Spatchcock Polynesian Chicken
Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, it’s time for Joey and me to start going through all the grilling recipes he sent me over the winter.

The first one up is this week’s recipe, which features a Polynesian-inspired sauce over a spatchcock chicken.

If you’re not familiar with spatchcocking, it’s a technique for cooking whole chicken that lets you flatten the bird out, and it cooks more evenly and quicker. It feels a little weird to do the first time—like you’re performing some sort of surgery—but after you cook a chicken that way the first time, you’ll be sold.

The recipe we tried comes from the Sanderson Farms company page and was created as a collaboration with a couple influencers, “The Grill Dads.” You can find the original recipe and their video at I added extra garlic in my version.

Spatchcock Polynesian Chicken

Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.
Course: Main Course
Keyword: barrel smoker, brown sugar, ceramic grill, chicken, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, garlic powder, grill, ground ginger, honey, lemon juice, lime juice, pellet smoker, Polynesian, smoked meat, smoker, soy sauce, spatchcock, whole chicken


Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 whole frying chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated (or ginger paste)
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes


  • To prepare the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels and then flip it to breast side down on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, starting from the tail side of the chicken, carefully cut out the backbone by cutting closely on both sides of it. Set the backbone aside for another use or discard it.
  • Flip the chicken back over, and using the heels of your hands, press down in the middle of the chicken, right on the breast bone, to make it flatten out. (You should hear a little pop.)
  • Place the chicken onto a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar, garlic powder and ground ginger.
  • Rub the spice mixture over the whole bird, making sure to get in crevices and even getting some under the skin, if you can. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator over night or for at least eight hours. (We want the skin to dry out a bit so it will crisp up.)
  • The sauce can be made now or while you wait for the chicken to cook the next day.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring the mixture to a low boil. Let it continue to boil for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • To cook the chicken, preheat your grill, smoker or oven to about 350 degrees. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and then place it, breast side up, directly on the grate of your grill or smoker or on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees.
  • Using a basting brush, coat the exterior of the chicken in the sauce, and continue to cook the chicken for about 15 more minutes, basting every 5 minutes, until the meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
  • Pull the chicken from the oven, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. If you have leftover sauce, use that for serving, and serve the chicken along with the sides of your choice.

This was slightly sweet and had a nice, crispy skin on it from our smoker. Joey and I agreed that it would have been delicious out of the oven, too, though, so if you’re not much for outdoor cooking, definitely try it inside.

We ate our chicken with some brown rice, and it was really good. We also had plenty of leftovers, which was nice.

And now that it’s officially grilling season, I’ll have to go digging back through my summer recipes to see what other experiments I can sweet talk Joey into.

This piece first appeared in print on April 18, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.