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Juicy Chicken Recipe for Charcoal Grilling

When it comes to grilling chicken, like one of our 12 best grilled chicken recipes, we prefer the outside of the meat charred to perfection while the insides are tender and juicy. We’ve already covered 12 tips for making the absolute best grilled chicken, and we sat down with a grilling expert, Bounce Delray Beach’s chef Sean Olnowich, to learn his ultimate, chef-approved chicken grilling secret.

Immediately, Olnowich revealed his trick: Always use a charcoal grill to get perfectly juicy grilled chicken every time. He elaborated, “As I often say, the key to proper outdoor grilling, especially chicken, is cooking over hot natural charcoal.” Natural charcoal is lump charcoal derived from burnt wood. It produces less ash when used for grilling and burns hot — hotter than briquettes. 

Olnowich explained, “The high heat in the charcoal will both char the meat and seal in the moisture, resulting in a flavorful and juicy meal.” Additionally, if your grill has air vents you can open and close or adjust, you can control the grill’s temperature, as lump charcoal responds well to changes in oxygen levels. If you’re cooking the chicken too quickly, close the vents. Conversely, open the vents when you want the charcoal to burn hotter. Just in case you need a refresher, we’ve explained 5 types of charcoal, noting more qualities of lump charcoal and the differences between lump charcoal and briquettes.

Gas grills just cannot compare to charcoal grills

charcoal bbq

Olnowich was firm and reiterated how you should always use a charcoal to grill not only your chicken but all your meats. He stated with conviction, “Gas grills just cannot compare.” While gas grills are easier to clean than charcoal grills, if you’re looking for charred perfection or a perfect sear, you might not achieve those results with a gas grill. If you’re still not sold, even celebrity chef Bobby Flay prefers charcoal grills to gas grills. Charcoal grills impart more flavors to your grilled meats when compared to gas grills, according to both Olnowich and Flay.

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Additionally, gas grills may be more dangerous to use than charcoal grills. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an average of 9,079 home fires every year involved gas grills from 2017 to 2021. But whether you’re using a charcoal grill or a gas grill to barbecue, be sure to take precautions and review our 16 essential grilling tips and tricks.

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Look's editorial team comprises seasoned writers and editors who specialize in the food and drink, hospitality, and agriculture sectors. We also collaborate with external experts to ensure the delivery of accurate, current information and unique recipes.

Our goal is to publish informative and engaging articles, offering readers the content they seek, from daily news to cooking tips, tricks, trends, and reviews. To maintain the highest standards of comprehensiveness, currency, and accuracy, our team continually reviews and updates our articles as needed.