There’s nothing like grilled chicken’s taste, but it can turn out dry and awful all too often. Many already tried and tested methods exist for how to make grilled chicken tender but only a few suss out the best techniques. It takes more than merely throwing some chicken onto the grill, adding a few spices and sauces to make it taste good and tender.
You need to master how to grill a chicken if you want that tender, perfect, juicy, and flavorful meal every time. If it’s your first time grilling chicken, don’t worry! We’ve got the tips and tricks you need to make sure your chicken comes out perfectly tender.
10 Secrets to Grilling The Perfect Chicken Tender
For most, the best-grilled chicken is tender and juicy on the inside, with slightly crisp and nicely charred skin on the outside. But achieving that perfect level of doneness isn’t always easy. Luckily, we’ve got a few secrets up our sleeve on how to make grilled chicken tender to help you achieve grilled chicken perfection every time.
➣Choose The Right Chicken
Not all chicken is perfect for grilling. In fact, some chicken is better suited for other cooking methods, such as pan-frying or oven roasting. That’s because every chicken cut is different and will respond to heat differently. But for grilling, you’ll want to choose chicken that is:
–Boneless and Skinless
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the most popular choice for grilled chicken tender since they’re easy to cook and don’t take long. However, they can also dry out quickly if not properly handled, so be careful not to overcook them.
While you can technically grill frozen chicken, it will not cook evenly and is more likely to dry out. For the best results, always opt for fresh to control how long it cooks.
If you’re looking to make grilled chicken tenders, you’ll need thin-cut chicken breasts. It will help them cook evenly and quickly on the grill without drying out. You can usually ask your butcher to cut them for you, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try cutting them yourself at home.
Pounding chicken before grilling is another great way to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t dry out. Simply place the chicken breast on a cutting board, cover it with plastic wrap, and use a meat mallet or rolling pin to gently flatten it until it’s about ½-inch thick.
➣Marinate Your Chicken
Marinating chicken is a great way to add flavor and help tenderize the meat. There are endless possibilities for marinades, so feel free to experiment with different flavors until you find one you love. Just remember that the key to a good marinade is using acid like lemon juice or vinegar, which will help break down the muscle fibers and make the chicken more tender.
If you have no idea how to marinate chicken or just want a quick and easy recipe to follow, try this simple citrusy marinade:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- One tablespoon Dijon mustard
- One teaspoon honey
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of pepper
Simply whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl, then pour it over the chicken and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours to let the flavors sink in. The longer it marinates, the more tender and flavorful your chicken. To learn more of this, click here.
➣Preheat Your Grill
Before cooking your chicken, it’s important to preheat your grill. It will help ensure that your chicken cooks evenly and doesn’t stick to the grates. You can heat it on medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes before adding the chicken.
If you’re using a gas grill, simply turn it on to the desired heat. For a charcoal grill, you’ll need to light the coals and wait until they’re ashed over before adding them to the grill.
➣Grease The Grates
Once your grill is preheated, you’ll want to grease the grates with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. The best way to do it is to take a wad of paper towels and dip it in some cooking oil. Then, use it to rub the grates.
Make sure to do this every time you grill, otherwise, your chicken will stick. And no one wants to eat grilled chicken stuck to the grill because it will tear apart and be dry.
➣Don’t Overcrowd The Grill
If you overcrowd your grill, not only will it be harder to cook your chicken evenly, but it will also create a lot of smoke, which isn’t good for your health or the taste of your food. So try to grill your chicken in batches instead of all at once.
If you have a big grill, you can cook up to four chicken breasts. If you have a smaller grill, try cooking two at a time. Just make sure there’s enough space between each piece of chicken so that it can cook evenly.
➣Keep it Wet
One of people’s biggest mistakes when grilling chicken is not keeping the chicken wet. It can result in dry, overcooked chicken. To avoid this, be sure to baste your chicken with a sauce or marinade every few minutes while it’s cooking. You can also try spraying it with some cooking spray to help keep it moist. For a simple basting sauce, try this:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- One tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Simply whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, then brush it over the chicken while it’s grilling.
➣Flip It Once
Another common mistake people make when grilling chicken is flipping it too often. It can result in dry, overcooked chicken. Instead, only flip it once halfway through cooking. Flipping it more can also cause the chicken to stick to the grill.
Every grill is different, so you’ll have to experiment to figure out how long it takes your chicken to cook through. But on average, it should take about 10-15 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your chicken breasts.
➣Know When It’s Done
This is probably the most important tip on how to make grilled chicken tender. Overcooking chicken will make it dry and tough to chew, but it can also make it unsafe to eat. The best way to know when your chicken is done is to use a meat thermometer.
