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Portuguese Style Chicken

Portuguese Style Chicken Recipe

A lot of people see whole chicken in an ingredients list and immediately feel intimidated. We’re not sure what the reason for this is, but we want to reassure you that whole chicken is not that difficult to cook, especially when you prepare it in the butterfly style, also known as spatchcocking, indicated in the below recipe. This technique will help cook the chicken more evenly and result in extra crispy skin. Even better is that whole chicken is usually the most affordable option for buying this protein, and it produces enough food to give lunch leftovers for days. We really like this particular recipe – instead of baking your chicken in the oven (which would take hours), you’ll be removing the backbone, flattening, and grilling outside. This prep variation makes this a perfect dish for hot nights on the deck, especially when you don’t want to wait too long for your meal.

Traditionally Portuguese chicken is prepared with a piri piri sauce, here we took liberty at making our own version using chili flakes. While this recipe might seem a bit involved, there are notably few ingredients used. This means you’ll need to be extra careful to use the freshest spices you can find to ensure the flavors in this dish turn out to their fullest potential. Dried spices can be a bit tricky to judge for quality – make sure you’re storing them well, cycling old spices out as they age, and spending a bit more on higher quality options.

To complete this meal, consider adding a simple grilled vegetable that you can throw on the grill with your chicken as it cooks. We really like the grilled sweet potatoes or this grilled zucchini and leeks dish for a complementary pairing.

Portuguese Style Chicken Recipe

Serves: 4Prep: 15 min + 4hCook: 1 h

Protein: 47g / %

Carbs: 6g / %

Fat: 30g / %

Values are per portion. These are for information only & are not meant to be exact calculations.


  • 1 whole chicken;
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced;
  • 2 tbsp. dried oregano;
  • 2 tbsp. paprika;
  • 1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes;
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice;
  • 1/4 cup olive oil;
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper;

Chicken Preparation


  1. Place the chicken, breast-side down, on a cutting board. Cut along both sides of the backbone from end to end with kitchen shears and remove the backbone.
  2. Flip the chicken breast-side up, and open like a book. Press firmly on the breasts with your palm to flatten.
  3. Use a knife to make several cuts into the chicken meat.
  4. In a bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, paprika, chili flakes, lemon juice, and olive oil; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place the chicken in a marinating container and pour the spice mixture over the chicken.
  6. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 12 hours.
  7. Heat grill to medium heat.
  8. Grill chicken, breast side down, 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Flip the chicken and cook an additional 30 to 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  10. Let the chicken rest about 5 minutes before carving.