How Long To Grill Chicken – 9+ Suggested Yummy Grilling Recipes

How long to grill chicken? It depends on the following two factors: the chicken piece’s size (including or excluding bone content) and the grilling temperature. 

You might not know this, but the more bones the chicken piece has, the longer it takes to cook. For instance, the thighs and drumstick have the largest bones and the longest cooking time compared to other pieces. 

how long to grill chicken featured

Another key factor is the grilling temperature. You will spend more time waiting when you set the temperature low. In today’s article, we will dive into the grilling time of different chicken pieces, along with the elements affecting how long to grill them.

Plus, we will also explain the temperature and time needed for grilling different cuts. We divide this article into the following parts:

Table of Contents

    We hope this knowledge will help you treat your family with perfectly grilled and protein-rich chicken dishes without any hassle. So, let’s get started with the most critical point to consider first, the grilling chicken guide.

    Comprehensive Grilling Chicken Guide

    We will provide a complete guide for you to cook irresistible grilled chicken dishes, along with several mouth-watering recipes that will satisfy any member of your family.

    grilled chicken

    Average Grill Time For Different Chicken Cuts

    Below is the table of the average time to grill different pieces of chicken for your reference.

    Part

    Volume

    Time

    Temperature

    Skinless, boneless chicken breasts

    6-8 ounces

    8-12 minutes

    Direct medium heat – 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    Bone-in chicken breasts

    10 – 12 ounces

    30 – 40 minutes

    Indirect medium heat – 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    Bone-in thighs or legs

    10 – 12 ounces

    30 – 40 minutes

    Indirect medium heat – 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    Skinless, boneless thighs

    4 ounces

    8 – 10 minutes

    Direct high heat – 450 – 650 degrees Fahrenheit

    Chicken wings

    2 – 3 ounces

    18 – 20 minutes

    Direct medium heat – 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    Whole chicken

    3.5 – 4.5 ounches

    1.5 – 2 hours

    Indirect medium heat – 350 degrees Fahrenheit

    It is worth noting that these figures might vary if you add a sauce, slice the chicken cuts into smaller pieces or marinade it.

    Cooking Temperatures, Thermometers, Food Safety

    Regarding checking the cooked chicken’s temperature, nothing can alter a precise digital instant-read thermometer that can instantly read the heat. This device provides a highly accurate, reliable, and fast result. 

    Tender Grilled Chicken Breast
    Tender Grilled Chicken Breast

    We will touch on the other ways to check for doneness if you do not have a thermometer, yet nothing is safer or better than this handy tool. 

    We highly recommend beginner cooks use a fast-read digital thermometer to, first and foremost, know the proper temperature of the well-cooked chicken piece. 

    What Is The Ideal Internal Temperature For Grilled Chicken?

    If you can remember only one temperature, 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the way to go; it is the safest internal chicken temperature. While you are eager to grill your chicken’s thighs and legs slightly higher for extra crispiness, you know that they are safe to eat. 

    Instant Read Thermometer
    Instant Read Thermometer

    Without a thermometer, several cooking recipes need you to cut the chicken meat to check if the meat is ready to serve. One of the signals of a well-cooked chicken is when you can see the juices run clear. 

    Average Grill Temperatures And What They Mean

    Scrolling through different recipes, you may come across some that require higher than medium grilling heat. So what does it mean? 

    If you are not accustomed to the variety of grilling temperature levels, you will find our guideline convenient for stating the essential average temperatures. 

    It is best to ensure you get a quality, precise digital thermometer to monitor and check the chicken grilling temperature at the grates.

    Cremation

    Above 650 degrees Fahrenheit

    High

    500 – 650

    Medium high

    400 – 450

    Medium heat

    350

    Medium low 

    300

    Low heat

    250 – 275

    Grilling chicken too hot or too fast can end up burning its skin yet leaving the center undercooked. So, the proper grilling temperature is in the medium range, ensuring appropriate grilling with no burning problems.

    How Long To Grill Chicken?

    You now know the average chicken grilling temperatures and how to test the temperature of the barbecue. It’s time to go through how long to grill chicken for different cuts and parts. 

    We will cover all the pieces from a whole chicken down to wings and thighs with several helpful tips and notes for each to keep in mind.

    How Long To Grill A Whole Chicken? Suggested Recipes

    A whole chicken of around six pounds takes approximately 105 – 150 minutes of cooking. Your barbecue’s efficiency, the chicken’s starting temperature, and the ambient temperature contribute to the general cooking time. 

    Whether you cook it upright for beer butt chicken or on the back, the ideal grilling temperature range is from 200 degrees Fahrenheit to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. 

    It is definitely a slow and long cooking procedure, taking merely 1-1/2 to two hours, relying on your chicken’s size and how well the grill maintains the temperature. That said, should you spatchcock the bird, you will significantly lower the time.

    When spatchcocking a whole chicken, you can shorten the whole cooking time down to 30-40 minutes. The reason is that the entire thickness of any piece is greatly reduced, and the heat can affect all pieces of the chicken faster and more readily. 

