Whole Barbecue Chicken

An easy whole barbecue chicken without needing to butterfly it. Just put it on the grill and in about 2 hours you will have a smokey and flavorful meal. Top it with your favorite barbecue sauce and watch it disappear. 

Once the weather permits I find myself using my grill. Sometimes the smokey flavors with that light char from the heat is just what the doctor ordered. This barbecue chicken is one of my favorites because it is easy to make, and there are only 3 ingredients. For me when I am entertaining a group of friends I will grill two of these quickly. They don’t take up a much room on the grill and I don’t have to spend my time hovering around the grill. In Arizona it gets too hot outside to stay near the grill. 

In this recipe

There are only 3 ingredients for recipe, the chicken your favorite barbecue sauce and my Barbecue Rib Rub

Barbecue rib rub: this rub has a combination of paprika, brown sugar, garlic, onion, oregano, pepper and cinnamon. You can also use other rubs that will compliment your style of barbecue. 

Barbecue sauce: since this sauce will be brushed on the chicken while it is still cooking you will want to be careful with thin sauces. It doesn’t have to be very thick but vinegar based sauces that are on the thin side might not leave a strong flavor once it is done. 

Ingredients for whole barbecue chicken on a wooden cutting board
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Rinsing vs Patting Dry

One of the things that you don’t need to do is actually rinse chicken before you cook it. This can run the risk of splashing germs onto other surfaces. However I would suggest working with the chicken in the sink. If the chicken comes additional parts in the cavity then place them in a freezer bag and save them for a nice broth. With that being said you will want to make sure that you pat the whole chicken dry. This will make it easier to season the chicken well and give you a nice and crispy skin. 

Seasoned chicken on the grill
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Whole chicken covered in barbecue sauce
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Season it well

One of the things that you will want to make sure you do is cover the entire chicken with the rub. You will want to get the underside of the chicken as well. Although this part isn’t visible as your break down the chicken later you will find the skin that the dark meat portions will be missing some of that wonderful flavor on about a third of the piece. 

Whole chicken with carving utensils
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Cooking barbecue chicken with fire

The main thing you want to make sure or is that you use indirect heat for the chicken. This will help keep the chicken from burning as the fat drips from it. More importantly it ensures that the whole chicken is roughly getting the same amount of heat, You will still want to rotate the chicken to turn the side facing the heat away about halfway through cooking. Also the indirect heat will keep the sauce from burning since many have sugar, molasses, and tomatoes in them. 

Close up of a barbecue chicken
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Looking for other chicken recipes?

whole barbecue chicken on a wooden cutting board
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Whole Barbecue Chicken

A seasoned grilled whole chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 350 kcal


  • Pastry brush
  • Tongs



  • Heat the grill to 400°F, 200°C, or gas mark 6 if your grill has a thermometer on the lid.
  • Pat dry the chicken removing any parts that might be in cavity. Generously season the entire outside of the chicken.
  • Place on indirect heat on the grill and cover. Rotate the chicken so the side facing the heat is turned away at 50 minute mark. Cook for about an hour and 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F or 74°C. About 10 minutes before the chicken is ready brush the barbecue all over the chicken.
  • Once the chicken has been removed from the grill brush another layer of barbecue sauce on the chicken. Slice and serve.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 350kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 26gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 522mgPotassium: 350mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 744IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 39mgIron: 2mg
Nutrition Disclaimer*
Keyword Barbeque, Chicken, Grill
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
whole barbecue chicken pinterest pin
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12 thoughts on “Whole Barbecue Chicken”

  1. This Barbecue Chicken looks absolutely mouthwatering! It’s a true classic that never fails to impress at any backyard gathering or cookout. I can’t wait to fire up my grill and try this out!

  2. Katie Crenshaw

    5 stars
    The chicken turned out tender, juicy, and delicious! I definitely will cook it whole like this again.

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely stunning recipe,.. love this for a summer gathering. The photos were helpful! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    This chicken was perfectly cooked and super juicy! Loved that I didn’t have to sit there at the grill in the hot sun the whole time. Great recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    This looks and sounds absolutely delicious! What a wonderful recipe for the season..that glaze is just perfection!

  6. 5 stars
    I prepared this juicy and flavorful chicken, and it was a hit at our barbecue party. The smoky and tangy barbecue sauce infused the chicken with mouthwatering goodness. The skin was crispy, and the meat was tender and succulent. Everyone loved it

  7. 5 stars
    We love whole chickens and this bbq version was fantastic! I love how simple yet delicious it was. It made plenty for leftovers too. Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    BBQ chicken really is the unsung hero of grilling season. I love your recipe because the chicken wasn’t dry like most of the recipes I see on the internet. I can’t wait to make this again.

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