How To Make Perfectly Grilled Chicken

Perfect grilled chicken breasts on a white plate

​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Marinate Time: 2 hrs
Total: 3 hrs
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1191 Calories
70g Fat
0g Carbs
131g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1191
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 70g 90%
Saturated Fat 20g 98%
Cholesterol 418mg 139%
Sodium 687mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 131g
Calcium 68mg 5%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Grilled chicken is one of the most popular dishes, no matter the circumstance or way of serving it, whether you serve a main dish or on a sandwich. Or a cookout. Or at family dinners. You get the idea. People love grilled chicken. And no wonder: When done right, grilled chicken is super flavorful and goes with a huge array of side dishes. Sadly, grilled chicken is also one of the most frequently destroyed dishes out there, either thanks to overcooking or undercooking (and then cutting into and re-cooking). Or sometimes it's just plain cooked at the wrong temperature, which allows the chicken to slowly but surely dry out.

Worry not—there is a much better way. If you start with a high-quality chicken (if you can find them, birds raised on pasture will offer the best flavor) and follow this simple method and learn how to grill bone-in chicken on a gas grill, you'll be amazed. By pre-salting the bird and using indirect heat for the bulk of the cooking time, you will be rewarded with juicy, flavorful, tender chicken that tastes as chicken should.

This recipe calls for you to grill bone-in chicken breasts, but other parts can be used if you like. For tackling a whole chicken on the grill, you can use the method outlined below; just ask your butcher to spatchcock the chicken for you. Or do it yourself by cutting out the backbone and opening the chicken so it lays more or less flat, which enables it to cook evenly on the grill.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breast halves (and/or thighs, bone-in, skin-on)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for perfect grilled bone-in chicken

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  2. Thoroughly pat the chicken dry.

    Bone-in chicken breasts pat dry with a paper towel on a cutting board

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt 

  3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt, taking care to work some under the skin.

    Chicken breasts sprinkled with salt on a wooden cutting board

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  4. Cover and chill at least two hours and up to overnight.

    Salted chicken breasts in a dish covered with aluminum foil

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  5. Let the chicken come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.

    Chicken in a pan coming to room temperature before grilling

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  6. Prepare a gas grill for indirect heat. Turn all burners on high and close the lid. When temperature inside the grill reaches 400 F, turn off one burner. The area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat section.​ 

    Gas grill heated to 400 F

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  7. Brush the cooking grate with vegetable oil.

    Brush grill with cooking oil

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  8. Set the chicken skin-side down on the indirect heat section of the grill. Close the lid on a gas grill and cook for 15 minutes.

    Chicken breasts, skin side down, on a gas grill

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  9. Turn the chicken over, close the lid on the gas grill, and cook 10 minutes.

    Chicken breasts turned over and cooking on gas grill

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  10. Move chicken to the direct heat section and cook, turning once, until skin is brown and crispy–about five minutes. (Pay close attention: any dripping fat or added oils or marinades catch fire easily. You may want to keep a spray bottle of water nearby to douse flames.)

    Chicken moved on the grill

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  11. Test the chicken with an instant-read thermometer or by cutting into ​its center. It should reach 165 F and be slightly pink; it will finish cooking while it rests. If the center is very pink, return it to indirect heat and cook for five more minutes.

    Test chicken with a meat thermometer or by cutting into it

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  12. Let the chicken rest at least 10 minutes, covered with foil, before serving.

    Cooked chicken covered in foil and resting before serving

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  13. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

    Bone-in chicken breasts on a white oval serving platter

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

  14. Enjoy!

    Grilled chicken breasts on an oval platter

    ​The Spruce / Victoria Heydt

How to Store Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken should keep for 3 to 5 days if wrapped in foil or in a lidded container in the refrigerator. You can freeze chicken, too, if you like, in foil and then stored in air-tight zip-close freezer bags for up to 3 months.

What to Do With Leftover Grilled Chicken

There are so many great ways to use leftover chicken. Here are a few ideas.


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