Chicken breasts can be just fine, although going with chicken thighs has plenty of built-in advantages. Cheaper and easier to keep moist, grilled chicken thighs are delicious and easy for both casual cooking and barbecues.
Read on for our latest Grill School entry: How to make kick-ass grilled chicken thighs.
Ins and outs of grilling chicken thighs
One of the easiest mistakes to make when grilling chicken is to load it up with BBQ sauce before you grill. Don’t do that. Instead, find your favorite chicken rub for most of the grilling and save your BBQ sauce for the very end. Why? Because most BBQ sauces have sugar and BBQ sauce will burn on the grill, which is why you want to save it for the end to finish the chicken.
Once your boneless chicken thighs are rubbed and ready for the grill, make sure to coat your grill with a good oil. I prefer a high-heat oil like peanut oil, but there are plenty of other options (maybe skip the olive oil).
It’s also a good idea to setup direct and indirect zones on your grill to give yourself more control.
When you’re ready to roll, throw your chicken thighs onto the direct zone of your grill and let them sizzle. Keep an eye on thinner pieces and move them to the indirect side if you need.
You should also have a backup pair of tongs handy to avoid cross-contamination. If you don’t have an extra pair, make sure to wash your tongs thoroughly before pulling your chicken.
After getting your chicken thighs started on the direct side, now it’s time to move them to your indirect zone. This will keep your chicken from drying out or overcooking.
Enter your favorite BBQ sauce. While the rub cooks into your chicken early on, your BBQ sauce is perfect for late in the game.
Add your sauce earlier and all you’re going to do is burn it because of its high sugar content.
With your internal temperature still rising over indirect heat, the BBQ sauce now seeps into your chicken.
Just keep your meat thermometer handy and check it when you think it looks finished. If it’s right around 170 degrees, your kick-ass chicken thighs are ready for the table.
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