Grilled chicken is one of the best proteins to eat right off the grill. Most people like white meat over dark meat, but it should be the other way around. The dark meat is always going to be juicer and more flavorful with higher fat content.
Grilling chicken thighs and grilling chicken legs are often overlooked when choosing a chicken cut to place on the grill. They are also much cheaper than their white meat counterpart.
But grilling dark meat is a little different than cooking white meat. The time and temperature will depend on a few other factors. Keep reading to find out how to grill dark chicken meat adequately.
Choosing the Best Product
Chicken is pretty much chicken when it comes to choosing the best product. But there are a few different brands based on if they are organic, farm-raised, or commercial. Each has its benefits, but that much is really up to the consumer.
What is important is the cut. It is still a limited choice, but at least there are choices. Chicken can come with or without the skin, or you can also remove it. The skin on or off is a preference and doesn’t matter either way.
It will help to keep the meat moist while it cooks, though. You can also get the thighs on the bone or the bone removed. This will drastically cut the cooking time down if the bone is removed.
Tips for Grilling Chicken Legs
Grilling chicken legs or “drumsticks” are straightforward and don’t make much of a mess. They are one of the most effortless chicken cuts to cook because all you have to do is roll the drum stick around on the grill.
Just make sure to get a nice initial sear on all sides and continue to grill the drumsticks over medium heat until they are done cooking. Grilled chicken legs are also great when brushed with barbeque sauce after they have cooked.
Brush them at the end, so they have time to caramelize a bit before taking them off the grill. Grilled chicken legs are great for backyard barbeques. They are easy to cook and easy to pick up and eat. No plate or silverware is needed.
Make sure to use a meat probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. It needs to be at least 165 degrees at the center near the chicken’s bone to be finished cooking.
Also, make sure the grill grate is very clean before placing them on the grill. You don’t need the chicken sticking to the grates and falling apart or cooking unevenly.
Tips for Grilling Chicken Thighs
Grilling chicken thighs is a little different than legs. Even though they are both dark meat and the grilling process is the same. The thighs can be cooked with or without the bone, which can make a huge difference.
Grilling the thighs boneless and skinless will be the quickest and take about half the amount of time as a bone-in thigh. The cooking process is still the same, get a nice sear and then coast them on the grill until fully cooked to 165 degrees.
But you may want to wipe the grill grates with some cooking oil before grilling. Chicken thighs are very fatty, and if you place them on a cold grill grate, plain, you will end up with some problems. You can still brush barbeque sauce at the end too.
Grilled chicken thighs with the bone in will take the most amount of time to cook all the chicken parts. Before grilling the chicken thighs, it’s best to prepare them with a good flavoring or seasoning.
The thighs will benefit nicely from a marinade for a few hours or a spicy rub to create a nice crust or bark on the chicken. You can also take a healthy route and cook boneless and skinless chicken thighs with a little salt, pepper, and some fresh herbs.
After cooking, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the chicken thighs. The acidity will help to cut through the rich and fatty meat.
Whether you are grilling chicken legs or grilling chicken thighs, the grilled chicken will be fantastic every time. It’s pretty difficult to mess up grilling dark meat chicken in the first place.
But if you decide to go with grilled chicken thighs or grilled chicken legs, I promise you that you will never go back to white meat again. It’s quite life-changing once you give it a try!
How long should you grill frozen chicken breasts?
If you are grilling frozen chicken straight from the freezer, expect to be grilling the chicken twice as long. It will be much longer than if you just thawed the chicken breast, and it will also taste different because you didn’t allow the liquid to escape from the chicken breast.
How long should you grill chicken on each side?
If you are only flipping the chicken breast one time, then a ½ inch thick chicken filet needs about 5-7 minutes on each side over medium-high heat. This is a pretty basic response because so many different factors can change this. Is it boneless, skinless, frozen, thawed, marinated, or seasoned? What cut of the chicken is it, how thick or heavy is it, or what type of grill are you using? All these factors will play a role in how long to cook chicken.
Is it better to grill chicken with the skin on or skinless?
It is all up to the consumer and their preference. Some people don’t like the chicken’s skin, but it does have some benefits other than eating the skin. The skin protects the actual meat from any charring, burning, and tearing during the grilling process. It also helps to keep the meat moist and more flavorful while it cooks. The skin is a fat wrapper for the meat.