How Long to Grill Chicken? We Have the Exact Answer for You! is reader-supported. When you buy through the links on our site, we may earn a small commission. Read more

How long to grill chicken? That is the question that any chef needs to answer to have a perfect chicken dish. Your chicken may become tough and dry if you grill it for too long. It is especially true with popular, low-fat cuts like breast meat. 

AS 8888 will discuss the time it takes to grill specific pieces of chicken, the factors affecting how long to cook chicken on the grill, and many related things.

So keep reading to see more!

How Long to Grill Chicken?

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How long does grill chicken take?

The following are the ideal grill times for each specific division:

  • Whole Chicken:  25 minutes cooking per pound is ideal.
  • Boneless Chicken Breast: 10 to 15 minutes to grill it and at least five minutes per side.
  • Bone-in Breast: At least 10 mins per side.
  • Bone-in Thigh or Leg: 40 mins is ideal.
  • Boneless:  10 to 12 mins to grill with direct heat.
  • Wings:  20 to 25 minutes would be great.

How long to cook chicken on grill? sO The answer mainly depends on the size of the piece (including bone content) and the temperature of your grill.

The chicken comes in various forms, such as wings, whole, breasts, and thighs ( bone-in and out). Therefore, how long do you grill chicken may vary, depending on your cuts.

In addition, bone content also significantly affects grill time. Specifically, the more bones your cut has, the longer it would take to cook. 

For example, The thighs and drumstick come with the biggest bones, so they will take longer to cook than other cuts.

Whole Chicken

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How long to grill whole chicken?

Processing a whole chicken takes the most time, significantly longer than grilling smaller pieces. And your chicken’s grill time may vary depending on its size.

Generally, spending about 25 minutes cooking per pound is ideal. However, the fact is that the cooking time may vary considerably depending on grill temperature, your bird’s fat percentage, and age.

A four to five-pound bird will take approximately ninety minutes to two hours to cook with indirect medium heat.

The most important thing is to check if your chicken is safe to eat by checking the multiple parts, especially the thickest part of the thighs, to ensure their internal temperature is 165℉.

Boneless Chicken Breast

This low-fat cut is easy and quick to prepare. But it is also easily overcooked. So it is essential to pay attention to the cooking time to get tender, succulent results and avoid a chewy, dried mess.

On average, a boneless breast should weigh about six to eight ounces, resulting in you needing 10 to 15 minutes to grill it and at least five minutes per side.

If you want to avoid drying out your boneless breasts, preparing a thermometer to test the internal temperature every 10 minutes for standard-sized breasts or 3 to 4 minutes on both sides for your chicken tenders is wise.

If you want to grill thinner, smaller chicken breasts or chicken tenders, you will need about 10 mins or less.

Remember that it is possible to put the chicken cuts back on your grill for more time if needed. Yet, once they are dried out, there is no other way to fix them.

Bone-in Breast

You’ll need more time to grill bone-in chicken breasts than their boneless counterparts. Although bone-in breasts are less common, they are still preferred for two reasons:

Firstly, these cuts are typically cheaper. Moreover, the skin and bone will help prevent the chicken breast cuts from drying, making them easier to get right.

If you need to grill bone-in chicken breasts, we recommend spending at least 10 mins per side. Because of the longer grill time, you’ll need to be careful to avoid blackening their skin. In addition, you can also consider grilling over indirect heat for part of the whole cooking process.

Don’t forget to use the thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of your cuts reaches 165℉.

Bone-in Thigh or Leg

As their name suggests, these thighs and legs typically feature bone-in, making them easier to grill. The bones, extra fat, and skin on these thighs and legs would all contribute to the cooking time.

You should combine direct and indirect heat to ensure a thorough grill and a crispy yet not burnt skin.

Ideally, spend 40 mins, with regular turning, to grill bone-in thighs or legs, and use the last 10 min for cooking with indirect heat for controlled their skin crisping.

Boneless Thigh 

The fact is that boneless thighs are less common than bone-in legs at stores. 

If you find these pieces, they will also most likely be skinless.  If you prefer to keep the skin, debone the regular thighs or ask your butcher to do that for you is okay.

