Quick And Easy BBQ Half Chicken Recipe

Barbecue chicken on the grill is a summer must. But barbecue chicken tastes just as good in the winter. Plus, like many grilled meals, prep and cleanup are quick and easy. Quite often you'll see people grilling chicken in pieces, such as wings, legs, breasts, and thighs. This recipe, however, calls for half of a chicken — made up of one thigh, one breast, one leg, and one wing — which not only looks nice but also helps make an extremely delicious chicken recipe even quicker and easier from beginning to end.

This half chicken recipe from recipe creator Angela Latimer of Bake it With Love has a short prep and an hour cook time for a sumptuous barbecue meal, whether you use charcoal or gas. Latimer specializes in quick and delicious recipes and this one is no exception. After a quick prep indoors, you can let it ride on the grill. "A half chicken cooks faster, and is more suited to dinner for two," she says. 

Gather your ingredients

The prep is easy and the cook is a breeze for this barbecue chicken. Just as simple is the collection of ingredients. All you need to get started is half a chicken. Some stores will sell half a chicken pre-wrapped. Others will sell a full chicken that you can cut in half, though you'll want some level of butcher skills for that. You also might be able to request it from your store's butcher. 

Then pull together the spices. Ideally you'll have some if not all of these at home, since none are exotic. A little bit of paprika, a little bit of salt, a little bit of ground pepper, a little bit of garlic powder, and a little bit of onion powder. 

Finally, you'll need a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Here's where personal preference plays a huge part, and since you only need ¼ cup, you would be fine if you had just a portion of a bottle left in your fridge.

Rub in the seasoning

Begin your prep by rinsing the half chicken. Next pat it dry using paper towels. For best results, always bring your chicken to room temperature before cooking (it needs at least 30 minutes out of the refrigerator). If it's frozen, defrost it in the fridge first. 

Once the chicken half is clean and dry, mix the paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a medium bowl. Then add the seasoning to the chicken by massaging the blend over every surface of the half chicken.

Prepare the grill

Set your grill up, warming it at high heat (about 500 F) for five to 10 minutes. Grill masters have long used charcoal, and the gas-versus-charcoal debate has been going on for a long time. So we'll start off with directions for using a charcoal grill, since barbecue purists usually prefer charcoal. First, make sure that your briquettes are set to the sides for cooking with indirect heat. You can either light the briquettes and, once hot, place them under the grill, or just pile them up and light them. The chicken should be placed on the grill between the piles, not above them.

If you're using a gas grill, heat it up to the above temperatures, but turn the center burners off. That will make sure you cook your half bird over indirect heat with a gas grill. You can also reduce the temperature to medium heat (between 350 F and 400 F) before you place the chicken onto the center of the grill.

Grill the chicken

Place the seasoned chicken onto the heated grill with the skin side facing up. Close the grill and cook for 25 minutes. After the first 25 minutes, flip the chicken and continue cooking with the skin side down for an additional 25 minutes. Again, the chicken should be between the two piles or two burners to keep the heat on the meat down.

Make sure the lid of the grill is closed to ensure the chicken gets properly cooked from the heat as well as the flames. Perfect barbecue should result in a delicious exterior while the meat inside remains juicy and tender. The temperature of the grill and the cooking time combine to ensure this result.

Baste the chicken with barbecue sauce

Baste the underside of the chicken with your barbecue sauce and flip it again to cook for five minutes. At this point, you should place it directly on top of the coals. This helps to cook it evenly all over and finish off the skin. After five minutes, baste the skin side of the chicken and flip it again and cook it for an additional five minutes. 

The half chicken should then be ready to eat after a total 60 minutes: 50 minutes of cooking and another 10 minutes of basting and flipping. To be safe, when the chicken has an internal temperature of 165 F, it's done. A good thermometer is key to successful barbecue. Finding the sweet spot where the chicken is cooked properly but not overdone is the real magic on the grill.

Enjoy your perfectly grilled BBQ half chicken

When your masterpiece is ready, remove it from the grill and loosely tent it with a square of aluminum foil. According to Latimer, "Chicken should be removed to a serving platter or cutting board and rested before serving." The chicken needs to get back down to an edible temperature, but you don't want all the juices to escape. So allow your half chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Then dig in. You can either section it into breast, thigh, leg, and wing or slice the meat off the breast and thigh and separate the wing and leg. 

Or just dig in with your hands, which is another fun part of eating delicious barbecue.

Quick And Easy BBQ Half Chicken Recipe
5 from 46 ratings
With a short prep and an hour cook time, this sumptuous barbecue main is fast and delicious. Try this quick and easy BBQ half chicken recipe tonight!
Prep Time
Cook Time
BBQ half chicken recipe
Total time: 1 hour, 3 minutes
  • 1 half chicken
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce, divided
  1. If you're using a charcoal grill, set it up for indirect grilling and preheat it over high heat (500 F) for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. If you're using a gas grill, preheat the entire grill.
  3. Reduce the temperature to medium heat.
  4. Meanwhile, rinse and pat the half chicken dry using paper towels.
  5. Combine the spices, then massage the seasonings over every surface of the chicken.
  6. For a charcoal grill, place the chicken between the piles of charcoal skin side up.
  7. For a gas grill, turn the center burners off and place the chicken in the center of the grill, skin side up.
  8. Close the grill and cook for 25 minutes, then flip the chicken and continue cooking with the lid closed for an additional 25 minutes.
  9. Baste the top of the chicken with half the barbecue sauce and flip it again so the basted side is closer to the flames to cook for 5 minutes.
  10. Then baste the skin side of the chicken with the remaining barbecue sauce and flip it again to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Check the temperature of the chicken; it should be 165 F when done.
  12. Remove the chicken from the grill, loosely tent it with foil, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing it and serving.
Calories per Serving 1,361
Total Fat 90.8 g
Saturated Fat 25.9 g
Trans Fat 0.6 g
Cholesterol 450.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 16.6 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Total Sugars 12.1 g
Sodium 1,485.6 mg
Protein 112.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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