How to Make Delicious Grilled Chicken at Home

In Backyard grilling tips by Shubham JL

The fact is chicken loses moisture easily. As master chef, your mission is to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening and undercooking is not an option.  When you can make delicious grilled chicken at home, mission accomplished. The question is whether you can save your chicken’s valuable moisture before it turns into something vaguely reminiscent of shoe leather.  First, you’ll need some inside information.

How Long Do You Grill Chicken?

As you read before: the fact is chicken loses moisture easily. Fact number two is that heat robs chicken of its moisture. By that reasoning, the less you cook it, the better. But not so fast. Undercooking a chicken can be just as detrimental. Not only is it completely unpalatable (think soft, mushy, and tasteless), there are health consequences to consider. So, what can you do to make sure your chicken is done before it’s totally done for? Here’s some advice on how, and how long, to grill a chicken to perfection.

Why Size and Temperature Matter

The most important factors in determining how long you should cook your chicken are the size of the chicken (including bone content) and the temperature your cooking it at.  The larger the size of the chicken, the longer it will need to cook and the higher the temperature, the less time it will need to cook. These factors are necessary to consider when planning to accomplish your mission.

How do I know when chicken is done?

When it comes to cooking a chicken, 165 is the number to remember.  One hundred sixty-five degrees is the minimum safe internal temperature for a chicken (for thighs and legs, it’s one-eighty) But just as important as knowing those number is knowing when you’ve reached them. For that, we recommend a quality instant-read digital thermometer. NO chef should be without one. Check out the ThermaPro TP03 Instant Read Meat Thermometer with backlight on Amazon for accuracy, speed, and reliability.

Average Grilling Times

When we talk about grilling time, we mean how long it takes for the chicken to reach its minimum safe internal temperature. (Chicken breast: 165 degrees F, Chicken legs, wings, and thighs: 180 degrees F). Here are some approximate grilling times based on the various cuts and sizes of the chicken.

  • Boneless, skinless, chicken breast, 6-8 oz:  8-12 minutes over direct medium heat (350 degrees F)
  • Chicken breast, bone-in, 10-12 oz.: 30-40 minutes over direct medium heat
  • Chicken leg or thigh, bone-in: 30-40 minutes over indirect medium heat
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thigh, 4oz. : 8-10 minutes over high direct heat (450 – 650 degrees F)
  • Chicken Wings, 2-3 oz: 18-20 minutes over direct medium heat
  • Whole Chicken, 3 ½-4 ½ lbs: 1 ½ -2 hours over indirect medium heat

Three Recipes For Delicious Grilled Chicken

A delicious choice, yes. A healthy choice, undoubtedly. An adventurous choice, not really. If grilled chicken is your idea of playing it safe, get saucy with it.  Here are some of the best grilled chicken recipes that will bring zing to the wing, zest to the breast, and put the thrill back in the grill.

Spicy Grilled Chicken Recipe: Dr. Pepper Chicken

Whether you’re a Pepper or not, once you eat this chicken, you’ll be singing the theme song. The barbecue sauce in this kickin’ chicken mixes Dr. Pepper flavor with bourbon, ketchup, and barbecue seasoning. Keep the extra Dr. Pepper handy, you’re going to need something to wash this down with.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2/3 cup Dr. Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 4 teaspoons barbecue seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried, minced onions
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 drumsticks

Directions

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered over medium-low heat, 8-10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.
  2. Cook chicken on an oiled grill over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Turn, grill for another 15 minutes or until the temperature reads 175 degrees Fahrenheit, brushing occasionally with sauce mixture.

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Healthy Grilled Chicken Recipe:  Grilled Chicken and Vegetable Hero

 Bursting with beta carotene-rich sweet pepper, eggplant zucchini and strips of juicy grilled chicken, this healthy grilled chicken hero is bound to save the day. Make sure to bring extra napkins, this is a sandwich of epic proportions.

Ingredients:

  • (4) 4 oz. grilled chicken cutlets
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced, lengthwise
  • 1 small eggplant, thinly sliced, lengthwise
  • 4 whole-wheat hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
  • 4 teaspoons olive tapenade
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat grill to medium-high. Rub chicken with a 1 tsp oil and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side, or until thoroughly cooked.
  2. Toss cut veggies with the remaining 2 tsp of oil and add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Grill 5-7 minutes each side until tender.
  3. Slice rolls. Spread with tapenade. Fill with chicken, vegetables, and basil leaves if desired.

Tropical Chicken Recipe: Aloha Grilled Chicken

  This recipe requires few ingredients and packs a lot of (Hawaiian) punch. Try this combination of juicy chicken and sweet pineapple and say “Aloha” to your taste buds.

Ingredients:

  • I cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pineapple, halved and sliced into rings
  • Thinly sliced green onions for garnish

Directions:

  1. Whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, ketchup, garlic and ginger in a large bowl.
  2. Place chicken in a large sealable plastic bag and let it marinate for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight.
  3. When ready to grill, turn to high heat, oil grates, and grill chicken, basting with marinade until it is charred and cooked through, about 8 mins per side.
  4. Toss pineapple with oil and grill until charred, about 2 mins each side.
  5. Garnish chicken with pineapple and green onions before serving.

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Should you give it some skin, or should you just leave it hanging? That’s the question to be decided.

If you leave the skin on ……

you’ll get more texture and flavor, but you’ll also get more fat. Unfortunately, fat and flavor seem to go together more often than not. In the case of the chicken, most of the fat is in the skin. The fat keeps the meat moist and protects it from the heat and also adds flavor.  Chicken skin also gets that enjoyable crispiness when it cooks.  

