When you’re looking for a quick, easy and healthy weeknight dinner, chicken on the grill is a pretty solid option. But not all pieces of chicken are created equal. Boneless and bone-in, skinless and skin-on, breast and thigh — each cut of chicken is different and should be treated as such. So how long should you cook each of these cuts of chicken on the grill?
One of the biggest grilling mistakes is adding your thin-cut, boneless, skinless chicken breast to the grill at the same time that you add your bone-in breasts and expecting them to cook at the same rate.
Chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees in the center in order to be food-safe, and making sure you have a meat thermometer is key to making sure you cook your poultry (and other types of meat) correctly. But even with your handy dandy thermometer, there is a recommended general timeline for grilling chicken from the United States Department of Agriculture.
A whole chicken (5 to 7 lbs.) will take 18 to 25 minutes per pound. So when making that beer can chicken, reserve at least 90 minutes of grilling time, though it can take up to three hours depending on the size of your bird.
Smaller pieces of chicken will take less time. A bone-in chicken breast half requires about 10 to 15 minutes of grilling per side, as do bone-in legs and thighs. If you're looking for a quicker bone-in chicken dinner option, consider cooking drumsticks or wings — they take just eight to 12 minutes per side and also happen to make for some of the best-ever grilled chicken recipes.
And if you have boneless chicken breasts, be sure to cook them for just six to eight minutes per side. Though this cut has a reputation for being bland, there are plenty of grilled chicken recipes that are far from boring. Just make sure that when you’re following these recipes, you’re also making sure to avoid the most common chicken grilling mistakes.