How to Grill Chicken: Temperature and Time Guide
There are plenty of good reasons why chicken is America’s favorite meat. It’s versatile, easy to prepare, and a nearly-universal crowd pleaser. According to heart.org, red meats like beef, pork, and lamb generally have more saturated fats than skinless chicken. Opting for chicken instead of other proteins for several meals a week is a simple way to improve your heart health. Whether you’re throwing a barbecue in the backyard for family and friends or trying to impress a new date with your culinary skills, chicken is an MVP when it comes to grilling.
Just because it is done often doesn’t mean it’s always done right. Get careless and you’ll end up with an undercooked thigh or a breast that’s dry and tasteless. But we’re here to help you avoid a chicken faux pas. And our tips are simple – a quick crash course on temperature and timing can be the hidden secret for a tender and juicy piece of chicken.
If you’re already a seasoned grill master and chicken expert, then skip the how-to and check out this Grilled Maple Bourbon Chicken recipe to really up your game.
Not sure you have the right tools for the job? Don’t worry, chicken cooks beautifully on a variety of different Coyote grills such as a pellet grill, flat top grill, or S-Series grills (with infrared rotisserie function). Really, we all know the best grill to prepare your chicken on is whichever grill is your favorite.
How to Grill Chicken
How to Grill Chicken Breast
The most common cut of chicken is the breast, so we’ll start there.
Preparing your chicken:
- Dress your chicken in the way you most prefer it, removing skin or fat as desired. This could affect the amount of time the chicken needs on the grill, so consider that when making these decisions.
- Season the chicken to your liking. You can choose a dry rub, marinade, or opt for brining if you want the chicken to be more juicy and tender.
- Add some small cuts to your chicken to ensure that the marinade or brine soaks in well.
- If you are concerned about the breast cooking evenly, use a meat tenderizer to pound it down to a more consistent thickness.
Preparing your grill:
- Before grilling, make sure you are starting with nice, clean grates. To make brushing the grate much easier, preheat your grill to soften the debris.
- Heat the grill to medium-high heat, or 450 degrees if you are using the pellet grill.
- Be sure to have all your grilling tools handy (spatula, platter, foil, etc.). You don’t want to run away from your chicken to hunt down your tongs.
- Add oil or butter to your cooking surface so nothing sticks.
Grilling your chicken:
- Place your chicken on the grill and cover it, checking periodically for grill marks.
- Once brown, flip the chicken to grill the other side. It will take about 10 minutes for each side depending on the size of the cut.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, which should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Temperature probes are a great option for checking your chicken’s internal temperature, like those included with the Coyote Outdoor Living Pellet Grill.
- Remove the chicken and cover it with foil, letting it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Serve and impress.
Grilled Chicken Temperature
Chicken should always be served with the minimum USDA-recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Different cuts of chicken will cook at different speeds, which we will detail below.
How Long to Grill Chicken
The cut and size of the chicken will always influence cooking time, as will the type of grill you’re working with. For example, a smoking grill won’t cook the chicken in the same amount of time as, say, a searing grill.
How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs
Boneless chicken thighs will need about 5-7 minutes per side to cook, whereas a bone-in thigh will take around 10-15 minutes per side. When checking the internal temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching the bone.
How Long to Grill Chicken Legs
Chicken legs are a much thicker cut of meat and need a bit more time on the grill. These will take about 30-35 minutes total and should be turned every 5 minutes or so to prevent the skin from burning. To check the temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the leg without touching the bone (remember, it should always be at least 165 degrees for your safety).
How Long to Grill Chicken Wings
Chicken wings will only take about 20 minutes total on the grill, but they should be flipped every 5 minutes to prevent burning. They should also be placed on the grill very close together in order to keep them moist. To check the temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the wing without touching the bone.
Another great option for grilling your chicken wings is low and slow on a pellet grill. Read on to see how our very own Jim Ginocchi Mediterranean-Style grilled chicken wings on the Coyote Outdoor Living pellet grill.
Grilled Chicken Recipes
Here’s one of our favorite recipes to get you started on your chicken-grilling journey from Liokareas Olive Oils.
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
- 3 tablespoons Liokareas extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 sweet red pepper, julienned (optional)
- 1/2 yellow-orange pepper, julienned (optional)
- 1/2 medium green pepper, julienned
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- In a mixing bowl add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, and all the spices from the ingredients, mix well and add the chicken. Now, mix everything together, cover, and put it in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours.
- Heat a large skillet and add the marinated chicken.
- Sauté well for a few minutes on a medium-hi flame until the chicken changes color and is no longer pink.
- Continue sautéing for a few more minutes until all of the liquid almost evaporates.
- Add onion and peppers and sauté on high heat for 1-2 minutes then turn off the stove.
- Spoon hot chicken filling down the center of tortillas; fold in half.
- Serve with cheese, lemon juice, taco sauce, salsa, guacamole, ketchup, sour cream, etc.
- Flour tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, taco sauce, salsa, guacamole, lemon, & sour cream]
Mediterranean Style Chicken Wings
Hungry for more? Check out these Mediterranean Style Chicken Wings by our very own Jim Ginocchi for a different challenge.
- 3 lbs chicken wings
- ½ cup of Liokareas Cold Infused Oregano Olive Oil
- 2 large lemons, zested and juiced (about ½ cup lemon juice)
- 6 cloves garlic – peeled and mashed
- 2 tbsp. Dried Greek Liokareas Oregano
- 1 tbsp. Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. Liokareas Meat Blend (paprika/thyme/basil/chili flakes)
- 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Marinate the wings in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight
- Set Coyote Outdoor Living Pellet Grill on Smoke Mode @ 250 degrees for 2 hours (hickory flavored pellets were used for this recipe)
- Turn wings often to brown on all sides
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley
What to Serve with Grilled Chicken
And of course, you’re going to want a killer side to serve with your chicken. Check out this delicious and colorful grilled veggie salad.
- Red Onion
- Sweet Corn
- Red Bell Peppers
- Yellow Squash
- First, wash all the vegetables.
- Next, cut the vegetables into grillable portions. Snap off any tough ends on the asparagus. Core and then cut the red pepper into quarters. Slice the red onion into thick rings. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise into quarters.
- Place the prepared vegetables on a large rimmed pan.
- Then, drizzle the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
- Cook the veggies on the grill until they’re charred and nicely softened.
Grilled Brie and Roasted Cherry Tomato
If you’re looking for a satisfying crunch to go with your chicken, try out this Grilled Brie and Roasted Cherry Tomato side instead!
- Brie cheese wheel
- Cherry tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt & black pepper
- Fresh parsley
- Italian seasoning option
- Ciabatta bread or baguette
- Fresh basil
- Roast cherry tomatoes for 45 minutes. Let them cool a little and then stir in the fresh parsley.
- Pre-heat grill to medium-low.
- Brush both sides of the brie with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
- Slice bread into ½ inch slices. Brush one side of the bread with olive oil.
- Grill the bread on both sides until lightly browned. Set the bread aside.
- Place brie directly on the grill grate. After 3 minutes, when the Brie has grill marks on the bottom, flip it over and mark the second side.
- Lower the grill and let the Brie heat through until it is soft and melted.
- Remove the Brie, transfer it to the serving platter.
- Top w/ balsamic and basil and serve with the toasted bread slices and roasted tomatoes.