BBQ whole chicken marinated in lemon and olive oil and seasoned with za’atar recipe

Once upon a time I was a vegetarian. After co-habiting with the aforementioned carnivore, I have somewhat reversed that life choice (with a few caveats). Firstly, if I’m going to eat meat I’d prefer to buy it locally, from the farmer’s market or a local veg box scheme. Secondly, I’d like it organic or at the very least free-range. Thirdly, I’d like to try and eat as much of the animal as possible – waste not.

So – vegetarian guilt aside – this weekend we BBQed a whole, organic chicken. It was tasty good.

BBQ season is well and truly upon us again, we have had three BBQs in as many weeks and the chances of this slowing look slim to none.

If you too want to make this BBQed chicken, you can do so by using the following method.


  • One large whole chicken or equvilent chicken pieces
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Juice of an orange
  • Juice of a lime plus a squeeze extra
  • Liberal helpings of salt and pepper
  • Small onion/challot grated
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, grated
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil

Marinade method:

      1. Combine all the above ingredients.
      2. Find a lock-and-lock container or sizeable ziplock bag that will fit your chicken.
      3. Spatchcock your chicken or put your chicken pieces to one side.

Spatchcocked and ready to rock.

4. Marinade all chicken in the bag or Tupperware, ensuring the whole thing is well covered, for 24 hours if possible but for a minimum of 4 hours.

Other ingredients:

        • 3 tsps of za’atar

Steenbergs is the herb supplier of choice.

        • Cup of cherry wood smoking chips

We’re PRO-Q-ers. No doubt.


Loading up the wood chip gadget thingie.


        • Preheat BBQ.
        • Soak the cherry wood smoking chips, then add to the BBQ – we use a bespoke wood chip box that sits on the grill and heats through.

Wood chip gadget thingie.

        • Heat the BBQ through, until the wood chips are starting to smoke.
        • Remove chicken from marinade (but save the juice), lay out flat and coat with za’atar and rub in until liberally coated.

Prepping the chicken for massage of spice.


Leftover marinade for basting.


Do the chicken rub.

      • Put chicken on BBQ, on the cooler half (if using gas, turn down one half of the grill, if coal move coals to one side – you basically want to cook over indirect heat).
      • Occasionally baste chicken while it’s BBQing, turning regularly.
      • Continue until cooked through – check in thickest part for juices to run clear.

We served with rocket, BBQed asparagus and BBQed red romano peppers. It was awesome.


Spatchcock chicken and wood chips in situ


It’s nearly done!


The finished meal complete with required BBQ char.

You can see a Vine of our BBQ action here.