How to Grill Chicken

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Once you know how to grill chicken, you can whip up a healthy, flavorful meal any night of the week with minimal effort. In this post, we’re going to walk you through step-by-step for perfect grilled chicken every time.

a collage of sliced grilled chicken on a cutting board, and chicken on the grill with title text reading How To Grill Chicken

Delicious Grilled Chicken Anyone?

Most people love grilled chicken, save for those who don’t like a little charring over delicious succulent lean meat slathered with tangy marinade.

And, if you do want it quick and easy, all you have to do is take a few breast slices and throw them over direct heat, and Voila! Some 10 to 15 minutes later, you will have grilled chicken dinner with perhaps a side dish of easy-grilled sweet potatoes.

What if some other family members want the drum part? Or maybe wings? No problem.

Chicken meat can be categorized into two types, dark and white meat. Examples of white meat are the breast part and the wings, and, the drumstick and thighs are considered to be dark meat.

The difference is that dark meat tends to be darker in color due to the fact that the muscles on that part are always flexed and used for extended periods of time. Such as the case of the chicken, where its thighs are used for keeping the chicken upright.

Chickens only use their breast muscles for sudden bursts of energy for very short flights. Conversely, the duck has dark meat on its breast muscles since it uses it to drive its wings and they happen to fly for extended periods of time.

For some good reason, dark meat takes a little more time to cook than white meat, but it definitely has more moisture and flavor to it, compared to white meat. Hence, grilling different pieces of chicken both dark and white may have different cooking times.

This is why it is important to identify dark or white chicken meat and how to make sure they don’t undercook on the inside and get charred on the outside.

a person using a tong to turn over a piece of chicken on a grill

How To Grill Chicken


• Mixed chicken cuts of wings, breast, drumstick, and thighs (6lbs)

• Salt and pepper

For Marinade/Glazing (optional)

• 1/3 cup Medium Soy Sauce

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• ¼ cup of brown sugar

• 1 tablespoon of vinegar

• 1 tablespoon of hot sauce

• 2 cloves minced garlic

• Dried basil

• ground pepper to taste

Marinating the Chicken

Mix all marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl. Whisk well and reserve at least ¼ cup for glazing later.

Mix chicken pieces with the marinade in a container or zip lock bag. Place in the refrigerator and keep it there anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours.

Preparing the Grill

What you would like for your chicken is for it to be cooked all the way through, but you wouldn’t want it to be too dry or charred. We will be using the simple sear-and-move method wherein you will have a medium-hot fire on the grill. This can be done by partitioning your grill with your charcoal in one place and a vacant space on the other side.

When ready, you can fire up your grill by lighting up a pile of charcoal briquets (around 100 small pieces) and arrange them in a two-part fire. Let burn until the coals are red hot and glowing. Create a partition by moving all the coals to one side and keeping the other side vacant creating a medium-hot fire.

Before placing the chicken pieces on the grill, take a paper towel and dip it in cooking oil and wipe it all over the entire grate using tongs. This will help to keep the chicken from sticking to the grate.

Searing the Chicken

Remove the marinated chicken pieces from the refrigerator and place them directly above the center of the “hot” side of the coals. Do this with the dark meat going in first, right in the middle of the hot coals.

Sear the chicken cuts for at least 3 minutes on each side then turn them once until they become golden brown. Make sure that the skin doesn’t char. As for the leg pieces, give it a turn every 90 seconds or so.

In case of a flare-up, momentarily move the chicken away from the coals and put it back in once the flare-up subsides.

a person using tongs to turn over a chicken on the grill as it causes flames in the grill
Portuguese Chicken Flaming on the Grill

Finish Off on the “Medium Side”

When all the pieces are already brown, move them over to the “warm side” of the grate. Put the lid on the grill and bring the temperature up to 350 �F. The whole cooking process may take up to 30 minutes.


Brush your sugar-based sauce or glaze on the chicken pieces at around the last 10 minutes of cooking. Apply the glaze to one side then close the lid for five minutes to let some of it absorb into the meat. After that once again open the lid and turn the pieces, then repeat adding the glaze.

Done Cooking

There are ways to check if your chicken is already done and ready.

1. Use a knife and cut into one of the dark meats. The meat inside should already be white, not rubbery and the juice should have no blood mixed in it. The thing is, this method may release some of the juice, however, the upside to that is if the biggest part is already cooked chances are the other pieces are done too.

2. Take a digital meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. If the temperature is already at 165�F your chicken is already cooked. Then you can remove it from the grill.

Again, since dark meat has more fat and moisture than white meat you will want to avoid overcooking the white meat while waiting for the dark meat to finish. Check the white meat first, and if it is already cooked remove ahead.

Serving Your Grilled Chicken

When done cooking, cover your chicken pieces with foil and let it rest for about 5 minutes. This is so that it will have time to seal the juices back into the meat and not spill over to your plate. Serve either hot or warm. Makes up to 4 to 6 servings.

sliced grilled chicken on a cutting board

As you would prefer, leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and may be kept in the refrigerator for a maximum of 3 days.


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