Fire up the grill for the most tender and juicy chicken breasts! Learning how long to grill chicken breast will make sure you have flavorful, juicy (never dry!) chicken every single time.
If you're wondering how long it takes to cook on a gas grill, we're dishing out all of the answers. We've tested several rounds of grilled boneless chicken breasts and timed each one to learn general times and temps. But for best results, always use a meat thermometer to cook the chicken to 165°F.
Want to learn how long it takes to make more of your favorite proteins? Learn how long to grill pork tenderloin, how long to cook burgers on the grill, how long to grill pork chops, and how long to bake chicken wings.
And if you're turning on the oven, we've got details on how long to bake chicken breast at 425!
- Reasons to Love Grilled Chicken
- Preparing The Chicken
- Best Grill Temperature for Chicken: Preparing the Grill
- Internal Temperature of Chicken Breast
- How Long to Grill Chicken Breast on a Gas Grill
- What About A Charcoal Grill?
- Video: Watch How to Grill Chicken Breasts
- Expert Tips
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Master More Grilled Recipes
- Best Side Dishes for Grilled Chicken
- Best Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe
Reasons to Love Grilled Chicken
Chicken breast is one of the most common ingredients in an easy, healthy dinner. It's versatile, neutral in flavor, and easy to cook. It's why we have so many chicken recipes!
But grilling chicken breast takes the flavor to a new level. The grill imparts smoky flavors with a slightly charred exterior. The Maillard reaction literally transforms the taste of the chicken in the best way. Add your favorite chicken marinade or bbq sauce for the best grilled chicken.
Looking for more grilled chicken? Learn how long to grill chicken thighs then try these grilled honey mustard chicken thighs.
Preparing The Chicken
One of the keys to flavorful, tender, and juicy chicken breast is purchasing quality chicken and using a delicious marinade. Here are a few steps to prep your chicken before grilling.
Size and type of chicken breasts to Use
Buying chicken that's too large results in woody, rubbery chicken. We always opt for organic boneless skinless chicken breasts. Is your chicken breast too large? I always recommend slicing chicken breasts larger than 6 ounces in half lengthwise. This creates chicken cutlets and helps them cook evenly.
Pro tip: pound your chicken breasts to an even thickness for even cooking. Place it in between to pieces of plastic wrap and use a mallet, rolling pin, or the back of a frying pan to even it out.
Choose the best chicken marinade
We have a full list of details on how to marinate chicken. A good marinade includes acid, olive oil, sweetener, and herbs. The marinade not only adds flavor, but the acid also tenderizes the meat, making it extra juicy. The recipe card includes a delicious balsamic marinade.
Do you want more marinades? We have a list of our 6 best chicken marinades including honey mustard, Greek lemon chicken, cilantro lime, BBQ, and Greek yogurt curry.
Looking to make Grilled BBQ chicken breast? Use a dry rub, like the one in these Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs, and brush the chicken breasts with your favorite barbecue sauce just before they're done grilling. The sugar in BBQ sauce can burn easily, so adding the sauce toward the end prevents it from burning before the chicken is done.
Best Grill Temperature for Chicken: Preparing the Grill
Get your grill fired up and ready 10-15 minutes before you begin cooking. You can do this just before it's done marinating!
- Preheat the Grill: turn the propane tank on and use the starter button to turn the grill on. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400-425°F). 400°F is the best grill temperature for chicken. If your chicken breasts are on the larger side, preheat the grill for two-zone grilling. This means you'll turn 1-2 burners to medium-high heat and leave one off. When you close the lid, the overall grill temperature should reach 400°F. This way you can move the chicken to indirect heat it's charring before the inside is done.
- Brush the grill grates: when the grill is hot use the grill brush to scrape down any remnants from previous grilling. It's easier to clean when the grill is hot!
- Oil the grates: Dip a paper towel in a high-heat oil, like avocado oil, without drenching it. It should be a small amount, but enough to oil the grates. Use tongs to wipe the grill grates lightly to prevent the chicken from sticking.
Internal Temperature of Chicken Breast
While cook times give you an estimate of how long to grill chicken breasts, the most important factor is the internal temperature.
Chicken breast is considered done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165°F.
Pro tip: Remove the chicken from the heat when the thickest part of the breasts reads 160 degrees f to allow for 5 degrees of carryover cooking while you let the chicken rest.
The grill temperature and thickness of the chicken breasts vary, so always use the meat thermometer to determine doneness.
How Long to Grill Chicken Breast on a Gas Grill
Grill chicken breasts for 4-5 minutes per side (8-10 minutes total) at 400°F for perfectly juicy chicken. The size and grill temperature can vary so always use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken (it should be 160-165°F when you pull it off the grill).
For larger chicken breasts: utilize two-zone grilling to sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes then transfer the chicken breast to indirect heat to finish cooking to 165°F.
What About A Charcoal Grill?
Cook times can vary slightly between a gas grill and a charcoal grill due to the differences in heat distribution and intensity. Charcoal grills generate intense, radiant heat that can create hotter spots directly above the charcoal. Because of this, chicken breasts cook slightly faster compared to a gas grill, 3-4 minutes per side (7-8 minutes total). Always check the internal temp to be sure!
