Chicken Leg And Thigh On Grill

Barbecue Food Safety Tips

Beginners Guide to Grilling Chicken Thighs
  • Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Don’t guess…use a Digital Meat Thermometer.
  • To prevent the risk of cross-contamination, never use the same utensil that you placed the uncooked chicken on the grill with to remove the cooked chicken. Always have a clean set of utensils handy to remove cooked chicken.
  • Because the utensil came into contact with raw food, it could harbor bacteria and transfer them to the cooked food. Be sure to use two utensils, one for raw food, and one for cooked food.
  • The same for the brush you use to add the barbecue sauce. Never reuse the brush that came in contact with the raw chicken.
  • Never re-use barbecue sauce that came in contact with raw chicken. Set aside barbecue sauce that you can use as a dipping sauce later for the cooked grilled chicken.

Tried any of my recipes? Let me know in the comments!

What Are Chicken Leg Quarters

Chicken leg quarters are the thigh and drumstick, also known as the leg, of a chicken. The thigh and leg are also a quarter of a chicken hence the name chicken leg quarters.

Both the thigh and the drumstick contain dark meat which can be fatty and juicy. Both being fatty and juicy bring a lot of flavor to the chicken.

Chicken Thighs Vs Chicken Legs

While the term chicken leg is regularly used interchangeably with the term drumstick, technically the leg can refer to the full leg quarter, consisting of both the thigh and drumstick. For the purposes of this post, if were talking about a chicken leg, were talking about a chicken drumstick, and vice versa.

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Ingredients For Grilled Chicken Quarters

Making this flavorful BBQ chicken is super easy and cheap if youve got a well-stocked pantry!

  • Chicken leg quarters these are large pieces of chicken that are composed of the attached drumstick and thigh, and often come in packages of 4 or 6. You can make them all, or freeze the pieces you dont use for future grilling afternoons!
  • Barbecue sauce your favorite brand or homemade will do
  • Dry rub ingredients you can really tune this to your own personal tastes, but this is what we love in our dry rub!
  • Basting sauce ingredients again, this can be tweaked to your liking
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt or sea salt
  • Lime juice fresh is best, but the bottled stuff works too
  • Liquid smoke for that fresh out of the smoker flavor even if youre cooking with gas
  • What Is A Safe Internal Temperature For Chicken

    Grilled Chicken Thighs with Ancho

    No matter what piece of chicken you are grilling, the minimum safe internal temperature for chicken is 165°F. Eating chicken that hasnt reached this temperature puts you at higher risk for food poisoning. Plus, undercooked meat has an odd texture and doesnt taste pleasant.

    Its important for your chicken to reach this temperature prior to serving but that doesnt mean you have to leave it on your grill the whole time. Carryover heat and cooking means that your meat will continue to cook even after you remove it from the heat source. Well look at the ideal internal temperature to remove each cut of meat.

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    Uneven Grillingthe Secret To Grilled Thighs

    Uneven grilling is my method to avoid both flare-ups from draining fat and burnt skin.

    There are two parts to this method:1) The skin side of the thighs can burn easily so should have less time facing the flames. So with skin-on thighs, start with skin up for the first period and grill for about 5-6 minutes. Flip to skin side down for 4 minutes. Continue to go back and forth using the same timing.2) Alternate sides of the grill surface with each flip. You will get fat drainage flare-ups. Moving the chicken to the other side of the grill at the flips will allow hot spots from fat drainage to burn out.

    For skinless thighs, you can skip the uneven grilling timesyou have no chicken skin you are trying to protect. But you will still need a large surface area to move around and avoid flare-ups from the fat drainage.

    Use A Meat Thermometer

    At about 20 minutes check the internal temperature of the meat. I use my favorite meat thermometer for this, it has a probe I place in the thickest part of the meat and a long cable attached to the digital readout.

    Planning ahead means I have already placed the thermometer in the meat before it was on the grill. For the other 99% of the time, I use my tongs to anchor the largest piece of meat and insert the probe into the thickest area.

    Move the chicken close to you while doing this. No need to lean over those lit burners!

    When the thermometer reaches at least 155F, move the chicken legs back over direct heat. This is when you want to add a little BBQ sauce, if using. Or perhaps you prefer no sauce, in which case you can cook for crispy skin. The direct heat helps with that step as well.

    Turn the chicken every 4-5 minutes while over direct heat, especially if using barbeque sauce. You want the sauce to caramelize but not turn into volcanic ash. You know what I mean.

    The final target temperature is a minimum of 165, but up to 180F works too.

    Depending upon the sizes of your chicken pieces and the temperature of the grill, it could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes to reach that temperature.

    Once the chicken legs are done, remove from grill and place on a plate or shallow pan, then cover with foil. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes while you gather all the other sides for your meal.

    Serve with plenty of napkins!

