Best Grilled Chicken

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Cooking chicken on the grill can be a challenge. Until now.

We just love all kinds of grilled food, from Mushroom Swiss Burgers, Salmon Burgers, and Grilled Oysters. But folks, just wait until you sink your teeth into this marinated grilled chicken. Crispy on the outside and so juicy on the inside. Prepare yourself to be the reining neighborhood grill master!

Three grilled chicken leg quarters on an oval platter surround by grilled lemon halves and fresh herbs.

How To Make the Best Grilled Chicken

To make perfectly grilled chicken is really much easier than you might think.

Give the chicken some time to soak up the marinade, and then about 1 hour of grilling time, and that’s all you need!

EXPERT TIP: We love using chicken leg quarters, but you could also prepare this dish with a whole chicken that has been quartered, or halved, or even cut into pieces. See the recipe NOTES about cooking time.

 

The Perfect Grilled Chicken Marinade

The combination of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice delivers an incredible taste for the chicken.

The smoked paprika not only adds a nice smoky taste but also gives it a gorgeous golden color.

EXPERT TIP: Butter is an important ingredient in the marinade. As it sits in the fridge with the chicken, it will harden, which is completely normal. Once the chicken hits the hot grill, the butter will melt and not only give an amazing taste but also help to make the skin extra crispy.

A small glass bowl filled with a paprika lemon juice marinade.

To really let the marinade do its work, you need to give it some time.

3 hours is good, but overnight is best.

EXPERT TIP: Use a large freezer baggie to marinate the chicken. Simply place the pieces in the bag and then pour the marinade into the baggie. Seal and place in the fridge until ready to grill.

An orange colored marinade being poured from a measuring cup into a plastic freezer baggie with chicken pieces in it.

Preparing Your Grill

You’ll want to prepare your grill for 2-zone heat. One side with direct heat and the other with no heat.

Learn more about 2-zone grilling here.

EXPERT TIP: Cooking the chicken on the no-heat side of your grill will allow the chicken to cook slowly, and not dry out. Finishing it off over the direct heat will allow the exterior to become slightly charred and very crispy. Baste with the marinade every 10 minutes, until you transfer the chicken to the direct heat. Discard the marinade and use a clean brush at this point.

A chicken leg quarter on a gas grill being basted with a brush.

It’s important to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.

An instant-read thermometer is inexpensive and allows you to know once the grilled chicken is ready.

This chicken is amazing served piping hot right off the grilled, but it’s also incredible once it’s cooled off. NOTE: Don’t allow the chicken to sit out for more than 90 minutes, especially if outdoors in warm weather.

A grilled chicken leg quarter sitting on a plate next to a grilled lemon half and potato salad.

What To Serve With Grilled Chicken

This chicken is quintessential BBQ fare.

We love to serve it with our Slow-Cooker Corn on the Cob, Southern Baked Beans, and Classic Potato Salad.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present you the ultimate “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!”

A grilled chicken leg quarter sitting on a platter next to grilled lemons and fresh herbs.

Ready to take your next outdoor BBQ to the next level? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of it, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A grilled chicken leg quarter sitting on a plate next to a grilled lemon half and potato salad.

Best Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken can be a challenge to pull off. But this recipe will ensure you serve the juiciest, yet most crispy chicken ever. Be sure to allow time to let the chicken to rest in the marinade, preferably overnight.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Lunch / Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy grilled chicken recipe, how to grill chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Marinating: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 549kcal

Equipment

  • Gas or charcoal grill, set up for 2-zone cooking (indirect and direct heat)

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter melted, 1 stick, plus extra for final basting
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice fresh
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp rosemary dried
  • 1 tsp thyme dried
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 chicken leg quarters or whole chicken quartered, halved, or cut into pieces
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 large lemons halved

Instructions

  • Prepare the marinade by adding the vinegar, lemon juice, paprika, dried herbs, garlic powder, ½ tsp each of salt and pepper to the melted butter in a small bowl.
  • Place the chicken in a shallow dish or large freezer baggie. Pour the marinade into the dish, or baggie. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, or press the air out of the baggie and close. Place in the fridge for 3 to 24 hours.
  • Fire up your grill to 2-zone heat (half direct heat and the other half no heat). Optimal internal gill temperature is between 325° and 400°F.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the no-heat side of the grill. Save the marinade.
  • After about 10 minutes on the grill, sprinkle the chicken with a little salt and pepper. Use a brush to apply some of the reserved marinade to the chicken. Use tongs or a spatula to flip the chicken, and add a little more salt and pepper and then a layer of marinade.
  • Baste and flip the chicken about every 10 to 15 minutes, basting each time, for approximately 45 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 145°F.
  • Transfer the chicken to the direct-heat side of you grill. Place the lemons on the grill, cut side down, over direct heat.
  • Discard any of the marinade and get a new brush, or clean the one you were using. Brush the chicken with a little more melted butter. Cook until the exterior is crispy and an internal temperature of 160° to 165°F has been reached.
  • Remove from grill and serve with grilled lemons.

Video

Notes

If you can't find leg quarters (which are the leg and thigh combined), ask your butcher if he/she will cut some for you.  Whole chicken that has been quartered, halved, or cut into pieces is great, too.  Be sure to use a thermometer to keep an eye on internal temperature.  Some pieces will cook faster than others.  If one piece is ready before another, simply place the cooked piece(s) on a cutting board and cover with foil. 
The chicken is best served right from the grill but is also still delicious once it has cooled off.  Don't allow the cooked chicken to sit out (especially outdoors) for more than 90 minutes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 549kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 463mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1720IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg
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