I know how to tell if a chicken is cooked, but has anyone got any idea of approximately how long it would take to bbq half a chicken in an uncovered barbecue?

To clarify: I'm thinking of cleaving a 1.5kg (maybe slightly smaller) chicken in two, and putting each half on the bbq. The chicken will be between fridge and ambient temperature.

The chicken will possibly be the first thing on the bbq after it's ready to cook on (I use charcoal).

I'm just looking for a ballpark figure.

In addition if anyone has any reasons for why this isn't a good idea then let me know :).

  • Depends on the size. Broiler-fryer? Commented Jul 18, 2010 at 2:46
  • just to clarify, you're talking about grilling chicken, correct? barbecue is slow cooking over low heat. Commented Jul 19, 2010 at 15:37
  • 1
    @dave thieben: Not everyone here is from the US. The rest of the world calls it barbecuing; we call it grilling. Grilling to them is what we call broiling. Fun huh? meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/36/… I've gotten into the habit of clicking on the persons name to see the country listed in their profile.
    – hobodave
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 16:55

3 Answers 3


I usually spatchcock them. Cut out the spine, and lay the entire bird flat, folding the wings and legs over top. Then press down enough to break the breast bone.

Generally, it takes about 20 minutes. 5 minutes of grilling/searing, and then 15 more, bone side down, with the lid closed over low heat. (although I usually leave a burner on high on the other side of the grill.


Way too many variables. If you knew how warm the chicken was before cooking, how hot the cooking area is (and whether that will change during the cooking time), how thick the chicken is, whether you're cooking white or dark meat, and more, you might be able to make a good guess.

I would not recommend cooking just thawed, thick pieces of chicken on an uncovered grill. Too easy to make it hard on the outside and dry on the inside.

I wouldn't estimate lower than 20 minutes, but it will almost certainly be longer.

Edit: Here's a "Good Eats" video about doing chicken on a grill. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAvy4YksJgM&feature=related It's better to go ahead and cut the chicken up the rest of the way for grilling so that each type and size of meat can be on it's own cooking schedule.

  • Thanks, I've attempted to clarify the question a little.
    – dsas
    Commented Jul 18, 2010 at 18:28

Like Tim Gilbert pointed out, even if you follow a recipe perfectly you should expect variations in cooking time. Differences of 30% in baking time are common. When I barbecue whole chicken breasts, I have them out of the fridge for 30 minutes and they take 20 minutes with the burners on medium. I use the finger test, refined over many attempts with a thermometer.

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