Perfectly seasoned and juicy barbecue chicken

Sep 19, 2021
Challenge accepted! Here's how to cook the perfect barbecue roast chicken. Source: Getty Images

My husband likes to barbecue. One of his favourite things to barbecue is chicken. One of my least favourite things to eat is chicken. You can see how this might be a problem.

The tail end of our week tends to go something like this:

Him: Can I do a roast this weekend?

Me: Yes.

Him: Can I do a roast chicken.

Me: No.

However, one weekend I must have been tired or not paying attention (that happens) or one glass of wine in and I said, “Sure” with the proviso there were to be no ‘pink bits’ because … Ew!

Challenge accepted.

Now I know he can throw chicken bits on a barbecue and get reasonable results, but I believe there is a special skill involved in cooking a whole chicken perfectly — that means juicy breast meat and super crispy skin. Did the man deliver on his promise? Well, I wouldn’t be writing this recipe if he didn’t.

If you want to do this chicken recipe in an oven, see the note at Step 6 of the method.

Serve with corn on the cob, coleslaw or even a green salad.

Serves 4.


  • 1.5kg whole chicken


  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and 1/2 juiced


  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • Fresh thyme, chopped


  1. Remove legs from chicken by cutting down either side of the main body, popping through the thigh joint and cutting round to release the leg and thigh in one piece. Next, use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to remove the spine by turning the chicken upside down and cutting through the ribs on either side of the spine, leaving the breasts and wings attached to the breast bone. Ease your hand under the skin on the breasts, being careful not to pierce the skin, so that you have a large pocket.
  2. Mix together soft butter, garlic, thyme, lemon zest and juice with a little seasoning. Push butter under the skin of the breast, so it’s in an even layer.
  3. Mix together the rub ingredients and sprinkle it over the chicken breasts and legs.
  4. Cover and place in the fridge for up to 4 hours. Remove from the fridge 1 hour before cooking.
  5. Heat barbecue to medium (approximately 220C). Put chicken legs and chicken crown (with the underside of the breast bone facing down and with the thickest part facing the heat) over the edge of the heat. Be careful, the dripping butter may flare up. Cook for 25-30 minutes with the lid down, checking and turning the pieces regularly until lightly caramelised and cooked through.
  6. Put chicken breast and legs, skin-side down directly over the heat and cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin is really crisp. (Note: To cook in an oven, preheat to 200C/180C fan-forced. Cook legs on a baking tray for 10 minutes, then place crown in to roast alongside for 45-50 minutes.)
  7. Cover with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Then, squeeze juice of remaining half lemon over the chicken, carve and serve.

Leave your comment

Please sign in to post a comment.
Retrieving conversation…
Stories that matter
Emails delivered daily
Sign up