How to Cook Chicken on a Gas Grill Without Burning is a technique every home cook should know! Here are a few grilling tips for cooking the most tender grilled chicken, every time!
Grilling Chicken should be super easy, a quick way to get dinner on the table, right?! Yes and no!
While grilling chicken on a gas grill is super quick, for some it’s not so easy.
This post will teach you how to properly season and marinade your chicken. All types of chicken, too! Whole Chicken, dark meat, boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and chicken wings. You’ll learn what spices, ingredients, and marinades to keep on hand for super flavor-filled chicken every time!
Next, this post will teach you the best way to grill different types of chicken pieces. You’ll learn what tools to keep close by so you always have juicy chicken that is cooked to perfection.
How to Cook Chicken on a Gas Grill without Burning
First, let’s chat about grills. In order to have the most perfect chicken it’s a good idea to clean your grill and prep it for grilling.
Start with very clean grill grates. If you place your chicken onto a gunky grill grate, it’s bound to stick! I really love this Citrusage Grill Care Kit. The cleaner works like a charm, whether the grill is hot or cold! And, the scrubber doesn’t leave behind anything precarious.
Once your grill grate is whistle-clean, fire up the grill!
For a gas grill, you’ll crank the heat up to medium-high heat. Let the grill spend a good 10-15 minutes preheating. Anything less than that and you almost guarantee a piece of chicken that doesn’t come up well.
If you’re worried about varying sizes of chicken, keep one side of your grill at a lower temperature to create indirect heat. I sometimes leave one burner off, so I have a cooler side of the grill.
Once your grill is hot and ready, oil up the grates. I like to use a paper towel that I’ve dipped into vegetable oil (or any other neutral oil)! Then, using a pair of stainless steel grilling tongs, rub the paper towel over each grate.
Your grill is hot, oiled, and ready to go, so let’s get grilling!
Grilling Chicken Breast
When grilling chicken breast you want to make sure it’s about 5-8 ounces in size. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are larger, on the 10-12 ounce side, need a lot longer time to grill. They often can result in burned chicken that is dry and stringy — no one wants that! If you have larger chicken breasts, just butterfly them down the middle. You’ll double your chicken, too!
If you need to, pound the thickest part of the breasts so they’re more even pieces of chicken. This will ensure you’ve got juicy chicken breasts, one side is delicious, but the other end is dry!
Place the chicken presentation side down. Whichever side you want to get those perfect, iconic grill marks, that’s the side you want to lay on the grill first.
Over medium-high heat, let your chicken cook for 3-4 minutes with the lid OPEN. A closed lid creates an oven, and we want the sugar content of the marinade to caramelize, and create a crust, those grill marks.
After 3-4 minutes, give your chicken a quarter turn. If it doesn’t release easily and doesn’t want to move, leave it alone! Proteins will naturally release when they’re ready, so this goes for any protein you are grilling!
Once you’ve turned the chicken a quarter turn, cook for another 3-4 minutes with the lid OPEN. Pay attention to the temperature of the grill. Is it flaring up any? Does any chicken piece seem like it’s cooking quicker than others? Pay attention as the chicken cooks on the first side, and adjust the grill temperature as you see fit.
Now, that your chicken has been cooking for 6-8 minutes, you can flip your chicken over. Again, it should EASILY pull up!
When your chicken is on its second side, you can close the lid, and head into the house to toss a salad, or grab a platter. You have about 6 minutes before you need to be back by the grill!
Chicken breasts need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees f. You can remove them from the grill when an instant-read thermometer reaches 155 degrees, and while it rests the chicken will come up to the right temperature.
Grilling Chicken Thighs
Grilling chicken thighs is very similar to skinless breasts. However, this cut of chicken is a bit fattier, and since it’s dark meat, it’s automatically juicy! I prefer chicken thighs over boneless chicken breasts.
For boneless chicken thighs, you’ll grill for 5-6 minutes on the first side, then flip and grill for the same amount of time. For bone-in chicken thighs, it will take 12 minutes per side, and you’ll want to start with the skin side down first.
