How to Cook Chicken Thighs on a Charcoal Grill

Attending many cookouts with friends and family can make one wonder, how can such a simple grilled meal taste so flavorful and satisfying. Just by sinking your teeth, you get a sudden flow of juices and the crunch of crispy, freshly grilled chicken meat. It’s a meal so good that it makes you forget about all the other fine meals you’ve had for a while.

Loving grill chicken doesn’t mean that you have to repeatedly visit your favorite grill chicken restaurants or wait for your friends’ barbecue again. This step-by-step guide will help you in making the best grilled chicken thigh right in the comfort of your own home.

For every meal, the preparation method determines the overall taste of the food. The low and slow cooking method explained in this blog post results in tender, succulent meat that gets juicier and tastier with the mixture of various combinations of flavors. In addition to making the chicken thigh tastier, the preparation method given here is not as complicated as the other methods available on the internet.

Before we begin explaining the grilling process, here are some of the ingredients you will need for making the best grilled chicken thighs.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • 6 lbs of chicken pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sauce or glaze

To get the perfect balance of heating and grilling, we will divide the cooking time in the following manner:

  • Preparatory Time- 45 Minutes
  • Cook Time-30 Minutes
  • Serving Time-4-6 Minutes

Step 1: Heat the Charcoal

For grilling bone-in chicken pieces, you need a two-zone, medium-hot fire. The first part of the heating process is assembling a pile of briquettes. Next, you need to light the briquettes.

Add one or two pieces of newspaper and light the newspapers from several spots. As the newspaper burns in the chamber below, the flames from the heating light the charcoal above. Peek to ensure that the coals have started burning and flaming; a change from black to gray indicates that the charcoal is heating. If you don’t notice the change in color, burn another piece of paper to quicken the process.

Drizzling the newspaper with cooking oil before lighting will also cause the grill to burn longer. After 10 minutes of doing this, you will see the flames flickering from the grill. As soon as you notice this, spread the coals out. By spreading the coals, you will heat the whole grill rather than a specific part.

The whole process of getting the charcoal grill ready will take about fifteen minutes. Now that the grill is perfectly heated, you need to place the chicken thighs on the grill. Before you do this, dip a folded paper towel in cooking oil and rub it on the entire grate using long-handled tongs. Doing so will prevent the chicken from sticking to the grates.

Step 2: Get the Chicken Ready

First, we need to ensure that the chicken is clean. When shopping for chicken thighs, choose a store that you trust the most and ensure that the piece you get is fresh. You can tell the freshness of a chicken piece by its pinkness.

After cleaning the chicken under running water, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place it skin side up. Place the chicken pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper until the skin completely dries out. It will take 8 to 12 hours for the skin to dry out completely.

To avoid any flares, trim all excess fats from the chicken pieces. Sprinkle salt and sauces over the chicken. Cover the chicken and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Let the meat soak in all the sauces.

Before you begin cooking, ensure that one side of the grill is heated with lit charcoal while the other side is left cool. Now that the chicken and the grill are ready, it is time to start grilling.

Step 3: Sear the Chicken

Place the chicken thighs on the grate’s hot side, this portion is the one right above the coals. Cover the grill if it has a lid. Let the chicken thighs cook for 5-6 minutes. Once you are done grilling one side of the chicken thigh, shift to the other. The recommended time for searing one side is two to three minutes. Continue the process until you notice a change in color.

While searing, you need to remember that turning the sides of the chicken thighs more than once will cause the skin to char. For leg pieces, give them a quarter turn after every 90 seconds. If the grill flares up suddenly, move the pieces away from the coals.

When all the pieces are brown, move them to the warm side of the grate. Use a grate thermometer to check if the temperature is up to 350 °F.

Step 4: Add Any Sauces

If you want a sweeter or spicier taste to the chicken, do so in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Layer the side of the chicken thigh with your favorite sauce. Once you have flavored all the pieces close the lid for five minutes and let the sauce bake in.

After 5 minutes open the lid, turn the pieces over and repeat the process.

Step 5: Test if It’s Done

The one easy way to test whether the chicken thighs are perfectly grilled is the use of a digital thermometer. Insert the tip of the thermometer to the thickest part of the meat while ensuring that you don’t touch the bone.

If the internal temperature is 165 °F, then remove the pieces from the grill. The second testing method requires you to take a piece from the grill and check for its doneness.

First, set all the pieces on the unlit part of the grill and then randomly pick one chicken piece. Cut the piece. If the piece is a grilled chicken thigh, then it will have a rubbery texture to it. When you sink your teeth into it, you will feel the flavorsome juices run.

A rubbery texture on one piece will mean that all the other chicken thighs will have the same level of doneness. Remove all the chicken thighs from the grill if one piece is ready; otherwise, let them heat for a further 90 seconds until they reach the required temperature.

Step 6: Rest and Serve

If you are grilling different chicken pieces, such as breasts, legs, and wings, then all the pieces will be ready at different times. This is because dark meat contains more fat and moisture than white meat. When cooking them together, don’t overcook the smaller or white meat pieces while waiting for the larger or dark meat pieces to finish.

When you are done cooking, cover the chicken using a foil. Allow it to rest for five minutes so that the juices settle back into the meat. After cooking the chicken pieces on the grill, keep them warm and covered at 140 °F or hotter until served.

Dressing the Chicken Thighs

Although not a necessary part of making grilled chicken thighs, dressing up your meal is important for presentation. Go the extra mile by decorating the chicken thighs with salad and sauces; this will add an extra flavor to the grilled chicken, making it more delicious.

Underestimating the power of blending the right type of sauces and spices will hinder the presentation of your grilled chicken thighs. Sprinkle salad on the top of the grilled chicken thighs or mix lemon and spices to give your dish a little South Asian texture.

While adding complements to the side, be sure of the combination you want to try. Certain combinations of food are not meant for each other. Mixing or serving them together will only have negative effects on the health of the eater. This is why it is imperative to not overdress a meal. Doing so results in the side dish and complements overshadowing the main course.

Our Final Thoughts

The recipe and the cooking methods mentioned above will make it easier for you to cook the tastiest grilled chicken thighs in your neighborhood. Now, rather than waiting for other cookouts, you can cook the chicken thighs for yourself using the secrets we have just shared with you.

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