    Another thing to keep in mind is to use the digital thermometer to check when the meat is ready to serve. Once again, it is imperative to utilize a quality thermometer and ensure every piece has an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Now, it’s time to take a look at the following recipes for chicken lovers.

    #1 Butterfly Grilled Chicken

    Resembling the shape of a butterfly, it is an easy-to-grill dish to prepare for your family. With a mixture of sour cream and herb, this preparation will bring a juicy, tender grilled chicken with many flavors to enlighten your taste buds.

    #2 Under-A-Brick Grilled Chicken

    Let’s explore a new way to make grilled chicken. You can brine the meat beforehand or feel free to season it with additional spices or herbs.

    #3 Spatchcocked Greek Grilled Chicken

    Let’s try a new experience of grilling by spatchcocking your ingredients. You can save a lot of time using this method. It is no doubt simple and requires only sharp kitchen shears.

    How Long To Grill Chicken Breast? Suggested Recipes

    So what is chicken breast? It is a clean meat cut taken from the chicken’s pectoral muscles on the underside. Each chicken includes a chicken breast with two halves typically separated during a butchering process. 

    Raw Chicken Breasts
    Raw Chicken Breasts

    Given the desirable white meat and many health benefits, boneless breast meat is the priciest chicken cut compared to chicken drumsticks, thighs, and wings. It is a great source of protein and is low in fats. 

    The majority of the chicken fat is focused on the skin, so the chicken breast is typically sold boneless and skinless. As per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the four-ounce service size of chicken breast contains merely:

    • 26 protein grams
    • 110 calories
    • 1 fat gram
    • 75 cholesterol milligrams
    • 85 sodium milligrams

    So, how long to grill chicken breast? The duration is relatively shorter than cooking other pieces. 

    On average, the skinless and boneless chicken breast weighs in the range of 5 – 8 ounces and demands around 10-15 minutes for the grilling process to be done. 

    It is best to turn the chicken breast pieces every five minutes to ensure they don’t burn. We highly recommend you grill with medium heat.

    On the other hand, grilling skin-on and bone-in chicken breast can take twice as long as the skinless and boneless pieces. It is around 25 minutes. 

    Rather than using direct heat, it is advisable to utilize indirect medium heat for the initial half of your cook, then complete on direct medium heat. Importantly, take care not to burn the piece’s skin.

    It’s time to explore some easy-to-cook recipes to grill chicken breast.

    #1 Chipotle Chicken Breast

    Let’s enjoy a Mexican-inspired spicy grilled chicken breast in a fiesta.

    #2 Tropical Chicken Breast

    Now it’s time to bring the wind of South Florida to your kitchen. This tropical chicken breast is best for a cozy dinner for your family.

    #3 Chicken Breast With Pepper And Cucumber Relish

    Are you going to have an outdoor party? If so, this dish might be an ideal option for you.

    How Long To Grill Chicken Legs Quarters & Suggested Recipes

    As thighs and legs contain the largest bones, you will need to spend a longer cook time than the chicken breast and wings. You will need to grill the whole chicken leg quarters over indirect heat within 30 – 40 minutes. 

    This period can help the bone-in chicken leg quarters get enough heat for the best grilling outcome. Remember to turn pieces every 15 minutes. You can turn the side to grill over direct heat in about 10 minutes. Each side will need 5 minutes for grilling. 

    For this part of the chicken, you need to wait until the temperature inside reaches between 180 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit before taking off the grill. In fact, the temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is enough, yet at 180 – 190 degrees Fahrenheit, your meat will taste more tender and flavorful.

    Below are our suggested recipes to grill chicken legs.

    #1 Sriracha Honey Grilled Chicken Legs Quarters

    The dish has a Korean spicy and sweet sauce. It is great to serve on rainy days.

    #2 Spicy Grilled Chicken Legs Quarters

    These spicy grilled chicken leg quarters are hot and sweet, just like the smoked leg you have at a theme park or a fair!

    How Long To Grill Chicken Thighs And Drumsticks? Suggested Recipes

    The time needed for grilling drumsticks and thighs is above 40 minutes. We introduce you to two ways to grill these parts. The first method utilizes direct heat for the whole process. 

    Raw Chicken Thigh
    Chicken Thigh

    Accordingly, if you grill with medium high heat or 450 degrees Fahrenheit, it is a must to turn chicken pieces every five minutes to avoid burning. The other way is to utilize indirect heat within 30 minutes and direct heat to grill for the ultimate 10 minutes. 

    Irrespective of the way you use, if you prefer to add sauce, please do it during these last 10 minutes to deter the sugar from getting burned. It is the same as grilling leg quarters. 

    So you will need to wait until the internal temp reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit for the best tenderness and flavor. At 190 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat pieces can start to fall off their bones. 

    Below are two recommended recipes to cook chicken thighs.

