How to Grill Chicken: A Step-by-Step Guide

Use these tips to get juicy chicken cooked all the way through with perfectly crisp skin.

Chicken, Grilling

When you grill chicken on the bone, it's more flavorful.

The Chicken
Start with a whole cut-up chicken on the bone, with the skin. Let it come to room temperature while you prepare the grill.

The Grill
Set up the grill for direct and indirect heat, with coals on one side. Oil the grill grate and heat until the oil is smoking.

Get Grilling
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, and put it on the grill over the low-heat section. Place the dark meat closer to the flame and the white meat farther away. Place the breasts bone-side down, so the bone acts as a small roasting rack and the skin gets crispy.

Cover It
Cover the grill so it's like an oven, roasting the chicken slowly.

After about 20 minutes, open the grill and turn the pieces over. Cover and cook for about another 15 minutes, until the skin is very crisp

Check the Temperature
The breasts will cook fastest. Use a meat thermometer to determine their internal temperature. Insert lengthwise and avoid the bone for the best reading.

The Sauce
When the chicken is at about 150 to 155 degrees F, you can baste with sauce if you like. If you want to serve sauce with the chicken, set some aside.

Basting Chicken
Use a mop or brush to baste the chicken with the sauce. Discard any leftover sauce once you're finished basting.

Crispy Skin
Place the chicken on direct heat to finish cooking through; this makes the skin extra crispy. Turn sauced chicken as needed to prevent it from burning. At about 160 degrees F, the chicken is finished. Remove it from the grill and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. The internal temperature will rise about 5 degrees while resting.

Grab a Bird
Remember, it's all about strategy when grilling chicken. Watch our how-to video for more.