Grilled chicken is like a blank canvas for flavor.
By itself, chicken is flavorless and bland.
How can you avoid charred-on-the-outside, raw-on-the-inside grilled chicken?
Here are our tips for grilling the perfect chicken breast.
Preparing the chicken breast for the grill
As we know, dark meat is more flavorful than other parts of the chicken.
The legs are richer and fattier than breasts, and the extra bit of fat goes a long way toward keeping the meat from drying out.
However, for chicken breast, we can prevent the meat from drying out by submerging the meat in a brine or a marinade before grilling.
Regardless of which cut you are grilling; breast, thighs, or even wings – brining is an excellent technique to keep the meat moist.
Another issue to tackle with chicken breast, is they often come in varying sizes and thicknesses.
We solve this issue by placing a single chicken breast (one large piece is enough for two people) between two sheets of plastic wrap.
Use a meat mallet to pound out the breast to an even thickness, which will help with even cooking.
Setting up your grill
There are all sorts of charcoal and gas grills available and honestly, there isn’t much difference between them all.
A grill is nothing more than a container for hot coals with a wire rack to hold the food.
We recommend “zone grilling,” with hot, cool, and warm settings.
For tender chicken breast, avoid cooking the meat directly over flames.
Slowly cook the breast on the cool side of the grill until almost done.
Then give the breast a quick sear on the hot side of the grill to finish cooking and add grill flavor.
Spices and rubs
Use a good amount of spice rub and a sauce.
Sprinkle the rub on the chicken before cooking so it can penetrate and flavor the meat.
Brush the sauce on at the end of cooking to give the chicken another layer of flavor and a deliciously glazed exterior.
Use hardwood lump
For a charcoal grill or ceramic cooker, use hardwood lump charcoal.
It burns hotter than briquettes, and it lights quickly, so if you have to add more during cooking, you can just scatter unlit pieces on top of the lit ones.
Charcoal briquettes, which are made from compressed hardwood by-products and additives, take longer to light and can give off a chemical or sooty aroma while doing so.
Keep the grill temperature between 300ºF and 350ºF so that the meat doesn’t cook too fast and dry out.
If your grill doesn’t have a built-in thermometer, drop a heatproof probe thermometer through its top vent.
All chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Always allow the chicken to rest before serving so the juices of the meat will reabsorb back into the center of the meat for optimum moisture.
GRILL TOYS WE RECOMMEND
Honey Mustard Glazed Grilled Chicken Breast
For Honey Mustard Glaze
- 4 tsp Apple cider vinegar divided
- 6 tsp Dijon mustard divided
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp dried, ground thyme
- 1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 large chicken breast pounded out for even cooking
- 2 Tbsp. white, granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. light, brown sugar
- In a small bowl, mix the following: 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, and 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the following: 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 5 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 tsp. cornstarch, the ground thyme, Cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Once mixed well, pour into a small saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil.
- Once the mixture is boiling, add the mixture from the smaller bowl.
- Stir. Reduce heat to low and cook until slightly thickened.
- Meanwhile, remove the chicken from your brine or marinade. Pat dry.
- Mix white sugar and brown sugar in a dredging dish. Coat the chicken and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Remove glaze from heat. All to sit and cool while the grill is heating up.
- Grill chicken, flip, apply glaze to initial cooked side, flip, and apply glaze to the second side.
- Cook protein until the internal temperature reaches 160ºF. Remove from grill and tent with foil. The residual heat will cook the chicken breast to 165ºF.