Perfect Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (19)

Grilled chicken is one of the most popular dishes at summer barbeques. And spring cookouts. And fall tailgating parties. And family dinners. You get the idea. People love grilled chicken. And no wonder, when done right it 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, be that by overcooking, undercooking (and then cutting into and re-cooking), or being cooked over the wrong temperature and allowed to slowly but surely dry out.

Worry not! There is a better way. A much better way. If you start with a high-quality chicken (if you can find it, birds raised on pasture will offer the best flavor) and follow this simple method of using bone-in chicken, pre-salting the bird, and using indirect heat for the bulk of the cooking time, you will be amazed at the results. Juicy, flavorful, tender chicken that tastes like chicken should.

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 so it can cook evenly on the grill.

What You'll Need

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

How to Make It

  1. Thoroughly dry the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt, taking care to work some under the skin. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Let the chicken come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat.

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

    For charcoal: light about 4 dozen briquettes and let them burn until covered with ash, about 30 minutes. Mound them on one side of the grill. The area over the section cleared of coals is the indirect heat section.

  1. Brush the cooking grate with vegetable oil. Set the chicken skin-side down on the indirect heat section of the grill. Close the lid on a gas grill. Cook 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over, close the lid on gas grill, and cook 10 minutes. Move chicken to direct heat section and cook, turning once, until skin is brown and crispy, about 5 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.
  2. Test the chicken for doneness by cutting into ​its center. It should be slightly pink (it will finish cooking while it rests). If the center is very pink, return the chicken to the indirect heat section and cook another 5 minutes.

Let the chicken rest at least 10 minutes, covered with foil, before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Looking for something a little more exciting? Try Huli Huli Chicken!

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 1191
Total Fat 70 g
Saturated Fat 20 g
Unsaturated Fat 28 g
Cholesterol 418 mg
Sodium 687 mg
Carbohydrates 0 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 131 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)