How To Make Perfectly Grilled Chicken

Perfect grilled chicken recipe

​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

  • Total: 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Marinate Time: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1191 Calories
70g Fat
0g Carbs
131g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
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 at summer barbeques whether you serve a main dish or on a sandwich. And spring cookouts. And fall tailgating parties. And 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, 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.


  • 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 chicken
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  2. Thoroughly dry the chicken.

    Dry chicken
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt 
  3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt, taking care to work some under the skin.

    Sprinkle chicken with salt
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  4. Cover and chill at least two hours and up to overnight.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  5. Let the chicken come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.

    Let chicken cool
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  6. Meanwhile, 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.​ 

    Prepare a gas grill
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  7. Brush the cooking grate with vegetable oil.

    Brush grill
    ​The Spruce Eats / 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.

    Set chicken down
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  9. Turn the chicken over, close the lid on the gas grill, and cook 10 minutes.

    Turn chicken over
    ​The Spruce Eats / 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.)

    Move chicken on grill
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  11. 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 five minutes.

    Test chicken
    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  12. Let the chicken rest at least 10 minutes, covered with foil, before serving.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  13. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  14. Enjoy!

    ​The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

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