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    How Do You Grill Chicken Thighs Without Burning Them

    One of the best ways to prevent burning is to make sure your meat doesnt stick to the surface of the grill. So make sure you brush the grill with oil or cooking spray before you heat it up. Its also a good idea to brush some oil on all sides of your chicken or soak it in an oil-based marinade before grilling.

    How Long To Grill Chicken Legs

    Chicken Leg & Thigh Quarters indoor grilling Grill Mates Mesquite marinade

    These chicken legs take about 30 minutes on the grill over direct heat.

    They need to reach an internal temperature of 165°F, but we prefer them at 185 190°F otherwise you sometimes end up with a little blood around the bone.

    Cooking to a higher temperature will give you crispy chicken legs that are juicy and delicious!

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    What Kind Of Chicken Should I Use

    For this recipe, were using bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks. I prefer skinless but skin-on works too. I find that the skin doesnt get really crispy on the grill no matter what I do. However, skinless can be either hard to find or more expensive.

    Chicken breasts are not ideal for this method. If you really want to though, bone in and skin on chicken breasts are best. If you are planning on grilling boneless skinless chicken breasts, I have a separate post about that for you over here. They require a different method.

    Finally, if its wings youre craving, you can learn how to grill chicken wings here.

    How To Grill Perfect Chicken Legs

    Grilling chicken legs over direct heat for about 30 minutes on each side will cook them faster, depending on the size of the drumstick. Flip it out every ten minutes or so. In a medium pot over high heat, cook the chicken until it reaches 165F. Allow the chicken to rest for at least five minutes on a cooling rack after it has been removed from the grill.

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    What Kind Of Chicken Legs Should I Buy

    We always recommend going organic/all-natural and free-range when possible. Yes, they cost a little bit more, but I promise you the flavor and texture will make up for it! Plus, in general, chicken legs are one of the more inexpensive parts of the chicken , so going organic isnt actually that bad cost-wise.

    Some of our favorite humane chicken brands include

    This grilled chicken leg recipe calls for 1 lb. of chicken legs and you will likely get around 6 medium/large chicken legs per pound. As always, you can double or even triple this recipe easily by multiplying it by 2 or 3.

    What To Serve With Grilled Chicken Legs

    Cooking Chicken Legs And Thighs On Grill

    We love pairing these healthy chicken legs with grilled vegetables. Its the perfect way to use up the random assortment of vegetables in your refrigerator!

    Since we have vegetables and chicken on the grill why not pair these baked potatoes on the grill too. They will take a little longer than the chicken so start them first!

    Another great healthy option is this delicious grilled corn salad thats packed with flavor!

    Got a sweet tooth? Finish the perfect summer dinner with Lemon Blueberry Crisp!

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    How Long Do You Cook Chicken Leg Quarters On A Gas Grill

    To cook chicken leg quarters on a gas grill, you will need to preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Once the grill is preheated, you will need to place the chicken leg quarters on the grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes per side. You will know the chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

    A simple homemade dry rub is all that is required to grill these chicken leg quarters. When you cook them this way, the skin is crisp and they taste good every time. The great thing about leg quarters is that they are frequently inexpensive, and they are always delicious. If you enjoy these grilled leg quarters, try some other great dishes. If youre doing indirect heat, you might need to adjust the temperature a little. If you prefer grilled chicken leg quarters, cook them at 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit. They are not as difficult to dry as chicken breasts, so dont sweat them if they become too hot.

    Allow them to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. These gourmet chicken leg quarters are simple to prepare with a simple homemade dry rub and crispy skin. I frequently use it to make a quick chicken soup by combining it with broth, noodles, and vegetables. Weve tried them with smoked or regular paprika for paprika. If you cook on your grill, you should always be close to it, and flare ups are always possible. For the best texture, we recommend temperatures between 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit for the leg quarters.

    How To Grill Chicken

    • Prepare and preheat your grill for two-sided grilling . For a gas grill, first, preheat the whole thing, then turn one or two burners down to medium. For a charcoal grill, build a two-level fire one side should be three-four briquettes thick, the other one briquette thick.
    • Make sure the grill rack is impeccably clean. Lightly oil the grill rack using a crumpled up paper towel dipped in oil. Hold the paper towel with tongs and rub it over the grill.
    • Follow the recipe carefully. Bone-in chicken cooks for a longer time than boneless pieces. Cover the grill except when turning the chicken.
    • First, brown and sear the chicken on all sides. Brown boneless thighs and drumsticks for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Sear bone-in pieces for 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Never turn chicken until it can be moved easily or you’ll tear the meat.
    • Move boneless chicken pieces to the cooler side of the grill and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning once, until a meat thermometer registers 165 F for thighs and drumsticks.
    • Move bone-in pieces to the cooler side of the grill and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes on each side, turning once, until a meat thermometer registers 165 F for thighs and drumsticks.
    • If you want to brush with a sauce, do so in the last 5 to 10 minutes on the grill or the sauce will burn.
    • Remove chicken from the grill, cover, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to let the juices redistribute and to let the temp climb to the perfect number. Then serve it proudly.

