HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


How do I grill BONELESS chicken?

I have tried slowly at low temps and quickly at high temps. Always gets too dry.

Do I marinate? Dip in BBQ sauce during cooking? Cook to a certian temperature and then let it rest?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'd make kabobs, marinate, and cook briefly.

    1. marinade or not is up to you, both are fine. Key to grilled boneless chicken is pound to a consistent thickness, jfood guesses 3/8 to 1/2 inch. Then ONLY a couple of minutes per side on the grill. Most people overcook these to death (jfood probably 2-3 minutes per side..

      1. Brining is a simple and foolproof way to ensure that it doesn't dry out too much.

        Do not cook "low and slow." That's a technique for tough meat that allows the fat and connective tissue to dissolve, tenderizing the meat. It's the exact opposite of what you want to do with boneless chicken.

        Brine and cook on med hot coals ONLY UNTIL DONE. Get a meat thermometer if you are unsure of when it is done. Also, remember carry-over cooking time.

        3 Replies
        1. re: C. Hamster

          Excellent. Thanks.

          What temperature do you recommend?

          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

            the breast will probably too thin for an accurate reading. also it's not like a steak in which you should not cut into it. if you are unsure, cut a little peak hole.

            1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

              The health dept guys would say breasts to 160, thigh to 175. I say til they have firmed up to the touch only... that would mean about 150 on the breast, 160 on the thigh. But I am crazy... no, really... the heat will rise once it comes off the grill. If you pound the breast thin, it will literally only take a minute or so per side... I will do regular boneless breasts without pounding, and will pull once it is firmed up. Maybe 4-5 minutes per side? Brining or marinade is a good idea.

          2. pound thin (like jfood say;3/8-1/2'' thick. amrinate in tandoori spices and yoghurt refrig'd, for at least a hour and grill over hot, hot coals for no more than 2 min's per side. serve with grilled onions and a squeeze of lemon.done this way the chicken should be nice and moist.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chazzerking

              Great idea. A couple of nights ago, I bbqed some boneless breasts by slicing them 1/2 inch or 1/3 inch thick, marinating them in a mixture of soya, garlic, a sprinkling of sichuan peppercorns, some hot mustard, sesame oil and some chili paste. Marinated them for about an hour, then threaded them on skewers and bbqed over high heat (since there's little or no fat, they don't catch fire or blacken on the grill). The little bit of fat from the oil makes them sizzle. I cooked about 2 mins per side.

              I usually make a peanut satay-style dip but was too lazy on Sat. night.

            2. My absolutely best method which results in a juicy BSCB is to season with salt and pepper then onto a hot cast iron skillet in EVO to brown on the first side, flip and toss into a hot oven for 5 min or so to finish. The outside is golden brown and the inside is just done. The meat should have a very light blush when cut but will be 150-160. I slice the breast across the grain and they are tender and juicy with a good crust for flavor.

              6 Replies
              1. re: scubadoo97

                I take a similar approach on the grill: sear over direct heat (maybe 2-3 min. per side, till you get the nice grill lines), then finish on indirect heat. On a 3 burner gas grill that means fire up all 3 burners, sear the meat on the two outside burners, move chicken to the middle and then turn off the middle burner, leaving the outside burners on. If you've used teriyaki, BBQ sauce or another sugary marinade, this also keeps it from getting burnt. Depending on size, thickness, etc. anywhere from 15 - 25 min on indirect heat should work, but it's not a bad idea to cut a piece open to check if you're not sure.

                Marinating in buttermilk or yogurt helps a lot, especially for breasts. Thighs tend to stay juicier.

                1. re: 2m8ohed

                  I agree with the buttermilk marinate, this makes my chicken MUCH more tender. A brine would also work wonders. Marinating/ brining is key!

                    1. re: macca

                      What kind? Just regular Plain Yogurt?

                        1. re: 2m8ohed

                          Yup- I use the fat free Fage from Trader Joe's. Add a bit of lemon juice and some garlic, and you are good to go!

