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How to Grill Chicken to Perfection with Kingsford Charcoal

By Life, Family Fun Team


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How to grill chicken to perfection. It’s a common search term when this time of year rolls around, and it’s no wonder. If you’ve ever tried grilling chicken on the grill, you know that it can be tough – literally. One wrong move, and those thick, juicy breasts you put on the grill turn into shoe leather that is only acceptable because of the barbecue sauce it’s slathered in.

Luckily for all of you, my husband and Kingsford have combined their superior grilling capabilities to bring you a course in how to grill chicken to perfection and have a great time in the backyard with the family. 

Things to Remember on How to Grill Chicken

Grilling chicken is its own thing. You can’t grill it the way you can burgers, dogs, steaks, and the like. You have to be careful with chicken.

Before we get into actually grilling the chicken, we need to cover a few things to make sure that chicken comes off the grill as juicy and full of flavor as you imagined, instead of pale shoe leather that makes you wish you’d just grabbed some hot dogs at the store. 

tender and grilled chicken

Chicken is not Beef

First and foremost, you have to realize that chicken isn’t beef. “Of course, I know that,” you say. However, most people grill it like it IS beef. Chicken breast is a much, much leaner meat than beef in any form. Most of the time, you can just slap a hamburger or steak on the grill and unless you really do something terribly wrong, you’re good.

Beef has a lot of fat in it, so it almost always comes out juicy. Chicken is a completely different beast – literally and figuratively. With so little fat on it, you have to cook it just right to avoid drying it out. 

Related: The Best Indoor Grill For Your Kitchen – Grilling During The Off-Season

turning chicken over while grilling

Use Quality Chicken

Quality is key if you want to know how to grill chicken perfectly. Don’t get tiny little breasts. They can’t stand up to grilling. Instead, opt for this big, fat, juicy breasts that you often find in the butcher section of your store. Those bad boys can handle the grilling process, and that gives you an immediate leg up when grilling. 

chicken in marinade in ziplock bag

Marinating Chicken

Marinating your chicken ahead of time is so essential. Your marinade helps to prevent your chicken from drying but allows the delicious flavors to come through when grilling. If you skip this important step, your chicken will taste dry and not have that juicy flavor you are hoping for.

For this recipe, we made our own seasonings and allowed the chicken to marinate for a minimum of two hours in the refrigerator. The longer you marinate the meat, the more tender your chicken will be.

Note* Set extra seasoning aside to use when you are ready to sear your chicken at the end of your smoking. Never use the same marinade that you used for the chicken, so to avoid any bacteria or cross-contamination.

seasoning for hawaiian chicken

Use Quality Charcoal

My husband only uses Kingsford Charcoal. It’s our go-to fuel for backyard grilling because it gives a smoky, wood-fired flavor you can’t get from gas. It’s versatile and easy to use to grill everything from chicken and steaks to vegetables and fruits. It has that authentic barbecue flavor that you can only get with charcoal and it’s the best of the best when it comes to that flavor.

Kingsford charcoal next to grill

It’s easy to get started, burns well, and it just tends to make the entire grilling process easier than the bargain basement stuff that you can find out there. We should know. My husband tried a different brand. Once. 

Charcoal Tips

Remember these tips when using your charcoal. Even the best charcoal won’t give you the results you want if you don’t take care of it. 

  • Avoid Moisture at all Costs: Water is not charcoal’s friend. Keep your Kingsford Charcoal away from direct or indirect contact with water. Keep your charcoal in the garage, or even an empty trashcan. 
  • Seal the Bag: In addition to keeping out water, you need to keep out air, as well. Kingsford Match Light Charcoal is treated with lighter fluid to help it start easily. If the bag isn’t sealed, that treatment will evaporate. We like to tape our bag with packing tape after we use it.
  • Know Your Shelf Life: Traditional Kingsford Charcoal will last indefinitely. Match Light and Match Light with Mesquite will last for 1 to 2 years if you always keep the bag sealed when not in use. 
lit charcoal in chimney starter

Prepare the Grill

If you want to know how to grill chicken to perfection, you’ll also need to know how to prepare your grill. A properly prepared grill is essential to a great final product, no matter what kind of meat you use. Follow these super easy tips to get your grill ready. 

