Mastering BBQ Chicken Breast: Perfect Grilling Time and Techniques

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Grilling BBQ chicken breast to perfection is a skill that every grilling enthusiast aims to master. Knowing the correct grilling time is crucial to achieving juicy, flavorful chicken that isn’t dry or overcooked. Various factors, such as grill temperature, chicken breast thickness, and proper technique, play a role in determining the ideal grilling time. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know how long to grill bbq chicken breast.

How Long to Grill BBQ Chicken Breast

Preparing the Chicken Breast

Start by choosing boneless, skinless chicken breasts for even cooking. Trim any excess fat and, if the chicken breasts are particularly thick, consider pounding them to an even thickness for consistent grilling. Marinating or seasoning the chicken breast beforehand helps retain moisture and infuse flavor. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator for the best results.

Preheating the Grill

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, which is approximately 375-450°F (190-230°C). Proper preheating is essential as it ensures even cooking and helps prevent the chicken from sticking to the grates. It typically takes about 10-15 minutes to preheat a grill.

How Long to Grill BBQ Chicken Breast
Grill BBQ Chicken Breast

Grilling Time and Temperature

Grill the chicken breasts for 6-8 minutes per side. The total grilling time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast. Thicker pieces may require a few extra minutes, while thinner pieces may cook faster. The most reliable way to ensure the chicken is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C) before removing the chicken from the grill.

Flipping and Monitoring

When flipping the chicken, do so gently to avoid tearing the meat. Use tongs or a spatula designed for grilling. Only flip the chicken once to maintain the juices and achieve even cooking. Keep an eye on the chicken as it cooks, adjusting the heat if necessary to avoid burning. Utilize direct heat for the initial sear and indirect heat to finish cooking, especially for thicker pieces.

Basting with BBQ Sauce

Apply BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of grilling. Baste the chicken evenly on both sides, allowing the sauce to caramelize without burning. Applying the sauce too early can result in burnt, bitter-tasting chicken due to the sugars in the sauce.

Resting the Chicken

After grilling, let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a moist and flavorful chicken breast. Tent the chicken with foil to keep it warm while it rests.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your perfectly grilled BBQ chicken breast with a variety of sides such as grilled vegetables, corn on the cob, coleslaw, or a fresh garden salad. Garnish with fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon for added flavor and presentation.

Frequently Asked Questions: How Long to Grill BBQ Chicken Breast

How can I ensure my chicken breast is flavorful and moist?

Marinating the chicken breast and not overcooking it are key. Use a meat thermometer to check for the perfect internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Should I brine my chicken breast before grilling?

Brining can add extra moisture and flavor to the chicken. If you have time, brine the chicken breast in a saltwater solution for a few hours before grilling.

Can I use bone-in chicken breasts instead?

Yes, but keep in mind that bone-in chicken breasts will take longer to cook. Use indirect heat for more even cooking and check the internal temperature for doneness.

What should I do if my chicken is sticking to the grill?

Ensure the grill grates are clean and properly oiled. Preheating the grill also helps prevent sticking. If the chicken sticks, give it more time to cook before attempting to flip it.

How do I keep the chicken from drying out on the grill?

Avoid overcooking by monitoring the internal temperature. Letting the chicken rest after grilling also helps retain moisture.


Grilling BBQ chicken breast is a straightforward process that yields delicious results when done correctly. By preheating your grill, monitoring the cooking time and temperature, and properly basting and resting the chicken, you can achieve juicy, flavorful BBQ chicken breast every time. Experiment with different marinades, sauces, and sides to create a meal that’s perfect for any occasion.