Grilled Chicken with Sicilian Salmoriglio 🍋

Summer is full on right now – hot, hot humid days punctuated with heavy downpours, thunder, and lighting. A little grilling in the rain (when there is no lighting of course – safety first!) has been in order and keeps us enjoying my go-to sauce of summer – one that is rather fun to pronounce – tangy, vibrant salmoriglio (sal-more-EEL-ee-yo).

In this post, let’s discuss two things: a “recipe” for this delicious, lemony sauce and somewhat unrelated but important nonetheless, why you should be spatchcocking your chickens.

First, let’s talk about salmoriglio sauce.

Salmoriglio loosely translates to ”light brine” in Italian and is pronounced “salmurigghiu” in the Sicilian dialect, and “salamarigghiu” in Calabria. The main ingredients are lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and oregano. Parsley is also added, mostly in Calabria. Salmoriglio is ridiculously easy to make. The Southern Italians nailed this one. It is like summer sun ☀️ in a bowl that adds a burst of flavor to whatever you put it on – zippy and bright; lemony and garlicky. The beauty of salmoriglio lies in its simplicity – just a handful of ingredients that come together into a vibrant, versatile blend. I prefer to use dried oregano but you could certainly substitute fresh oregano instead. The dried oregano is a bit more subtle to me and if using this for something warm from the grill, it really makes the perfumy flavor of the oregano sing.

I have been making this by the boatload this summer and keeping a few jars in the fridge to drizzle over everything (tomatoes, zucchini, Caprese salads) or to use as a marinade for everything from fish to eggplant to that chicken you see up there in the photo. It also makes for a super dipping sauce for fresh veggies or grilled bread. Whip yourself up a batch – I promise it will whisk you away to a sunny day in Sicily!

Now, let’s discuss spatchcocking chickens, shall we?

Spatchcocking is also known as butterflying. A spatchcocked chicken cooks faster and yields lots of delicious crispy skin. I find it makes grilling a whole chicken so much easier and the meat cooks more evenly, leaving you with tender meat along with that delicious crispy skin.

I have recently noticed our market offering already-spatchcocked chickens for almost double the price of a whole chicken – don’t pay the extra money! This is SUPER simple to do on your own. All you need is a good pair of kitchen shears. Below the recipe, I have included photos of the process – you simply lay the chicken breast side down and cut along each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone (tip! freeze it for the next time you make stock). Flip the chicken back over and using the palm of your hand, press down hard on the breastbone. You will probably hear a crack as it flattens. And that is it- done! Viola! Ready for whatever you plan to do with that chicken…marinate, roast, or grill it!

Bring these two things together and you have one of my favorite dishes to grill in summer – not too fussy, quick on the grill, and fun presentation. And the lemony chicken/crispy skin all-in-one bite is an explosion of summer – enjoy!

Buon estate a tutti! Happy summer, everyone! ☀️ May your days be filled with “sole e cielo azzurro” (sun and blue skies)….tanti baci xx

Michele ❤️

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Grilled Chicken with Sicilian Salmoriglio Sauce |

Grilled Chicken with Sicilian Salmoriglio

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Delicious and fast-grilled spatchcocked chicken with a versatile summery Sicilian salmoriglio sauce made from lemons, garlic, and oregano!



For the salmoriglio sauce and marinade: 

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 whole chicken (3 ½ to 4 pounds)
  • 2 lemons, cut in half crosswise
  • Torn fresh oregano leaves, optional


1. Make the sauce: Whisk the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, oregano, and garlic together in a bowl. (Alternatively, pour everything into a jar with a lid. Place lid on and shake until blended.) Add salt (start with ½ teaspoon) and pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Spatchcock the chicken:  Using kitchen scissors or poultry shears, cut down each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone. (Don’t throw it away – freeze it until the next time you make stock!) Turn over the chicken so it is breast side up.  Using the palm of your hand, press down on the breastbone of the chicken to flatten it out to one thickness.

3. Place the chicken in a zip lock bag and pour in half of the marinade. (Alternatively, place the chicken in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour in half of the marinade.) Reserve the rest for serving. Seal the bag and press the chicken around to evenly distribute the marinade. Place on a small baking sheet and place in the refrigerator. Refrigerate for minimum 1 hour or up to 12 hours if you have the time.

4. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag. Discard the bag and marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

5. Prepare your grill to medium-high heat, 350-400°F. When hot, brush the grates with olive oil. Place the chicken, skin-side down, over direct heat and grill until crispy, about 8 minutes. Place the lemon halves, cut side down, on the grill. Cook until the lemons are heated through and nicely charred on the cut side, 3-5 minutes. Remove the lemons and set aside.

6. Flip the chicken and reduce the heat to low, 250-300°F. Continue cooking until the juices run clear and the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is 165°F, about 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.

7. Slice the chicken and drizzle with the reserved salmoriglio sauce. Sprinkle with the torn fresh oregano leaves. Serve any remaining sauce on the side along with the grilled lemon halves for guests to drizzle over the chicken. Enjoy!

How to Spatchcock a Chicken:

  • Start with a dry chicken. Blot with a few paper towels to minimize spreading any raw chicken fluids.
  • Lay the chicken on a cutting board, breast-side down.
  • Cut along each side of the backbone. Stay close to the backbone. Remove the backbone and save for your next batch of stock.
  • Flip the chicken over, breast side up. Use the palm of your hands and press down on the breastbone to flatten. You may hear a crack.
  • And you are ready to go!

Join the Conversation

  1. Looks fantastic, Michele. I usually associate salmoriglio with fish, but I’m sure it does wonders for chicken, too. And lots of things as you said!

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