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How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs: A Step-by-Step Tutorial for Perfect, Juicy Chicken [2021]

by Outdoor Cooking Pros May 29, 2021

cooked chicken thighs on a grill

Chicken is a staple in many of our kitchens because (1) it’s affordable and (2) it can be used to whip up tons of delicious recipes. However, for less experienced cooks, it’s difficult to get the doneness of this protein JUST RIGHT.

A common beginner’s mistake is to rely solely on sight and touch while cooking. You should know it’s important to monitor the grill’s HEAT LEVEL, the chicken’s INTERNAL TEMPERATURE, and the TIME it spends on the grill too! Read what our grilling experts have to say below.

Grill Temperature

Preheating your grill is vital for tender and juicy chicken thighs. With that said, never place your chicken on a cold grill—give it a few minutes to come to the right temperature. (It’s hard, but being patient will make a HUGE difference!)

If you’re using boneless chicken thighs, set your grill to medium (around 400 degrees Fahrenheit) if you’re using a gas grill. For charcoal[1], set it a little lower.

plate of rice and cooked chicken

For bone-in chicken thighs, go straight to medium high with your gas grill (around 450 degrees Fahrenheit). With a charcoal grill, start at medium heat.

Ideally, you want enough heat to get a good sear on the chicken and to make sure it’s cooked through, but you don’t want too much either—its surface could burn, leaving the insides underdone.

Grill Time

Generally, boneless chicken thighs will cook in 7-8 minutes, while bone-in chicken thighs will need around 10-15 minutes.

Now, this all depends on the SIZE of the cut, so don’t just set a timer and forget about your chicken!

For the BEST results, use a meat thermometer to check its internal temperature. At 165 degrees Fahrenheit, your chicken thighs will be perfectly done!

How to Grill Boneless Chicken Thighs

  1. Preheat your grill at medium heat (around 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Grill each side for 4-5 minutes. Keep the lid closed between flips so that the heat circulates properly and cooks your chicken evenly.
  3. Check to see if the chicken is fully cooked through with an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

How to Grill Bone-In Chicken Thighs

  1. Preheat your grill at medium high heat (around 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Sear the chicken, skin-side down, for around 4-5 minutes to get that CRISPY and GOLDEN BROWN skin.
  3. Flip it over and close the lid of the grill. Leave it to cook for 10 more minutes (or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit).
  4. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Grilling Tips for the Best Chicken Thighs

Wondering why you still can’t get it right? Maybe these techniques will help:

  • Buy good quality chicken. A healthy and hormone-free chicken will obviously taste MUCH BETTER than one that’s pumped with chemicals. Go for all-natural and free-range options for amazing flavor—no matter the cooking method.
  • ALWAYS season your chicken well. Sprinkle on enough salt and pepper before grilling the chicken, so that its natural flavors become much more pronounced. When marinating, leave the sauce on for a few hours (or overnight) for the best results!
  • Monitor the grill temperature. Some grills’ temperature readings aren’t so accurate, so pay attention to the heat. If your chicken is browning too quickly, decrease the flame!

grilled chicken with onions

  • Keep a CLOSE eye on your chicken. If your grill is prone to flare-ups, move the chicken around so that it doesn’t burn. Make sure it’s cooking evenly throughout the whole process!
  • Use a meat thermometer. This handy kitchen tool is SO HELPFUL because it takes guesswork out of the equation. Although you can slice the chicken to check for signs of pink, using a thermometer is more effective to determine doneness.
  • Try basting LAST! Although you place marinated chicken directly on the grill, some sugary sauces burn FAST, giving your final dish an unpleasant taste. Try basting when the chicken’s almost cooked through to avoid this!

Quick and Easy Chicken Marinades

Ready to get grilling? Great! Here are three tasty chicken marinades to get you started:

BBQ Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Spices: salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, chili powder

Citrus Honey Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or vinegar of choice)
  • Spices: salt, pepper, thyme

Sweet and Savory Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Spices: salt, pepper, parsley

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics of grilling chicken thighs, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Get your chicken cravings on!

Outdoor Cooking Pros
Outdoor Cooking Pros


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