Grilled Lemon Chicken with Rosemary

I love any recipe in the summer that keeps the heat outside and this is a nice change up from regular ol’ BBQed chicken.  I found this gem in a Cooks Illustrated magazine.  This chicken stays moist and has a great flavor.  Plus, left overs sliced up taste great even cold the next day.


  • 1 (3.5-4 lb) whole chicken, giblets discarded
  • 2 wooden skewers
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter


  1.  With chicken breast side down, using kitchen shears, cut through bones on either side of backbone; discard backbone.  Flip chicken over and press on the breastbone to flatten.  Using fingers and shears, peel skin off chicken, leaving skin on wings.  Tuck wings behind back.  Turn legs so drumsticks face inward toward breasts.  Using chef’s knife, cut 1/2 inch deep slits, spaced 1/2 inch apart, in breast and legs.  Insert through thigh of 1 leg, into bottom of breast, and through thigh of second leg.  Insert second skewer, about 1 inch lower, through thigh and drumstick of 1 leg and then through thigh and drumstick of second leg.
  2. Dissolve sugar and 3/4 C salt in 3 quarts cold water in large, wide container.  Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to an hour.
  3. Zest lemons (you should have 2 Tbsp grated zest).  Juice 1 lemon (you should have 3 Tbsp juice) and quarter remaining lemon lengthwise.  Combine oil, 1 1/2 tsp rosemary, 1 tsp mustard, 1/2 tsp pepper, and zest in small bowl; set aside.  Heat butter, 1/2 tsp pepper, remaining 1/2 tsp rosemary, and remaining 1/2 tsp mustard in small sauce pan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and ingredients are combined.  Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice; leave mixture in saucepan.
  4. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels.  With chicken skinned side down, rub 1/2 tsp zest mixture over surface of legs.  Flip chicken over and rub remaining zest mixture evenly over entire surface, making sure to work mixture into slits.
  5. Turn all burners on grill to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.  Leave primary burners on high and turn off other burners.
  6. Clean and oil the cooking grate.  Place chicken, skinned side down, and lemon quarters over hotter side of grill (I skipped grilling the lemons tonight and didn’t miss them).  Cover and cook until chicken and lemon quarters are well browned, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer lemon quarters to bowl and set aside.  Flip chicken over and brush with one-third of butter mixture.  Cover chicken loosely with aluminum foil.  Continue to cook, covered, until chicken is well browned on second side, 8-10 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and slide chicken to cooler side of grill.  Brush with half of remaining butter mixture and re-cover with foil.  Continue to cook, covered, 8-10 minutes longer.  Transfer chicken to carving board, brush with remaining butter mixture, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Carve into pieces and serve passing charred lemon wedges to squeeze over if desired.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s