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Juicy Grilled Chicken on a Charcoal Grill

July 14, 2009
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Juicy Grilled Chicken

Looking to make juicy grilled chicken on a charcoal grill?  Grilled chicken can be tricky. Why? It is easy to over cook it. Give this recipe a try and follow my grilling instructions - your chicken will never be the same!

Note: While the following article is great, it is from 2009. I have revised my recipe for grilling boneless skinless chicken breast and it is really easy. Feel free to use either method as they both work well.

Juicy Grilled Chicken on the Charcoal Grill

Here's what you'll need:

Boneless skinless chicken breast
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Dried Parsley
Dried Oregano
Dried Basil
salt and pepper
Hot Pepper Flakes

You want to allow your chicken breast to sit in this marinade for an hour or so. It's a really easy marinade to make and you can easily modify this. The base of the marinade is olive oil. Pour 1/2 cup of olive oil into a large bowl. Next, get out a dry 1/4 cup measuring cup. Pour in the dried parsley, dried oregano, and the dried basil. You can choose how much of each to add in. For example, if you don't have basil, then fill the 1/4 cup measuring cup half way with parsley and half way with oregano. Basically the amount of the italian spices can be added in any amount you want - just don't go over 1/4 cup. Add a few teaspoons of salt and a few teaspoons of pepper. Take a few cloves of garlic and smash with the side of a knife and toss the whole thing into the mix. Then sprinkle a little bit (about 1/4 tsp) of hot pepper flakes into the mix. Mix it up!

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

Next, get out your chicken breast and cut off any fat that you don't want. I like to butterfly the breast so it cooks more evenly. Take a look at the picture below to see the butterflied breast. If you have a really skinny chicken breast, you can skip this step but sometimes the chicken breast is huge and you will need to butterfly it.

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

Toss the chicken around in the marinade and place in the fridge for an hour or two.

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

When you are ready to start cooking get a nice medium/medium high heat going. I like to grill two whole packs of chicken breasts so I make a large fire. I like to spread the charcoal out about one layer thick so I have a lot of cooking area. Take note of the picture below - I always keep a cold area that has little or no charcoals. You can use this area to keep your chicken from burning if you find that some breasts are cooking faster than others. Check out this article on how to use a two zone charcoal grill.

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

Since olive oil is in the marinade you'll need to make sure you shake all the excess oil off of the breasts before they hit the grill. Otherwise you'll have a nice flame up. You don't need to dry the chicken completely just don't have the oil dripping off of the chicken breast. You'll be sorry if you do. When the direct heat fire is ready, toss your chicken breast over direct heat as shown below. Two minutes per side is all you need over direct heat depending upon how intense your high heat is.

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

When you are cooking chicken breast it is very handy to use a digital thermometer. To be safe the Gov't recommends cooking your chicken to 165 degrees F. However, if you listen to them you will have a dry chicken breast. Here's what I do: After my two minutes per side direct high heat cooking, I collect the breasts and place them over the cold side of the grill. At this time, I'll place my other items on the grill. Sometimes it is corn on the cob, squash, or potato wedges. Regardless of what else you cook - this is the time to stick the digital thermometer into the chicken. At this time you will probably read into the 140s or low 150s. When your chicken breast reads about 158 or 159 degrees F internal temperature take them off the grill. Do not cook to any higher of a temperature or you will be eating dry chicken!

Juicy Grilled Chicken Recipe and method on the charcoal grill

Today I went with a classic grilled chicken sandwich. A whole wheat bun, mayo, sliced onion, tomato, and romaine lettuce. Looks good to me!!!

Juicy Grilled Chicken on the Charcoal Grill

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