How Long to Grill Chicken Breast?

The chicken breast is a lean cut of meat taken from just below the neck on the underside of the chicken. The whole chicken breast is cut into two halves during the butchering process, and each of the two halves is later sold as a boneless, skinless piece.

Chicken breast is an excellent source of lean proteins (containing little or no fat, especially saturated fat).

Chicken breast is light meat and, for this reason, easy to cook. On the other hand, chicken legs are dark meat and have a higher safe minimum internal temperature. Chicken breast can be stir-fried, grilled, slow-cooked, pan-fried, oven-roasted, or even perfectly smoked on a pellet smoker. You can try several recipes but keep in mind the thin line between undercooking and drying the chicken breast. So, the question becomes: how long to grill chicken breast so that it’s properly cooked and delectable at the same time?

What happens if the chicken breast cooks for too long?

Chicken breasts, being light meat, are prone to drying and becoming chewy and tough due to overcooking. If you have skin-on pieces, you can even burn them.

Overcooking the chicken breast always results in an acrid, burnt flavor instead of a mild, smoky taste. You should remove the chicken breast a little earlier than your estimated time because the carryover heat will continue to cook it for some more time.

What happens when you don’t cook the chicken breast to its safe minimum internal temperature?

According to FDA and USDA guidelines, the safe minimum cooking temperature for all poultry, including the chicken breast or light meat, is 165 °F (75 °C). The two departments also advise a break of around 3 minutes before serving or eating. Rest time is the amount of time a particular food remains cooking even after it has been removed from the grates. During this time, meat temperature remains constant or rises, thus killing harmful bacteria.

If you remove the chicken breast from the grill grates before its temperature rises to 165 degrees F, the following can happen:

  • You become prone to a food-borne illness because Salmonella and other harmful bacteria are not destroyed.
  • Your meat doesn’t reach the desired level of doneness and remains mushy, unpalatable, or even distasteful.

Grilling times are based on the time required for the internal temperature of the chicken breast to reach 165 °F (75 °C) at a specific grill temperature. The grilling time also depends on the thickness of the chicken breast.

For the reasons mentioned above, make sure that your food thermometer registers 165 °F (75 °C) at least once before you take out the chicken breast from your grill.

What’s the typical size of a chicken breast?

A boneless, skinless chicken breast weighs approximately between 6 and 10 ounces. On the other hand, a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast weighs, on average, between 11-16 ounces.

These values present extreme ends, so it would be better to settle somewhere close to the mean value.

How long does it take to grill the boneless, skinless chicken breast?

At direct medium heat (around 350 degrees F), you should grill your boneless, skinless chicken thighs for 12-15 minutes. You can adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of the chicken breasts.

It would be best if you keep turning the pieces every 5 minutes.

How long does it take to grill the bone-in chicken breast over indirect medium heat?

Bone-in chicken breasts take longer to grill than boneless, skinless chicken thighs. It’s best to grill 10-12 ounce pieces of bone-in chicken breasts for 30-40 minutes over indirect medium heat (350 degrees F).

How long does it take to grill the chicken breast over alternating indirect and direct medium heat?

Thin chicken pieces, such as wings and boneless, skinless chicken breasts, are best grilled over direct medium heat. For thicker parts, such as bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, it’s best to cook them first over indirect medium heat and then over direct medium heat.

 As already mentioned, grilling the boneless, skinless chicken breast should take between 12-15 minutes over direct medium heat.

For larger, bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, the cooking time is twice as much for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, i.e., 24-30 minutes over alternating indirect and direct medium heat. Preheat your grill and grill your bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts for the first half of the cooking. Then turn the sides and finish on direct heat.

How long should you grill the chicken breast on a gas grill?

For most gas grills, the medium-high setting lies somewhere between 400 and 450°F. As chicken breasts are mostly sold boneless and skinless, you should grill them for around 9-10 minutes over direct, medium-high heat.

If you heat your grill to between 425 and 450°F, each side should take around 5 minutes to finish.