If you feel like the chicken is getting too done, or looking a little extra golden brown, move the chicken thigh to a cooler part of the grill, or if you have one, a top rack.
Chicken Thighs need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165˚. Remove the chicken from the grill when it reaches 155˚, then cover it with foil while it rests, and the carry-over cooking will bring the chicken to 165˚.
If you’re curious about how to grill chicken wings, you can read all the tips and tricks I use in that post. Plus, the Maple Buffalo Sauce should NOT be slept on!
Simple Tips for Seasoning & Marinading Chicken
A lot of people think chicken is bland and boring. Not if you know how to properly season your chicken, and easy marinade recipes to fill your chicken with flavor!
First, let’s chat about what ingredients you should keep in your pantry!
Spices to Keep on Hand:
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Chili Powder
Dry Rub + Seasoning Blends to Keep on Hand:
- Lemon Pepper – I’m not a huge fan of pre-packaged lemon pepper. I would rather zest a lemon and grind my own black pepper!
- Montreal Seasoning
- Smokehouse Maple Seasoning – seriously one of my favorite blends ever! I use it on everything!
- Montreal Chicken Seasoning
Wet Rubs – these are usually using a dry rub with a bit of oil and maybe vinegar or Worcestershire sauce to make it wet. It’s a great way to really pack the flavor onto bone-in chicken!
Wet Marinades to Keep on Hand:
Dale’s Seasoning – this is an absolute favorite! You can take your chicken from the package right to the grill, and the chicken is delicious!
Italian Dressing – this packs a ton of flavor into your chicken, especially when you let it marinade overnight.
My favorite way to marinade chicken is an all-purpose marinade with Soy sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. The top secret ingredient is squeezing one lemon over the marinating chicken while your grill preheats! You can find that easy recipe in the printable recipe card below.
Simple Steps for Seasoning Your Chicken
When you get home from the market, immediately remove the chicken from those foam + plastic covered containers. Either season with a blend, or just a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper, then put into an air-tight container or wrapped tightly in butcher paper. Store in your fridge or freezer until you’re to use.
The best results in seasoning your chicken are easily achieved when you’re not rushing! ((That’s why the salt and pepper step just above is helpful!))
If you’re using a spice blend, seasoning blend, or dry rub, give the chicken 24 hours to really permeate the flavors throughout. When using a wet rub or wet marinade depending on how much sodium and flavor determines how long it needs to marinate.
You’ve seen the chicken recipes that use pickle juice, like this Vidalia-Pickle Chicken Recipe! Adding an acid like pickle juice, lemon or lime juice, wine, etc breaks down your chicken very quickly. The chicken only needs about 30 minutes in that much acid. If you’ve ever had mealy chicken, it was probably because the marinade had too much acid, and it sat for too long.
You can use a highly-acid marinade, it just needs way less time! Which is handy when you’re trying to make a quick dinner!
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you keep chicken from burning on a grill?
Put a light coating of oil on CLEAN grill grates, preheat the grill properly, and a light coating of oil on the chicken helps, too!
What is the best way to cook chicken on a gas grill?
Over a medium-high heat grill (about 350˚-425˚), grill the chicken for 6-8 minutes per side, until an internal temperature of 165˚ is achieved.
How do you keep chicken moist on a grill?
While the chicken is grilling you can use a grill brush and “paint” some of the marinade you used, or a bit of barbecue sauce on the chicken as it cooks. If you’re really worried, a simple drizzle of good olive oil or melted butter after the chicken is grilled helps tremendously!
Grilled Chicken Recipes to Try:
- Sloppy Joe Sauced Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Buffalo Ranch Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Greek Grilled Chicken
- Tuscan Lemon Chicken
- Caesar Dip – use this as a marinade or salad dressing!
Save this to your favorite Chicken or Grilling Board on Pinterest!
This all-purpose marinade is great on chicken, pork, steak, or even salmon!
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- Juice of One Lemon
In a jar, shake together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Pour over your protein.
While your grill or oven preheats, squeeze one lemon over the protein, tossing to coat evenly.
Grill or bake as usual!
Keywords: all purpose marinade