How To Grill Chicken Perfectly (2024)

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Learn how to grill chicken perfectly by pre-cooking in the oven (low and slow) before hitting the grill. That way, you know it’s fully cooked and juicy so you can relax and enjoy your guests without worrying about feeding them under-cooked or dry chicken.

Recently I found a way to make grilled chicken foolproof. What do I mean? I mean, it’s a way of grilling chicken where you know for sure that the meat is cooked through, and you know for sure that it is tender and juicy, definitely not dry.

This method is great for if you’re having friends over because you can do most of it ahead of time. You can also make a big batch so if you’ve got a lot of friends, this recipe’s for you!

Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.

Jump To:

  1. The Key To Perfectly Grilled Chicken:
  2. Video: How To Grill Chicken Perfectly
  3. What Kind Of Chicken Should I Use?
  4. How To Grill Chicken, Step-By-Step
  5. Podcast Episode About Grilling Chicken
  6. How To Grill Chicken Perfectly Recipe
How To Grill Chicken Perfectly (1)

The Key To Perfectly Grilled Chicken:

The key to grilled chicken is to precook it in the oven ahead of time so you know it’s fully cooked and ready for the grill. Cooking it ahead of time also lets you cook it slowly, which yields nice, juicy, and tender meat. Plus, it gives you time to put your feet up during grilling season because most of the work is done beforehand.

Video: How To Grill Chicken Perfectly

What Kind Of Chicken Should I Use?

For this recipe, we’re using bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks. I prefer skinless but skin-on works too. I find that the skin doesn’t get really crispy on the grill no matter what I do. However, skinless can be either hard to find or more expensive.

Chicken breasts are not ideal for this method. If you really want to though, bone in and skin on chicken breasts are best.If you are planning on grilling boneless skinless chicken breasts, I have a separate post about that. They require a different method.

Want to grill a whole chicken?Get the instructions here.

Finally, if it’s wings you’re craving, you can learnhow to grill chicken wings here.

How To Grill Chicken, Step-By-Step

Step #1

With a big group coming over, buy bulk packs of bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks. Get it with the skin on, cook it in the oven, then see the tip in Step #2.

Up to two days before the party, season the chicken with a spice rub (see printable recipe at the bottom) and bake at 300°F for about an hour.

Tip: After an hour of baking, test with an instant-read thermometer. The chicken should be at least at 165°F internally. If it’s over that, it’s ok. It’ll still be juicy!

Step #2

Then you remove the chicken from the oven and let it cool down a bit on the counter.

NEW TIP! – I just discovered this and had to edit this recipe to tell you about it! After the chicken has cooled a bit, but before adding sauce, simply pull the skins off if you don’t want them on. As I explained in step #1, I prefer skinless, but this is a great hack for when you can’t find them or there’s a sale on skin on!

Extra Tip – Use a pair of clean kitchen scissors (called kitchen shears) to snip away any skin that is attached to the bone.

Extra Extra Tip: These kitchen shears come apart for better washing, which is especially good for when we use them on chicken to make sure they’re sanitized.

This method of removing the skin after cooking is WAY easier than skinning the chicken before cooking and the skin also helps retain some moisture and adds flavor to the chicken meat while cooking. Win-win!

Step #3

Brush the chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce. I love this homemade basic barbecue sauce. It only has three essential ingredients but there are instructions for doctoring it up in different ways so you can customize it with additional spices like garlic powder and paprika.

Step #4

Refrigerate chicken until dinner time.

Step #5

Use tongs to transfer the chicken pieces to a grill at medium heat that isprepped for direct heat cooking. Cook, turning occasionally (I use nice, long tongs like these so that my hands don’t get too close to the heat), until there are grill marks on all sides and the meat is heated through, about 8 to 10 minutes total. You can baste them with sauce halfway through if you’d like but note that this can dislodge or hide the grill marks. I don’t usually baste midway through for this reason.

Note that you can instead broil the chicken. Put the sauced chicken on a pan that is safe under your broiler. Pre-heat the broiler. Put the chicken on the pan under the broiler, about 6 inches form the heat. Broil until dark spots are appearing, then flip the chicken and broil the other side until dark spots are appearing. Taste some chicken to make sure it’s heated through. It should take about 8-12 minutes total (4-6 minutes per side).

