Grilling chicken is a popular summer activity that can be enjoyed by everyone. However, it can be challenging to get the perfect flavor and texture. As someone who has been grilling chicken for years, I have compiled a list of the 10 best tips for grilling perfect chicken that will help you achieve amazing results every time.
First up it is important to choose the right cut of chicken. I prefer using bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks as they are way more tender, tasty and juicy.
Next, marinating the chicken is key to adding flavor and tenderizing the meat. A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs can go a long way.
Finally, preheating the grill and oiling the grates will prevent the chicken from sticking and ensure even cooking. These are just a few of the tips that I will be sharing in this article to help you grill perfect chicken everytime.
Before grilling chicken, there are a few things I always do to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Here are two important steps to keep in mind:
Clean the Grill
First things first, I always make sure my grill is clean before starting to cook. A dirty grill can cause flare-ups and even make the food taste bad. To clean my grill, I use a wire brush to remove any debris or leftover food from the grates. Then, I take a paper towel and dip it in vegetable oil, using tongs to rub it over the grates. This helps to prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill.
Preheat the Grill
Next, I preheat the grill to ensure that it’s hot enough to cook the chicken properly. I turn on all the burners and close the lid, letting the grill heat up for about 5-10 minutes. This helps to create a sear on the chicken and prevent it from sticking to the grates.
By taking these two simple steps, cleaning the grill and preheating it, I’m able to ensure that my chicken cooks evenly, doesn’t stick to the grates, is tender and juicy and tastes amazing.
Marinades and Seasonings
When grilling chicken, marinades are a great way to add flavor and tenderize the meat. I like to use a mixture of acid (such as lemon juice or vinegar), oil (such as olive oil), and seasonings (such as paprika and kosher salt) in my marinades.
You can also add Worcestershire sauce or other ingredients to your marinade for an extra kick of flavor. Honey and soyworkwell together too, just mix it up a bit and don’t be afraid to test things out a bit.
To use a marinade, simply place your chicken in a resealable plastic bag or container and pour the marinade over it. Make sure the chicken is completely coated and then let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours for maximum flavor).
Generally speaking I try to marinate the chicken thenight before so it gets around 20 hours to soak in the flavors.
Another way to add flavor to your chicken is through dry brining. This involves rubbing the chicken with a mixture of salt and seasonings and then letting it sit in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight). The salt helps to tenderize the meat and the seasonings add flavor.
To dry brine your chicken, mix together kosher salt, paprika, and any other seasonings you like. Rub the mixture all over the chicken and then place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (or up to 24 hours). Rinse the chicken off before grilling to remove any excess salt.
In addition to marinades and dry brining, you can also add flavor to your chicken with seasonings. I like to use a mixture of paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt and black pepper for a simple yet flavorful seasoning blend. You can also experiment with other seasonings such as cumin, chili powder, or even cinnamon for a unique twist.
To use seasonings, simply sprinkle them over the chicken before grilling. Make sure to coat the chicken evenly and then grill as usual.
Direct Heat vs. Indirect Heat
When grilling chicken, it’s important to understand the difference between direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is when the chicken is cooked directly over the flame or heat source. This is great for searing and creating grill marks.
Indirect heat is when the chicken is cooked away from the flame or heat source, usually with the lid closed. This is great for cooking chicken evenly and preventing it from burning.
For those of us that enjoy a bit of smokey flavour in their meat, smoking chicken is another option to kick the flavor gears up a notch. Because chicken has a more delicate flavor profile than red meat, smoking with different fruit woods seems to pair pefectly.
My favourite is apple wood which adds a nice sweet and mild smoke flavour, you ca read more about choosing the “Best Wood for Smoking Chicken” here.
High Heat vs. Medium Heat
High heat is great for quickly cooking chicken and creating a crispy exterior. Medium heat is better for cooking chicken all the way through without burning the outside. It’s important to know when to use each heat level depending on the thickness of the chicken and the desired doneness.
