Whole Grilled Hot-Honey Lemon Chicken

by Samantha
4 servings
1 hr

Cooking a whole grilled chicken is so much easier than you think— promise.

In fact, this recipe is not much harder than sheet pan chicken or skillet chicken— two bastions of weeknight ease. A whole, well-seasoned chicken crisps up on the grill until gloriously charred grill marks appear, then it’s flipped and coated in layer after layer of a spicy, tangy, ever-so-sweet hot-honey lemon butter marinade. The result is lacquered, crisp skin, juicy white and dark meat, and plenty of marinade leftover for spooning, drizzling, or dunking.

Steps for grilling a whole chicken

Before we get into the nitty gritty details, here is a basic overview of the process:

  1. Spatchcock the chicken, then cut it in half through the breastbone
  2. Season the chicken generously with salt, as far in advance as possible (up to 24 hours)
  3. Grill the chicken over medium heat, starting skin side down and flipping it over once
  4. Baste with the hot-honey lemon butter marinade every 5 minutes
  5. Cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F-165°F
Whole Grilled Hot-Honey Lemon Chicken
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 1 hr
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  • 1 3½–4-lb. chicken, backbone removed, then cut in half through the breast
  • Salt
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 5 Tbsp. mild hot sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 lemon, divided
  • Vegetable oil (for grill)

Sprinkle the chicken all over with salt. Let sit at room temperature for about a half hour, or season it in advance (up to 24 hours before) and leave it in the refrigerator, uncovered. If refrigerating, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling.
Meanwhile, make the hot-honey lemon marinade: Heat butter, hot sauce, and honey in a small saucepan or microwaveable bowl until butter is melted, then remove from heat. Juice ½ of one of the lemons and add to the bowl with the hot-honey butter. Stir to combine. If your butter is unsalted, season the marinade with salt to taste. Set aside 1/2 cup of marinade for serving.
Prepare your grill for medium heat, brush and lightly oil the grates once it’s hot.
Grill the chicken, skin side down, until skin is lightly charred and easily releases from the grates without tearing, 8-10 minutes. Turn chicken over and lightly brush with hot-honey lemon butter. Cover grill and continue grilling chicken, brushing with lemon butter every 5 minutes or so, and moving the chicken pieces around the grill so that they cook evenly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers between 160°F-165°F, 30-35 minutes more. If desired, flip the chicken back over (skin side down) for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get it extra charred.
Just before the chicken is ready, add the remaining lemon half to the grill, cut side down, and cook until charred and softened, 6–8 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board; let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into pieces as desired.
Squeeze the grilled lemon half over the chicken pieces and serve with the reserved marinade.
  • Leaving the chicken at room temperature for ½ hour before cooking helps it cook more quickly and evenly; if you do not have time to do this you might just have to increase the cooking time by 5-10 minutes.
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  • Pamela Pamela on Oct 10, 2020

    Hi. Would this recipe be ideal on a BBQ?

    • See 1 previous
    • Samantha Samantha on Oct 12, 2020

      Hi Pamela,

      Yes! This recipe is ideal for a BBQ, but if you'd rather make it in the oven, set the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, arrange the chicken skin-side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet, brush all over with some of the sauce, and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken breast reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (start checking at the 45 minute mark). Skip the basting if you're cooking this in the oven, as opening the oven door repeatedly will cause the temperature to drop. Serve with the remaining sauce, and enjoy!

  • Shelby mcdaniel Shelby mcdaniel on Oct 10, 2020

    Haven't done it yet (because I don't have a grill), but it sounds GREAT !! Interested in baking/broiling time and temperature.