How to Grill Chicken

How to Grill Chicken + Grilled Chicken Recipes

  •  2 Minute Read

In summer, grilled chicken is the star of the show on many menus. With many different cuts and methods of preparation – and the ability to marinate or baste it with so many different flavors – it’s an unparalleled cookout crowd-pleaser.

Before you get your grill on, let’s break down the proper ways to safely prepare different cuts of chicken. For all methods, the internal temperature needs to reach 165°F, so keep that meat thermometer handy – don’t just judge by the inside color.

What Temperature Do You Heat the Grill To?

For chicken, the grill should be set for medium-high heat, between 350°F and 450°F. It’s important to preheat the grill, running it on high for about 15 minutes and scraping off any residue from the last time you grilled. Preheating the grill allows the grates to absorb heat, which they can pass on to the chicken. If you lightly oil the grates, that will help prevent chicken from sticking when you flip the meat.

Speaking of prep work: If you’re going to marinate chicken, that’s most easily done by placing it and the marinade inside a zip-top bag in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Or, if you’d rather, you can season with a sprinkle of spices before grilling.

How to Grill Chicken Breasts

A tip when preparing chicken breasts is to start with a uniform thickness. If one part of the breast is larger, it will need to cook longer to reach 165°F, while the thinner section keeps cooking and dries out. Before cooking (or marinating), place the breast on a flat surface, cover with plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the chicken is evenly thick.

Always grill chicken with the lid closed, so no heat escapes. After grilling 4-6 minutes, use tongs to flip the breast. Ideally, you’ll flip it only once. Cook about 4-6 more minutes, checking the internal temp in the thickest part of the breast. Cooking to anything greater than 165°F robs the meat of its moisture. Covering the chicken with foil for about 5 minutes after taking off the grill will help seal in the juices.

How to Grill Chicken Wings

If desired, you can brush chicken wings beforehand with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, but don’t apply any wing sauce until after cooking. Grill wings over medium heat (350°F) about 20-25 minutes, flipping them as the skin darkens, until the wings are almost cooked – with their internal temperature at 160°F. Then to finish cooking, turn the grill up to high (450°F to 500°F), which will sear and crisp the skin. If desired, toss the wings in sauce before serving.

How to Grill Chicken Thighs

You’ve got options here: grilling bone-in or boneless, and with or without skin. If grilling without skin, any spices used will absorb nicely during cooking. Experiment with each method to see what you prefer.

If grilling with skin, cook skin-side down about 5-6 minutes, until grill marks appear. Then flip and cook another 6-8 minutes until the internal temperature hits 165°F. If grilling skinless chicken, you’ll likely need to cook 6-8 minutes on each side.

For more inspiration, check out our blog – which includes tips about grilling – and explore our Easy Meal Solutions page.

Gluten-free Tomato Basil Grilled Chicken Breasts

A bright sauce made with fresh basil, garlic and balsamic vinegar adds flavor to this quick grilled chicken recipe.

View & Shop Recipe

Grilled Chicken Recipes

Grilled chicken is easy and versatile and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.