              2. I have always thought that any cookbook is worth the price for only one good recipe. A few years ago while vacationing at the Greenbrier in W. VA., I had the opportunity to talk with Steve Raichlen for a few minutes. He is one of the best known chefs for grilling. I have grilled for 40 years and consider myself pretty good, but told him that the most difficult item was chicken. He gave me a recipe for boneless chicken (in one of his books, natch) that my family loves. I don't have access to it, but it is essentially this: marinate boneless skinless chicken breasts in EVOO, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and sliced onions. Do this for a few hours. While grill is getting ready, take a clean brick, and wrap it in a couple of layers of aluminum foil. When you put the chicken on the grill, place a brick on top. It will help flatten out the breast and cook better, and more quickly. don't overcook....when you flip the chicken after about 5 minutes, place the brick on other side. Has always worked for me and the family loves it. You can fiddle with the marinade, but the brick is the secret.

                4 Replies
                1. re: steakman55

                  Please tell me what EVO means. Thanks

                    1. re: steakman55

                      Raichlen also has an excellent recipe for brining with brown sugar, salt, peppercorns,bay leaves, garlic, lemon onions. Brine for two hours (no more, he says) then grill. The breasts turn a beautiful mahogany and they're never dry.
                      Have also done the brined breasts in an oven with excellent results. Makes for wonderful cold chicken sandwiches.

                    2. My secret is to fork tenderize the breasts, then soak for two hours or more in chicken broth... pre-poach :-)

                      Brining is also certainly helpful, as suggested above.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Emme

                        This is the brine I use. You can tweek it to your liking.

                        1 Qt Water

                        1/2 TSP Dried Thyme

                        1/4 TBSP Cayenne

                        1/2 TBSP Garlic Powder

                        1/2 TBSP Onion Flakes

                        1/2 TBSP Cracked Black Pepper

                        1/4 C Coarse Salt

                        1/4 C Sugar

                        Brine for no more than 1 hour or the chicken will be too soft. Put on paper towels to dry a bit. Add cooking oil/olive oil so they don't stick. Grill over high heat both sides 2 mins or until seared. Move to indirect heat and cook for about 20-25 minutes.

                      2. Cook's Illustrated July August issue has a new method that we love, having given up grilling boneless breasts due to the hockey puck results. So I have 2 questions for you... can you get your hands on this magazine ?
                        If not, are you cooking on coals or gas?

                        I have to go to work now (euuh) but can send recipe approximation later if you like.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ginnyhw

                          I'd love the recipe if you have it.

                          1. I'll try to buy the magazine
                          2. I'm cooking over briquettes

                          1. re: NAtiveNewYorker

                            LabRat has the right idea. 2 tiered system- build fire with coals on one side of the grill to medium hot. Marinade the chick breasts in mixture of 2 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons EVOO, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, juice of half a lemon, teaspoon sugar, teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a plastic bag for 30 minutes. Cook drained chicken (start with smooth side down) on the cool side of cleaned, oiled grill for 6 to 9 minutes on EACH side or until 140 degrees. During this process you must COVER CHICKEN with a disposable aluminum pan (10 X 13 X 2.5 inches). Then move chicken to hot side and cook UNCOVERED 1-2 minutes each side to get groovy grill marks.
                            There is a sauce recipe to drizzle on cooked chicken. Basically it is teaspoon dijon, juice of half a lemon, 3 tablespoons EVOO, chopped parsley (or chives or your choice), and 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and sugar.
                            We have a gas grill so our cooking instruction were different but we have made this twice and looking forward to the third repeat this Sunday.

                            1. re: ginnyhw

                              I also recently used this technique with great success on a charcoal grill.

                        2. I don't usually pound the breasts. I mark and move them to indirect heat. I get the best results when I use an instant read thermometer to 160 degrees. Recently I have noticed the dripping/sizzling sound that comes from my gas-grill changes when the breasts are done.

                          1. I set up a two-tier fire. First I grill over the hot side to get nice grill marks then move them over to the low side, insert a probe from a remote thermometer in to the side of one piece, close the lid and let the internal temp come up to 155 degrees. Kind of a combination of grilling and roasting. I shall call it Groasting (tm).

                            1. I don't pound the breasts but I do slice them in half, horizontally, so that they are thinner. When in a hurry, I marinate in Wishbone Italian dressing for about 15 minutes to one hour, but a homemade vinaigrette could of course be used. Then place on a grill at about 500-550 degrees, about 3 minutes per side. They should be just cooked through, and still quite moist.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: masha

                                I do this too masha. I'll clean a bunch of BSCB and then split them in half or book them to make paillards. I can pan these in just a few minutes for a quick meal. They do taste better than a sponge if seasoned well and cooked correctly.

                              2. Throw away the chicken and cook sponges instead. They'll taste better.

                                But seriously, if you insist then do something like a kabob and cook very briefly.