Learn How to Grill Chicken Breasts on a Cas Grill. Mastering grilled chicken is easy with a few simple steps. Get perfect tender and juicy chicken breasts every time.
Grilled chicken breasts are something that has most grill owners struggling. They get hockey pucks due to the wrong temperature or wrong timing. Let's fix that—it is not hard, and no magic is involved.
Learn the basics of grill temperature, how long to grill, and the final internal temperature. The best grilled chicken breasts will be yours.
👍Why you will love this recipe
- You can never have too many great healthy chicken recipes, and you will use this one repeatedly.
- Chicken is the most popular meat in America, and skinless boneless chicken breasts are the most popular cut.
- Getting moist and tender chicken breast on the grill depends on preparation, using the correct temperature on the grill, and reaching the end-point correctly.
- You can add a simple brine for even more moisture.
- Grilled chicken breasts are healthy, with about 280 calories each, with 8 grams of fat and 1 gram of carbohydrates. So they will fit nicely in almost every diet, like low-caloric, low-fat, and even low-carb or keto diets.
👨🍳How to Grill Chicken Breasts
- Prepare chicken breasts for grilling by evening out the thickness, brining if desired, brushing with oil, and seasoning to your taste.
- Clean, oil, and preheat the grill to a surface temperature of about 450°.
- Place over direct heat with a closed lid. Flip every 5 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°—about 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
⏰How long to grill chicken breasts
Chicken breasts will take about 20 minutes to cook to 165° on a medium high grill of 450°. Smaller breasts may be a bit less, and larger ones may be a bit longer. Remember to never cook by time alone—cook to the final safe internal temperature of 165°.
The exact time will vary by the grill and the thickness and starting temperature of the meat. The chicken should rest off the heat for about 5 minutes before serving. If longer, tent lightly with foil to keep warm.
♨️What grill temperature to grill chicken breasts
The best grill temperature to grill chicken breasts is about 450°. Higher temp will overcook or burn the surface before the meat reaches a safe internal temperature for grilled chicken of 165°. A lower grill temp will take longer and be drier due to increasing the cooking time to the safe temp.
You should use a grill surface thermometer to get the grill temperature correct. The hood thermometer is ALWAYS wrong. Please see A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill for more discussion.
If you don't have a surface thermometer (you should), medium to medium-high heat will be about 400°-500° on most gas grills. The cooking time will be different, but you will do okay if you get the end-point of an internal temperature of 165° correct with an instant-read thermometer.
- You can cook faster with a higher temperature, but your chicken will have an overcooked surface and be less tender and drier.
- You may use a charcoal BBQ grill as long as you control the temperature.
- Skinless boneless chicken breasts are the choice for this recipe. Due to the fat and different temperature needs. Skin-on or bone-in chicken requires different techniques—see Other Grilled Chicken Recipes below.
- Try to get breasts about the same size if possible—about 10 to 12 ounces is a good goal, but 8 oz. would be better. Bigger is just harder to cook, and the serving size is large.
- Grilling thick chicken breasts is very hard to get right. If thicker than ¾ inches, you should flatten them with a meat mallet or heavy pan to ¾ inch.
- If the chicken is frozen, it must be thawed before proceeding. The frozen breast will overcook or burn the surface before the center reaches the safe 165°.
- If you have time or if the chicken breasts are previously frozen, brining them is a good idea.
- The suggested seasoning you can adjust to your needs is paprika, garlic, salt, and pepper. You can also use any combination of seasonings and herbs you love.
- You can add dried spices or fresh herbs to the brine. But fresh herbs will tend to burn during grilling.
- Most commercial seasonings are heavy in salt and, if used with brined meat, will be too salty for most tastes.
- You can also use this technique for barbecued and marinated chicken breasts.
According to the FDA, chicken is done at 165° internal temperature in the thickest part. A higher temperature will dry, and a lower temperature is unsafe. An instant-read thermometer is required to get this right.
You can still get good results without a brine, but you will be consistently better with a brine. Also, if the breasts have been frozen, they lose moisture, and brine will help.