Boneless thighs generally require 10 to 12 mins to grill with direct heat. So, it’s no surprise that they are considered one of the fairly rapid options.

As this cut contains mostly dark meat, it tends to be more forgiving to the beginner than the breast cut. Yet, you should pick thighs with the skin to increase its resistance to drying out.


Chicken wings are also popular chicken cuts for grilling. Wings are quite small, but they still take time to handle since they are bone-in. With direct heat, your grilling can last from 20 to 25 minutes.

Wings may burn quickly, which requires you to be extra careful. So, ensure to flip them at least every two minutes. Many skilled chefs use the grill baskets to flip all of the chicken wings instead of flipping them one by one.

What Is the Right Internal Temperature for Cooked Chicken?

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What is the proper internal temperature for cooked chicken?

According to the FDA, the appropriate internal temperature for all cooked poultry is 75 °C (165℉). And it is the minimum safe internal temperature of your chicken. 

Yet, when taking your bird’s temperature, the location of the thermometer probe would be crucial.

  • According to the FDA, if you cook a whole chicken, it is necessary to take the temperature at your chicken thigh’s thickest part but do not touch the bone.
  • If you’re grilling individual pieces, don’t forget to check out the thickest part. But if your cuts are irregularly shaped or unevenly thick, we recommend testing in some different areas to ensure that your cuts are evenly cooked.

Many people determine whether their chicken is well cooked by cutting it, and if the juices run clear, they assume that their chicken is thoroughly cooked. Sadly, this method does not always correct.

For example, for older chickens, the juices tend to “run clear” easily even if the meat is undercooked.

Stop risking your health by buying a meat thermometer, which will allow you to know the exact internal temperature of your chicken. That way, you’ll know if your chicken is safe to eat.

As recommended by the USDA, never keep your chicken’s temperature in the “danger zone,” which ranges from 40 to 140℉. It is the ideal temperature for bacteria to multiply rapidly.

If you keep your cooked chicken below 40℉, it can stay well for three to four days, and you should throw it away once this time has passed.

Grilling Chicken Temperature and Time: Which Is More Important?

how long to grill chicken

Temperature and time: Which is more essential?

Even if your meat looks tasty, it could be full of bacteria if its internal temperature is not adequately high, including harmful strains like salmonella.

So, if you want to be sure that your chicken is safe to eat, the only way is to check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer.

Using a thermometer will prevent your chicken from being cooked enough to eat or overcooking to kill any bacteria.


What Happens if The Chicken Cooks Too Long? 

The fact is that chicken is very lean and will dry quickly. So overcooking may make it chewy, tough, and dry. Not to mention the skin-on chicken over direct heat would burn.

Moreover, overcooking your chicken will produce an acrid burnt flavor instead of a delicious, mildly smoky flavor. 

Should I Use Indirect or Direct Heat to Grill My Chicken?

Direct medium heat will work well with smaller pieces, wings, and drumsticks, as long as you turn them frequently to avoid burning.

If you need to handle bigger cuts such as leg quarters, bone-in breasts, or whole chickens, we recommend cooking with indirect heat for at least half the grill time before browning their skin over direct heat.

What Are The Average Grill Temperatures?

When your recipe calls for grilling over “medium heat,” what does it mean?

  • From 250 to 275 °F: Low heat.
  • 300 °F: Medium-low heat.
  • 350 °F: Medium heat.
  • From 400 to 450 °F: Medium-high.
  • From 500 to 650 °F: High.
  • 650+ °F: Cremation.

What if Your Chickens Don’t Reach 75°C (165°F)?

If your chicken’s internal temperature doesn’t reach 75°C (165°F), you might face two risks:

  • Food safety: Salmonella and many other harmful bacteria will multiply rapidly if your chicken does not reach that temperature.
  • Undercooked meat is not palatable: Your meat will be mushy, soft, and tasteless.


So you’ve reached the bottom of our article. Hopefully, our knowledge regarding grilled chicken temp and time will help you plan your cook of the perfect chicken. No more guesswork and embarrassing fiasco!

Thank you for reading!

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