Allow your chicken breasts a rest time of 3 minutes before eating or serving.

How long does it take to grill the chicken breast on a charcoal grill?

The boneless chicken breast should take between 8 to 12 minutes on a charcoal grill over direct medium heat (350° to 450°F for a Weber charcoal grill). It’s always wise to check if the internal temperature of the chicken breasts registers 165 degrees F at least once before you take them out from the grates.

How long does it take to smoke the chicken breast on a pellet grill?

As already mentioned, the estimated cooking time is always based on the grill temperature.

Preheat your pellet smoker to 350°F, add the chicken breasts to the grill, close the lid, and cook for 12-20 minutes. You can adjust your cooking time based on the size of the chicken breasts. For example, you should cook smaller pieces for 12 minutes. Larger pieces, on the other hand, take closer to 20 minutes to cook and smoke well.

If you want to infuse the chicken breasts with more smoke, try cooking them at a lower temperature for a longer time. 225°F serves as a magic temperature when smoking chicken breasts. Preheat your pellet grill to 225°F, add the chicken breasts, close the cover, and cook for about one hour.

How long do chicken breasts take to bake in the oven?

Preferably, the chicken breast should be baked at a higher temperature in the oven for a perfect, juicy taste.

Baking chicken breasts in the oven at 400°F should take 22 to 26 minutes.

If you reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, the baking process takes 25 to 30 minutes.

Does brining the chicken breast affect its cooking time?

Treating food with brine or coarse salt is called brining, which is meant for preserving or seasoning the food. Meat and fish are brined for at least twenty-four hours, while vegetables take much longer to brine.

Treating food with salt increases the overall cooking time of the food. Whether it’s wet brining, in which meat is left to bathe in a saltwater flood, or dry brining, in which salt is rubbed on the meat, the process hydrates the meat or at least prevents it from dehydrating. Two theories exist about the brining effect:

  1. The brine has a higher concentration of salt than the meat. Meat cells, on the contrary, have a higher concentration of other solutes but a lower concentration of salt. This leads salt from the brine to move into the cells. Solutes in the cell fluid can’t move out because of the semi-permeability of the cell membrane. More water enters the cells through osmosis as more salt moves into the cells.
  2. The brine salt entering the meat cells denatures cell proteins. Proteins, as a result, coagulate and form matrix-like structures that trap water inside the cells.

In theory and practice, brining increases the cooking time of chicken breasts.

Does marinating the chicken breast affect its cooking time?

In most cases, marinating the chicken breast shortens its cooking time. For example, twelve hours of marinating chicken breasts reduce the grilling time by 30 to 35%. But what’s a marinade in the first place?

Marinating is the process of soaking meat, fish, or other food in a seasoned, often acidic liquid called a marinade before cooking. A marinade can be acidic (yogurt, lemon, vinegar) or enzymatic (pineapple, papaya, yogurt, ginger, and other herbs). The marinating process can last for seconds or days based on the ingredients used.

A marinade reduces cooking time by breaking down chicken breast tissue through acids or enzymes. Marinades in Indian cuisine include many spices.

Related questions

How long should I grill the chicken breast at 400 degrees F?

Over direct medium-high heat (400 degrees F), you should grill your boneless, skinless chicken breasts for around 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Should I preheat my grill before cooking the chicken breast?

Preheating your grill will help burn things off from the previous cook and prevent the chicken breasts from sticking to the grill grates.

Should you grill the chicken breasts over high heat?

Grilling the chicken breasts over high heat reduces the cooking time and seals the moisture and meat juices inside the chicken breasts.

How to grill the chicken breasts without drying them out?

It would help if you brine the chicken breasts before you cook them. Brining chicken breasts prevents them from dehydrating while cooking. Remember that brining the chicken breasts in a high-salt solution will make them mushy and unpalatable when cooked. Before brining the chicken breasts, you should carefully estimate the brine salt concentration and brining time.

Grilling over high heat also prevents the chicken breasts from drying out.

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