For chicken breasts, they should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they reach that temperature, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before cutting into them.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can also tell if the chicken is cooked by doing a visual and physical check. The chicken should be opaque all the way through and should not have any pink areas. It should also be firm to the touch.
➣Use Quality Oil
When grilling chicken, it’s important to use quality oil. It will help prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill and give it a nice flavor. Try to use an oil with a high smoke point, such as olive oil, avocado oil, or canola oil.
If your chicken does start to stick to the grill, don’t try to pry it off. Instead, wait until it’s done cooking and then use a pair of tongs to gently remove it. That way, you won’t risk tearing the chicken or making a mess.
➣Let It Rest
Once your chicken is cooked through, it’s important to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. It will help keep it juicy and tender. Simply transfer it to a plate or platter and cover it with foil. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
During that time, the juices will redistribute throughout the chicken, making it even more flavorful and juicy. Make sure not to skip this step, or you’ll be left with dry chicken.
Best Sauces to Pair with Grilled Chicken
Now that you know how to make grilled chicken tender, it’s time to think about what sauces to pair it with. Putting a delicious sauce on your chicken can really take it to the next level. So, here are a few of our favorites:
Everyone loves a good BBQ sauce, and it’s the perfect condiment for grilled chicken. It’s sweet, tangy, and has just the right amount of spice. Plus, it’s super easy to make your own homemade BBQ sauce. Just mix together ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder. Then simmer it on the stove until it’s nice and thick.
⭐Honey Mustard Sauce
If you’re looking for a slightly sweet and tangy sauce, honey mustard is the perfect option. It’s easy to make, and it goes great with just about anything. Just mix together Dijon mustard, honey, and apple cider vinegar. You can also add a little bit of mayo to make it creamier.
While if you’re into spicy food, you may want to opt for a hot sauce. There are endless options when it comes to the hot sauce, so you can choose the one that best suits your taste. Our favorite is Sriracha sauce, but feel free to experiment with different types.
Pesto is an excellent option if you’re looking for something a little different. It’s made with basil, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts. It’s creamy and has a unique flavor that pairs well with grilled chicken.
If you’re a fan of Asian food, you’ll love teriyaki sauce. It’s sweet, sticky, and has a little bit of heat. Plus, it’s super easy to make. Just whisk together soy sauce, honey, rice wine vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Then simmer it on the stove until it’s nice and thick.
Buffalo sauce is the perfect condiment for grilled chicken wings. It’s spicy, tangy, and delicious. You can make your own buffalo sauce at home by mixing hot sauce, butter, and vinegar.
5 Recipes That Use Grilled Chicken
If a plain grilled chicken breast is too boring for you, don’t worry. There are plenty of recipes that use grilled chicken. Here are five of our favorites:
1️⃣Grilled Chicken Salad
For a healthy and light meal, try a grilled chicken salad. It’s loaded with fresh vegetables and topped with a delicious grilled chicken breast.
2️⃣Grilled Chicken Tacos
Taco night just got even better with grilled chicken tacos. You can either griddle your chicken breasts or cook them on the grill. Then just assemble them with your favorite toppings.
3️⃣Grilled Chicken Teriyaki
Try grilled chicken teriyaki if you’re in the mood for something a little Asian. It’s super easy to make and tastes delicious.
4️⃣Grilled Chicken and Avocado Burritos
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, try this grilled chicken and avocado burrito. It’s made with soft tortillas, grilled chicken, creamy avocado, and a sweet spicy sauce.
5️⃣Grilled Chicken Parmesan
A grilled chicken parmesan might take some time to make, but it’s definitely worth it! It’s made with breaded and grilled chicken breasts, marinara sauce, and mozzarella cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What’s the best way to grill chicken?
There are a few different ways to grill chicken. You can either cook it directly on the grates, use a grill pan, or cook it in foil. But the most preferred method is to indirect grill it. It means that you cook the chicken indirectly over the heat rather than directly on the flames.
2. What temperature should grilled chicken be?
The internal temperature of your chicken should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that it’s cooked through.
3. How long does it take to grill chicken?
Depending on the thickness, it usually takes about 15-20 minutes to grill a chicken breast. But you’ll want to check the internal temperature periodically with a food thermometer to make sure that it’s cooked through.
4. What’s the best way to store grilled chicken?
If you have any grilled chicken leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
5. Can I grill chicken in the oven?
You can also grill chicken in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Then bake it for 20-25 minutes, or until it’s cooked through.
Knowing how to make grilled chicken tender is a must for any grilling enthusiast. By following the tips and tricks in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating perfectly cooked chicken every time. And don’t forget to try out some of the recipes that use grilled chicken. They’re sure to become new favorites!