• Juicy grilled chicken

    Mastering BBQ Chicken:

    Techniques for Juicy Grilled Chicken

Barbecue aficionados will attest: grilling the perfect chicken is an art form. When done right, you’re presented with a piece of meat that’s tender, flavorful, and undeniably juicy. But with the challenges of uneven cooking, flare-ups, and the dreaded potential for dryness, mastering BBQ chicken can seem elusive. If you’ve been searching for ways to guarantee juicy BBQ chicken every time, you’ve landed in the right place.

Choose the Right Cut

The type of chicken cut can significantly influence your grilling results. While breasts are popular, they can easily dry out due to their lean nature. Thighs, on the other hand, have a richer fat content, making them more forgiving and often juicier when barbecued.

Key Takeaway: If you’re new to grilling or want a safer bet for juicy results, start with chicken thighs.

Brine for Best Results

Brining is a secret weapon for moisture retention. It involves soaking the chicken in a mixture of water, salt, and often sugar. This process not only seasons the chicken but also helps it retain water, ensuring juiciness post-grill.

Simple Brine Recipe:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • Optional herbs & spices for added flavor

Submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight for best results.

Marinate for Maximum Flavor

Marinating introduces flavors that complement the natural taste of the chicken. A combination of acids (like vinegar or citrus juices), oils, and seasonings can enhance the meat’s profile and also help in tenderizing.

Pro Tip: Use a yogurt-based marinade for an exotic twist. The lactic acid tenderizes chicken effectively and makes it even juicyer!

Perfect the Grill Temperature

A common mistake is grilling chicken at a temperature that’s too high. This can char the outside while leaving the inside undercooked. Aim for a medium heat, around 350°F to 375°F. If using a charcoal grill, ensure the coals are evenly spread and have a slight ash covering.

Grill Skin Side Down First

The skin acts as a protective layer, guarding against flare-ups and preventing the meat from drying out too quickly. Start with the skin side down for about 5-7 minutes, then flip. This technique offers a crispy skin and juicy meat underneath.

Avoid the Temptation to Press

Using the spatula to press down on the chicken might give an appealing sizzle, but it’s letting all those precious juices escape. Let the grill do its job without interference.

Use a Meat Thermometer

Rather than guessing, invest in a meat thermometer. Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part, avoiding bones, for an accurate reading.

Let it Rest

Once off the grill, give your chicken a rest. This allows the juices to redistribute. A 5-10 minute wait can be the difference between good and great BBQ chicken.

Baste with Sauce at the Right Time

If you’re a fan of saucy BBQ chicken, baste during the last 10 minutes of grilling. Applying sauce too early, especially those with sugar, can cause burning.

Regular Maintenance is Key

A clean grill is essential for even cooking and preventing flare-ups. Make sure to clean the grates after each use. The smoother the grilling surface, the less likely your chicken will stick or cook unevenly.

Mastering BBQ chicken is all about understanding the intricacies of the meat and the grill. By respecting the process—from selecting the right cut and preparing it with brines or marinades, to cooking at the optimal temperature and letting it rest post-grill—you’re on your way to achieving succulent, juicy BBQ chicken every time. And remember, practice makes perfect. So, fire up that grill, and happy barbecuing!

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