What’s the best Internal Temp for Grilled Chicken? What about the temperature of the grill? Knowing these two numbers will help you to get the most mouthwatering results. Here’s the ultimate guide for preparing the best grilled chicken at home!
Grilled chicken is a healthy and delicious protein that goes perfectly with salads or your favorite side dishes. When it’s cooked just right, grilled chicken is juicy and tender with a whole lot of flavor.
Whether you’re grilling chicken breasts, wings or a whole bird, follow these tips for delicious results every time.
Grilled Chicken Internal Temperature
According to food safety guidelines, grilled chicken must reach a minimum internal temp of 165°F or 74°C. At this temperature, harmful bacteria like salmonella can no longer survive.
It’s important to note that some parts of the chicken require a higher internal temp, as shown below:
|Chicken Cut||Internal Temp Done||Explanation|
|Chicken breasts||165°F (74°C)||The meat is lean and should be cooked only to this safe level recommended by the USDA.|
|Chicken thighs||175°F (79°C)||Dark meat chicken should be cooked longer to break down the connective tissue to be tender.|
|Chicken legs or drumsticks||175°F (79°C)||Dark meat chicken should be cooked longer to break down the connective tissue to be tender.|
|Chicken wings||190°F (88°C)||Wings have lots of collagen that takes extra time to dissolve to become easy to eat.|
|Whole chicken (stuffed or unstuffed)||180°F (82°C)||Whole chickens have connective tissue that takes longer to break down due to the size of the bird.|
How to Measure the Internal Temp for Grilled Chicken
An instant-read thermometer is a great tool for measuring the internal temp of grilled chicken. Simply insert the probe through the center of the thickest part of the chicken.
If you’re working with bone-in pieces like thighs or wings, ensure you aren’t touching the bone with the probe, which can lead to an inaccurate reading.
Once the thermometer has a reading that is 5 degrees less than your desired internal temp, it’s time to remove it from the grill. For example, you would remove drumsticks and thighs when the thermometer reads 170°F.
Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes, which will allow the temperature to increase by those last 5 degrees. This brief resting period helps to keep the meat succulent and juicy.
When it comes to grilling, a wireless dual probe thermometer is more ideal than an instant-read thermometer. Since the probe stays inside the meat as it cooks, there’s no need to remove and re-insert to check the temperature.
You can monitor the internal temp remotely, which means you won’t have to open the lid on your grill while the chicken is being cooked.
What is the Best Grilling Temp for Chicken?
Besides the internal temp of the meat itself, it’s also important to use the right grilling temp. Generally speaking, the best grilling temp for chicken is 400°F or 204°C. Depending on various factors, the grilling temp can range from 350-450°F (176.7°C to 232.2°C).
A whole bird should be grilled at 350 to 400°F using indirect heat. A 5-pound chicken should be fully cooked in 60-90 minutes.
Chicken pieces (whether legs, thighs, breasts or wings) should be grilled at the same temperature, but will be ready in 10-30 minutes, depending on the piece. Legs and thighs typically take longer than breasts and wings.
When it comes to smoked chicken, you’ll need a much lower cooking temperature of 200-225°F.
How Long to Grill Chicken
As mentioned above, cooking time is dependent on the part of the chicken. Another factor to consider is whether you’re working with filets or bone-in pieces.
The table below provides a useful guide for both grilling temp and grill time.
|Chicken Part||Grill Temp||Grill Time|
|Chicken Breasts (Boneless)||Direct heat at 400˚F (gas mark 6)||5 to 6 minutes per side|
|Chicken Breasts (Bone-in)||Direct heat at 400˚F (gas mark 6)||6 to 7 minutes per side|
|Chicken Wings||Direct heat at 400˚F (gas mark 6)||15 to 20 minutes|
|Drumsticks||Direct heat at 400˚F (gas mark 6)||25 to 35 minutes|
|Chicken Thighs (Boneless)||Direct heat at 375˚F (gas mark 5)||7 to 8 minutes per side|
|Chicken Thighs (Bone-In)||Direct heat at 400˚F (gas mark 6), finish on indirect at 300˚F||20 to 25 minutes|
|Chicken Tenders||Direct heat at 375˚F (gas mark 5)||2 to 4 minutes per side|
|Whole Chicken||Indirect heat at 375˚F (gas mark 5)||1 hour for 4 lb bird; 1 ½ hours for 5-6 lb|
The table above provides some general guidelines, but specific recipes may have different instructions.
It’s okay to use a higher or lower grilling temp, though you’ll likely need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. The most important thing is to pay attention to the internal temp.
Tips for Perfect Grilled Chicken
- Start by getting high-quality meat from a trusted supplier. Whether you’re visiting a butcher or the grocery store, always go for the freshest possible chicken.
- For easier and more even cooking, use pieces that are around the same size. Similarly sized pieces will have similar cooking times. If necessary, cut the bigger pieces down to size.
- Don’t remove the skin before grilling. Chicken skin keeps the meat juicy and enhances the flavor. If you don’t like skin, you can always remove it prior to eating.
- Use a dry rub to season the meat before grilling. A mixture of salt and spices will give you tender, flavorful chicken.
- Ensure the grill is clean to prevent the chicken from sticking to the grates. Don’t put the meat on the grill until it has reached the desired grilling temp.
- Sauces should be added during the last few minutes of grilling. If you add sauces from the start, you may end up with a bitter char on the outside of the chicken.
- For super tender chicken, take the time to brine or marinate. You can do this overnight, but even two hours will make a huge difference.
- For best results, use a thermometer to determine doneness. Rather than relying on visual cues or cooking time, always check the internal temp to know when grilled chicken is ready to eat.
How Do I Know If My Grill is 400 Degrees?
Most grills have a built-in thermometer, but you can also use the ‘hand test’ to estimate the temperature. Place your palm about 5 inches from the grill. If you can withstand the heat for 2-4 seconds, it should be around 400°F. If you can withstand the heat for longer than that, chances are the grill isn’t hot enough yet.
Do You Grill Chicken on Direct or Indirect Heat
For best results, use a combination of direct and indirect heat. Begin by cooking the chicken over direct heat for a few minutes to get a nice sear on the outside. Then, switch to indirect heat for the remainder of the cooking time.
How Long Does It Take To Grill Chicken Breasts
For boneless chicken breasts, aim to grill for 5-6 minutes on each side. Bone-in chicken breasts need a bit longer, so give them an additional minute on each side. Of course, the best way to determine doneness is always to check the internal temp.
How Do You Grill Chicken Breasts Without Drying It Out
For the juiciest chicken breasts, use a combination of direct and indirect heat. Start by grilling over direct heat for 4-5 minutes on each side. Once you’ve got a nice sear, move the pieces over to indirect heat for the remainder of the cooking time. Remove the chicken from the grill once the internal temp reaches 160°F and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before eating. During the rest time, the internal temp will rise to 165°F.
How to Store Leftover Grilled Chicken?
Leftover grilled chicken is perfect for meal prep. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave, oven or air fryer.
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Best Grilled Chicken Temp (+ How to Grill Chicken)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Add all ingredients to a zip-loc bag. Toss to coat the chicken thoroughly.
- Marinade the chicken for 30 minutes to 4 hours.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- Remove chicken from the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the remaining marinade.
- Add chicken to the grill, and cook for about 8-10 minutes.
- Flip and cook an additional 5 to 8 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F.
- Let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
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