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Common Chicken Grilling Mistakes–and How to Avoid Them

Easy Tips & Recipes For Grilling Chicken

Grilled chicken is delicious, reduces cookware, and grilling is a much faster cooking method than roasting. It’s not a difficult cooking technique to master, but there are some common mistakes home chefs make when it comes to grilling chicken. Here, we offer our best tips and advice to ensure your grilled chicken is perfect every time.

Common Mistake: A Dirty Grilling Surface

Nobody wants brown bits of old meat on an otherwise perfect piece of chicken. Just because you’re outdoors doesn’t mean food safety goes out the window too. Clean your grill top prior to cooking and always follow these four basic steps to minimize the risk of foodborne illness: Clean, separate, cook, and chill. Check out our Easy Guide To Chicken and Food Safety for simple instructions on how to make food safety a part of your cooking routine–in and out of the kitchen.

Common Mistake: Overcooking

Because grilling is so much quicker, it’s easy to overcook your chicken. To make sure you don’t accidentally over-cook  your chicken cuts (or undercook, for that matter), use a food thermometer. Using a food thermometer is the smartest way to ensure your chicken is grilled to perfection. Not only is it the most precise way to tell if your chicken is done, it’s the best way to know that it’s safe to eat. Just place the thermometer probe all the way into the middle of the thickest part of the meat (not touching any bones) and check that the internal temperature is 165°F (74°C) for cuts, 180°F (82°C) for a whole chicken. If cooking more than one piece of chicken, be sure to check each piece separately. Watch our video tutorial of how to use a food thermometer to check the temperature of cooked chicken.

Common Mistake: Grilling With The Lid Up

Cooking with the lid up allows you to see how the meat is coming along, but it doesn’t allow your chicken to cook evenly. Although you should have the lid open when you turn on your grill and light it up, you should keep the lid down while cooking. Often grillers will cook with the heat on high to compensate for the heat lost from an open grill, using more energy and burning the chicken’s skin before the flesh cooks. Instead, always grill with the lid on and the heat hovering around medium. Then, rather than keeping watch on the open grill, only lift the lid long enough to use a food thermometer to check the doneness of chicken.

Use our Chicken Cooking Times Chart as a guide for when to lift the lid to check doneness.

Now you’re ready to master these grilled chicken recipes!

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