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Grilled Chicken Halves

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Grilled chicken halves with juicy, tender meat and crispy skin. A two-ingredient, super easy BBQ recipe perfect for the grilling season.

half of one grilled chicken on a silver plate.

And grilled chicken halves are what we put on the grill almost every time. This half chicken recipe, a few sausages for variation (and because we live in Germany and here it’s all about the Bratwurst), and there you have it: the perfect summer dinner!

If you like grilled poultry, try our Turkish Turkey Kebabs, the Easy Grilled Chicken Tenders, or the Chicken Skewers with Blackberry Sauce.

Should the weather not be suitable for making BBQ half chicken, try these Roasted Chicken Halves in the oven (one of our most popular recipes).

Why should you grill chicken halves?

  • Shorter cooking time: It takes less time to grill a half chicken than a whole one.
  • Even cooking: Grilling chicken halves ensures that all the meat remains juicy and moist. The breasts always cook faster than the thighs; that is why the breast might be overcooked by the time the thighs are cooked through.
  • A method suitable for large chickens, that would otherwise take very long to cook.

Expert tips

  • Use the spine, the raw leftover parts, and the roasted bones to make stock.
  • You can also freeze all these parts for future use. However, only freeze the raw parts if the bird is fresh; NEVER re-freeze defrosted raw food. If the chicken was defrosted, but you still want to freeze the spine and all the uncooked leftovers, roast them in the oven before freezing them again; they must be cooked through.
  • Season the poultry in advance and let it marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours; this ensures that the spices penetrate the meat, imparting it even more flavor.
  • The temperature of the grill is essential; it should only be medium and not too high. If the temperature is too high, the meat will cook too quickly on the outside. By the time the rest is cooked through, the outside of the bird will become dry or too dark.

Recipe ingredients

one raw chicken and two bowls of dry rub.
  • Two chicken halves or one whole chicken, cut in two.
  • Seasoning: I used two different seasonings, one for each halve.
    • Homemade seasoning: Our favorite chicken seasoning, a recent discovery, but so good; I’ve made a large jar and have been using it a lot lately. It contains sea salt (or Kosher salt), ground cumin, sweet smoked paprika, turmeric, and cayenne pepper
    • Store-bought seasoning/ dry rub: It’s quick and convenient. Use your favorite brand.
  • The recipe will still work perfectly if all you have are salt and black pepper.

Step-by-step instructions

Halve the chicken

Tools: A large cutting board, a small sharp knife, a large chef’s knife, and poultry shears.

  • Remove the backbone: Place the chicken breast-side down and with the neck end closest to you. Cut on both sides of the backbone all the way down with the kitchen shears (1,2).
collage of two pictures of removing the backbone from a whole chicken.
  • Remove cartilage: Turn the cutting board; the legs should be closest to you. Open up the bird. Remove the white cartilage that joins the bones by cutting on either side of it (3). When you can get a hold of it, lift it with your hand and cut around it until it is released (4).
collage of two pictures of removing cartilage from chicken.
  • Flatten: Flip the bird skin-side up and press it down with your hands to flatten it. Now you could also make Butterflied Roast Chicken (5).
  • Cut in half with a large chef’s knife. Start at the neck and cut all the way down (6).
collage of two pictures of flattened chicken and then cut in two halves.

Season the meat

  • If using Seasoning 1, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Pat the parts dry with paper towels.
  • Lightly rub the halves with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  • Sprinkle them with the spice rub and massage the spices into the meat and skin and under the wings as well.

Marinate meat

This step is optional but recommendable.

  • Place the meat in a large non-metallic container, cover it with plastic wrap and marinate it in the fridge for 1-2 hours and up to 24 hours (7).
  • Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before grilling to allow the meat to come to room temperature.
marinated chicken halves in a baking dish.

Grill the chicken halves

  • Prepare the charcoal grill for direct cooking over medium heat (180-220 degrees Celsius/ 350- 430 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Place the meat, skin side down, over direct medium heat (8). Close with the lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin releases easily from the grill grates and is golden. Tip: Watch for flare-ups
  • Flip the partly grilled chicken halves. Do it carefully and use tongs and a large spoon or spatula.
  • Continue to cook the meat with the lid on for about 25-35 minutes or until cooked through (9).
  • Check that everything is cooked through.
  • Rest for 10 minutes before carving.
collage of two pictures of chicken halves being cooked on a weber grill.

