Properly cooking chicken on the grill is an essential summertime skill. Learn how to grill chicken with our basic rules for consistently scrumptious, juicy meat. With our tips, you’ll get to be the authority when everyone starts on the inevitable conversation about how to grill chicken correctly!
Preparing Your Chicken
Cooking chicken on the grill properly starts with how you prepare your meat. Chicken breasts in particular are tricky to grill because of their uneven size. Consider using a kitchen mallet to flatten the meat to an even height, no less than three-fourths of an inch thick. Do not flatten other cuts of chicken or if you are grilling bone-in chicken.
Option One: Brining
Brining your chicken is a great option, because the brining process reshapes proteins in the meat so that it retains more moisture while cooking.
Option Two: Marinades
Marinades are also a popular choice to add flavor when cooking chicken on the grill. Salad dressing is a great go to marinade.
Option Three: Seasoning
If you’re looking for a simpler, quicker preparation technique, you can season to taste. Your seasoning choice can be as simple as a little salt and pepper or a more complex specialty rub. The choice is yours.
Chicken Preparation Notes
Different marinades and brine recipes call for different amounts of time to be effective, but generally you’ll need at least one hour of additional preparation time. Also, remember that if you plan on using a sugar-based sauce to baste your meat like BBQ sauce, you should do so in the last 10 minutes or so of grilling. High-sugar bastes will burn if exposed to heat for too long.
Proper Grill Maintenance for Cooking Chicken on the Grill
Chicken, especially skinless chicken, has a tendency to stick to grill grates. It’s important to clean your grate before you begin cooking chicken on the grill. This can be done with a barbecue brush or a balled up piece of foil. Use your brush or foil to remove any errant pieces of food that may have stuck to the grill grate the last time you used it. Then apply a layer of oil to the cooking surface. You can apply cooking oil with a paper towel or brush.
Grilling Your Meat
After learning how to grill chicken, you can finally get started on cooking. Follow these helpful steps.
|Cut of Meat||Heat Level||Time|
|Whole Chicken||Indirect Medium Meat||90 to 120 minutes|
|Bone-In Breasts||Direct Medium-High Heat||10 to 15 minutes per side|
|Boneless Breasts||Direct High Heat||5 to 7 minutes per side|
|Legs or Thighs||Direct Medium-High Heat||10 to 15 minutes per side|
|Drumsticks||Direct Medium-High Heat||8 to 12 minutes per side|
|Wings||Direct Medium-High Heat||8 to 12 minutes per side|
Place your chicken on the grill grate, and cook the meat with the grilled covered. This will trap heat inside the grill and cook your chicken more evenly.
Flip your meat once based on the timing suggested above. Try to avoid the temptation of repeatedly flipping over your meat. This will actually increase cooking time. One flip is adequate.
You can determine doneness with a meat thermometer. Your chicken will be done cooking at 165°F.
Once the chicken is done, remove it from the grill and let it stand on a platter or plate covered in loosely in foil for about 10 minutes. This allows the juices to more evenly distribute themselves in your chicken. After 10 minutes, serve and enjoy! Congratulations, you are now fully trained on the basics of how to grill chicken!