    #1 Cherry And Peach Salsa Grilled Chicken Thighs

    Let’s treat your party guests with these colorful and flavor-explosive grilled chicken thighs alongside cherry and peach salsa.​​

    #2 Mango-Ancho Sauce Grilled Chicken Thighs

    Smoky ancho chile and sweet mango are combined to deliver a flavorful sauce for the chicken thighs. This dish is not spicy, so even kids can enjoy it.

    How Long To Grill Chicken Wings? Suggested Recipes

    You will want to directly grill the wings over medium heat for around 20 -25 minutes in total. 

    It is best to begin by leaving the cuts on your grill with the grill lid closed for 3-4 minutes. Next, you can open and turn these pieces every several minutes to brown them evenly.

    Chicken Wings
    Chicken Wings

    After 15 minutes, it is essential to utilize a quality digital thermometer to check whether the wings have reached the minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, you can enjoy the chicken wings a bit charred on their sides yet not burned.

    Let’s explore some easy chicken recipes as follows.

    #1 Malaysian Grilled Chicken Wings

    The first recipe we want to introduce to you is the Malaysian grilled chicken wings, interestingly flavorful and tender. You can serve this dish for lunch or dinner.

    #2 Caesar Grilled Chicken Wings

    The next recipe we want to introduce is the Caesar grilled chicken wings. This dish is cheesy and features a bit of sour and spicy flavor. You can feel the wings melt in your mouth. Plus, the Caesar dressing can keep them tasty and tender.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Happens If The Chicken Cooks Too Long?

    You might not know this, but chicken is a highly lean meat and can dry fast. Overcooking can make it tough, dry, and chewy. Plus, the skin-on meat can burn over direct heat. 
    Overcooking leads to a bad acrid burnt flavor throughout the chicken rather than a tender, smoky flavor. That’s why it is essential to have a high-quality instantly-read digital thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken regularly when grilling. 
    Besides, you can consider our table above of suggested cooking time and temperature for each part of the chicken to avoid overcooking. 

    What Happens If The Inner Meat Part Does Not Reach 165 Degrees Fahrenheit?

    The reasons why we recommend the temperature to grill above 165 degrees Fahrenheit include:
    Food safety: This temperature is to ensure salmonella and other bad bacteria do not meet favorable environments to grow.
    Tender taste: Undercooked chicken isn’t palatable but rather tasteless, excessively soft, and mushy.

    Is It Better To Grill Chicken On Indirect Or Direct Heat?

    Smaller chicken pieces, wings, and drumsticks do well on the direct cooking medium fire, provided that they are turned frequently to avoid getting burned. 
    For bigger pieces like whole bone-in chicken breast, whole birds, and leg quarters, grilling using indirect fire for at least half of the grilling time and browning the skin through the direct fire to complete the grilling.

    Should You Brine, Rub, Or Marinate Before Cooking? Does It Have an Impact On Cooking Time?

    Wet brining and wet marinades can add flavor yet can lengthen the grilling time of the chicken skin. It might take longer for the chicken skin to dry before turning a tender brown color. 
    On the other hand, boneless chicken cuts, marinated or not, take the same amount of time to grill. Plus, dry rubs for your chicken meat can help the skin dry and won’t impact grilling time. 
    It will also help if you remember that the good but gold combo: salt and pepper is the simple but best seasonings for grilling. When grilling, the smoke released from the charcoal can overpower increasingly delicate flavorings like the essential herbs. 
    If you plan to slather your ingredients with any kind of sauce, you will only mask other flavors from the rub or marinade.

    Does The Thickness And The Weight Make A Difference In Cooking Time?

    In terms of cooking a whole chicken, its size matters significantly. The bigger the chicken is, the longer it will take to grill. An ideal estimate is in the range of 18-25 minutes for every pound. 
    Plus, the heat has to penetrate the chicken’s skin, the bone, and the meat before it is accurately grilled through. The thicker the piece of meat is, the longer it will take for the heat to transfer.

    Outro

    That’s all about our article on how long to grill chicken at home. We have dived into the grilling time for each part of the chicken, from a whole chicken to wings, thighs, leg quarters, and breasts. The article also states some mistakes when grilling this protein-rich ingredient. 

    It is advisable to follow our failproof grilling guide that guarantees a tender and flavorful chicken outcome every time, regardless of your cooking experience. Plus, we hope our suggested recipes will be helpful for you to prepare delicious meals for dinners and parties. 

    Do not forget to share pictures of your results with us. We are glad to hear from you. Anyway, if you have any further questions, please feel free to let us know. And one more thing, keep following us as we regularly update new posts for handy cooking tips.

    In the end, thank you for reading!

    Roger Lee
    Roger Lee

    Thanks for visiting my website. My name is Roger Lee, and I am a 30-year-old man with a hybrid blood of Chinese and Russian. I decided to set up this site to share with everyone my love and passion for open-air cuisine. It all started when my parents opened a restaurant and I had the chance of getting exposed to the art of outdoor cooking.
    This website aims at sharing about my hobby, recipes, and tips for cooking to everyone. Try them out and tell me about your experience.