Moroccan Grilled Chicken

Ahhh…the summer grill. Nothing beats the flame kissed goodness of the barbecue.

So many great meals and inventive ideas can be executed. The grill is not just for steaks and burgers. Make a statement and an entire meal at the same time by grilling a whole chicken.

You may be concerned with the time involved to cook a whole chicken but follow this technique and you will be amazed. It takes minimal effort to prepare and about 45 minutes on the grill.

Let’s get started! Preference is to start marinating the chicken 12-24 hours prior to grilling to really let the flavours meld. First wash your whole chicken and lightly pat dry with a paper towel.

Next you want to ‘flatten’ or ‘butterfly’ the chicken by removing the backbone with a sharp knife or culinary scissors. Cut carefully as you do not want stray small bone partials or to accidentally nick yourself. Once the backbone is removed, place the bird breast side up and press on the leg joint along with the breast bone to flatten the chicken.

The Moroccan chicken spice mixture is easy to combine and rub over the entire bird. Make sure to get underneath and on top of the skin to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed. Place the chicken on a baking sheet to catch any juices and cover with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

After the rub has settled in and you are ready to cook it, place some cured or fresh lemons under the skin. With long metal skewers, crisscross through the upper leg to the opposite breast tucking the wings underneath. This will help keep everything together when you are flipping it during the grilling process.

This is it for prepping! And the results are amazing. As a bonus while the bird is cooking you can prepare the complimentary fig raisin couscous, eggplant chickpea tomato tagine and cilantro sauce. Put it all together and you have a fantastic meal presentation.

Moroccan meal

Moroccan Grilled Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings

Moroccan Grilled Chicken

Warm spices for a Moroccan chicken feast.


  • 1 whole chicken - flattened or butterflied
  • 1 fresh lemon or a couple of diced cured lemon wedged chopped
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine all the spices in a bowl. Rub on the chicken and store in the refrigerator over night or up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the grill to 350-400 degrees. When ready to grill place the lemons under the skin of the chicken. Skewer the chicken crisscross from the upper leg to the opposite breast.
  3. Place the chicken breast up on the main grill section of the barbecue for 10 minutes and cook with the cover closed. Then flip it breast down on the top section of the grill for the remaining 30-40 minutes or until fully cooked.
  4. Remove from heat and place on cutting board. Remove skewers and let rest under a tinfoil tent for approximately 10-15 minutes. Then carve and serve.


12-24 hours spice melding time on the chicken prior to cooking for best results.

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  • Julia says:

    I bet this taste delicious! I love ALL Moroccan food….well lots of it… Great spices!!!

  • Hilary says:

    I’ve never let dried herbs “rest” on a raw chicken before, but your method intrigues me! I will have to give it a try 🙂

    • Hi Hilary! Please do give it a try. The moisture of the poultry will rehydrate the dry herbs and help bring out more flavour which transfers to the meat. Add the lemons before cooking otherwise the acid will breakdown the flesh.

  • I love those strong flavours. Marinate the chicken and then slide more flavour under the skin. It makes all the difference. I used to spread a cumin butter under the skin and bake it. Now that I’m watching my weight, I don’t do that anymore, but I certainly appreciate how much flavour you can generate under the skin. Really nice post.

    • It’s amazing how much more flavour is added by making sure the rub is under the skin as well as on top. The cumin butter sounds like a fabulous idea! I have made up other herb butters for poultry but not cumin. I shall give that a try. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • Colleen says:

    This rub sounds amazing! Love, love the sounds of that spice combo. And all of the side dishes, especially the fig raisin couscous. Great job!

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