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How long to grill chicken under the grill?

Grilling chicken is a quick and easy way to add flavor and get dinner on the table. However, it can be tricky to know exactly how long to grill chicken to ensure it is fully cooked through without drying out. The cooking time can vary depending on the thickness and cut of the chicken, as well as the heat level and type of grill you are using. This article will provide tips on how long different cuts and thicknesses of chicken breasts, thighs, wings and whole chickens need to grill under direct and indirect heat to reach a safe internal temperature and juicy texture.

How to Tell When Chicken is Done Grilling

It’s important to rely on more than just grilling time when cooking chicken. The safest way to determine doneness is by taking the internal temperature using an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, avoiding bones. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F to kill any harmful bacteria like salmonella. Visual signs to look for are:

– The meat is opaque and white throughout with no pinkness.
– The juices run clear when pierced with a fork.
– The meat feels firm when pressed.

Factors That Affect Grilling Time

Several factors impact how quickly chicken will cook on the grill:


Thicker cuts of chicken will take longer to grill than thinner pieces. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are 1 inch thick may take 5-8 minutes per side while a 2 inch breast may need 14-18 minutes per side.

Bone-In vs Boneless

Chicken cooked on the bone will take longer than an equal thickness of boneless meat. Bones conduct heat slower than meat.

Cut of Chicken

Lean white meat like breasts cook faster than fattier dark meat thighs and legs. Whole chickens and meatier pieces will require more time than an equal thickness of breast.

Direct vs Indirect Heat

Chicken over direct heat cooks faster than indirect since the flames are continuously hitting the meat. Indirect heat uses a cooler side of the grill to help prevent burning.

Grill Temperature

Chicken will cook faster at higher heat like over direct medium-high or high heat around 400-450°F than lower temperatures like 300-350°F.

Flip Frequency

Flipping the chicken more often will accelerate cooking time since it exposes all sides to the heat source instead of just one side. Each time you flip, allow 2-3 minutes before flipping again.

Marinades and Rubs

Sugary marinades and rubs will caramelize and blacken quicker than plain chicken, so the cook time may be reduced slightly. Spicy peppers and herbs don’t significantly impact the cooking time.

How Long to Grill Different Cuts and Thicknesses of Chicken

Here are general guidelines for how long to grill different cuts and sizes of boneless, skinless chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F over direct medium heat around 400°F. The times are for flipped halfway through. Let the chicken rest 3 minutes before serving.

Chicken Breasts

Thickness Grilling Time Per Side Total Time
1/2 inch 4-6 minutes 8-12 minutes
3/4 inch 6-8 minutes 12-16 minutes
1 inch 8-10 minutes 16-20 minutes
1 1/2 inches 10-12 minutes 20-24 minutes
2 inches 12-15 minutes 24-30 minutes

For bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, add 2-3 minutes per side.

Chicken Thighs

Thickness Grilling Time Per Side Total Time
1/2 inch 6-8 minutes 12-16 minutes
3/4 inch 8-10 minutes 16-20 minutes
1 inch 10-12 minutes 20-24 minutes

For bone-in thighs allow about 5 extra minutes per side.

Chicken Wings

Style Grilling Time Per Side Total Time
Whole wings 15-18 minutes 30-36 minutes
Drumettes 8-10 minutes 16-20 minutes
Flats or tips 6-8 minutes 12-16 minutes

Flip the wings halfway through grilling.

Whole Chicken

Use indirect heat for best results. Place chicken on the cool side of the grill, over a drip pan to prevent flare ups. Grill with the breast side up first, then flip breast side down:

Weight Breast Up Time Breast Down Time Total Time
3-4 pounds 35-45 minutes 25-35 minutes 60-80 minutes
4-5 pounds 45-60 minutes 30-40 minutes 75-100 minutes
Over 5 pounds 55-75 minutes 35-50 minutes 90-125 minutes

Use a quick read thermometer to check for doneness, aiming for 165°F in the thickest part of the breast and thighs. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

Tips for Grilling Juicy, Flavorful Chicken

Follow these tips for the most tender, juicy grilled chicken:

– Pat chicken dry before seasoning to help browning. Apply a light coat of oil.

– Use indirect heat for thick cuts like bone-in breasts and whole chickens. Cook over direct heat at the end to sear.

– Flip only once during cooking unless grilling over high heat, then flip more often.

– Brine chicken in a saltwater solution before grilling for added moisture and flavor.

– Infuse flavor with rubs, marinades and glazes. Try herb, spice and fruit blends.

– Arrange thinner pieces on the hotter parts of the grill and thicker pieces on the cooler areas.

– Preheat grill properly before cooking. Scrape the grates clean.

– Avoid charring chicken completely black. It can create harmful compounds. Light charring enhances flavor.

– Let chicken rest 5-10 minutes before cutting to allow juices to redistribute through the meat.


It’s hard to specify exact grilling times for chicken since there are many factors at play. In general, boneless, skinless chicken breasts under 1 inch thick will grill for 8-12 minutes total over direct medium heat. Bone-in parts take longer, around 15-20 minutes for breasts and thighs. Whole chickens can require over an hour using indirect heat. Rely on a meat thermometer to determine doneness instead of time, cooking until the thickest part of the meat reaches 165°F. Follow the tips for preventing dry chicken and boosting flavor to enjoy perfectly grilled results every time.