Grilling Chicken 101
Grilled chicken and summer go hand in hand. Be the master of your grill by knowing the secret to perfectly grilled, juicy and flavorful chicken.
It’s not rocket science, but a few tips are essential at ensuring you don’t get dry, rubbery chicken on the grill. Whether you are grilling boneless, skinless breasts, or bone-in leg pieces, the key to great grilled chicken is heat, even thickness, and a great marinade or rub.
Sweet, savory, zesty, and spicy, there are many ways to make grilled chicken interesting and experiment with new techniques. Take grilled chicken to the next level with seasoning blends from McCormick Grill Mates.
Before we get into the essentials of grilling chicken – be sure to take advantage of the great sale on fresh, natural chicken breasts at Safeway this week.
To properly season the chicken before grilling, you can stock up on your favorite McCormick Grill Mates seasoning blends and marinades on sale for $1.99 with a new buy 5 or more and save promotion through June 16th.
How to Grill Chicken Breasts Perfectly
One of the challenges of grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts is that their thickness varies from end to end. To remedy this, you’ll need to cut it or pound it to an even thickness before you grill.
Step 1: Cut the chicken and/or pound it so that it’s the same thickness from top to middle to bottom (aim for 1/2 an inch). Place the chicken in between plastic wrap before pounding it with a rolling pin or mason jar.
Step 2. Marinate the chicken with your favorite McCormick Grill Mates seasoning, olive oil and a touch of vinegar or lemon juice. Ideally, you would have the chicken marinating for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. A classic chicken seasoning is the McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning – which has the perfect blend of garlic, onion, salt, pepper, lemon and herbs. Coat the chicken in oil and add your favorite seasoning, allowing the flavors to seep into the chicken.
Step 3: While the chicken is marinating, heat the grill to medium-high.
How hot should my grill be for chicken breasts?
Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, a two-zone (that means two temperatures) fire is the way to go. If you have really small chicken breasts, you can get away with medium-high heat, because by the time you have nice grill marks on both sides the chicken will be cooked through as well. For larger chicken breasts, get your sear marks on both sides over medium-high heat, then move them to low heat to finish cooking.
Step 4. LET IT REST!
When you let the meat rest, the juices get incorporated back into the meat allowing for juicy, tender meat every time. The residual heat from the resting process also cooks the chicken to the perfect internal temperature of 165°. Also – if you start with thin, evenly cut or pounded chicken, it cooks through quickly and evenly.
Grilling Bone-In Chicken
Boneless chicken pieces are thin enough to grill entirely over direct heat. When the bones are involved, however, the parts take longer to cook, so it’s important to use both direct and indirect heat, otherwise known as two-zone grilling.
That is, the practice of setting up two areas on the grill: One for direct-heat (high heat) cooking, and one for indirect (lower heat). This allows you to first sear food on the hotter section of the grill and move it to the cooler zone to finish cooking through. Or vice versa.
Bone-in chicken should be cooked on indirect heat first, then moved to the direct heat to get the skin extra crispy at the end.
When Is It Done?
The USDA recommends cooking poultry until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Keep in mind that in whole birds the internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees during resting. Check the thigh meat by inserting the probe of a thermometer into the thickest part (but not touching the bone). If you don’t have a thermometer, cut into the center of the meat. The juices should run clear and the meat should no longer be pink at the bone.
For more seafood grilling tips, be sure to read the McCormick Grill Mates Chicken Grilling Guide here.
Be sure to also read our Grilling the Perfect Burger Guide and our Grilling the Perfect Steak Guide, Seafood Grilling Guide as well as How to Perfectly Grill Vegetables Guide to be the master of everything on the grill this summer.
5 Delicious Grilled Chicken Recipes Using McCormick Grill Mates
Super Juicy Chicken
“Super Juicy Chicken” is literally the name of the game. Coat chicken in McCormick® Grill Mates® Sweet & Smoky Rub and a kick of tangy mustard. Let the grill do the rest. The Sweet & Smoky Rub is infused with the flavor of chipotle peppers, cinnamon, garlic, and onion. It gives the chicken a sweet, smoky crust that locks in flavor and juiciness. Get the recipe here.
Sweet Mesquite Glazed Wings
These smoky sweet and boldly seasoned grilled wings are served with a Maple Mesquite dipping sauce. The McCormick Grill Mates Mesquite seasoning blend has a robust, smoky flavor from the spices in the mix. It features chili pepper, paprika, salt, garlic, onion, red bell pepper, sugar, and mesquite smoke flavoring. A perfect blend for chicken, beef, and pork. Get the recipe here.
Italian Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken
For lighter fare in the summer, give chicken breasts a 30-minute marinade in Italian seasonings and then quickly cook on the grill. Pairing the classic McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning with Italian herbs brings out a delicious flavor in the chicken breasts. Get the recipe here.
Blackberry Pepper Wings
Grilled wings are always a good idea. Take them to the next level with a bold flavor pairing: pepper + summer fruit. The peppery blend of Grill Mates® Montreal Steak Seasoning is balanced out with juicy, sweet blackberries (fresh and preserved) in a wing sauce that is finger-lickin’ good. Get the recipe here.
Sweet Soy Bourbon Chicken
Kick up your cookout menu with this bold brown sugar- bourbon- and soy sauce-infused grilled chicken. Use the reverse sear method where you cook on medium heat until the end, then sear over high heat to caramelize the sauce to guarantee juicy and perfectly charred chicken every time. Get the recipe here.
Sale on McCormick Grill Mates at Safeway
McCormick Grill Mates seasoning blends are available in the spice aisle at your local Safeway. There are over 15 seasoning blends and even more Grill Mates marinades available for all your grilling needs.
- McCormick Grill Mates Marinades are on sale for $1.25 each through June 15th
- McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning Blends are on sale for $2.50 and Buy One Get One Free through June 15th
- Final Price = $1.25 each
This is a sponsored post on behalf of McCormick to highlight various ways Grill Mates seasoning blends can be used to create delicious grilled chicken recipes. The recipe images above are used with permission from McCormick. As always, opinions are my own. We appreciate and encourage your support of the brands that make this site possible.
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