Montana Grills

Recipes - Poultry - Butterflied Garlic and Rosemary Chicken


  • 2 whole fryer chickens
  • 8 cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • finely chopped lemon zest
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fine sea salt
  • Hickory Smoking Chips soaked in water for about 5 minutes


Combine olive oil, garlic, rosemary and lemon zest in a small bowl. Cover, and let the olive oil infuse with flavor for 4 to 6 hours at room temperature. About 30 to 45 minutes before cooking, remove and discard everything from the body cavity of the chickens, including the necks, gizzards and anything else left there by the butcher. Rinse the chickens with running water and dry with paper towels.

To butterfly the chickens, use poultry shears or kitchen shears to remove the backbones. Cut down each side of the backbone and then discard. Open each chicken and place it on the cutting board or prep surface with the breast-side up. Crack the breastbone by pressing down hard with the heel of your hand in the center of the breast. Pour about ⅔ cup of the garlic and rosemary-infused olive oil off into a separate container, leaving most or all of the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest behind. Reserve the ⅓ cup of olive oil and seasoning for basting on the grill.

Using the ⅔ cup of olive oil, brush the chickens inside and out. Sprinkle generously with fine sea salt and rub in. Let the chickens rise just to room temperature before grilling. Preheat the grill to between 500° F and 600° F with an indirect cooking zone large enough for the butterflied chickens, and start the Hickory Smoking Chips for your preferred method of adding smoke to your grilling session. If your grill is not large enough, you will need to cook one chicken at a time.

If the chickens are not browning evenly, rotate or rearrange as needed on the cooking surface within the indirect zone. Do not flip the chickens over. They should cook skin-side-up for the entire time, about 35 to 50 minutes total. Measure the temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer or cut into the thigh joint to test. Remove the chicken from the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 170° F - 180° F. Your chicken should continue to rise in temperature after it is removed from the grill.

Place the butterflied chickens in the indirect cooking zone with the skin-side-up. Cook for 15 minutes with the grill hood closed. Brush the chickens liberally with the reserved olive oil mixture. Close the grill hood and continue cooking for another 20 to 30 minutes, checking on the chickens every 10 minutes to see if they are browning evenly.

If the chicken has been on the grill for 40 minutes, and the skin is not yet browning, then your cooking session will likely run longer than 45 minutes. You can also aid in browning by placing the chicken skin-side-down for short periods (2 minutes) over direct heat. Quarter the chicken by cutting through the hip joint above each thigh at an angle and then cutting in half along the breast bone. Serve the chicken quarters on a platter garnished with rosemary sprigs and some long curls of lemon zest.