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How to Grill a Whole Chicken on a Charcoal Grill

Grilling a whole chicken on a charcoal grill is a great way to add some delicious, smoky flavor to your dinner. Whether you are an experienced griller or just starting, this tutorial will walk you through how to grill a whole chicken on your charcoal grill successfully.

Ingredients for perfect grilled whole chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • Salt and pepper, or other desired seasonings
  • Charcoal grill and fire starter

Tools needed:

  • Meat thermometer
  • Basting brush (optional)
  • Aluminum foil (optional)

Preparing the whole chicken for direct grilling

Begin by thoroughly cleaning and prepping your charcoal grill. You will want to ensure that the temperature is at a medium-high setting, and you may wish to light the coals with a fire starter for the best results.

Then, rinse the whole chicken under cool water, pat it dry with a paper towel, and then season it with salt and pepper or any other desired seasonings.

How to Barbecue Whole Chickens on a Charcoal Grill

After the preparation, place the chicken on your grill directly over the hot coals. Cook the chicken for about 10 minutes per side or until it is golden brown and cooked through.

You can continuously monitor the temperature of the chicken using a meat thermometer to check for doneness or baste it with some melted butter or oil if you want to help keep it moist.

If you prefer, you can also wrap the chicken in aluminum foil to create a self-basting environment that will ensure your chicken turns out perfectly moist and tender every time. Just make sure to remove the foil before serving!

Once your chicken is cooked and nicely browned on both sides, remove it from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.

Tips & Tricks for Whole Grilled Chicken

To get perfectly grilled chicken every time, be sure to follow these tips and tricks:

  • Be sure to let your chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving, as this allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
  • If you want extra flavor on your grilled whole chicken, try marinating it overnight in a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. This will help infuse the chicken with tons of delicious flavor!
  • For extra crispiness, consider rubbing your chicken down with BBQ sauce just before grilling. This will help create an irresistible crust on the outside that will please any crowd.
  • Experiment with different seasoning combinations to find a combination that you love, from cumin and paprika to dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, or sage. There are endless flavor possibilities for grilled whole chicken – the key is to have fun and get creative!

Avoid the mistake of grilling whole chicken on a charcoal grill:

  • Not defrosting chicken properly
  • Forgot to soak in salt water
  • Forgot to dry it before baking
  • Use salt sparingly
  • Add sauces right from the get-go
  • Cook all chicken pieces the same way
  • Grill meat and vegetables together
  • Cook at high heat
  • Do not use a meat thermometer
  • Do not let the chicken rest after cooking

What to serve with grilled whole chicken on a charcoal grill?

Many delicious sides pair well with grilled whole chicken on a charcoal grill. Some of our favorites include roasted corn on the cob, grilled asparagus or zucchini spears, creamy potato salad, and fresh fruit salad for a sweet and refreshing finish.

You can also try serving your chicken over rice or quinoa for a versatile and satisfying meal to please the whole family.


Whether you are looking for a satisfying weeknight dinner or a tasty and impressive main course for a special occasion, grilling a whole chicken on the charcoal grill is the perfect option. With these simple tips and tricks, you can easily achieve delicious, juicy, and succulent results every time!

Whole Grilled Chicken Recipe FAQ:

  1. When should you season the whole chicken before grilling?

Before grilling, you should season the whole chicken with salt and pepper or other desired seasonings. This helps to infuse the meat with lots of delicious flavors, as well as help it achieve a nice golden brown color on the outside.

  1. How long does it take to grill chicken on a charcoal grill?

The cooking time for grilled chicken on a charcoal grill will depend on the size and temperature of your grill and how well done you like your chicken to be. On average, it should take about 10 minutes per side to achieve golden brown, tender chicken that is fully cooked through. You can also use a meat thermometer or baste with melted butter or oil to help keep your chicken moist while it cooks.

  1. Perfect temperatures for whole grilled chicken on a charcoal grill?

Keep your charcoal grill at around 350-400 degrees F while cooking whole grilled chicken. This will help the meat cook evenly and achieve that perfect golden brown color on the outside. However, be sure not to let the temperature get too hot, as this can cause your chicken to burn or become overly charred.

  1. How many calories are in a whole grilled chicken?

A typical whole grilled chicken typically contains anywhere from 300-500 calories, depending on how much of the skin is left on the meat. If you are looking for a lower-calorie option, be sure to remove as much of the skin and fat as possible before grilling.

Opting for leaner cuts of chicken, like breast meat, can also help reduce the calorie content of your grilled chicken. A whole grilled chicken makes for an incredibly satisfying and nutritious meal that is perfect any time of year.

  1. How does Gordon Ramsay cook a whole chicken?

There is no definitive way to cook a whole chicken, as everyone has their preferred method and seasonings. However, some people swear by Gordon Ramsay’s technique for cooking a whole chicken on the grill, which involves rubbing the meat down with a mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. This helps to infuse the meat with tons of delicious flavor and also helps create a nice golden brown crust. You can grill your chicken over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes per side until it is cooked.

Whether you opt for Ramsay’s method or prefer to experiment with your combination of seasonings, grilling a whole chicken on the charcoal grill is sure to be a crowd-pleasing and delicious meal!