Butterflied Grilled Chicken with a Chile-Lime Rub

Butterflied Grilled Chicken with a Chile-Lime Rub

12 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, March/April 2010

A quick and efficient way to cook a whole bird on the grill is to butterfly, or "spatchcock" it. 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.

Ingredients 6 servings

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  • 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
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 3½- to 4-pound chicken


  • Active

  • Ready In

  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.
  • 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.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 212 calories; 9 g fat(2 g sat); 2 g fiber; 4 g carbohydrates; 28 g protein; 12 mcg folate; 88 mg cholesterol; 0 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1,274 IU vitamin A; 4 mg vitamin C; 42 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 499 mg sodium; 425 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (25% daily value)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 fat

Reviews 12

August 12, 2014
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By: EatingWell User
Easy and really flavorful Made this because it looked easy and I needed a chicken dish that would cover 2 meals (for 2 of us). It was fantastic!. It is going in our regular rotation for the summer. Exceptionally juicy (not sure if it was the rub or the grilling method, but it worked). Used 1.5 tblsplcalifornia chile powder (that's all I had) and .5 tblsp chipotle chile powder and 1 tblsp sweet paprika. Next time I will definiely use all chile powder, as a bit spicier would have made it even better.
July 01, 2013
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By: EatingWell User
Amazing rub I made this rub for boneless, skinless breasts, and it was incredible. I added Hornitos tequila to the marinade for a little extra kick. I will definitely make this again!
July 04, 2011
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By: ib_ebenezer
Great recipe Made this for the first time for a July 4th cookout. I doubled the recipe, and used mostly sweet paprika to make it more palatable for kids. I used the rub on some legs I had gotten, too, and they were the first to go with their beautiful crisp skin. This chicken was out of sight, and I'll definitely do it again. Pros: Impressive presentation, juicy, flavorful Cons: Maybe the time involved?
June 12, 2011
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By: spinale.peter
The Boy Says More! Terrific method for cooking chicken.. I have smoked chicken, fantastic and takes all day. I have grilled chicken, quick, but I seem to dry it out. This method is fantastic! Crisp outside tender and juicy inside. Oh and the rub? The rub had my picky 14 year old saying "You should make this again daddy." That is high praise! As it happened I just received some "Persian spice" a mix of cinnamon, coriander, cardamon and black pepper. So there you go. Wow.. Those flavors with the bite of the chile lime? Wonderfully complex for such a simple rub. I want to try it with the papricka next time. Pros: Easy to cook, resteraunt quality Cons: Errr.. None?
October 06, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
Great chicken! The Zest was mmmm.. Perfect balance of spice absolutley on my eatingwell list!I used no added salt and added extra spice(tsp smoked paparika) parsonsgirl
August 14, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
this is the best grilled chicken recipe I've ever had! I've also used the rub for vegetarians in our house. have made it multiple times
July 01, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
This was super easy and tasty. I will be making this often throughout the summer for sure.
June 23, 2010
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By: chery_rad
This chicken dish was fantastic. I only used 2 T. chili powder, thinking that 3 T. would be too hot. Well, next time I'll follow the recipe as printed. I've added it to my family's favorites.
May 22, 2010
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By: Beth
This is a great way to cook a whole chicken without heating up the house. I love anything that I can prepare ahead of time like this...and the flavors were perfect. I'm making it for the second time tomorrow.
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