Grilling Poultry: Don't Be Chicken!

The bird’s the word! Grilled chicken is a summer favorite, and goes beyond the saucy drumstick opens in a new tab to star atop salads opens in a new tab and sandwiches (so make extra). Whether you choose chicken, duck, turkey opens in a new tab or game hen, marinate your poultry or try a dry rub ahead of time to maximize flavor. Then, prep the grill and cook accordingly:

Thin pieces opens in a new tab of poultry can be cooked over direct heat; larger pieces of chicken should be cooked over indirect heat. Cook bone-in breast opens in a new tab and leg/thigh pieces for 12-15 minutes per side, wings 2-3 minutes per side; boneless breasts 4-6 minutes per side. Turning the pieces every 2-5 minutes and rotating pieces around the grill can help ensure even cooking.

Always cook poultry thoroughly.

Test for doneness with an instant read thermometer (it should reach 165°F). Insert the thermometer into the middle of the thickest part of the meat, taking care not to touch bone. Wait a couple of minutes before reading.

For whole poultry opens in a new tab, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh.


Chicken that is cooked enough will feel springy when pressed. If you're uncertain, cut into the thickest part of one piece. The meat should still be juicy, but the juices should be clear, never reddish.

For more tips and recipe ideas, see our complete Guide to Grilling opens in a new tab. Tell us: have you ever grilled a whole chicken, or even a Thanksgiving turkey?

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