Grilling your chicken can be a bit nerve-wracking. You want to get that crisp, caramelized exterior, but you also don’t want it to overcook and end up dry and leathery. The best way to do this is by grilling it over indirect heat — as close to the source of heat as possible. Read on for more details on how to achieve the perfect grilled chicken every time..
What is the best temperature for grilling chicken?
The best temperature for grilling chicken depends on a few factors. The size of the chicken and its stage of life all play a part, and so will the type of grill you’re using. With these things in mind, the best chicken grill temp is between 180°F and 185°F — usually around the mid-to-high 180s. The next thing to consider is the type of grill you’re using. Charcoal grills heat up very quickly and can reach much hotter temperatures than gas grills, which have a much smaller flame. Also, the type of chicken you’re cooking will come into play. For example, if you’re grilling a whole chicken, you can reduce the cooking temperature by around 10°F. This is because the chicken itself contains a lot of water, which will reduce the temperature a little.
How to grill on indirect heat?
Indirect heat on a gas or charcoal grill is a bit more complicated than direct heat, but not too difficult. First, you have to build up a good bed of hot coals or evenly distributed hot ashes. Aim to get the bed temperature to around 250°F — this will give you the indirect heat you’re looking for. Next, place the chicken skin side down on the grill, directly over the heat source. Now, find a different piece of the grill that’s about six to eight inches above the chicken and place something heavy (like an empty wine bottle or a piece of metal) on top of it. This will diffuse the heat coming off the coals, creating a cooler area six to eight inches above the chicken and taking the edge off the direct heat.
Keep your temp constant
With indirect heat, you can’t just drop the temperature when you go to move the chicken to a new piece of the grill. The indirect heat will cause the gas or charcoal grill to heat up again, so when you move the chicken to a new part of the grill, you have to maintain the same temperature. You can do this by putting some heavy items on the side of the grill that’s hotter.
Move to a new location
You can move your grilled chicken from one part of the grill to another without lowering the temperature. Once you’ve achieved the indirect heat you want, move the chicken to a different part of the grill, placing it skin side down, directly over the heat source. Now, find a different piece of the grill that’s about six to eight inches above the chicken and place something heavy (like an empty wine bottle or a piece of metal) on top of it. This will diffuse the heat coming off the coals, creating a cooler area six to eight inches above the chicken and taking the edge off the direct heat.
When you first put the chicken on the grill, leave the lid closed. This will allow the grill to heat up and the meat to sear. Once it’s been on the grill for a few minutes, you can leave the lid open, allowing some of the heat to dissipate. As soon as the juices start to run clear, the chicken is cooked.
Brush or not to brush?
A lot of people brush their grilled chicken with an oil mister. The logic is that this will keep the skin from getting too dry while also adding a bit of flavor to the meat. There are pros and cons to brushing your chicken, but it’s not a necessity. The key is to brush the outside of the grill, not the inside. If you brush the inside of the grill, the heat will rise, burning the meat and making it dry and leathery. If you do decide to mop your chicken, make the sauce using the same oil you’re using for the mop. This will prevent the sauce from becoming black in spots from the burnt flavor from the grill.
The best way to get a perfect grilled chicken is by grilling it over indirect heat. Make sure to cook your chicken all the way through before serving it to your guests. When you first put the chicken on the grill, leave the lid closed and allow the heat to build up, then open the lid when the juices start running clear and the chicken is cooked through. Keep these tips in mind, and your grilled chicken will be perfect every time.