The Mistake Everyone Makes With Chicken On The Grill

Cooking chicken on the grill is one of the best ways to eat this versatile meat — the infused smokiness paired with the perfect grill marks makes it look just as good as it tastes. And thanks to its mild yet succulent poultry flavor, it's delicious whether served on its own with your favorite cookout sides or dressed to the nines with barbecue sauce, coleslaw, and pickles in an epic sandwich. However, if you aren't careful, it's all too easy to overcook your chicken and dry it out — or even burn it — if you don't close your grill's lid. For best results, you should pretty much always grill chicken with the lid closed.


There's a reason your grilled chicken is so full of flavor. The direct-heat method of cooking gives your meat a crisp exterior while maintaining juiciness throughout. The caramelization and char from the flames help to develop flavor compounds that elevate the humble bird from plain to piquant. If you're grilling meatier pieces of chicken (as opposed to a thin cutlet), however, leaving the lid open can lead to inconsistent cooking, which could potentially ruin your meal.

Close the lid next time you grill chicken

Since thin pieces of chicken will cook in no time, it's alright if you grill them without closing the lid (you'll still want to keep an eye out for flare-ups). However, if you're cooking thick chicken breasts, drumsticks, or even a whole bird, it's important to keep the lid shut. Bulkier cuts don't always cook evenly when the lid is open because the heat is coming from the bottom. By closing the lid, that heat surrounds the chicken, essentially turning your grill into an oven and promoting a more consistent rise in temperature while still giving it that flame-kissed flavor and texture you're looking for. The length of cooking time will vary depending on the meat's thickness, but it would be a mistake not to flip the chicken approximately halfway through to ensure you get grill marks on both sides.


Ideally, you want the grill to be somewhere between 350 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which will help give the exterior some char while cooking it thoroughly without drying it out. Always make sure any chicken you cook reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it rest for at least five minutes (or as long as 20 minutes for a whole chicken) after removing it from the grill to ensure its juices can redistribute. As long as you keep the lid shut and abide by these other tips, you'll avoid some major chicken-grilling mishaps.