How Long Does it Take to Cook a Whole Chicken on the Grill

  • By: Peter Allen
  • Date: 01/01/2021
  • Time to read: 8 min.

Cooking chicken on a grill is one of the ways to enjoy delicious, tender, and juicy chicken. Despite chicken breasts being one of the delicious and leanest parts, for a low-carb and ketogenic diet, it happens to be the most difficult protein to cook perfectly.

Generally, chicken is a delicate protein that dries out faster and can easily be overcooked. It can be disappointing to find your chicken is tasteless and lacks the intriguing sear marks. Therefore, it is very important to learn how to cook a whole chicken on a grill and the time it takes to do so.

So, how long does it take to cook a whole kitchen on the grill? The truth is that the time you will take to grill your whole chicken will primarily depend on its size. You will get whole chickens ranging from 2.5-5 pounds or more. The size you pick depends on the number of people you are feeding. Typically, the entire process of grilling a whole chicken will take, on average, 1 hour 30 mins.

Are you scared? The exact cooking time on the grill is only 5-7 minutes for each side.

In this post, we will explore more about cooking a whole chicken on a grill. Open your eyes to absorb information as we get started.

Time to Cook a Whole Chicken on the Grill

It is indisputable that chicken is one of the most delicious proteins. Grilling is the best way to go if you want to enjoy tender and succulent chicken breasts grilled to perfection with proper sear marks. When cooking, you need to preheat it to the desired temperature so that you cook on average expected time. You will also need high-end tools like a thermometer to help you know when you have cooked to the USDA minimum temperatures.

Cooking a whole chicken on grilling is involving and requires some attention. After preparing your chicken, marinating it, and preheating your grill to the right temperatures, it will take 10-20 (5-7 per side) minutes on the grill and additional 30 minutes covered in foil. Even with timing, keep in mind that you must cook your chicken until the internal temperatures reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is when a high-quality meat thermometer becomes handy.

How to Cook a Whole Chicken

Fresh raw chicken on cutting board and spices for cooking.

Here is a recipe to help you grill your chicken to perfection before it gets to be served with veggies or your favorite salads. The recipe will primarily lean to a family-sized chicken weighing about 5 pounds (2.25 kgs).


  • 1 whole chicken (5-6 lbs)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 roughly chopped onion
  • 2 roughly chopped carrots
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1 halved lemon
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt (enough to test)
  • Pepper and other preferred spices (to state)
  • Fresh herbs


  1. Prepare your bird by washing it until clean and marinate it. You will need to mix vinegar, butter, lemon, salt, pepper, and all other desired spices (seasonings) in a bowl, then place your chicken there. Turn the bird to coat both sides and cover.
  2. Allow your chicken to stay in the fridge for 30 minutes to one hour to bring it to room temperature. The good news is that marinating chicken doesn’t require much time, especially when using an acidic mixture.

Tip: Marinating is an essential step in keeping your chicken juicy.

  1. You will want to cook on a clean grill; therefore, take time to clean and grease the grates. Make sure you clear all residue that didn’t burn out during the last grilling. For faster cleaning, turn on the grill and allow a few minutes to burn off the residues. Once your grill is clean, apply a thin layer of oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat – about 375-425 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are using a charcoal grill, you can hold your hand about five inches over the grate to sense the temperatures.
  3. Using tongs, carefully place the chicken on the medium-high preheated grates with breast side up.
  4. Close the lid and allow the chicken to cook for 1 hour, or until the bottom turns brown with proper sear marks, then test for readiness. Close the lid again and keep on checking for readiness every 10 minutes.

Tip: When cooking, keep an eye on the hottest spots. If you notice some parts start to blacken, keep the heat medium. Although the black is appealing, your chicken will dry out and become crunchy.

  1. Remove the chicken from the grill and cover it with foil. Allow it to sit there for about 30 minutes before serving. When placed in the foil, your chicken will continue cooking to reach the USDA minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your chicken is ready for serving with the favorite side dishes like salads and veggies grilled to perfection.

Important tips for cooking and serving the most succulent chicken

Never grill chicken cold: Bringing you chicken to room temperature is handy if you want to cook it evenly. The outer part of your chicken tends to cook faster if your chicken is cold, and you risk removing the bird from the grill before attaining the required temperature.

Allow your chicken to sit at room temperature for 30 mins. Any extra time increases the chances of contaminating it.

Marinate your chicken: If you have ever thought of not marinating your chicken, think twice. Generously coat both sides of your chicken with oil and preferred seasonings. Marinating adds flavor and tenderizes your protein. It also holds moisture when grilling and increases the intriguing golden sear marks.