To ensure even cooking, it’s important to have chicken that is fairly even in thickness. If the chicken is thicker on one end than the other, it will cook unevenly.
Pounding the chicken to an even thickness or spatchcocking it can help with this issue. Additionally, covering the grill while cooking can help to trap the heat and cook the chicken more evenly (using indirect heat).
Remember to always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature. With these cooking techniques, you’ll be able to grill chicken to perfection every time.
Grilling Chicken Cuts Perfectly
Bone-in vs. Boneless
Deciding which part of the chicken you want to grill is one of the first decisions you’ll need to make. Whether to go with bone-in or boneless chicken cuts will determine how you cook and what the end result will be.
Bone-in chicken tends to take longer to cook, but it also tends to be juicier and pack more flavor. It is slightly more difficult to grill evenly because of the varying widths of the meat and bone but the final product is more superior than boneless chicken.
Boneless chicken, on the other hand, cooks more quickly and is easier to eat. If you’re grilling bone-in chicken, be sure to keep an eye out for flare-ups, which can cause the skin to burn.
A great way to ensure even cooking of a whole chicken is to butterlfy it and press it out flat. This ensures a much quicker and even cook and is great for adding a marinade or dry rub too.
Skin-on vs. Skinless
Another decision you’ll need to make is whether to grill your chicken with the skin on or off. Skin-on chicken can be more flavorful and juicy, but it also contains more fat. If you’re watching your fat intake, you may want to opt for skinless chicken.
However, if you do decide to grill skin-on chicken, be sure to keep an eye out for flare-ups, which can cause the skin to burn. Alternatively if using skinless chicken be careful not to dry it out as the skin does help to retain moisture.
Breasts vs. Thighs vs. Drumsticks vs. Wings
There are many different cuts of chicken that can be grilled, including breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings. Each cut has its own unique flavor and texture.
Chicken breasts are lean and tender, while thighs are darker and more flavorful. Drumsticks are great for grilling because they are easy to hold and eat, while wings are perfect for snacking. No matter which cut you choose, be sure to season it well with a rub or marinade before grilling.
When grilling chicken, it’s important to keep a few key things in mind.
First, be sure to preheat your grill before adding the chicken. This will help ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the grates.
Second, be sure to keep an eye out for flare-ups, which can cause the chicken to burn. If you do experience flare-ups, move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill until the flames die down.
Finally, be sure to cook your chicken to the appropriate internal temperature. Raw chicken can contain harmful bacteria, so it’s important to cook it all the way through. The internal temperature of chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) before it is considered safe to eat.
Overall, grilling chicken is a great way to enjoy a healthy and flavorful meal. Whether you’re grilling bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless, breasts or thighs or drumsticks or wings, with a little bit of seasoning and attention, you can enjoy perfectly cooked grilled chicken every time.
As someone who loves grilling chicken, I have learned a few tips and tricks to make sure the chicken comes out juicy and flavorful every time. Here are my top grilling tips:
Use a Meat Thermometer
One of the biggest mistakes people make when grilling chicken is not using a meat thermometer. It’s impossible to tell if the chicken is fully cooked just by looking at it. I always use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
Let the Chicken Rest
After you take the chicken off the grill, let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it more tender and juicy. I usually let my chicken rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.
Baste the Chicken
Basting chicken while it’s on the grill can add extra flavor and moisture. I like to make a simple basting sauce with olive oil, herbs, and garlic. I brush the sauce on the chicken every few minutes while it’s cooking. Be sure to use a clean brush or spatula each time you baste to avoid cross-contamination.
By following these grilling tips, you’ll be able to make delicious grilled chicken every time. Remember to use a meat thermometer, let the chicken rest, and baste it for extra flavor. Happy grilling!
