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This Is Exactly How Long You Should Grill Chicken, According to a Chef

No more charred chicken breasts and thighs at your outdoor barbecue—follow these tips for tender pieces of meat.
grilled chicken thigh

There are just some foods that taste better grilled, and chicken is one of them. Now that summer is officially here, it's time to fire up the grill and get cooking, but before you do, you may want to read up on just how long you should cook each piece of poultry and learn how to grill chicken, the right way. Have you ever gotten a too-charred chicken breast at a cookout or a super well-done steak that you nearly strained your jaw to chew through? Stop making these simple grilling mistakes and, instead, start serving the most tender, yet crispy, chicken your guests have ever sunk their teeth into.

Head chef of HelloFresh, Claudia Sidoti, schools us on how to grill chicken perfectly.

How long should you grill chicken for?

"Depending on the part of the chicken, cook to temperatures shown below, anywhere from 5-15 minutes, starting on indirect heat for the bone-in, skin-on pieces. Then transfer to direct heat for the last 5-7 minutes to get the skin crispy," says Sidoti.

The chef provides us with a breakout of what the internal temperature of each part of the chicken should be after grilling.

  • Boneless chicken breast: 165°F
  • Bone-in chicken breast halves: 170°F
  • Boneless thighs: 170°F
  • Bone-in thighs: 170-175°F

How can you prevent the chicken from drying out on the grill?

"Be sure to not keep the chicken on the grill for too long—this will cause the meat to dry out and lose its juiciness," warns Sidoti.

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How long should you let the chicken rest before grilling? How about after grilling?

You might know about letting meat rest after cooking, but you should also be letting chicken rest pre-grilling, too. Before you toss a slab of chicken on the grill, let the poultry come to room temperature for about 15 minutes.

"If you put cold chicken on the grill, the heat will dry out the chicken before the inside is done," explains Sidoti. "Room temperature meat cooks more evenly and fewer juices will leak while cooking."

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This same concept can be applied to red meat, so make sure to let burgers rest before you begin flipping them on the grill so that they come out tender and juicy as well.

After the chicken is done, you'll want to remove the meat from the grill and onto a plate where it will finish cooking as it rests. Think of it as a mandatory last stop before you tear your knife into it. Sidoti says to let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into it to prevent the juices from spilling out.

Is there a specific marinade that pairs best with grilled chicken?

A simple marinade consisting of olive oil, lemon, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper is Sidoti's go-to marinade for chicken breasts. "It's so simple and delicious and makes the perfect grilled chicken breast for salads and bowls," she says. "Make sure to pat chicken dry before grilling and also sprinkle with a little salt after grilling to pop the flavor."

If you're in a rush or don't have fresh herbs, garlic clove, or lemon on hand, you can always opt for a bottled vinaigrette—assuming you have that stowed away in either your fridge or pantry!

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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