Top BBQ Tips for Chicken

The following BBQ tips for Chicken will really help you select specific cuts of chicken, what to look for and avoid, and some general tips to prepare the chicken (each BBQ Chicken recipe will contain very specific tips if necessary).

Most importantly though are some valuable tips for grilling chicken.

While it's nearly the most popular grilling meat (next to grilling Pork) - it's also the easiest to take from Great to, well, not so great in no time flat.


> Chicken Selection and safety Tips
> Chicken Preparation Tips
> Chicken Grilling Basics
> Chicken Grilling Chart

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Chicken Selection and Safety Tips

  • Select fresh chicken that appears moist and hasn't any signs of dry spots (previous freezer burn)
  • Ideal cuts for the BBQ grill include thighs and breasts, leg and thigh quarters, wings and drumsticks
  • Small Cornish hens or quail are also a great alternative for the grill
  • Always refrigerate raw, fresh chicken in the coldest section of the refrigerator and use within 1-2 days
  • If buying chicken on special it usually means it's within a day or so of it's recommended expiry - cook it the same day
  • Vacuum sealers are a great investment for freezing all kinds of raw meats - vacuum sealed freezer bags will allow you to keep whole chickens frozen for a year and chicken parts up to 9 months
  • To thaw frozen chicken submerge the sealed freezer bag in cold water. Never leave raw chicken too long on the counter as it's susceptible to bacterial growth at room temperature
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Chicken Preparation Tips

  • Chicken is one of the best meats for marinating as it absorbs so much flavor. Acid content in the marinade (vinegar, citrus juice, wine, yogurt) increases the tenderness of the chicken, particularly white meat like the breast
  • Jab the pieces with a fork in several places to help increase the penetration of the marinade
  • Flatten or pound the meat for quicker more even cooking. Place the chicken between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a heavy re-sealable freezer bag to prevent messes and splattering. Use the smooth size of your mallet or a rolling pin

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Chicken Grilling Basics

  • Always leave the skin on chicken when grilling, it helps to retain the juices and can always be removed afterwards if necessary
  • Bone-in chicken (any meat for that matter) will always be juiciest. Take care though as the chicken could burn on the outside before the meat at the bone is cooked. Much juicer meat than bone-less chicken any time
  • Grill bone-in chicken bone-side down until no longer pink in the center and juices run clear - refer to grilling chart below. Skin-on pieces should be seared skin-side down for a few minutes before turning the piece bone-side down
  • Never overcrowd the chicken when on the grill - leave space between each piece to help cook and brown more evenly
  • Smaller pieces cook more quickly so keep them to the outer edges of the grill where they'll receive less heat and cook slower
  • White meat pieces and smaller pieces like wings always cook more quickly then dark meat pieces like thighs and legs
  • Sauces with high sugar content will cause flare-ups when cooking over direct heat and may burn the chicken. Where possible season the chicken with rubs and spices before cooking and apply BBQ sauces towards the end of the grilling time - just enough for the sauce to caramelize and crust on the chicken without burning. Either that or cook over indirect heat and slather all the sauce on you like
  • Where possible, use a meat thermometer or probe to ensure chicken is cooked to it's proper temperature
  • Let the cooked meat "rest" for 5 minutes covered with foil before serving.
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Chicken Grilling Chart

  • Chicken breasts are done at 170F
  • Whole chickens are done at 180F when measured in the thigh
  • Kabob's are done when the juices run clear
  • When direct grilling flip the meat only once, half-way through grilling time
  • Whenever possible use a meat thermometer or temperature probe to check temperature doneness
  • Grilling times below are only guidelines and should not replace the use of a meat thermometer.
Cut Weight or Thickness Heat Approximate Cooking Time
Whole Chicken 3 to 4 lbs Medium-indirect 1-1/4 to 1-3/4 hours
Whole Chicken 5 to 6 lbs Medium-indirect 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 hours
Bone-in pieces (breast halves, legs, quarters) 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs Medium-direct 35 to 45 minutes
Bone-in pieces (thighs, drumsticks, wings) 3 to 7 oz each Medium-low-direct 15 to 30 minutes
Bone-less breast halves 5 to 7 oz each Medium-direct 10 to 15 minutes
Kabob's 1 inch cubes Medium-direct 10 to 15 minutes
Cornish Hens 1-1/2 to 2 lbs Medium-indirect 45 to 60 minutes




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