Cedar Planked Grilled Whole chicken – succulent, mildly smokey, crispy skin and really flavorful. Delicious summer fare with only 20 minutes hands-on time.
Don’t let the plank method intimidate you. It’s much easier than you might think. I tried a couple of years ago and have used it dozens of times since then for chicken and fish. I love the mild smoky flavor infused by the cedar wood.
The simple marinade adds another layer of flavor. You can skip the marinating if you don’t have time or just marinate the chicken at room temperature for about 45 minutes. But I find that it does enhance the taste, especially with cold leftovers the next day (if you have any).
Bottom line – this grilled whole chicken has a golden crispy skin, it’s moist and flavorful with a light smokiness and it’s a lot less fuss than using the rotisserie.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Use any marinade you like for the chicken.
- Skip the marinade and sprinkle the chicken on all sides with salt, garlic powder, pepper, onion powder before cooking.
- Try a maple plank instead of a cedar plank.
- Spatchcock or flatten the chicken as per our similar recipe Cedar Planked Chicken (pictured below the recipe).
Tips on using cedar planks
- The thinner planks (1/4 inch) only take 10 minutes to soak (instead of 30 minutes for 1/2 inch planks) and you can toss them out after one use so no clean up. They cost approximately $1.50-$1.80 each and you can get them anywhere that sells BBQs (Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Costco, Walmart, etc) and even some grocery stores during the summer. They also only need a few minutes on the direct heat to begin smoking.
- You can add apple juice, white wine or beer to the water for soaking to add a bit more flavor.
- There is no need to turn the food over.
- Keep the BBQ lid closed as much as possible to keep in the smoke.
- Keep a spray bottle or water handy in case the planks catch fire.
- The experts say you can wash the thicker 1/2-3/4 inch planks with water (not soap) and reuse them if they are not too charred. After a couple of uses, though, the smokey flavors diminishes. I get the thinner planks and just toss them after use.
Make your whole meal on the grill
I like to take advantage of using half the grill to cook the chicken and the other half for a side dish. Sides in a grill basket are ideal because you don’t need to lift the lid as often which would affect the cooking temperature of the chicken. I do veggies in a grill basket in the last 10-15 minutes.
Here are a few good grilled side dishes that go well with the chicken.
- grilled charred onions
- grilled cauliflower
- bread salad with charred snap peas
- grilled cabbage slaw
- grilled hasselback sweet potatoes
Make Ahead Grilled Whole Chicken
- You can make the chicken ahead and keep it in a warm oven or covered BBQ for up to an hour. The skin may not be as crispy though. This also makes delicious cold chicken for a picnic the next day.
Other grill plank dishes you might love
- Canadian maple cedar plank salmon
- Cedar plank chicken (spatchcock)
- Smoked chicken thighs recipe (without a smoker)
Cedar Planked Grilled Whole Chicken
- 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2-4 pounds
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoon minced green onions (mostly white part)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoon minced or grated garlic (2 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs (I use 1/2 oregano, 1/2 thyme)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika (regular or smoked)
- MARINATE CHICKEN: Combine all marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Massage to mix well. Sprinkle salt and pepper in cavity of chicken. Place chicken in bag and massage marinade all over chicken including under the breast skin. Seal bag and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or up to a day. Remove chicken from fridge 45-60 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. (If you don't have time, just let chicken marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes.)
- SOAK PLANK for 15 minutes if 1/4 inch thick or 30-45 minutes if 12/-3/4 inch thick. I use a baking tray with sides, filled with water, and lay something heavy on top of plank to keep it from floating.
- HEAT GRILL to medium high, about 400-425F, for 10-15 minutes.
- GRILL CHICKEN: Pat plank with paper towel. Spray lightly with oil. Place chicken, breast side up, on plank and put it directly on hot grill, Close lid and cook for 4 minutes (if 1/4 inch plank) and 6-8 minutes for 1/2-3/4 inch plank. Plank will start charring and begin to give off smoke. Then turn burner under chicken to LOW. Lower other burner(s) to medium so that temperature of BBQ holds as steady as possible at 350-375F. Close lid. Cook undisturbed for about 50-60 minutes depending on size of chicken. Shift plank 180 degrees half way through to help with even cooking. Check temperature of chicken with instant thermometer. Chicken is ready when breast is 155F and thick part of thigh is 165F. Cook longer if needed and check every 5 minutes if close. Temp will rise further when rested. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Cover loosely with foil (don't tuck in all the edges) and let it rest for 15-20 minutes (important!). Cut chicken and serve. Discard plank.