9 Steps to Perfectly Glazed and Grilled Bone-In Chicken Breasts

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

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After much trial and error, we found the perfect timing and technique so you don’t have to.

Grilling bone-in chicken breasts is trickier than it seems. You want well-browned, crisp skin, and tender, moist meat. The challenge is the thick part of the breast: It’s quite slow to cook, while the tapered end cooks quickly. Adding a glaze to that equation makes the situation even thornier.

After much testing, here’s what we came up with to ensure success: First, we brine the chicken breasts to boost their moistness and to season them. Second, we set the grill up with a modified two-level fire; the hot side is used for browning and crisping, and the cooler side for the bulk of the cooking time. Finally, we apply the glaze to the chicken breasts only in the final minutes of grilling so that the sugars won't burn.

Once you master this basic technique for grilling chicken breasts, you can apply any number of glazes or sauces you like.


1. After you’ve brined the chicken breasts for an hour, season them with pepper.

2. Once you’ve cleaned and oiled the grates of the grill, cook the chicken over the hotter part of grill until it’s lightly browned all both sides, 6 to 8 minutes for a charcoal grill or 10 to 14 minutes for a gas grill.

3. Move the chicken, skin side down, to the cooler side of grill, with the thicker side of the breast facing the hotter side.

4. Cover the chicken loosely with aluminum foil.

5. Cover the grill and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 150 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes longer.

6. Brush the bone side of the chicken with glaze.

7. Move the chicken, bone side down, to the hotter side of grill and cook until it’s browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Then brush the skin side of the chicken with glaze.

8. Turn chicken over and continue to cook until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 160 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

9. Transfer chicken to plate and serve.

RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Grilled Bone-In Chicken Breasts

The key to great grilled chicken is all in how you set up the fire and how the chicken is positioned on the grill. Try grilling up a batch of our tender bone-in chicken breasts with your choice of five glazes.

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