To brine chicken breast, use 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of table salt and brown sugar. You can add other flavors, like garlic. I like to use a zip-top bag, but you can use a bowl if the chicken is covered.
With this brine, you can get reasonably good results in 20 minutes. You can brine for up to 1 hour. More than that leaves too much salty taste to me.
After brining, you should carefully rinse the salt off the surface. Try not to splatter and lean up with an anti-bacterial cleaner in the sink area for food safety. See Chicken… To Rinse or Not To Rinse? for more food safety discussion.
Never use seasoning with salt if you have brined.
For thick chicken breasts or if your chicken breasts are different in thickness, they need to be thinned to ¾ inch thick. Without flattening, the surface of the breast will be overcooked and dry before the center reaches a safe temperature.
To flatten, protect yourself and the surrounding area from splatter by placing the breast in plastic wrap or one-gallon freezer bags. Then use a meat mallet, rolling pin, or the bottom of a heavy pan on a large cutting board.
1) Brine, if you have time.
2) Cook chicken breasts of about the same size and thickness. If thicker than ¾ inch, thin out the breast.
3) Get the grill temperature correct.
4) Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Less is not safe, and higher will dry the meat.
❄️Storage of leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days or frozen for 3 months. To reheat, if frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigeator. Then reheat covered in the oven. Microwave will effect the texture.
📖Other Grilled Chicken Breast Recipes
Grilled Chicken Tenders For the Kids
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Pick chicken breasts of about the same size.
Trim the chicken. If the breasts are thick, use a meat mallet and flatten the thickest part of the breasts to ¾ inch.
If brining, combine 2 cups cold water with 1 tablespoon of table salt and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Submerge the chicken in the brine for up to 1 hour. As little as 20 minutes will help moisture a lot. Be sure to carefully rinse off the salt when done.
Clean and oil the grill grates. Preheat to a surface temperature of 450°.
Use the seasoning of your choice. I suggest ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. If not brining, add ½ teaspoon kosher salt. If you use a different seasoning, do not add more salt if you have brined.
Pat dry the breasts, then brush with a light vegetable or olive oil coat.
Sprinkle all sides with a light coat of seasoning.
Place over direct heat with a closed lid. Flip every 5 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°—about 20 minutes most of the time, but check the temperature a few times early.
Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
How to Grill Chicken Breasts on a Gas Grill
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts - .8-12 oz each.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil - or other vegetable
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon granular garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pick chicken breasts of about the same size.
- Trim the chicken. If the breasts are thick, use a meat mallet and flatten the thickest part of the breasts to ¾ inch.
- If brining, combine 2 cups cold water with 1 tablespoon of table salt and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Submerge the chicken in the brine for up to 1 hour. As little as 20 minutes will help moisture a lot. Be sure to carefully rinse off the salt when done.
- Clean and oil the grill grates. Preheat to a surface temperature of 450°.
- Use the seasoning of your choice. I suggest ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. If not brining, add ½ teaspoon kosher salt. If you use a different seasoning, do not add more salt if you have brined.
- Pat dry the breasts, then brush with a light vegetable or olive oil coat.
- Sprinkle all sides with a light coat of seasoning.
- Place over direct heat with a closed lid. Flip every 5 minutes until an internal temperature of 165°—about 20 minutes most of the time, but check the temperature a few times early.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- It is impossible to get good results without a good instant-read thermometer. Extra points for a grill surface thermometer.
- Use fully thawed chicken breasts if frozen.
- The breasts should be about the same size if possible. Flatten to ¾ inch thick if needed.
- Brine if you have time. Be sure to have the breasts completely covered by the brine.
- Use seasoning of your choice but not with salt if you brine.
- BBQ sauce is ok, but I suggest seeing the referenced BBQ recipe in the post.
- Cook over direct heat with a grill surface temperature of about 450° and hood closed.
- Cook to 165°. Not higher (it will dry) or lower (not safe.)
- Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Smaller breasts may cook faster.
- Good refrigerated for up to 3 days. Good frozen for 3-4 months.
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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Editor's note: Originally published June 7, 2019. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.