If you leave the skin off……

You’ll lose the unhealthy fat, but you’ll also lose the flavor and the texture. Add to that the fact that skinless chicken cooks fast, (as in -go to the bathroom and its burnt- fast) which means you have to watch it like a hawk (even if it is a chicken).

The Compromise

As it is with most things, the best solution is a compromise. If you’re a health-conscious diner, the middle ground is to let the chicken cook with the skin on and take it off right before chowing down. That will allow the chicken to maintain its flavor, while still getting the skinless healthy grilled chicken benefits.

Grilled Chicken Seasoning for Juicy Chicken Breast

When chicken breast goes up against a heated grill, it’s like pitting a lightweight against a heavyweight.  The odds are against it. With only four grams of fat to protect it and 30 grams of protein, chicken breast has very little chance of retaining its moisture when grilled.  To even the odds, some type of seasoning is required. While seasoning your chicken is essential to maintaining moisture, there are several ways to do it. Here are some of the options for cooking chicken breast like a champion.

Brine

Of all the seasoning methods, brining is undoubtedly the most impressive. To do it, add one tablespoon of salt and sugar each to cold water and submerge the chicken in it for about 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes is up, drain the water and let the chicken sit in a strainer for ten minutes. Brush with olive oil, your favorite seasoning, and grill.

Marinade:

 Marinades are liquids that not only add flavor to your meat, but they also tenderize. The acid breaks down in the meat and makes more tender. A basic marinade consists of:

  • An oil, or another fat
  • An acid, like vinegar or lemon juice
  • Something sweet or salty, such as Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, fruit juice, and honey, mustard or soy sauce
  • Herbs, onions, or garlic

Large sealable bags are great for marinating, as are glass or plastic containers covered in plastic wrap. Place your chicken into the container of your choice and add ¼ cup of marinade per pound of chicken. Let it marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator for optimal results.

Bonus tip: If you’re planning on using the marinade as a base, set a portion aside and reduce it in a pan to turn it into a sauce. Make sure to heat the liquid, to rid it of any raw meat contamination.

Dry Rub:

As the name suggests a dry rub, meaning it has no liquid component, and you rub it on to your meat. While a rub will add flavor to your meat, it won’t tenderize it.  It usually consists of spices such as sugar, salt, paprika, and cumin. A dry rub can be applied of time, but to get the most flavor from your chicken, apply the rub at least one hour before grilling.

What goes with grilled chicken?

The fact is chicken loses moisture easily. As master chef, your mission is to do everything in your power to prevent that from happening and undercooking is not an option.  When you can make delicious grilled chicken at home, mission accomplished. The question is whether you can save your chicken’s valuable moisture before it turns into something vaguely reminiscent of shoe leather.  First, you’ll need some inside information.

Can man live on grilled chicken alone? Maybe, but he probably wouldn’t order in a restaurant. Grilled chicken is not a dish on its own, it screams to be accompanied. So, what will it be? With so many options, it can be hard to choose.

Veggies

Some of us can’t get enough of our veggies, others of us don’t get enough of our veggies. But love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are known to pair well with grilled chicken.  Serve them steamed, grilled or raw, in a big salad or creamy coleslaw. Tossing chicken with eggplant and squash makes for a tasty and healthy grilled chicken recipe.  

Starches

 Whether you haven’t even vegetables since you lived with your mom, or still live with your mom and simply refuse to eat them, starches may be a more palatable alternative. Wild or brown rice will keep your meal on the low-calorie side. Any type of pasta can be served with grilled chicken for a heartier dish. Beans and potatoes of all types also make excellent side dishes.

Fruit

Ah, fruit, nature’s candy. A savory, sweet combination, (much more healthful than donuts and bacon), grilled chicken and fruit are a lighter and more summerlike alternative to a traditional chicken meal. While most commonly paired with apples and strawberries, grilled chicken can also work well with mangoes and melons.  Make your grilled chicken recipe especially fruitful by adding a side of cantaloupe with feta cheese. Other options include a big tomato salad or a pineapple side dish.

For more ideas and recipes for delicious side dishes, visit steelcampfire.com

Tips For Nailing the Best Grilled Chicken

 “We do chicken right.” The question is, do you? Check your grilling practices against these to see if you’re getting the most from your grilled chicken.

Pick the Right Cut of Chicken

 The first part of doing chicken right is picking the right cut of chicken. Keep in mind that bigger cuts take longer to cook, which can be great if you have time to chill and grill. But if you’re planning a fast dinner, boneless chicken is the better choice.

Wash your hands

Chicken skin adds flavor, your skin, not so much. Wash hands in hot soapy water for 20 seconds before handling your chicken for your sake and for the sake of your guests.

Don’t Let It Thaw on the Counter

Counter to what you may think, thawing chicken on the counter is not the most healthful way to do it. Germs multiply rapidly at room temperature and that’s something none of us like to think about. Our advice is don’t think about it- not the germs nor leaving the chicken on the counter. Instead, thaw the chicken in the refrigerator or microwave. When you thaw

 in the microwave, it cooks the food immediately. Never grill food partially and then come back to it later; doing it at once is a better way to destroy the harmful bacteria.

Pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

Part of the difficulty of cooking boneless skinless chicken breast is that its uneven shape makes it tricky to grill. Pounding the thicker end thinner makes a better chicken dinner. By taking a few minutes out to pound your chicken, you’ll reduce cooking times and end up with more evenly cooked meat.

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