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How Long To Grill Chicken?

How Long To Grill Chicken?

No matter how you decide to cook chicken, there is always a fine balancing act between cooking chicken that is tasty and safe to eat, all the while knowing that undercooking or overcooking is easy to do and comes with serious consequences. So how long should one grill chicken?

How Long To Grill Chicken?

 No matter how you decide to cook chicken, there is always a fine balancing act between cooking chicken that is tasty and safe to eat, all the while knowing that undercooking or overcooking is easy to do and comes with serious consequences. So how long should one grill chicken?

Before answering that question, you have to know exactly what cuts of chicken you’re going to use and how fresh they are. An excellent source for quality meats is Butcherbox, a meat delivery service offering various subscription boxes. If you want free-range chicken or other specialty meats, they have those options and more.

Although chicken is a notoriously difficult cut of meat to safely and effectively cook, especially when being grilled, as it is difficult to determine if the meat has been cooked thoroughly, rest assured that our team of experts are here to help you find the perfect grilling times!

Quick Summary

  • Different cuts of chicken require different grilling times and methods,
  • The quality of the chicken bought affects the taste and firmness of the meat, which makes the grilling process easier,
  • Temperature management is essential to grilling chicken,
  • A meat thermometer is a worthwhile investment if you want to safely and efficiently grill chicken,
  •  Evening chicken out both before and during grilling is essential.

 How Long Must You Grill Different Cuts Of Chicken?

 “The advantage of grilling different types of chicken pieces—like the breast, leg, thigh, and wing—is that everyone eating can pick the piece they want the most. The problem, however, is getting all the pieces grilled perfectly so that no one piece is over or undercooked.”

Let’s look at a quick breakdown of grilling times for each cut of chicken now:

 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts:

Time: five to six minutes per side.

Temperature: medium-high heat (400F)

Preferred technique: Cut each chicken breast in halves. Rub each breast with olive oil to avoid sticking, and pound the breasts so they remain flat and even during grilling. Use a thermometer to ensure  the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 Chicken Drumsticks:

Time: 30 minutes

Temperature: medium-high heat (400F)

Preferred technique: if attached to the thigh, cut the legs from the joint of the thigh with a sharp knife. Generously sprinkle with seasoning, especially if they retain their skin while grilling. Turn the drumsticks in rapid succession while grilling to allow for 360-degree heat exposure.  Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 Thighs (Bone-In):

Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Temperature: medium-high heat (400F) for direct heat, medium-low heat for (300F) for indirect heat.

Preferred technique: sear the thighs with their chicken skins exposed over direct heat until golden brown (approximately three minutes). Flip and sea for another three minutes. Once seared, remove the thighs from the direct heat and transfer them to in-direct heat to continue grilling; continue to rotate, flip, and inspect them while cooking. Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 

Thighs (Boneless and Skinless):

Time: 7 to 8 minutes per side.

Temperature: medium-high heat (375F)

Preferred technique: unlike the thigh recipe above, boneless and skinless thighs need a reduced preparation time and can be done solely over direct heat. Similar to the chicken breasts technique above, thighs should be coated with olive oil and pounded flat prior to grilling. Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 

Chicken Wings:

 

Time: 15 to 20 minutes.

Temperature: medium (350F)

 Preferred technique: as the boniest part of the chicken, with limited white meat, chicken wings are game-time favorites but notoriously difficult to grill. To assist in the process, wings should be prepared by rinsing them under cold water, blotted dry with paper towels, and coated in ample flour and seasoning. Wingtips should be cut off before the wings are placed on direct heat and regularly turned on each side every three minutes. Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 

Chicken Tenders:

Time: 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Temperature: medium-high (375F)

Preferred technique: similar to other bone-less and skinless cuts of chicken, chicken tenders can be easily grilled with some oil basting to avoid sticking and regular turning. This is also a much healthier way of cooking chicken tenders than the usual method of frying. Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 

Whole Chicken:

Time: 50 minutes.  

Temperature: medium-high (375F)

Preferred technique: butterfly the chicken (spatchcock) by cutting out the backbone and flattening it. Position the chicken skin side up over indirect heat and turn once while cooking. For improved results, put a foil-covered brick or cast-iron skillet on top of the chicken to flatten the chicken and encourage even cooking. Use a thermometer to ensure the thickest part of the meat is at 165F before plating.

 

4 Important Chicken Grilling Tips

 

Choosing the right chicken 

As seen above, different cuts result in different grilling methods and time periods. Further to the cut of the meat, it is advisable to look for chicken that is organic and free-range. This is because it produces meat that is firmer, healthier, and with an improved taste to battery farmed varieties. 

Cooking at too high a temperature

Whether you are using an electric, gas, or wood-fired grill, temperature management is essential in cooking chicken safely and evenly. If you cook chicken at too high a temperature, the skin will soon burn, while the larger portions of the chicken will be left raw.

Not using a meat thermometer

As seen above, a temperature of 165F removes any guesswork when cooking chicken, this is important to consider as a grilled chicken will continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes at rest, so it avoids you from overcooking or undercooking chicken.

Should you not have a thermometer, a small incision in the largest portion of the meat will reveal the state of the chicken. If the meat is opaque, it needs to be left to grill for a longer period of time.

Evening chicken out

Because different parts of chicken cook at different temperatures and times, it is vital to even out chicken as much as possible. Cutting off excessive tenders, flattening the chicken, and regular turning are all methods one should use to allow for even grilling.

 

Conclusion

 As can be seen above, while grilling chicken may seem like a daunting task, a basic understanding of grill management, meat preparation, and the differences between chicken cuts will streamline your grilling process substantially.  

 

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