Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: August 15, 2022

Chicken breasts are a favorite part of the chicken for many people. But chicken thighs are a close runner-up, especially if you know how to prepare them properly.

The key to grilling the chicken thighs and ending up with juicy, flavorful meat every time is knowing how long to grill them.

I admit I’ve gone through a trial and error process myself when grilling chicken thighs.

But now, I can say with certainty that I’ve perfected my grilling skills. Today I’ll explain exactly how long you should grill your chicken thighs for best results. Let’s fire up the grill!

Summary of the Key Findings

  • How long you should grill chicken thighs depends on whether you are grilling boneless or bone-in chicken thighs.
  • You should grill on indirect heat, both on gas and charcoal grills.
  • Use a meat thermometer to determine if the meat is cooked.

How Long to Grill Bone-In Chicken Thighs?

Close up image of a grilled chicken thighs

If you’re planning to use a gas grill and want to prepare perfect grilled chicken thighs, the temperature on the grill should be about 450 degrees. You should use a gas grill with multiple zones for indirect grilling [1].

To achieve this, turn off one set of burners once the grill reaches the desired temperature and place the meat on the grill.

“Gas grills are easy to use because you can manage the fire with a turn of a button. Set up for indirect heat. If you have a three burner, put all the meat in the middle, higher heart on the outside, with lower heat in the middle to avoid flare-ups.”
- Grill Top Experience  YouTube Channel

You should start by having the chicken thighs grilled skin-side down to get perfectly crispy skin.

Grill for about 3 to 5 minutes. Don't grill for longer than this because it’ll be overcooked.

The next step is to flip them over and keep the chicken thighs skin-side up. Grill the thighs for about 7 more minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.

To sum up, the approximate grilling time for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs is 10 to 13 minutes.

How Long Should You Grill Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs?

Boneless skinless thighs top view

My favorite boneless grilled chicken thighs recipe begins by bringing the grill to around 400 degrees, which is medium-high heat.

After the grill reaches the desired temperature, sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, then grill each side for 3 to 4 minutes.

The next step is to flip the meat and grill the other side. Remove the grilled chicken thigh when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes before serving (and cutting). It will help the juices in the boneless chicken thighs redistribute nicely. By following these guidelines, you will end up with tasty meat worth 5 stars.

Note: You can also grill the meat on a charcoal grill. In this case, position the hot coals on one side, and leave the other side empty.

How to Know When Grilled Chicken Thighs are Done?

Grilled chicken close up image

Be careful here — the color of your chicken things doesn’t indicate if they are done or not.

According to the USDA, even fully cooked chicken can have a pinkish tinge in meat and juices [2].

Don’t forget to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat. This goes for both bone-in and boneless thighs.

If the temperature reaches 165 degrees, the meat is cooked.

If the temperature is higher than this, you may end up with overcooked, tough chicken pieces.

However, if you don’t own a meat thermometer, you’ll know your meat is done when the juices run clear once you move the chicken out of the grill grate and let it rest for one minute.

In case your chicken thighs aren’t done yet, you can return them and grill thighs some more.

Pro tip: If you don’t have it, my advice is to get a meat thermometer. It’ll be useful not only for chicken thighs but breasts as well, as they are difficult to cook evenly.

How to Grill Chicken Thighs Without Burning Them?

Grilled chicken thighs on a plate close up

Here are some tips on how to cook chicken thighs without drying or burning them:

  • Don’t step away from the grilled chicken thighs; keep an eye on them, especially if you’re using a marinade with honey. Honey has sugar, which can burn, so move the grilled chicken thighs away from the hot side of the grill.
  • Grill chicken on indirect rather than on direct heat. If you put the chicken over a direct flame, the chicken skin is likely to burn.
  • Don’t flip the chicken too early, or the outside can stick and burn on the grill.
  • The grill temperature shouldn’t go over 400 degrees. You want juicy chicken thighs, and a too high temperature will dry them out.

How Long Should You Grill Chicken Thighs?

How long you should grill chicken thighs depends on whether you have bone-in or boneless chicken thighs.

Bone-in chicken thighs should be grilled for about 10 to 13 minutes, and boneless chicken thighs should be grilled for about 8 minutes.

Always make sure you’re cooking on indirect heat so as not to burn the meat.

One final piece of advice for having delicious grilled chicken thighs is to think about the dry rub. I like to combine olive oil, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and pepper for the best chicken thighs.

Alternatively, you can use your favorite BBQ sauce or soy sauce.

Follow the tips for checking the meat temperature, and you’ll have 5 stars grill cuisine in your own home.


References:

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/whats-the-difference-between-direct-heat
  2. https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/What-color-is-safely-cooked-poultry

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