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How Should I Grill Chicken?

Lauren B. Parks
Lauren B. Parks

When you grill chicken, you want to choose which cut you want to cook. Though you can grill bone-in chicken breasts, boneless tends to cook more evenly, as the bone absorbs heat. However, whether you choose bone-in or boneless, skinless chicken is always a healthier choice. Contrary to popular thought, removing the skin after cooking will give you the same health benefits as beginning with skinless chicken.

Next, you will need to choose to grill chicken on a gas or charcoal grill. Gas grilling gives you the ease of being able to grill indoors or outdoors, the ability to heat the grill quickly, as well as minimal clean up. Charcoal grilling, on the other hand, gives you the smoky flavor of an open fire, which is almost impossible to replicate with gas. If you choose to grill with charcoal, you will need charcoal and lighter fluid.

Hot charcoal in a grill.
Hot charcoal in a grill.

About two hours before you begin to grill chicken, you will need to prep the meat. Letting the chicken marinate in the marinade of your choice for over an hour will yield the best results. The marinating time serves to pack your meat with flavorful juices that will stick around once the meat’s off the grill. Steer clear of overly salty marinades when you grill chicken, as they tend to pull the moisture out of the meat, thus drying it out.

Chicken breasts are high in protein.
Chicken breasts are high in protein.

Whisking balsamic vinegar, a touch of olive oil, and brown mustard with a pinch of thyme, makes a tasty, tangy, and healthy marinade that you can make at home in less than five minutes. A store bought Italian dressing will also result in tasty, juicy chicken. If you choose to use teriyaki sauce, be aware that teriyaki’s high sugar content is prone to burning. Also, if you select BBQ sauce, do not apply until just before removing the chicken from the grill.

Boneless chicken breasts, once marinated, are delicious when grilled.
Boneless chicken breasts, once marinated, are delicious when grilled.

Once the meat is on the grill, it is important to slow cook so as to allow the interior to cook thoroughly before you fully cook the exterior. To do this, keep the chicken on the perimeter of the grill, away from extreme heat. Once the center is cooked completely, you can move the chicken to the high heat for a final sear on the surface level. Don’t be afraid of a little burn!

If you’re unsure whether or not your meat is completely cooked, take a fork and a knife, and cut a slit in the thickest part of the chicken breast. If the meat exposed is white, you are good to go. If the exposed meat shows any pink, the meat needs to continue cooking.

Grilled chicken is the perfect summertime dinner since it is light and versatile. However, when you grill chicken, you must keep cleanliness in mind. Clean any surfaces that uncooked meat came in contact with, as well as utensils. Also ensure that the meat is thoroughly cooked. If you are sure to take both of these precautions, you will more than likely avoid dangerous bacteria such as salmonella.

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Discussion Comments


@wesley91: I also use the aluminum foil pouches when cooking chicken on the grill. Another important thing that many people do not know is that salt will dry your chicken out. If you use salt in your marinades, it is a good idea to keep it at a minimum. It draws out the juices in your chicken. If you must salt your chicken, do so after it is cooked.


The most important thing when cooking chicken, especially white meat chicken, is to keep it moist. White meat tends to dry out quickly which makes it tough to eat.

One thing that you can do is make a pouch out of aluminum foil for your chicken. You can add a veggie to it if you like. Place 2 ice cubes in the pouch with the chicken. That helps to keep it moist.

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