For larger chicken breasts: stack the charcoals on one side of the grill to have an indirect heat side to sear the chicken and finish grill over indirect heat.
Video: Watch How to Grill Chicken Breasts
- Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts tend to cook faster and have a lower risk of drying out compared to bone-in chicken breasts.
- Use a marinade or brine: Marinating chicken breasts or using a brine, like this chicken wing brine, is a great way to infuse flavor and add moisture to the meat.
- Don't overcook the chicken: Overcooking is a common cause of dry and rubbery chicken. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Pound or butterfly the chicken breasts: Thicker chicken breasts can be more challenging to cook evenly. Pound them slightly to flatten them or butterfly them by slicing them horizontally and opening them up like a book.
- Preheat the grill and oil the grates: Ensure your grill is preheated to medium-high heat for a quick sear that locks in the juices. Additionally, lightly oiling the grates helps prevent sticking and promotes better browning.
- Use the indirect grilling method: For thicker chicken breasts, you can start by searing them over direct heat for a couple of minutes on each side to develop nice grill marks. Then, move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill (indirect heat) to finish cooking.
- Let it rest: Allow the chicken to rest on a clean cutting board for a few minutes before slicing or serving. This rest period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Trim and prep the chicken breast. If it's large (6 ounces or more), slice it in half lengthwise or butterfly it. Place it in your favorite chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat the grill to 400°F, brush the grill grates clean, and oil them lightly. Shake excess marinade off the chicken and sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes (9-10 minutes total), or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165 degrees f. Transfer to a clean plate to rest for 5-10 minutes, with a target temperature of 165. How to cook chicken breasts on a gas grill?
It will take 9-10 minutes total to grill a medium-sized chicken breast to 165°F. The cook time will vary depending on the size of the breast. Thinner chicken breasts will take less time. If the chicken is larger, sear for 4-5 minutes on each side then move it to indirect heat to finish cooing to 165 degrees f.
When grilling chicken, it's generally recommended to use medium-high heat rather than low or medium heat. Medium-high heat falls within the temperature range of around 400-450°F (200-230°C) on a grill. This temperature gives you a good balance between searing the outside of the chicken to create those desirable grill marks and ensuring that the chicken cooks through without drying out. This temperature range helps to seal the juices and keep the chicken moist and flavorful.
You can warm leftover grilled chicken breast in the oven to keep it juicy. Brush the cooked chicken with a bit of olive oil and reheat in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or until it's warmed through.
We also love cold grilled chicken on top of salads, like this grilled peach salad.
Master More Grilled Recipes
Need another grilled chicken recipe? Learn how long to grill chicken thighs (bone-in and boneless) and skip down to the recipe card for a delicious grilled chicken thigh recipe.
Do you love beef or pork? Here's how long to grill pork tenderloin and how long to grill pork chops. Then learn how to grill ribeye at the best temperature to grill steaks. And let's not forget our tips on how long to grill a hamburger for a juicy burger every time.
Best Side Dishes for Grilled Chicken
When I think of grilled chicken, I think of some of my favorite easy summer sides. Here's a list of our go-to recipes.
- Follow these tips to make the best grilled chicken Caesar pasta salad. Or use a cilantro lime marinade and serve it with Mexican street corn pasta salad.
- Love a salad that's not technically a salad? This peach burrata salad, burrata Caprese, and grilled zucchini salad all feature fresh summer produce.
- For a side of leafy greens, enjoy grilled chicken alongside a grilled peach salad or strawberry spinach salad.
- Serve it alongside classic summer sides like Italian pasta salad, sweet potato salad, or garlic-roasted mini peppers.
- While you've got the grill out, try this grilled zucchini salad. It's the perfect recipe to make with fresh zucchini for a weeknight side or summer BBQ.
Best Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe
- 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Gas Grill (Note 1 Other Grills)
- Trim any fat from the chicken breasts and pound them to an even thickness. Do this by placing them between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound them with a mallet, rolling pin, or the back of a frying pan. If the chicken breasts are larger than 6 ounces, slice them in half lengthwise to create chicken cutlets or butterfly them to open like a book.
- Add the rest of ingredients to a glass bowl with a lid or a gallon freezer bag or reusable silicone bag. Whisk or mix everything together then add the chicken and turn to coat it well if using a bowl or dish. Close the lid and shake well to coat if you're using a bag.
- Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Do not exceed 24 hours. Turn the chicken occasionally to ensure each piece and each side of the chicken are evenly coated.
- When you’re ready to grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400-425°F). Brush the grill grates clean and use tongs and a paper towel to gently oil the grill grates.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Discard leftover marinade.
- Place the chicken breasts on the hot grill and immediately close the lid. Sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes (9-10 minutes total), or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165°F. Do your best to keep the lid closed and only flip once. Check the internal temperate a few minutes into the second side to check for doneness.
- Remove the chicken from the heat at 160 and transfer to a plate or serving tray to rest while the internal temperature rises to a safe and finished 165°F. Slice and serve warm.