Butterflied Grilled Chicken with a Chile-Lime Rub

A quick and efficient way to cook a whole bird on the grill is to butterfly it. This method is so popular, especially in Southern California, that large chains have thrived selling chile-rubbed butterflied chicken to happy patrons. When cooking a whole chicken on the grill, try searing the chicken first over direct heat then finish cooking over indirect heat (as instructed in this recipe). That way you avoid the all too common problem when grilling—chicken burned on the outside and raw in the center. For best flavor, let the chicken marinate in the rub overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with lime wedges and fresh salsa.

Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes (plus 12-24 hours marinating time)
Ease of Preparation: Moderate
Health: Healthy Weight, Low Sodium, Low Sat Fat, Low Carb, Low Calorie, Heart Healthy, Diabetes Appropriate


Butterflied Grilled Chicken with a Chile-Lime Rub
3 tablespoons chile powder , preferably New Mexico chile, or Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano , preferably Mexican
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken


1: Combine chile powder (or paprika) and oil in a small bowl with lime zest and juice, garlic, coriander, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and cinnamon to form a wet paste.

2: Using kitchen shears, cut the chicken down one side of the backbone, through the ribs. Make an identical cut on the opposite side to remove the backbone completely; discard (or reserve it for stock). Place the chicken cut-side down and flatten with the heel of your hand. Generously smear the spice rub under and over the skin and on the interior of the bird. Place in a nonreactive baking dish (see Tip). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.

3: Preheat half the grill to medium-high (or build a medium-high heat fire on one side of a charcoal grill); leave the other half unheated. Have a squirt bottle of water ready by the grill.

4: Leave all the spice rub on the chicken. Place the chicken skin-side down over the heat and grill until the skin begins to color and char marks form, about 5 minutes. (Extinguish any flare-ups with the squirt bottle.) Flip over and grill 5 minutes more. Move the chicken to the unheated side. Close the lid and cook, making sure the chicken is flat against the grate, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

Nutrition: (Per serving (without skin))

Calories – 214
Carbohydrates – 4
Fat – 9
Saturated Fat – 2
Monounsaturated Fat – 5
Protein – 28
Cholesterol – 88
Dietary Fiber – 2
Potassium – 417
Sodium – 422
Nutrition Bonus – Vitamin A (25% daily value).

Kitchen Tip: A nonreactive bowl or pan—stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor.

11 Responses to Butterflied Grilled Chicken with a Chile-Lime Rub

  1. Rescie says:

    Sounds yummy and I’m going to give it a try. However, I was trying for a healthy recipe and I think yours is not quite in that category, delicious as it is, I’m sure. Anything with Calvados, heavy cream and butter, yum.

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