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    Season The Chicken Legs

    The hardest part of this recipe is figuring out what you want to use to season the legs. For this batch of legs I used Kirklands Sweet Mesquite seasoning but there are a thousand other rubs that will work just fine. Heck, sometimes I cook these with just salt and pepper and they turn out great.

    If you need a rub recipe then here is our Award Winning Chicken Rub that you can use.

    Award Winning Chicken Rub

    Just toss the legs with the rub to get an even coating.

    Why This Recipe Works

    The Secret to Perfect BBQ Chicken Thighs
    • This is one of my go-to easy dinner recipes that my kids love. They are so easy to make, they are off the grill in 30 minutes.
    • They are an inexpensive recipe to make thats always a hit!
    • Perfectly crispy skin! Dont forget to pat the legs to dry them before putting the rub on. This gets you that crispy skin.

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    One Trick For Super Crispy Grilled Chicken

    If youre wondering if you should pat your chicken legs dry before grilling, yes, absolutely, but thats not the real trick.

    Coat your chicken drumsticks with baking powder! Well, more accurately with a mixture of baking powder and salt for a double duty dose of drying power. Baking powder not only helps draw any moisture you missed up and out of the skin, but also aids in browning for cracklin good crispy skin. This tip is brought to you by science.

    What You Will Need:

    • chicken drumsticks: chicken legs and drumsticks are often thought of as the same thing, but they technically are not. A chicken leg technically includes the thigh and drumstick. So if you request chicken legs instead of drumsticks, you will end up with a lot more chicken.
    • olive oil: I like olive oil but you could use avocado oil or another favorite cooking oil if desired.
    • seasoning: garlic, onion powder, ground mustard, and smoked paprika. If you don’t have smoked paprika, regular will work, but the flavor will not be nearly the same. Big fan of smoked paprika here! Cayenne is included, but just a touch. You can adjust to your desired spice level. Salt and pepper as well of course!

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    Make The Barbecue Sauce

  • Gather the ingredients.

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Prepare the sauce by combining ketchup, white vinegar, brown sugar, sweet paprika, olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, if using, and salt in a small saucepan.

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  • Remove sauce from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes to thicken then cover and set aside. If making the sauce a day in advance, cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring the sauce to room temperature before finishing the recipe, but do not boil or overheat it.

    The Spruce Eats / Abbey Littlejohn

  • How Do You Cook Chicken Quarters On A Gas Grill

    Grilled Chicken Legs Recipe

    To cook chicken quarters on a gas grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Season the chicken quarters with your favorite spices or marinade, then place them on the grill. Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes per side, or until fully cooked. Enjoy!

    This recipe is one of the most popular on my 13 Easy Grilled Chicken Recipes blog. An Army can feed its soldiers grilled chicken leg quarters for a few dollars per pound for less than 79 cents. Depending on the size of the chicken quarters, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 55 minutes to cook. Grilling these items with a reliable instant read thermometer is critical. In general, dark meat chicken can be consumed at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The work is not finished, however. Grilling these grilled chicken quarters at 185F to 190F for about an hour will help you keep them warm.

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    Sauces For Grilled Chicken Legs

    When grilling chicken drumsticks, marinade isnt necessary, but these are great if you wanna get saucy. Brush your sauce on chicken legs in the last 5 minutes of grilling with the lid open coat both sides right before and after the final turn. Go bold with our famous Buffalo sauce or make bbq chicken drumsticks with our tangy summertime strawberry bbq sauce .

    These naked grilled chicken legs are flavorful as-is, if youd rather take a dip, either the sauces mentioned above will work. Or whip up homemade ranch, a family favorite. Im also partial to combining local honey with my favorite mustard or even hot sauce for hot honey to dip or drizzle on your grilled drumsticks.

    How To Grill Chicken Wings

    The love of chicken wings has led to national chain restaurants dedicating their entire menu to them. When you think about healthy cuts of chicken, most people avoid the wing. But, its not the wing itself that leads to a high-calorie or high fat meal, its the breading and the sauce. Chicken wings provide 23.8 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat, and 250 calories.

    Cook chicken wings directly over the heat for about 20-25 minutes. Position wings on the grill gates and cook with the lid closed for the first 4 to 5 minutes. Then, turn each wing every 3-4 minutes for even cooking. Check the internal temperature of the wings and take them off once theyve reached 165°F. There isnt much carryover cooking with chicken wings since theyre smaller pieces of meat and any added sauces will also stop the meat from cooking.

    If you are adding a chicken wing sauce, make it before you grill the wings. Then slather onto your meat after theyre done grilling.

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