How Do You Keep Chicken Juicy On The Grill?

Chicken is known for being dryer than steak or mutton due to the lack of fat contained in the chicken. Therefore, it’s much more challenging to get moist and juicy. The added fire of using a grill takes out the moisture of chicken far more than a regular stove or oven, so the question is, how do you keep your chicken juicy using a grill.

The main reason your chicken is dry is due to overcooking. Set your grill to medium-high heat, around 350F, and then grill your chicken until the core temperature reaches 150F for 3 minutes. If you find your chicken is not moist enough while grilling, add more moisture through brining or marinade.

how do you keep chicken juicy on the grill

There are many ways of grilling chicken to make it moist and juicy. Still, there are many wrong ways to cook chicken, like overcooking it, making it dry, or worse, undercooking, and getting salmonella. So in this article, we will detail the right temperature and why it’s so important to hit the sweet spot. In addition, we will talk about how to brine using the different brine types and how to make a good marinade.

The Right Temperature To Cook Your Chicken

The biggest concern that people have is undercooking your chicken and getting salmonella. The FDA states that 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for all salmonella to be killed off, which is true. Still, all the moisture of the chicken dries out at that temperature. But salmonella also gets killed slowly at lower temperatures. 

Salmonella starts to die off at 136F, but the higher the temperature, the faster this bacteria dies off. At 136F (core temp), killing all salmonellae takes around 65 minutes. And at 165F, all the salmonella is killed off instantly, which is good for staying healthy but makes the chicken dry. So if you want to keep safe and have nice moist chicken, grill your chicken at a core temperature of 150F for 3-4 minutes.

Butterflying Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts usually have a thicker side and a thinner side. When you try to cook the chicken, what ends up happening is the skinny side cooks faster while the thicker side is still cooking. And if one side isn’t cooked, you will need to leave the chicken on longer, which will remove the moisture of the chicken even more.

Another way of flattening out your chicken is by using a meat mallet. First, lay out some wax paper or plastic wrap on a flat surface, lay your chicken breast on top, then lay another layer of wax paper or plastic on top of the chicken. Next, grab a meat mallet or a rolling pin and flatten your meat. Don’t just hit straight down onto the chicken breasts. Instead, hit down, then push out away from where your mallet hits in one smooth motion.

How To Wet Brine Your Chicken

Brining is the act of soaking meats in a saltwater solution for an extended period. The benefits of Brining your chickens are that it helps to tenderize the meat. And helps to lock the moisture in the chicken and keeps it moist while grilling. 

But because it makes it so moist, it is best for skinless and boneless chicken breasts; this is because the skin won’t become crispy after Brining. To make a brine, you need to dissolve 60 grams of salt per liter of water. You can apply any type of salt for this, but we find kosher salt being the best option.

When you soak meats in a brine, the saltwater softens the meat proteins allowing the chicken to hold more moisture. However, when cooking meat, the moisture channels shrink due to the high heat, and while shrinking, it pushes out a lot of the moisture trapped inside the chicken. And the salt softens those channels and reduces shrinkage. 

There isn’t much moisture with chicken in the first place, so Brining is an excellent choice for creating moist chicken. It is wise to leave the chicken in the brine solution overnight in the refrigerator.

How To Dry Brine Your Chicken 

Dry brining is excellent for skin-on chicken breasts or other parts because you get the same effect as wet brining. It softens up the moisture channels but with the added benefit of leaving your skin crispy. 

But keep in mind if you’re going to dry Brine instead of wet brining, it won’t be as moist. The reason is that you are not introducing additional moisture into the chicken but rather preserving what is already inside.

Dry Brining is simple. Just cover your meat in the salt of preference. All salts work, but kosher salt works the best. Kosher salt sticks to the chicken more and dissolves much faster than regular salts.

What Does Marinading Do, And Why Is It Useful?

Marinading is like Brining, but unlike Brining, you add acid and seasonings for flavor. And a significant benefit to marinades is that the flavor pulls into the meat. So you can rinse off some of the spices like garlic, which would otherwise just burn on a grill leaving a burnt garlic taste on your chicken.

There are four essential ingredients to any good marinade: fat, acid, sugar, and seasonings. Fat is necessary because it helps retain moisture while cooking, and it holds onto all the herbs while cooking. Acid is there to cut through the grease and balance out the flavor. Sugar is essential for caramelizing while cooking to get that beautiful brown color. 

Finally, seasoning is probably the most critical part of the marinade, which will add flavor. You can use any ingredient to balance the individual elements fat, acid, sugar, and seasoning.

We will list a few essential ingredients that you can use. Still, there are so many variations and combinations you can experiment with, so go ahead and choose the ones you like the best.

Olive OilLime JuiceBrown SugarGinger
Coconut MilkVinegarHoneySalt
Canola OilMustardMaple SyrupPepper
Coconut OilOrange JuiceAgaveGarlic
Sesame OilLemon JuiceGranulated SugarCurry

Final Word

There is no reason why your chicken should be the only dry meat while steaks are juicy and moist. There are many ways of getting your chicken to that perfectly juicy and tender status. 

It just takes the right temperature for the right amount of time, a nice brine or marinade, and the correct sliced chicken thickness to enjoy a moist grilled chicken.

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