Smoky Grilled Chicken with Mojo

Smoky Grilled Chicken with Mojo

Recipe by Curtis Stone

"My mom grew up in the Australian countryside, where they kept animals for food. Her mom, Gwen, cooked meat over an open fire, which is why I cook my chicken on the grill. The garlicky, citrusy mojo sauce, however, is inspired by a recent trip I took to Cuba. Gwenny wouldn’t even know what it is!”

Spatchcocking (aka butterflying) the chicken helps it cook evenly. Curtis uses Pasturebird chickens, a Southern California brand of free-range birds; opt for an organic, free-range bird for the best-tasting meal.

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 6Servings


  • 2 whole chickens (about 3 1/2 lbs. each)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tsp. lime zest plus 3 tbsp. juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 Fresno chile, finely chopped


1. To spatchcock the chickens, place one chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board. With kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbone; discard the backbone. Flip, breast side up, on the cutting board. Place your palms over the breast; press down to crack the breastbone and flatten the chicken. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

2. Preheat a covered gas grill to medium, adjusting the heat to maintain a temperature between 350° and 375°. Wrap 1 cup applewood or mesquite-wood chips in the center of a sheet of heavy-duty foil and poke three holes in the pouch to allow smoke to escape. Just before grilling the chicken, turn off  the burners on one half of the grill (for three-zone grills, turn two zones off ) and keep the other burners on medium heat. Place the foil pouch under the grate, directly over the lit burners. For charcoal grills, light the charcoal. When the coals turn gray, just before grilling the chicken, push all the hot coals to one side of the grill and leave the other half empty. Sprinkle the wood chips over the hot coals.

3. Pat the chickens dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper. Place chickens, skin side up, on the unlit part of the grill. Cover the grill and cook until the chickens begin to brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 130°, 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your grill. Continue to adjust gas levels if using a gas grill, or adjust vents and add more charcoal as needed if using a charcoal grill, to maintain a temperature between 350° and 375°.

4. Flip the chickens and move to the hot side of grill. Continue to cook, rotating and flipping the chickens as needed to ensure even browning, until the skin is crispy and golden brown, grill marks form and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°, about 15 minutes more. Transfer the chickens to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low until warm (about 100°), 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Stir in the cilantro, lime zest and juice, scallions and chile; season the mojo sauce.

6. Carve the chickens and serve with the mojo sauce.