How long to grill chicken halves?

  • It depends on the size of the bird. I had one medium weighing about 1.8-2 kg/4-4 ½ lbs.
  • If the parts are smaller, check after 15-20 minutes already. If the pieces are larger, allow them more cooking time.

How to check if the meat is cooked through?

  • Check the internal temperature with a digital thermometer; it should be 74 C/ 165 F (Amazon affiliate link).
  • Otherwise, cut into the meat near the bone, the meat should be completely white, and no pink or red is allowed.
crispy grilled half chicken on a platter close up.

Recipe FAQ

What kind of grill do you use?

A Weber coal grill with a lid.

Can I use another kind of grill?

Of course, you can use a similar grill, follow these instructions, but also regard the instructions manual of your grill.

Can I brush the grilled chicken halves with a sauce?

Sure, use your favorite barbecue sauce and brush the halves with it during the last 5 minutes or so of the cooking time. Stand by and watch the meat the entire time; the brushed skin should not get too dark. 

How to store and reheat leftovers?

Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for about 3 days.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
You can serve the leftovers cold (salad or sandwich) or reheat them in the oven at 180°C/ 350 °F for about 20 minutes.

What to do with leftovers?

Make Sour Cream Enchiladas, salads, sandwiches, fricassee, fried rice, etc.

What to serve with it?

Grilled half chicken goes perfectly well with probably any kind of BBQ side dish you can think of.

  • You can serve it with your favorite BBQ sauce, chili sauce, or even ketchup (kids love it, but I am not a fan).
plate with grilled chicken pieces on a cream cloth on the table.

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grilled chicken half on a silber platter.

Grilled Chicken Halves

Grilled chicken halves with juicy meat and crispy skin. A two-ingredient, super easy BBQ recipe perfect for the season.
5 from 2 votes
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Course: Poultry
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 -6
Calories: 489kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • 1 Large cutting board
  • 1 Sharp small knife
  • 1 Large chef's knife
  • Kitchen shears
  • Grill charcoal

Ingredients 

  • 2 chicken halves medium, Notes 2 and 3
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Seasoning 1:

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt or Kosher
  • 1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper more to taste

Seasoning 2:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of chicken seasoning of choice

Instructions

Halve the chicken

  • Remove the backbone: Place the chicken breast-side down and the neck end closest to you. Cut on both sides of the backbone all the way down with the shears.
  • Remove cartilage: Turn the cutting board; the legs should be closest to you. Open up the bird. Remove the white cartilage that joins the bones by cutting on either side of it. When you can get a hold of it, lift it with your hand and cut around it until it is released.
  • Flatten: Flip the chicken skin-side up and press it down with your hands to flatten it.
  • Cut in half with a large chef's knife. Start at the neck and cut all the way down.

Season

  • If using Seasoning 1, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Dry the chicken with kitchen towels. Rub it with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with the seasoning and rub generously on both sides and under the wings.
  • Marinate (optional but recommendable). Place the meat in a large non-metallic container, cover it with plastic wrap and marinate it in the fridge for 1-2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before grilling to allow the meat to come to room temperature.

Grill

  • Prepare the charcoal grill for direct cooking over medium heat (180-220 degrees Celsius/ 350- 430 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Grill skin-side: Place the meat, skin side down, over direct medium heat. Close with the lid and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin releases easily from the grates and is golden. Watch for flare-ups.
  • Flip the chicken using tongs and a large spoon or spatula.
  • Cook the chicken halves with the lid on for about 25-35 minutes or until cooked through (Note 5). Check the internal temperature of the chicken with a kitchen thermometer; it should be 74 C/ 165°F.
  • Rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Notes

  1. I use a Weber coal grill for cooking the chicken halves. However, you can also use the recipe for similar types of grill.
  2. Buy two chicken halves or cut one whole chicken in two. I had one medium weighing about 1.8-2 kg/4-4 ½ lbs.
  3. Use the spine, the raw leftover parts, and the roasted bones of the chicken to make chicken stock.
  4. The cooking time depends on the size of the halves. Start checking sooner if the bird was small and allow a longer cooking time if the chicken was larger. Use a digital meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 74°C/165°F (Amazon affiliate link).

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 489kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 143mg | Sodium: 1466mg | Potassium: 481mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1607IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 4mg
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