Sauces and Sides
I love to use barbecue sauce when grilling chicken. It adds a tangy and sweet flavor to the chicken, making it taste delicious. My favorite barbecue sauce is the classic Sweet Baby Ray’s Original Barbecue Sauce. It has the perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess. I like to brush the sauce on the chicken during the last few minutes of grilling to avoid burning the sauce.
Sauces for Grilled Chicken
There are many sauces that go well with grilled chicken. Another favourite of mine is a garlic and herb sauce. To make this sauce, I mix crushed garlic, chopped herbs (such as rosemary and thyme), olive oil, and lemon juice. I brush the sauce on the chicken during the last few minutes of grilling to add flavor.
Another great sauce for grilled chicken is a peanut sauce. This is perfect for chicken satay. To make the sauce, just mix peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and sesame oil. I like to serve the sauce on the side for dipping.
Sides for Grilled Chicken
When it comes to sides for grilled chicken, I like to keep it simple. A classic side dish is coleslaw. It adds a nice crunch and freshness to the meal. I make my coleslaw with shredded cabbage, carrots, and a dressing made of mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, and sugar.
Another great side dish is grilled vegetables. I like to grill zucchini, bell peppers, and onions. I toss them in olive oil, salt, and pepper before grilling to add flavor. They are a great complement to the juicy grilled chicken.
Overall, sauces and sides can elevate the flavor of grilled chicken. Whether it’s a classic barbecue sauce or a homemade garlic and herb sauce, adding a sauce can make the chicken taste even better. And when it comes to sides, coleslaw and grilled vegetables are simple and delicious options.
10 Best Tips for Grilling Perfect Chicken
Grilling chicken can be a fun and delicious way to prepare a weeknight dinner. By following these 10 best tips forgrilling perfect chicken, you can ensure that your chicken is cooked evenly and has a delicious, juicy flavor:
- Start with a clean grill to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
- Use cooking oil to prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill.
- Preheat the grill to ensure even cooking.
- Use tongs to flip the chicken instead of a fork to prevent the juices from escaping.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked to the correct temperature.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
- Experiment with different marinades and spices to add flavor to your chicken.
- Use indirect heat when cooking thicker cuts of chicken to prevent burning.
- Keep the grill lid closed to retain heat and smoke.
- Use the right fuel for your grill, whether it be charcoal or gas.
Overall, grilling chicken can be a simple and tasty way to prepare dinner. With a little practice and these tips, you can become a pro at grilling chicken and impress your family and friends with delicious grilled chicken recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best way to ensure juicy grilled chicken?
To ensure juicy grilled chicken, I recommend using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The ideal temperature for chicken is 165°F. Also, consider marinating the chicken before grilling to add flavor and moisture.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when grilling chicken?
One common mistake is not preheating the grill. Preheating helps prevent sticking and ensures even cooking. Another mistake is overcooking the chicken, which can result in dry and tough meat. Finally, avoid using a fork to flip the chicken, as it can cause the juices to escape.
How do you know when grilled chicken is fully cooked?
The best way to know when grilled chicken is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, and when it reaches 165°F, the chicken is fully cooked. Another way to check is to cut into the thickest part of the chicken and look for clear juices.
What’s a good marinade for grilled chicken?
A simple marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper works well for grilled chicken. You can also try marinades with soy sauce, honey, or vinegar for added flavor.
What’s the difference between direct and indirect grilling?
Direct grilling is when the food is placed directly over the heat source, while indirect grilling is when the food is placed away from the heat source. Direct grilling is best for thin cuts of chicken, while indirect grilling is best for thicker cuts that need more time to cook.
How do you prevent chicken from sticking to the grill?
To prevent chicken from sticking to the grill, make sure the grill is clean and well-oiled before cooking. Also, avoid moving the chicken too much while it’s cooking, as this can cause it to stick. Finally, consider using a non-stick cooking spray or a grill mat for added protection.
Following just a few of these instructions will help you grill perfect chicken like a pro, so what are you waiting for? Get grilling.