Pesto-Rubbed Butterflied Grilled Chicken

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This is true end-of-summer fare. A batch of pesto from the basil that’s growing gangly in the garden. (Try our zippy Asian Pesto, Basil-Mint Pesto or Spicy Sage and Parsley Pesto.) A spatchcocked (butterflied) chicken cooked (relatively) quickly on the grill, since the days are shorter now. Which is good. I like saying goodbye to a season with a taste of all I love about it — and this grilled chicken recipe has it.

Pesto-Rubbed Butterflied Grilled Chicken


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Pesto-Rubbed Butterflied Grilled Chicken


  1. 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
  2. ½ cup pesto (try our Asian Pesto, Basil-Mint Pesto, or Spicy Sage and Parsley Pesto)
  3. 1 teaspoon kosher salt


Cut out the backbone of the chicken with kitchen sheers and discard (or save to make chicken stock). Pry the chicken open and lay bone down on a cutting board. Give it a few good whacks with the palm of your hand right down the middle to flatten the chicken.

Gently work the tips of your fingers under the skin. Rub half the pesto under the skin onto the flesh. Rub a bit of salt under the skin as well, then sprinkle the rest on the outside. Cover loosely and keep in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Preheat grill to high (450 F), with zones for direct and indirect heat.

When fire is ready, place chicken skin side down on indirect heat. Rotate chicken clockwise 90 degrees after 15 minutes. Then flip and brush with remaining pesto. Grill another 10-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and skin is crisp.


Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus 2 hours to 2 days marinating time)

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