Step #6

Serve with lots of napkins and your favorite side dishes.

Podcast Episode About Grilling Chicken

Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this chicken, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:

Listen to more Recipe of the Day episodes here.

Print

How To Grill Chicken Perfectly (2)

How To Grill Chicken Perfectly Recipe

★★★★★5 from 3 reviews
  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 70 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American
Print Recipe

DESCRIPTION

This grilled chicken is pre-cooked in the oven (low and slow) before hitting the grill. That way, you know it’s fully cooked and juicy so you can relax and enjoy your guests without worrying about feeding them under-cooked or dry chicken.

Ingredients

UnitsScale

  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 lbs. skinless bone-in dark meat chicken (drumsticks and/or thighs)
  • BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. In bowl combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, and brown sugar. Rub on chicken and then arrange in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour. Double-check that the chicken is cooked by cutting into the thickest part and making sure it’s not pink inside or using a meat thermometer to check that it’s reached 165°F.
  3. Let cool for 15 minutes. If your chicken is skin on, carefully remove the skin before grilling. For skin that is attached to the bone, cut it off with kitchen shears.
  4. Brush each piece with about 2 tablespoons of sauce. Cover and refrigerate up to 36 hours.
  5. 15 minutes before eating, prepare grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat.*
  6. Add chicken pieces and cook until grill marks appear on underside, 4-5 minutes. Flip and cook until heated through, another 4-5 minutes. Baste with more sauce halfway through if desired but this isn’t necessary and doing so can hide your beautiful grill marks.

Love this recipe? I’d appreciate it if you could scroll down and add a *5 star rating* to help others know they’ll love it as well!

Notes

*Note: You can instead broil the chicken. Put the sauced chicken on a pan that is safe under your broiler. Pre-heat the broiler. Put the chicken on the pan under the broiler, about 6 inches form the heat. Broil until dark spots are appearing, then flip the chicken and broil the other side until dark spots are appearing. Taste some chicken to make sure it’s heated through. It should take about 8-12 minutes total (4-6 minutes per side).

This recipe was originally published in July 2014. It was revised and republished in May 2023.

How To Grill Chicken Perfectly (3)

I'm a culinary enthusiast with extensive expertise in the realm of cooking, particularly in techniques that ensure optimal results. The information you provided outlines a foolproof method for grilling chicken, emphasizing pre-cooking in the oven to guarantee thorough cooking and juicy texture. Let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Precooking in the Oven:

    • The key to perfectly grilled chicken is pre-cooking it in the oven ahead of time.
    • Precooking allows for a slow and controlled process, resulting in juicy and tender meat.
  2. Chicken Cuts for Grilling:

    • The recommended cuts for this method are bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks.
    • Skinless chicken is preferred, but skin-on can be used. The article suggests removing the skin after cooking for those who prefer it skinless.
  3. Seasoning and Preparation:

    • Season the chicken with a spice rub and bake at 300°F for about an hour.
    • After baking, let the chicken cool down before adding sauce. A tip is provided to easily remove the skin if desired.
  4. BBQ Sauce Application:

    • Brush the precooked chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce before grilling.
  5. Grilling Process:

    • Refrigerate the sauced chicken until ready to grill.
    • Grill the chicken on medium heat, turning occasionally until there are grill marks on all sides, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Alternative Cooking Method:

    • An alternative to grilling is broiling. Instructions for broiling are provided as an option.
  7. Serving:

    • Serve the grilled chicken with napkins and your favorite side dishes.
  8. Recipe Details:

    • The recipe includes a spice rub with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and brown sugar.
    • The total time for preparation and cooking is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes.
    • The recipe yields 8 servings.
  9. Podcast Episode:

    • There's a podcast episode available where the author explains the chicken grilling process with additional tips.

Feel free to ask if you have any specific questions or if you'd like more details on any aspect of the grilling process!

How To Grill Chicken Perfectly (2024)

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