There's nothing like the smell of grilled food in the air to make your mouth water and stomach grumble. Since grilled chicken is a national favorite as the barbecue season ramps up, we're covering How to Grill Chicken Thighs - American Made Grilling Tips! We will help you prep chicken every time that tastes fantastic, looks terrific, and retains its moistness and flavor to the last bite!
Grilled chicken is a mainstay of home-cooked menus across the country because it's relatively inexpensive and can be dressed up with a wide variety of flavor combinations. While many often opt for using the breast because it is leaner, the more robust flavor is in the thigh. The darker color of thighs is due to the extra skin covering the area, and their flavor is more intense thanks to the higher fat content.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Bone-In or Boneless
Your first decision when grilling chicken is whether to use bone-in or boneless skinless thighs. Both are great and have different advantages depending on the recipe and preference. Bone-in thighs are delightful for barbecue chicken because of the crispy skin, and they are easier to eat with your hands. Boneless skinless chicken thighs will grill faster and are better suited for tacos and dishes using sliced chicken.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Style and Seasoning
Part of what makes chicken such a popular grilling choice is its versatility. Used in almost every nation, chicken can be marinated, rubbed, basted, brined, or lightly seasoned in various combinations and traditions. A comparatively lean protein to beef and pork, chicken thighs have the perfect fat content for a moist texture that takes on all the seasonings' characteristics.
One tip is to pat the chicken with paper towels once removed from the marinade. Marinades often have a lot of sugar content like brown sugar that can easily char and burn too quickly. A favorite option is to use a rub of spices before grilling, and then add your favorite barbecue sauce at the end for a little gorgeous color and caramelization.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Preparation
Once the chicken has marinated for at least 30 minutes, it's time to prep it for the grill. One of the essential steps to grilling the perfect chicken is to let it rise to room temperature.
When chicken is marinating, it should always be refrigerated, so it doesn't spoil. That cold chicken needs to be laid out flat, patted down with paper towels, and allowed to rise to room temperature. This will help the different pieces cook more uniformly and quickly on the grill.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Temperature
When the chicken is ready to cook, preheat the grill for medium heat. If you're using boneless skinless chicken thighs, your target temperature is 400 degrees. Add a little more boost of heat to 450 degrees for bone-in thighs. Ensure the grill grates are clean to keep the chicken from being contaminated with old, charred food debris.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Time
With the grill hot and ready and the chicken seasoned and prepped, grill the thighs over direct medium heat. Boneless chicken thighs take about 8 minutes, while the cooking time for bone-in thighs is 10-14 minutes. Use a meat thermometer by placing it in the thickest part of your thigh to test doneness. Once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, remove the chicken from the grill and allow it to rest for five minutes before serving.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs: Skin
Grilling is all about balancing the perfect texture and crunch with the tender meat. For addictive, crispy skin, start grilling the thighs skin-side down first for 3-5 minutes. Then, flip them over so they can cook evenly without burning or overcooking. The skin crisps up nicely when grilled first, but you'll find that if it's on for too long, it will become overly crispy and tough to eat.
Do You Need a Meat Thermometer?
If you are grilling chicken thighs or breasts, we highly recommend having a meat thermometer on hand. You will know that the chicken is cooked all the way through if its juices run clear once you remove it from the grill and let it rest for a minute. If you find that your chicken isn't entirely done, simply return it to the grill for 3-4 minutes more.
If you don't have one, you should get one. It is the best way to ensure the chicken is cooked through without overcooking, so you provide the best grilling experience to your family and friends.