The Meatwave

Garlic & Herb Rotisserie Chicken

Garlic & Herb Rotisserie Chicken View Recipe

I've seen a theme is forming in my recipes over the past few months, and that's a return to the old days. I seem to be picking up a lot of things I was super into earlier on in my recipe development years, but have more-or-less let fall to the wayside in recent times, like meat and veggie rolls and now rotisserie chicken. In general, I haven't been utilizing my rotisserie much at all, and that's a shame because it can be superior way to cook many things—nothing else is quite like that constantly basting action which heightens flavor in pronounced ways. This is the process that can render a ho hum chicken into something of true glory, and I do contend some of the best birds I've had in my life have been cooked on the spit. That held even more true with this garlic and herb rotisserie chicken, which had all that excellent chicken flavor plus added bonuses.

Garlic-Herb Rotisserie Chicken

Utilizing compound butters is also something not seen in my recent recipes, so it seemed like a good idea to pair it up with a return to the rotisserie as well. There's nothing revolutionary in the butter I put together here and I kept things simple with a mixture of herbs and garlic to deliver on the two primary promises of this recipe, then also added in lemon zest, black pepper, and salt.

Garlic-Herb Rotisserie Chicken

After whipping up the butter, carefully slid my finger between the skin and meat of the chicken in multiple points to create areas to spread the butter in. I applied most of the compound butter underneath the skin, and then what was leftover, I tried spreading over the surface, which worked well enough on one bird, but failed on a second. This isn't something I do all that often anymore as I find when I want something to adhere to the exterior of poultry, mayonnaise is more a effective medium for doing so than butter since it sticks and spreads more reliably.

Garlic-Herb Rotisserie Chicken

To cook the birds, I started a three-zone fire where a full chimney of lit charcoal was spread into two equal piles of coals on either side of the charcoal grate. This created a medium-hot fire with no direct heat right underneath the chicken itself. I used to place a foil pan between the coals to catch the rendering fat to help keep things clean, but with an aging grill and the fat never translating into that much of a mess, I've dropped using the pan and creating unnecessary waste.

Garlic-Herb Rotisserie Chicken

While cooking, I occasionally basted the chicken in with a butter and lemon mixture, and once the exterior started to develop a medium-brown hue, I began to monitor the internal temperature in the breast and thighs. I currently shoot for an internal temperature between 145-150°F in the thickest part of the breast. While that's shy of the FDA recommended standard, allowing a ten minute rest before consuming provides enough time for destruction of the harmful bacteria that die almost instantaneously at 165°F, which how that federally recommended number was chosen. Cooking to lower temperature and the resting longer delivers on the safety concerns as well as outputs consistently juicier meat, so it's how I've been cooking my chicken for years now.

Garlic-Herb Rotisserie Chicken

Getting back to cooking methods and ideas I've been ignoring for a long time now has reminded me why I was so into them previously, and this chicken had such a deep and amazing flavor that I was left kicking myself for not making rotisserie birds more regularly. That rendering chicken fat, which becomes a self baste, left the skin with an immense flavor whose intensity was heightened but the herb and garlic butter. When the skin is this good, I often divorce it from the meat and leave it until the end so it will be my last bite, but that meat really held its own in this recipe too. Again, there's a lot to thank for the butter here for the extra richness that made it also a joy to eat. Now that I got a rotisserie bird out of the way, I feel like the summer of 2023 is going to center my rotisserie more than usual for all different types of meats to really bring this important cooking tool back into the fold.

Print Recipe

Garlic & Herb Rotisserie Chicken

  • Yield 2-4 servings
  • Prep 10 Minutes
  • Inactive 10 Minutes
  • Cook 45 Minutes
  • Total 1 Hour 5 Minutes


  • For the Chicken
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 large whole chicken
  • For the Baste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. To make the chicken: In a small bowl, mix together butter, garlic, black pepper, sage, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, and salt.
  2. sing your fingers, carefully separate skin from each side of the breast and thighs and spread about 1 tablespoon of the herb butter under each area. Rub remaining butter all over exterior of skin and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
  3. To make the baste: In a small bowl, mix together melted butter and lemon juice.
  4. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on either side of the charcoal grate. Place spit on rotisserie and turn on, cover grill, and cook at medium-high heat for 15 minutes. Brush baste all over chicken, cover, and continue to cook until skin has browned and chicken registers 150°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast, about 30 minutes, basting chicken 1 or 2 more times during this period as desired. Remove chicken from grill and let rest for 10 minutes. Remove spit, carve, and serve immediately.

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