Grilled whole chicken with mustard-date barbecue sauce

Barbecued Chicken

Grilled chicken with mustard-date barbecue sauce and fried sage leaf garnish, July 2013

Nothing says summer like barbecued chicken on the grill! Here are instructions for grilling the whole bird. Grilling a whole chicken takes about the same amount of time or less than in the oven, and without heating up the house.

A sweet and flavorful barbecue sauce is wonderful on grilled chicken, but prepared sauces and recipes often contain sugar. Here’s an alternative sauce that’s mild but tangy and sweetened with dates. Thyme sprinkled or rubbed on the chicken as well as used in the sauce is delicious with the mustard and balsamic vinegar flavors in the sauce.

To make the sage leaf garnish, place fresh leaves in hot oil for 2 to 3 seconds. Remove gently and drain on paper towels.

Barbecued Whole Chicken on the Grill
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup mustard-date barbecue sauce (recipe below)
  1. Using a high setting, preheat two or three burners on a gas grill, or prepare charcoal grill for indirect grilling (coals only on one side of the grill).
  2. Remove giblets and neck from inside of chicken. Brush or rub chicken inside and out with olive oil. Sprinkle or rub inside and out with thyme and salt. If desired, tie legs together with string.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place chicken, breast side up, on the oiled grate. On a gas grill, turn off the burner directly under chicken (with a 3-burner grill, use the center grate) and reduce heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place chicken on side opposite the coals. Close cover and allow to roast 40 to 90 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill. Using tongs and a grilling fork, rotate the chicken end-to-end partway through. If charcoal grilling, add a few coals partway through if necessary to keep the grill hot.
  4. Place about 1/3 cup barbecue sauce in a small bowl, and keep the remaining sauce for later use or serving on the side. When chicken is nearly done (see next paragraph for ways to check for doneness) or for about the last 10 minutes of cooking, brush sauce all over the top and sides of chicken. Repeat once or twice, as desired, using up all of the sauce in the small bowl.
  5. Tests for doneness: (1) When an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, away from the bone, reads 170ºF. (2) When juices run clear rather than pinkish. To find out if juices are running clear, using a meat fork, carefully lift the chicken into a rimmed pan or casserole dish. If necessary, tip the chicken to allow juices to run from cavity into pan. (3) When the leg joint is loose. Use a meat fork to stabilize chicken. Grasp the end of a leg with tongs or several layers of paper towel. Move the joint around to test for looseness.
  6. When chicken is done and has cooked for at least 10 minutes with the barbecue sauce, transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve, with remaining barbecue sauce on the side, if desired.
Calories: 452; Fat: 33g; Saturated fat: 9g; Carbohydrates: 0g; Sugar: 1g; Sodium: 771mg; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 34g; Cholesterol: 138mg.

Mustard-Date Barbecue Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
  • 1/4 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Place mustard, vinegar, dates, garlic, salt, and thyme in a blender and blend on highest setting until smooth. Scrape down sides of pitcher 2 or 3 times during processing. Add oil and blend until combined and emulsified.
  2. Place in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use.
Calories: 68; Fat: 7g; Saturated fat: 1g; Carbohydrates: 2g; Sugar: 1g; Sodium: 380mg; Fiber: 0g; Protein: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg.


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5 Responses to “Grilled whole chicken with mustard-date barbecue sauce”

  1. This all looks wonderful! And the mustard date sauce?! Yum. Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it : )

  2. annelies says:

    You had me at Mustard Date Barbecue sauce. That combination of sweet and spicy must work so well together. Yum.

  3. Oooooh! A nightshade-free barbecue sauce. Yay! It looks delicious, too. I’ve printed it off to try.

    • Eileen Beran says:

      Good to see you here, Eileen @ Phoenix Helix!
      Yes, for my husband’s sake to reduce inflammation I limit nightshades to almost zero when cooking for both of us. I go crazy at breakfast for just me though–often I have sauteed chorizo with peppers and onions. 🙂

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