  • Empty the Old Ash: Always get rid of any leftover ash. Excess ash in the bottom of the grill can obstruct vents, impeding airflow and making it hard to control the grill temperature.

charcoal in grill

  • Clean the Grates: Use a stiff bristle brush to remove any rust or food residue off of your grill grates.
  • Preheat Your Grill Grates: Preheating your grill grates helps keep the food from sticking.
  • How to Light Your Charcoal: There are several methods for lighting a charcoal grill. Our preferred method of lighting the charcoal briquettes is using a chimney starter. A chimney starter typically holds up to 100 briquettes. Depending on what you are grilling and how much, will determine how much charcoal you should use. You can also refer to Kingsford’s charcoal configurator.   
  • After your coals are lit, pour them into a pile, spread them out and add optional woodchucks. Put the grates back on your grill and let them heat up for a few more minutes to get the grill temperature ready.

man pouring charcoal on grill

  • Oil Your Grill Grates: It’s surprising how many people don’t know about this. When everything is nice and heated up, take a wadded up paper towel, coat it in cooking oil, and use tongs to wipe down the grill with it. Now nothing is going to stick!

How to Grill Chicken to Perfection

And here we are. The main event. We’re going to talk about how to grill chicken to perfection. If you followed the above steps, you have a clean grill that’s all set up to grill some delicious chicken. 

Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapples and Asparagus

We’re going to be grilling up some Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapples and Asparagus. It’s so good, you guys. We love this recipe because it reminds us of our favorite vacation destination – Hawaii. We’re planning on going back as soon as we can, and this helps us capture those great memories and look forward to making more. 

Ingredients for Hawaiian Chicken with Grilled Pineapples and Asparagus grill:

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 20 oz can pineapple slices in juice
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of Sesame oil

Directions to prepare a delicious grill:

1. Mix all of the seasonings together in a bowl and set aside a little extra for later. Place the chicken in the bag and pour marinade on top. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2-3 hours. 

2. After the grill has reached a temperature of 250°F, place the chicken breasts on the grill to smoke for one to one and a half hours. Note* We did not put the chicken on direct heat until the very end. No peeking unless absolutely necessary. 

3. Check the temperature of the chicken breasts, and if the internal temperature is 165 degrees, you are ready to add some additional marinade. Brush on the extra marinade you had set aside earlier and sear the chicken on direct heat both sides 1-2 minutes. You will also need to add your pineapple slices and grill 2-3 minutes per side.  

chicken and pineapples on grill

4. Serve hot off the grill and enjoy!

hawaiian chicken on white plate with pineapples

How to Grill Chicken and Have Fun as a Family

Of course, the food is great when you grill in the backyard, but the real star of the show is family time! You’ve learned how to grill chicken to perfection. Now let’s talk about how to make grilling in the backyard an occasion to forge new memories and strengthen family bonds. 

Do it as a Family

If your husband is like mine, he jealously guards the grill. He knows how to grill chicken, beef, chops, burgers, dogs, and everything else under the sun, and he considers the grill his domain.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get the family together on the action, though. My kids and I are cutting up the pineapple and preparing the veggies for my husband to grill it up. It’s a fun way to interact as a family unit over something you’ll all enjoy later. 


Even if you’re only grilling as a family, you can still make it festive with decorations. Get some party lights and string them up along the porch or deck. Maybe add some lights to your shade umbrella if you have some. Any little fun accent can help make your day of grilling more fun. 

Take Photos

Take lots of photos. The kids will only be this age once, so take lots of shots. Maybe the kids are all grown and have come over to visit for the day. You’ll want shots of that. Of course, you’ll also want to get shots of dad showing everyone how to grill chicken like a boss, too!

Play Games

Grilling is great, but it’s even better when you enjoy that delicious food over some games. For our day of grilling, we’re taking out our Cornhole boards and grabbing a deck of cards to have some fun while we chow down on our tasty food.

There’s nothing more fun than a day of games to go along with the great food you just prepared.

How to Grill Chicken and Make Memories

So now you know how to grill chicken like a champ, how to take care of your charcoal, and how to make great memories throughout the entire process. I hope you’ll join me and make grilling a regular part of your summer plans. It’s a great way to spend some amazing family time together. And now that you know how to grill chicken perfectly, be sure you use Kingsford Charcoal to do it. You’ll get the best results, and that’s always the goal. 

Easy side dish recipes to go with grilled chicken:

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Grill Chicken Perfectly - Step by Step

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