What’s the best temperature to grill chicken? Skip the trip to the grill house and follow these tips for making the tastiest grilled chicken at home!
When it comes to grilled chicken, the grill temp is a major factor for ensuring the meat is not only safe to eat, but also juicy and tender. If the grill temp is too high, you risk burning the chicken, but if it’s too low, you’ll end up with undercooked meat.
Generally speaking, the best cooking temperature for grilled chicken is 350°F-400°F using direct or indirect heat. The temperature can vary depending on which cut of chicken you’re using, and whether the pieces are bone-in or boneless.
Keep reading to learn the best grill temp based on various factors, plus a few tips for getting juicy, flavorful chicken at your next backyard BBQ!
What’s the Best Temperature to Grill Chicken
The grill temp will vary based on the cut of chicken you’re using, and whether the pieces are boneless or bone-in, as seen in the table below:
|Grilling Temp for Chicken||Grilling Method|
|Chicken Breasts – Boneless Skinless||400˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 7)||Direct heat, 5 to 6 minutes per side|
|Chicken Tenders||375˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 6)||Direct heat, 2 to 3 minutes per side|
|Chicken Thighs (Bone-In)||400˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 7)||Direct for 5 minutes, indirect for 20 to 30 minutes|
|Chicken Thighs (Boneless)||375˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 6)||Direct heat, 6 to 8 minutes per side|
|Chicken Wings||350˚F (medium heat, gas mark 5)||Direct heat, 15 to 20 minutes|
|Chicken Legs and Drumsticks||400˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 7)||Direct heat, 30 minutes|
|Whole Chicken||375˚F (medium-high heat, gas mark 6)||Indirect heat, 45 to 90 minutes depending on size|
When to Use Direct vs Indirect Heat
When cooking dark meat (legs and thighs) or a whole bird, we recommend using a combination of direct and indirect heat. Direct heat is used to get a nice, crispy skin, while indirect heat slowly cooks the meat in the middle and allows the chicken to retain its juices. For bigger cuts and bone-in pieces that require longer grilling times, direct heat isn’t recommended since it can burn the meat.
Direct heat works best for white meat (chicken breast) and smaller pieces like wings and tenders. These cuts are only a few inches thick and will be fully cooked in a relatively short time.
When Is Grilled Chicken Done?
The best way to tell if grilled chicken is done is by measuring the internal temp with an instant-read thermometer. When chicken has reached a temperature of 165°F, you can be sure that all the harmful bacteria has been eliminated, making the meat safe to eat. We recommend removing the chicken from the grill at 160°F and allowing it to rest for a few minutes. During this time, the internal temp will increase by 5-10°F.
Although chicken is safe to eat at 165°F, most pieces taste best when cooked to higher temperatures:
- Chicken wings taste best when cooked to 190°F, which allows the collagen to break down for more tender meat.
- Dark meat like legs and thighs should be cooked to 180°F, which allows the connective tissues to break down
- If you’re grilling a whole bird, it’s normal for the breasts to be 165°F while the thighs and legs will reach 175-180°F
To measure the internal temp, we recommend using an instant-read thermometer. Insert the probe horizontally through the thickest part of the chicken and wait for the reading on the screen.
Another option is to use a wireless dual-probe thermometer, which allows you to remotely monitor the internal temp during the entire cooking process. With this handy device, there’ll be no need to open the lid of the grill to check the temperature of the meat. There’s even an option to have the thermometer beep when the chicken has reached the desired internal temp.
Tips for the Best Grilled Chicken
- Use your favorite dry rub to season the chicken. For extra crispy results, you can soak the meat in a brine overnight.
- To prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill, be sure to brush it with oil.
- Ensure your grill grates are clean before you start grilling. Spray or brush the grates with oil to prevent sticking.
- If the chicken is still frozen, you’ll need to fully defrost before you start grilling. We recommend defrosting in a flavorful marinade for the most delicious results.
- Sauces should be added near the end of the cooking process since they can cause burning if they’re grilled for too long.
- If you’re grilling a whole bird, butterfly/spatchcock the chicken to allow it to lay flat on the grill. Use a sharp knife to remove the backbone and place it on the grates with the skin side up. If you’d prefer not to butterfly the chicken, you can truss it instead.
- If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll want to position the chicken with its legs nearer to the lit coals. Dark meat needs to be cooked to a higher temperature and is more resistant to direct heat. This positioning allows each part of the chicken to reach its ideal internal temp without overcooking the other parts.
- For those gorgeous crosshatched grill marks, rotate the pieces 90 degrees when you’re halfway through the expected cooking time.
- Remove the chicken from the grill when the thermometer’s reading is 5-10 degrees below the desired internal temp. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes to allow the internal temp to rise and to keep the meat nice and juicy.
What Temperature Do You Cook Chicken On A Gas Grill?
If you’re using a gas grill, we recommend preheating medium-high heat or manually setting the grill temp at 350-400°F. Spray or brush the grates with oil and place the chicken on the grill before closing the lid. Cook for 8 minutes, which should leave the chicken lightly browned with grill marks. Rotate the chicken 90 degrees for crosshatched grill marks and reduce the heat to medium or 300-350°F. Close the lid and cook the chicken for an additional 7-10 minutes, removing it from the heat once it reaches the desired internal temp.
How Long Do You Grill Chicken Breasts On Each Side?
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts should be grilled over direct heat for 5-6 minutes on each side.
How Hot Should Your Grill Be For Chicken?
For a whole chicken, preheat your grill to 375°F or medium-high heat.
How Long Do I Grill Chicken Breast?
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts should be grilled using direct heat for 5-6 minutes on each side. Bone-in chicken breasts take quite a while longer and will need a total of 25-30 minutes on the grill, using a combination of direct and indirect heat. a
Can You Take Chicken Off The Grill At 160?
According to the USDA, chicken needs to reach an internal temp of 165°F before it’s safe to eat. However, we recommend removing chicken from the grill at 160°F and allowing it to rest for a few minutes before serving. During this rest period, the internal temp will increase by a few degrees.
How Long To Grill Chicken At 350?
With a grill temp of 350°F, four ounces of boneless chicken breasts should be ready in 20-30 minutes. Chicken wings cook a bit faster and should be fully cooked in 15-20 minutes at this temperature.
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Grilled Chicken (+What Temp 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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