Guide to Grilling Chicken

Easy tips to ensuring a juicy bird


We Americans just love our chicken. Deep-fried, stir-fried, roasted, barbecued, grilled and even poached, we’re experts at enjoying it every which way. Now that summer’s officially upon us, it’s easy to take the cooking to the grill where we get to savor our favorite poultry recipes with the added bonus of a smoky, char-grilled finish.

But just because you prepare chicken all the time doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the same outcome on the more temperamental grates. Here are some handy tips to help keep your chicken juicy, flavorful and safe to eat, from start to finish!

Pictured: Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken


Throw any notions you may have of brining being intimidating out the window because the process couldn’t be simpler. Introducing a salt and sugar solution will get you that much closer to ensuring a succulent bird, a protein notorious for getting dried out when cooked. We like this straightforward Epicurious solution that has chicken parts brining, covered and chilled, for 6 hours before hitting the grill and enjoyed with an Asian-style vinaigrette.

Photo courtesy of Spinning Things via Flickr/CC

Mind the Heat

Prepare your grill in two zones: direct and indirect. Whether it’s charcoal or electric, you’ll need varying levels of heat to get the desired crust on the outside while having enough time to achieve cooked through, tender meat on the inside.

Photo courtesy

Keep it Dry

One important thing to remember when grilling whole pieces of meat (ie: not ground burger meats or sausages) and fish is to keep the surface dry. Patting out any excess surface moisture with some paper towel will prevent a steam situation, giving you that nice, even sear and of course, those praiseworthy grill marks! If you’re working with a wet marinade, just make sure to wick off any excess before placing gently on a hot, lightly greased grill.

Photo courtesy

Don't Touch!

Step away from the grill. Exercise supreme patience and resist the urge to prod your meat! You should only touch it to turn it once (time depends on whether the pieces are boneless or not). If you move it too early, you’ll suffer chunks of meat sticking and burning on the grill grates. Make sure you don’t crowd the grill either; otherwise the meat will steam.

Photo courtesy Eric Kilby via Flickr/CC

Temperature Control

Unlike beef, chicken should be fully cooked to avoid any risk of dangerous salmonella. Using a trusty thermometer will make it easy to monitor your pieces. According to the USDA, all parts of the bird are safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. This does not account for carryover cooking, which just means that the internal temperature will continue rising up to 10 degrees when taken off the grill and left to rest under a foil tent.

Photo courtesy Steven Jackson Photography via Flickr/CC

Give it a Go!

Now that you’re armed with tips, it’s time to practice your prowess on the grill. Here are some great recipes to get you started.

Grilled Buttermilk Chicken (pictured)

Brined & Grilled Chicken

Wine-Brined Grilled Chicken

Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken

Grilled Brined Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce

The Ultimate Barbecued Chicken

Slideshow View

Mentioned in this article


  • Where's the link to show me how to brine?

    Jun 25, 2011 at 8:28 AM

  • Snooth User: bassdad
    383990 59

    Hey Jeff, the link for the brine is:
    If you click on the "Pictured: Grilled Beer-Brined Chicken" highlight above this is where it takes you.

    Jun 25, 2011 at 10:27 AM

  • Thanks!!!

    Jun 25, 2011 at 1:52 PM

  • Is there a way to print this entire Guide to Grilling Chicken article in one step?

    Jun 27, 2011 at 1:03 PM

  • Snooth User: Zeekers
    90514 9

    I agree with Chipsofacto. Providing these articles in a more user-friendly printable format would be a big step forward.

    Jul 01, 2011 at 1:06 PM

  • Snooth User: Rich Tomko
    Hand of Snooth
    103444 2,868

    Chisofacto and Zeekers - it's a good idea and on the tech docket; in the meantime there is a link under the photo gallery belt that says "view as one page", but then you still need to hit the print screen to print it out. thanks for the feedback

    Jul 01, 2011 at 11:36 PM

  • Snooth User: Joylew57
    572249 4

    Could you elaborate on the indirect and direct cooking method? I start the chicken on direct and move it to indirect and if so, how long?

    Jul 03, 2011 at 5:39 AM

  • Snooth User: cooksy
    687298 2

    Try a ready made brine. The Apple Chipotle Brine made by Sweetwater Spice will give you perfect chicken or any other meat. They have a range of brining products.

    Jul 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM

  • Snooth User: dlubo
    2016517 10

    You can try apple cider with brine to make the taste a bit different. I have tasted that and it tastes good. For perfect smoked food you can find the best smoker grill at:

    Jun 28, 2016 at 11:08 AM

Add a Comment

Search Articles

Best Wine Deals

See More Deals

Snooth Media Network