BBQ Roast Chicken Recipe

BBQ roast chicken

  • serves 4
  • Easy

Learn how to cook a perfectly seasoned and juicy chicken on the barbecue and get the most of your roast chicken with all the tricks of the trade from cookery writer Adam Bush


*This recipe is gluten-free according to industry standards

olive’s cookery writer Adam says…”Anyone can chuck some chicken thighs and drumsticks on the BBQ and get reasonable results – but here’s how to cook the whole chicken perfectly, from juicy breast meat to super-crispy skin.”

Perfect your barbecuing technique with these useful tips and tricks…

Indirect/direct heat

Banking the coals up on one side or having the gas burners lit on one side creates a range of heat options.  You will then have better control over what you’re cooking, as you can move things towards/away from the high heat of the coals to get perfectly cooked meat.

Keep the BBQ lid shut

Most modern BBQs have thermometers built into the lid – so it doubles as an oven when the lid is shut. With the lid down you’re building the heat needed to cook the chicken all the way through.


After the ferocious heat of the BBQ, resting the chicken helps redistribute the juices inside the flesh. Factor in at least 15 minutes before serving.


Covering the meat in a flavoured salt prior to cooking draws out moisture, making crispier skin, plus the salt and aromatics permeating the meat means perfectly seasoned chicken.

Cooking on the bones

Bones conduct the heat and then push it through the bird – they also stop the meat drying out. The breast lacks fat so cooking it with the underside of the breastbone facing the coals cooks the meat slowly and evenly. Then, just flip over to crisp the skin.

Separate the legs

Chicken has two types of meat – white and dark – which need different cooking times to get them right. dark meat has more flavour but takes longer to cook, while white will quickly become dry if overcooked.

Putting butter under the skin will trap it against the meat and baste it during cooking – this helps to keep the meat juicy

How to joint a chicken



  • whole chicken 1.5kg


  • unsalted butter 100g, softened
  • garlic 2 cloves, crushed
  • thyme a few sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
  • lemon 1, zested and ½ juiced


  • sea salt flakes 1 tbsp
  • soft light brown sugar 1 tsp
  • black peppercorns crushed to make ¼ tsp
  • mustard powder 1 tsp
  • garlic granules ½ tsp
  • thyme a few sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped


  • corn on the cob
  • coleslaw
  • potato salad
  • green salad


  • Step 1

    Remove the legs from the 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. (For a tutorial on how to joint a chicken, click here.) Ease your hand under the skin on the breasts, being careful not to pierce the skin, so that you have a large pocket.

  • Step 2

    Mix together the soft butter, garlic, thyme and lemon zest and juice with a little seasoning. Push the butter underneath the skin of the breast, so it’s in an even layer.

  • Step 3

    Mix together all of the rub ingredients and sprinkle it over the chicken breasts and legs.

  • Step 4

    Cover and chill for 2-4 hours. Remove from the fridge 1 hour before cooking.

  • Step 5

    Heat the barbecue to medium (around 220C), with either the coals banked up on one side or one side of the gas burners turned off (see right). Put the chicken legs and the chicken crown (with the underside of the breast bone facing down and with the thickest part facing the coals) over the edge of the coals. 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.

  • Step 6

    Now put the chicken breast and legs, skin-side down directly over the coals and cook for 2-3 minutes until the skin is really crisp, moving everything now and again.

  • Step 7

    Rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes, then squeeze over the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon, carve and serve.

To cook in an oven, heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Cook the legs on a baking tray for 10 minutes, then put the crown in to roast alongside for 50 minutes. Rest, covered with foil, for 15 minutes.

Discover more of our best chicken recipes here...

Chicken Fajitas served in a blue enamel dish with onions and peppers. Wraps, cheese, soured cream and guacamole surrounding the main dish

Nutritional Information

  • Kcals 555
  • Fat 42.7g
  • Saturates 20.5g
  • Carbs 1.8g
  • Sugars 1.2g
  • Fibre 0.3g
  • Protein 40.6g
  • Salt 4g