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Perfect Grilled Chicken


Grilled Chicken

Photo © Molly Watson

Grilled chicken is one of the most popular - and frequently destroyed - dishes at summer barbeques. If you start with a high-quality chicken (I like to use birds raised on pasture for the best flavor) and follow this simple method of pre-salted the bird, cooking it on the bone, and using indirect heat for the bulk of the cooking time, you will be amazed at the results. Juicy, flavorful, tender chicken that tastes like chicken should.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 4 servings Grilled Chicken


  • 4 chicken breast halves and/or thighs (bone in, skin on)

  • About 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Vegetable oil


Thoroughly dry chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt, taking care to work some under the skin. Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Let chicken come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Meanwhile, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect heat. For gas: Turn all burners on high and close the lid. When temperature inside the grill reaches 400°F, turn off one burner. The area over the turned-off burner is the indirect heat section. For charcoal: light 4 to 5 dozen briquettes and let them burn until covered with ash, about 30 minutes. Mound them tone side of the grill. The area over the section cleared of coals is the indirect heat section.

Brush grill with vegetable oil. Put chicken skin-side down on the indirect heat section. Close lid on gas grill. Cook 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, close lid on gas grill, and cook 10 minutes. Move chicken to direct heat section and cook, turning once, until skin is brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Pay close attention: any dripping fat or added oils or marinades catch fire easily. You may want to keep a spray bottle of water nearby to douse flames.

Test chicken for doneness by cutting into center. It should be slightly pink (it will finish cooking while it rests). If center is very pink, return chicken to indirect heat section and cook another 5 minutes.

Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings Grilled Chicken.

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