Grilling Chicken Temperatures

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If grilled improperly, chicken will appear done on the outside while remaining undercooked inside.
If grilled improperly, chicken will appear done on the outside while remaining undercooked inside. (Image: Grilling chicken image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com)

Properly cooked chicken takes a long time to grill, but the results are well worth the wait. Chicken needs to be grilled to the right internal temperature and cooks best using both direct and indirect heat.

Internal Temperature

Grill chicken until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Cook boneless chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit and bone-in chicken until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Direct Heat

Begin grilling the chicken over direct heat. Grilling chicken at a medium to high heat sears the outside while sealing the juices inside. Grill smaller chicken pieces, which cook in under half an hour, over direct heat. Remove whole chicken and larger chicken pieces from direct heat after the outside browns.

Indirect Heat

Grill whole chicken and larger pieces of chicken over indirect heat for two-and-a-half to three hours -- depending on the size of the chicken -- at low to medium heat set between 230 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. For charcoal grills, indirect heat means grilling chicken over an area not directly over the coals. For gas grills, turn on one burner while leaving the others off, place the chicken over one of the off burners, and close the hood of the grill to allow the heat from the active burner to indirectly smoke the chicken.

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