper to thicken and flavor as needed.

Recipe adapted from How to Grill by Steven Raichlen.

This is a continuation of our Natural Summer BBQ series. Check out our BBQ tools recommendations & our steak marinade.

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

13 Responses to Natural Summer BBQ: How to BBQ a Whole Chicken

  1. LaniQ July 24, 2010 at 3:51 am #

    This looks wonderful. I make a roast chicken that is stuffed with a lemon, an orange and garlic cloves, which gives such amazing flavor and moistness to the meat, I think this butter treatment would take it right over the top!

    • Lindsay July 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm #

      Ohh…that sounds yummy as well!

  2. Kelli July 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm #

    For those of us who don’t have the talent for adapting recipes, how hot do you think I should set the oven and for how long?

    If I have an electric grill, is it fine if the chicken sits there and drips into the bbq? Do I have to worry about flair ups?

    This looks so great, I hope I can adapt it to cook at my house!

    • Lindsay July 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

      I would put it in a dutch oven at 350 or so for 1 hour on each side approximately. If you use the grill, you want to put it in a pan of some sort otherwise you could make a huge mess in your BBQ and definitely risk causing fires.

  3. Fruitful Harvest July 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    I love my chicken done that way~
    I put water (you could use beer or wine) and herbs (such as thyme or rosemary sprigs from the garden) in my drip tray….the water (or liquid) evaporates and leaves the chicken moist! The herb leave the meat infused with taste of herbs!
    I wash and poke then wrap my potatoes in foil and bake them as well at the same time.
    It takes about 1 1/2hours! I never even have to life the lid….to flip anything! Just set the timer!

    Peace and Love,
    Georgiann from The Garden Gate

  4. TeeJay July 22, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Oh my gosh – this sounds (and looks) heavenly! :) I think I will make this for dinner tomorrow night. Yummmmy!

  5. Angela July 21, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    We are lactose intolerant in our household. What you would recommend as an alternative for the butter? Would Olive or Coconut oil work?

    I have been looking for a good whole chick recipe! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Danielle July 21, 2010 at 10:43 am #

      I would go w/EVOO… it won’t have the same flavor that butter would give, (But less calories and no cholesterol!) but I would say it would be very good tho. I usually rub EVOO on my chickens or turkey before baking them anyways. Give the chicken a nice brown look to the chicken and skin.

      • Angela July 21, 2010 at 11:01 am #

        Thank you so much! I will try it!

    • Shannon Hazleton July 22, 2010 at 3:16 am #

      I would try the coconut oil! I have often replaced butter with CO when I didn’t have enough butter for a recipe. And it’s better at higher temperatures than Olive Oil. Lindsay might have a better idea, though.

    • Faith August 14, 2011 at 6:53 pm #

      If you are truly lactose intolerant, as I am, REAL full fat butter does not have any lactose in it. I cook with real butter and suffer no adverse effects. If you do suffer effects from butter, there is probably something else going on besides lactose intolerance.

  6. Katie July 21, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    sounds delicious!!

  7. Joy Y. July 21, 2010 at 5:05 am #

    Looks delicious….this looks great….I’ve gotta get myself out of the kitchen today and use the BBQ instead. Lots of homemade lacto-fermented salsa making going on yesterday! Lovely!