Grilling bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts feels like it should be simple enough. And even the most experienced grillers have a tendency to cook them directly over the heat, figuring it’s just a matter of timing. This method can cause dripping fat to cause flare-ups that engulf the chicken, charring the skin while the meat remains rare deep within.
Yet perfectly grilled chicken – with crisp, browned skin and juicy meat is relatively simple if you learn how to manipulate the heat.
First you must establish two temperature zones: set one side of a gas grill to medium-high and the other to low, or build a fire on one side of a charcoal grill.
Start the chicken skin-side up on the low-or no-heat side, and cover the grill. After a few minutes, when the chicken fat starts to render, flip the meat, skin-side down.
Place the thicker end of the chicken towards the hotter side to help them cook evenly. Cover and grill for about 25 minutes. When the meat is done (165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast), crisp the skin on the hot side for a minute or two, moving it as needed to avoid flare-ups.
Wait until the last few minutes to brush on your special barbecue sauce. The sugars in the sauce will char quickly.