Learn the secret of moist and tender split chicken breast on a gas grill that will have you doing this economical recipe for friends and family. Just use these easy to follow step by step photo instructions. You can do it tonight.
Some of my wife's favorite words are crispy, garlic, and chicken. I threw in some of my favorite words, which are quick, easy, tasty, and grilled. I rolled it all into one and made her (and me) happy.
I have included lots of special tips to grill it right.
Almost a 5.
🐓Split Chicken Breast
Split chicken breasts are also known as skin-on bone-in chicken breasts. Most feel they have more taste and moisture than the more popular skinless version.
They are the whole breast just split down the middle. It will have part of the breast bone, the skin, and a section of the ribs.
They are usually too big for a serving for most people, but they are usually very cheap to buy. You can easily remove the bone and cook just the breast meat with or without skin if you want.
👨🍳The Secret of Trimming the Chicken
Chicken breasts have become progressively bigger over the last few decades. They are now too big for a reasonable serving size and are nearly impossible to cook.
They are hard for most home cooks to get to a safe internal temperature without overcooking the outside. So most will skip them as an option or settle for poor results.
The “secret” to the success in cooking split chicken breast in the oven or on the grill is how to prepare them for cooking. You get a better serving size, more even cooking, and more surface area for the great spices.
Step one is cutting off the attached rib section. There is no meat, it takes seasoning, and tends to overcook.
Step two is to cut the breasts into two or three pieces. Trying to cook the whole thing at once will almost always burn it on the outside before reaching a safe 165 internal temperature. There is also more surface area for seasoning, and the serving size is correct for most people.
The problem most people will have with cooking any chicken on a gas grill is the grill temperature. The surface temperature where the chicken is cooking needs to be in the 450° range.
For this skin-on recipe, we need a cooler zone on the grill to use if the skin is getting burnt. Remember a little char tastes good but burnt is bad. I suggest leaving one of the outside burners off while adjusting the grill temperature.
You can not do this on a high heat like beef, so you need to understand grill temperature well. So you need to know your grill well and have a surface thermometer to know what you're doing. This is not the same thing as that nice-looking but useless thermometer in the grill hood.
For details about grill temperature, please see A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill.
While this is a gas grill recipe but you can adapt to charcoal. You have to have a medium heat area and a cooler area.
Tip #1 - Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes minimum while getting the grill clean and to a stable temperature. You will be able to get the chicken easier without burning the skin.
Tip #2 - While the rub was to dry the skin, I applied it to the cut edges for flavor. Be sure to use a kosher or a rough salt. This is "salty," so be aware of that if you are on a low-salt diet.
Tip #3 - There is one (optional) ingredient in this recipe, the baking powder. I suggest using some baking powder to dry out the chicken skin. Some recipes use a 24-hour wait after adding the baking powder, but I feel there is a significant effect in only 15 minutes (which is more scientifically logical to me). Be sure to use aluminum-free baking powder to avoid that aftertaste.
Tip #4 - Pat dry the skin before seasoning. We do not rinse chicken anymore. See Chicken... To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
Tip #5 - Spice it up some with ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Tip #6 - The chicken must reach 165° to consume safely.
📖Split Chicken Breast Recipes
Trim chicken breasts by removing any trim-able fat and excess skin and the rib section. Cut in half or thirds depending on size. Pat dry.
Mix ingredients of rub very well.
Apply rub to skin heavy and lightly to cut edges. Shake off excess. Don't try to use all the rub.
Preheat grill to a surface temperature of about 450°, which is medium-high on most grills. Keep one of the outside burners off to create a cooler area. You want the chicken to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before starting to grill.
Place the chicken pieces skin side up and grill for 5-6 minutes. Flip skin down for 3-4 minutes. Keep doing flips, and when the skin is down, only do 3-4 minutes. If the skin is getting too dark, do the skin-side-down time over the turned-off burner.
Grill to an internal temperature of 165°. About 30 minutes total grill time depending on your grill and sizes of chicken pieces.
Crispy Garlic Grilled Split Chicken Breast
- 2 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts - AKA split chicken breast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon aluminum free baking powder - optional
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
- Trim chicken breasts by removing any trim-able fat. and excess skin and the rib section. Cut in half or thirds depending on size. Pat dry.
- Mix ingredient of rub very well.
- Apply rub to skin heavy, and lightly to cut edges. Shake off excess. Don't try to use all the rub.
- Preheat grill to a surface temperature of about 450°, which is medium-high on most grills. Keep one of the outside burners off to create a cooler area. You want the chicken to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before starting to grill.
- Place the chicken pieces skin side up and grill for 5-6 minutes. Flip skin down for 3-4 minutes. Keep doing flips and when the skin is down, only do 3-4 minutes. If the skin is getting too dark, do the skin-side-down time over the turned-off burner.
- Grill to an internal temperature of 165°. About 30 minutes total grill time depending on your grill and sizes of chicken pieces.
- The two keys to this are the trimming of the chicken breasts, and the grill setup.
- The grill surface temperature of 450°, and leave a cold zone by keeping an outside burner off.
- Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before going on the grill.
- Remember to do the uneven grilling with a shorter time when the skin side is down.
- The baking powder helps dry out the skin. Be sure to use aluminum-free baking powder to avoid that aftertaste.
- Pat dry the skin before seasoning.
- Spice it up some with ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- The chicken must reach 165° to consume safely.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published March 20, 2011. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation. Also, the method is modified slightly to my current technique.