Grilled Chicken

4.97 from 84 votes
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For your next barbecue, enhance the taste of grilled chicken using this simple dry rub seasoning mix. Instantly add flavor with no marinating required.

Grilled chicken breasts cooking on a barbecue grill.

Recipe Science

  • Spices like coriander, cumin, and paprika dissolve in olive oil, blooming and intensifying their flavors during grilling.
  • Olive oil on the chicken prevents sticking, releases fat-soluble flavor in the seasoning, and protects the spices from burning.
  • A two-zone fire sears the chicken, then finishes cooking it gently over lower heat to ensure even doneness and prevent burning.

Why It Works 

Make a quick and healthy meal on the barbecue. For this recipe, I don’t marinate the chicken. Instead, I use a bold seasoning mixture using colorful spices, such as paprika, cumin, garlic, onion, coriander, salt, and black pepper, to enhance the taste of the poultry.

Any leftover seasoning mix can be stored and saved for later use. Try it on chicken thighs, drumsticks, and wings. It’s a versatile blend that can make different meat, seafood, or vegetable protein sources more exciting. So, fire up the grill because tender and juicy barbecued chicken is just minutes away!

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make this grilled chicken recipe.
  • Chicken: For a lean protein option, use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I use whole pieces for this method. For quicker cooking, cut the pieces into thinner cutlets or pound the chicken breast about ½ inch thick.
  • Seasoning: For this grilled chicken recipe, I created a Latin-inspired seasoning base that features kosher salt, black pepper, sweet or smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and onion powder. It’s easy to swap ingredients to your taste.
  • Oil: Fruity olive oil coats the seasoned chicken breasts to extract more of the fat-soluble flavors, making the meat more tasty.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

Customize the grilled chicken recipe with these easy modifications:

  • Using Dark Meat: If you prefer dark meat like thighs and drumsticks, follow my grilled BBQ chicken recipe for directions on cook time. With more connective tissue, the poultry needs to be cooked until it reaches about 170ºF for a tender texture.
  • Make it Spicy: Add chili powder, cayenne, or chipotle chili to the seasoning mix.
  • Oil: Instead of olive oil, use vegetable oil or avocado oil to coat the pieces and grease the grill.
  • Herbs: Add dried herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, or Italian seasoning blend.
  • Make it Sweet and Spicy: Add brown sugar for a hint of sweetness and chili powder for extra heat. For inspiration, check out my blackened salmon.
  • Apply a Marinade: For extra juicy and well-seasoned meat, soak the pieces in a chicken marinade.

How to Grill Chicken

Step 1: Prepare the Grill

To ensure stunning grill marks on the meat, preheat the grill. I use medium-high heat, between 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). Set up a two-zone fire of direct and indirect heat using a charcoal grill. If using a gas grill, keep one burner off for indirect heat to gently finish cooking thicker pieces of chicken.

Pro Tip: Before adding the chicken, clean and grease the grill grates with oil.

A bowl of homemade seasonings for grilled chicken.

Step 2: Make the Seasoning

The seasoning blend makes about double the amount of spices you will need for this grilled chicken breast recipe. So, you can use as little or as much as you like or save some to quickly grab and use for the next barbecue outing.

Salt and pepper add the basic savory and slightly spicy element. Paprika provides a red hue and smokiness if using the smoked variety. Cumin is nutty, earthy, and bitter, while coriander adds a lemony, sweet, floral note. Garlic powder and onion powder add a roasted allium taste instead of raw and intense.

Chef’s Note: I genuinely enjoy experimenting with different spice blends in the kitchen. It’s easy to make your own hamburger seasoning or Cajun seasoning.

Person sprinkling dried seasoning mix on top of chicken breasts.

Step 3: Prepare the Chicken

Evenly season both sides of the chicken with the seasoning mix.

Olive oil being poured from the bottle on top of chicken breasts.

Rub olive oil over the pieces, about ½ to 1 teaspoon per side. This process helps prevent sticking to the grill.

As the oil dissolves, it releases more fat-soluble flavor compounds in the seasoning, improving the meat’s taste. The oil also provides a protective layer on the dried spices to reduce the amount of burning.

Tips for Perfect Execution: If you purchased two large chicken breasts, weighing about 1 pound each, cut them into thinner cutlets. This will yield four pieces.

Chicken breasts on a barbecue seared with grill marks.

Step 4: Grill the Chicken

Add the chicken on the direct-heat side of the barbecue. I like to lightly press down on the meat to ensure good contact with the hot grill grates. Close the lid to reduce heat loss and ensure even cooking by surrounding the poultry with dry heat.

How long to grill chicken breast depends on whether the meat is whole or sliced into culets. For thicker pieces, it will take about 5 to 8 minutes per side. Cutlets will take between 3 to 5 minutes per side. Dark meat, such as grilled chicken thighs, legs, and wings, needs an extra few minutes because it is fattier and has more connective tissue. 

Tips for Perfect Execution: If needed, finish cooking on the indirect heat side until fully cooked, between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) is reached on a meat thermometer.

Sliced pieces of grilled chicken breast on a cutting board.

Step 5: Serve the Grilled Chicken

Rest the chicken for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This allows for carryover cooking and the juices to redistribute.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do you cook chicken on the grill?

