Not only is it incredibly easy to make this Traeger Roast Chicken, but it always comes out perfectly juicy with crispy skin and a delicious hint of smokey flavour. Here, I serve it with roasted sweet potatoes and onions, and a super easy and delicious Roasted Onion Salsa Verde.
This recipe is actually nearly identical to my Emergency Roast Chicken. If you’ve ever made it, you know just how easy, delicious and fool-proof it is. The major difference is that I decided to roast the chicken on my Traeger grill instead of in the oven. I also used dried rosemary instead of fresh because I’m still in a two week self-quarantine after returning home from Miami and haven’t had a chance to go to the store.
As with my Emergency Roast Chicken, I like to spatchcock the bird. Spatchcocking a chicken usually involves cutting alongside both sides of the backbone and removing it. This allows you to butterfly and flatten the chicken so that it cooks more evenly and quicker, and also exposes more of the skin, which gets nice and crispy. I actually prefer to only cut along one side of the back bone. You get all the same benefits as you would if you removed the entire backbone, but you also get to nibble at the roasted backbone (delicious).
As far as seasonings go, I keep this Traeger Roast Chicken very simple with nothing more than some avocado oil, salt, pepper and a woody herb, such as rosemary or thyme. I think it’s always important to source the highest quality chicken possible, but it’s especially true in this recipe because there aren’t many ingredients for the chicken to hide behind. Given the current state of affairs, however, I would open up that statement to say: use whatever you have or can find.
How to Make Traeger Roast Chicken
When it comes to cooking chicken on a Traeger, you have a couple of options. You can go low-and-slow to develop a deep, smokey flavour. Or you can go hot-and-fast, which will yield crispier skin but won’t impart as much smokey flavour.
Traegers work very similar to a convection oven in that they circulate hot air through indirect heat. The difference is that they use electricity to burn all-natural, food-grade wood pellets. The lower the heat on a Traeger, the slower the wood pellets burn, which creates more smoke. The higher the heat, the faster the wood pellets burn, which creates less smoke.
When it comes to cooking food on a Traeger, the difference in heat not only controls how fast or slow your food cooks, but it also impacts how your food will taste.
For more of a smokey flavour, you can start by roasting chicken at a low temperature (between 225F and 275F) and then raising the heat to anywhere between 375F to 425F to finish. This is what I do in my Traeger Smoked Chicken recipe and the results are incredible.
In this recipe, however, I went with the other approach, which is to roast the chicken as I would in an oven, at 425F the entire time. The flavour of the chicken isn’t as smokey, but it’s still outstanding with a gentle kiss of smoke flavour. The meat is incredibly juicy and the skin gets nice and crispy. It’s also much quicker to cook the chicken hot-and-fast, which is sometimes necessary when you need to get dinner on the table as fast as possible. A 3 to 3.5-pound chicken only takes between 40 and 45 minutes and it doesn’t require any attention while it’s on the grill so you can do other things.
Of course, if you don’t have a Traeger, you can just make my Emergency Roast Chicken.
Roasted Onion Salsa Verde
One of my favourite condiments for roast chicken is a salsa verde. Here, I decided to try something different and use some of the onion that I roasted on my Traeger along with the chicken. As the onion roasts in its foil packet, it gets incredibly sweet and soft. Normally, I just eat it as a side vegetable, but for whatever reason I decided to chop some up and add it to my salsa verde. I was not disappointed that I did. It added a really interesting and subtle sweetness to the herby sauce that paired nicely with the chicken.
I even slathered a bit of the roasted onion salsa verde over some of the plain roasted onion. It was very meta.
Try this Traeger Roast Chicken with some Roasted Onion Salsa Verde for an incredibly easy and delicious weeknight dinner!
- 3-3.5 pound whole chicken half-spatchcocked
- Avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary or 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 medium red onions
- ½ grilled red onion see above, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 jalapeño – finely chopped remove seeds for less spicy
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp organic honey or maple syrup omit for Whole30
- Kosher salt and freshly-cracked black pepper to taste
- Preheat Traeger grill to 425F.
- Pat chicken very dry, drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and massage to coat. Liberally season the entire bird with salt, pepper and rosemary. Set aside.
- Place whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes on a small sheet of parchment paper. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon oil and season with a small pinch of salt. Wrap tightly to seal then wrap a second time in a small sheet of tin foil. Repeat with remaining sweet potatoes and onions.
- Place sweet potatoes and onions towards the very back of the grill where it gets hottest. Lay chicken, breast-side up, in the center of the grill. Close the lid and cook until the thickest part of the thigh registers between 180F and 185F and the thickest part of the breast registers 165F, between 40-45 minutes. Cook the sweet potatoes and onions until they can easily be pierced with a fork, also between 40-45 minutes.
- Transfer grilled chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Unwrap the vegetables, setting half an onion aside for the salsa verde, and let the chicken rest 10 minutes before carving and serving with salsa verde.
- Finely chop the grilled onion and add it to a mixing bowl along with the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir everything to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as desired. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Store remaining salsa in a mason jar for up to 7 days.