Perfect Chicken on the Grill!

Tequila Lime Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

I love grilling chicken especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It’s so simple, but most people cook the chicken to death ending up with a piece that is so dry you can barely swallow it.  If that describes you, wouldn’t you like to learn to grill Perfect Chicken? 

If you’re one of those people, here’s a simple technique that you can use not just for chicken, but for other meats as well. I call it the “touch method.”

Just prior to putting chicken on the grill, touch it. You’ll notice the meat feels loose. As in my first photo below, take your left hand and let in lay limp. Take the index finger on your right hand and touch it to the flesh between the index finger and thumb on your left hand, in the web of those two fingers. Do you see how it feels? Like jelly! That’s how the chicken (or meat) feels when it’s raw.

Perfect Grilled Chicken with the touch method

In photo 2 (below) take those two same fingers on your left hand and touch the tips together. Then take the index finger on your right hand, and touch it to the web between the two fingers. Do you see how it feels? It should feel slightly firmer. This is how your chicken will feel when it’s cooked to medium. This is how I prefer it.

How to Grill Perfect Chicken

Lastly, in photo 3 (below) take your left hand now and make a fist. Then take the index finger on your right hand, and touch it to the web of your left hand, between your thumb and index finger. Now do you see how firm and tight that feels? This is how your meat/chicken will feel when it is well done. For chicken, this is going to be tough and dry.

How to Grill Perfect Chicken

My recommendation – before placing your chicken on the grill (or meat) touch it to see how it feels. Then as it cooks, you’ll be able to judge if it’s still raw, cooked to medium or well-done temperature, simply by touch. *Remember some meats need time to rest once removing it from the grill or oven.  This allows juices to redistribute evenly and also continues to cook slightly more.

Typically I grill my chicken breasts 3-4  minutes per side on medium heat. Of course, that depends on the thickness of the chicken. To insure all pieces of chicken are done at the same time, they should be of equal thickness.  If not, place some plastic wrap over each breast on a cutting board.  Using a mallet, pound pieces until even and equal in thickness. Your butcher can do this for you if you don’t want to.

If you typically serve dry chicken to your family or shy away from grilling chicken when having friends over, try this method. Please let me know if the end result was Perfect Chicken.

**Of course, for the most accurate reading use a superior meat thermometer – my favoriteMk4 by Thermapen. You can also use this chart as a guideline for proper cooking temperatures.

Hungry to try your hand at Grilling Perfect Chicken now?  Try these recipes!

Tequila Lime Chicken with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

Orange Glazed Chicken with Wheat Berry Salad

Southwest Chicken & Quinoa Salad

Caribbean Chicken over Coconut Rice with Mango Salsa

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  1. Perfectly grilled and awesome with salsa…Absolutely yummilicious!

  2. Although I often use the touch method to judge whether meat is done, much more often these days I rely on my Thermapen. Terrific thermometer. Good post — thanks.

  3. I have tried to show Bill this technique, but he’s not interested. He will use our thermapen on occasion, but I use it every time I grill. It’s worth the investment!
    P.S. Your chicken looks fabulous with the salsa topping.

  4. I agree. I’ve purchased less expensive meat thermometers in the past but for one that’s truly accurate I’ve found the Thermapen to be best and it’s so easy and convenient to use. Purchase the best for starters and save yourself $$$ in the long run and accuracy. 

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