It depends on the thickness of the chicken and whether it’s light, dark, or bone-in. Over medium-high heat, boneless breasts take about 10 to 16 minutes, drumsticks about 16 to 24 minutes, legs and bone-in thighs 20 to 30 minutes, and wings 16 to 22 minutes.

Can a grill pan be used to cook the chicken?

A grill pan works very well for indoor stovetop cooking. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and oil it to prevent sticking. Cook the chicken for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side until fully cooked. If needed, reduce the heat to medium after flipping for thicker pieces.

How do you make diamond grill marks on the chicken?

The grill must be scorching to get a quick char mark without drying out the chicken. Place the meat, smooth side down, at a 45-degree angle to the grate, the ends at 10 and 4 o’clock. Char marks should appear after about 2 to 3 minutes. Now, turn the meat clockwise, about 45 degrees, to about 2 and 8 o’clock to create the diamond. Let it sear another 2 to 3 minutes, then flip to complete the cooking process.

How do you grill chicken without drying it out?

For juicy chicken breast coat the surface with oil. This creates a protective layer to keep the chicken moist. Sear the chicken on the direct heat side to add flavor, then transfer to the indirect heat side to finish cooking gently.

What are ways to use grilled chicken in other recipes?

Shred the meat for chicken enchiladas, pulled chicken sandwiches, grilled BBQ chicken pizza, or chicken nachos. Dice up pieces for a BBQ chicken salad.

Serve This With

If you tried this Grilled Chicken recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Grilled Chicken Recipe

Grilled chicken recipe using a mix of dried spices for maximum flavor. It's a quick BBQ meal ready in 30 minutes.
4.97 from 84 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American


  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • Preheat the Grill – Preheat the grill over medium-high heat to 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). Keep one side or burner off for indirect heat cooking. Clean and carefully grease the cooking grates with the oil.
  • Make the Seasoning – In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and coriander.
  • Prepare the Chicken – Evenly season the meat with the spice mixture, about ½ teaspoon per side. Store extra seasoning in an airtight container for later use. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each side, and rub the surface to evenly coat.
  • Grill the Chicken – Place the chicken on the direct heat side of the grill and close the lid. Cook each side for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness, until the internal temperature reaches between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a meat thermometer.
    If browning quickly, move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill to complete cooking.
  • To Serve – Allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing or serving.

Recipe Video

YouTube video


  • Large Chicken Breasts: If using two large 16-ounce pieces, cut them half lengthwise to create four thinner cutlets. 
  • Make it Whole30: Use extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.
  • Grilling Other Chicken Parts: Drumsticks (8-12 minutes per side), legs (10-15 minutes per side), thighs (10-15 minutes per side), wings (8-12 minutes per side).
  • Using a Grill Pan: Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Grease the pan with oil to prevent sticking. Cook each side for about 3 to 5 minutes or until fully cooked. For thicker pieces of meat, reduce the heat to medium after flipping. 
  • Storing: Grilled chicken can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days, and leftover seasoning can be stored for up to 1 month.
  • Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 30-second intervals until hot.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 273kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 2g (1%)Protein 48g (96%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 145mg (48%)Sodium 1139mg (47%)Potassium 896mg (26%)Vitamin A 455IU (9%)Vitamin C 2.7mg (3%)Calcium 28mg (3%)Iron 2.1mg (12%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

23 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Arley Amundson says

    I used this cooking method recommended, how to grill, how long, temperature, and coating with olive oil. I just used kosher salt, and pepper. Followed procedures and it came out perfect! Tender, moist, and not dried out. Highly recommend this for any recipe you may use.

  2. Hassan Oum says

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been bbqing all year and looking forward to it again this weekend! Excited to try ribs for my next cookout.

  3. Brian Fox says

    These were, by far, the most flavorful and juiciest grilled chicken breasts I’ve ever made. I used the chicken marinade linked in the recipe and used the spices exactly as noted.
    So easy and so incredibly good. My family loved it!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to flatten the chicken to even thickness, or cut them into thinner pieces. I would heat the pan over medium heat, once hot lightly grease the pan with oil. Add the chicken, press into the pan and do not move! When ghar marks appear, about 5 to 7 minutes, flip it over. Then cook until it reaches between 160-165ºF. Let me know if that works!

  4. Lane Cibororowski says

    I made this last night and it was a hit! Our grill was out of propane so I browned the chicken on the stove and then finished it in the oven. My husband says it was excellent which he rarely says about chicken. Thank you so much!

  5. Natalie B says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I made it today and my chicken came out PERFECTLY! I added 1 TBS of light brown sugar to the rub. This is the best chicken I’ve ever made. Super easy and I had all the ingredients already in my kitchen. Thanks so much! I’ve been bored with my chicken until now!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      That’s great to hear Natalie! I love that you added brown sugar for a hint of sweetness and extra caramelization on the surface. Bravo!

  6. Eric says

    I love grilling, I mean I really love the process. This recipe was an excellent departure from the mainstream barbecue sauces that that usually get poured on the chicken. I decided to use avocado oil. The meal was a big hit. I decided to pair it with Jessica’s roasted brussel sprout recipe, which was another hit.

    Thank you Jessica for putting your recipes out there for the world to see. I’m looking forward to learning from you!

  7. Marina Rapisarda says

    Thx. Jessica
    looks yummy . Can’t wait to try it.
    I’ve been cooking for over 45 years but never thought much about the science that makes a savory finished product. I love your recipes and your explanation of the science in them. I guess that not only baking is science.