Perfect Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (19)

Grilled chicken is one of the most popular dishes at summer barbeques. It is also the one most frequently destroyed, be that by overcooking, undercooking (and then cutting into and re-cooking), or being set over the wrong temperature and allowed to slowly but surely dry out.

Worry not! There is a better way. A much better way. If you start with a high-quality chicken (I like to use birds raised on pasture for the best flavor) and follow this simple method of pre-salting the bird, cooking it on the bone, and using indirect heat for the bulk of the cooking time, you will be amazed at the results. Juicy, flavorful, tender chicken that tastes like chicken should.

For tackling a whole chicken on the grill, see this recipe for Spatchcocked Chicken for a juicy, evenly cooked whole grilled chicken.

What You'll Need

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves and/or thighs
  • About 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

How to Make It

  1. Thoroughly dry the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the salt, taking care to work some under the skin. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Let the chicken come to room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat.

    For gas: Turn all burners on high and close the lid. When temperature inside the grill reaches 400F, turn off one burner. The area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat section.

    For charcoal: light 4 to 5 dozen briquettes and let them burn until covered with ash, about 30 minutes. Mound them on one side of the grill. The area over the section cleared of coals is the indirect heat section.

  1. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Set the chicken skin-side down on the indirect heat section of the grill. Close the lid on a gas grill. Cook 15 minutes. Turn the chicken over, close the lid on gas grill, and cook 10 minutes. Move chicken to direct heat section and cook, turning once, until skin is brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Pay close attention: any dripping fat or added oils or marinades catch fire easily. You may want to keep a spray bottle of water nearby to douse flames.
  2. Test the chicken for doneness by cutting into center. It should be slightly pink (it will finish cooking while it rests). If center is very pink, return chicken to indirect heat section and cook another 5 minutes.

Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Looking for something a little more exciting? Try Huli Huli Chicken!