After flipping the chicken, lower the temperatures to medium so that your bird cooks evenly.

After cooking, allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. It keeps more juices and makes it moist and tender.

How do you know your chicken is perfectly cooked?

If you follow the instructions given in the above recipe, paying more attention to time and heat, you will grill your protein to perfection. It is apparent that you will not want to overcook your chicken, and you will also want to give it nice marks. Here are some of the ways you will know if your bird is cooked.

Internal temperatures: The internal temperature happens to be the best way to know if your chicken is cooked, and any other meat for that matter. According to USDA, the internal temperature of a well-cooked chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, identifiable with a meat thermometer. You can also cook your whole chicken to 160° F, then cover with foil to continue cooking as it becomes juicy.

Test for firmness: A cooked chicken will not be too firm and should not give a squishy feeling. However, this is not an accurate method of testing.

Visual checking: A well-cooked meat doesn’t have pink color inside. Using a knife, cut into the protein’s breast. A cooked chicken will be white and may have some slight pink traces. Purely white and stringy-looking shows that your chicken is overcooked. This method risks losing some juices; therefore, using a meat thermometer remains the ideal way to test.

Essential tools when grilling a whole chicken

High-quality meat thermometer: A meat thermometer is handy in telling when your chicken is fully cooked. For accurate results, you will need a high-end thermometer that is highly responsive. Buying from reputable manufacturers, you can get a smart thermometer that allows you to monitor remotely.

Roasting rack or tongs: Because the grill is too hot for you, you will want a dedicated grilling accessory to flip the bird while cooking. With the right tongs, you will easily turn your chicken so that it cooks evenly.

Drip pan: Unless you are using an infrared grill, the chances are that you will need a drip pan. Drip pan keeps off flare-ups that might char you chicken and protects the bottom of your protein against direct heat; therefore, promoting perfect roasting.

Basting brush: When cooking, you might want to marinate your bird to make it juicy and tender. A high-quality basting brush will do this perfectly.

Do thickness and weight affect chicken cooking time?

The size of your chicken has a significant effect on cooking duration – the heavier the chicken, the longer it will take. To be exact, count 20 to 25 minutes for every pound. Bone-in chicken may take significantly longer. This is because the heat must go through skin, meat, and at last, the bone for it to cook properly.

If your bird is thick, it is apparent that heat will take longer to penetrate. All you need to keep in mind is the temperature of a well-cooked chicken – 165° F to 170° F for boneless chicken and 170° F to 175° F for bone-in chicken.

What is the average grilling time for different parts?

If you are addicted to grilling, it is good to know what time it will take to grill different parts. This is because you want to get the mild, delicious, and smoky flavor of a grilled chicken. With that said, here are the durations you will need to allow your chicken parts for them to get cooked.

Whole chicken: As stated earlier, a whole chicken can weigh anywhere between 2.5-5 pounds or even more. Depending on the size, it will averagely take 90 to 120 minutes to cook a whole chicken on a grill.

Chicken breasts: The time it takes to grill your breast will depend on whether it has the bone or it boneless. A boneless and skinless chicken breast weighs about 6-8 ounces and takes 10-15 minutes to cook over medium-high heat. On the other side, the bone-in chicken breast weighs 10-12 ounces and takes 30-40 minutes over medium heat.

Chicken thigh: The time varies significantly. A boneless and skinless chicken thigh will stay on the grill for 10-15 minutes, while a thigh with bones takes 30-40 minutes to get cooked.

Chicken wings: Chicken wings are light (2-3 ounces) and are cooked with their bones. A typical wing takes 18-20 mins to cook over indirect.

Note: Skinless and boneless chicken is cooked over direct heat, which means high temperatures (450° F to 600° F). Bone-in chicken or parts are best cooked over medium heat. The total time it takes to cook chicken is also affected by other factors like grill efficiency, weather (ambient temperature), and the starting temperature of the chicken.

How long should chicken rest before and after grilling?

When grilling chicken, one thing you should keep in mind is that your bird should be at room temperature before going on to the grill. To be sure, keep it under such condition for 15-30 minutes before tossing it on the grills. As mentioned earlier, when you cook a cold chicken on the grill, it is likely to dry out before the inside is ready.

After your bird is cooked, you may be tempted to tear your knife into it immediately. This is highly discouraged. Allow your chicken to rest for some 5 to 10 minutes so that the juices consolidate. This helps make it tender and delicious.

Is it good to marinate, and how does it affect cooking?

Marinades and brines are what tenderizes your bird. However, they might increase the time to cook the chicken’s skin because chicken skin will need more time to dry before turning brown. For boneless chicken or parts, marinating does not affect the grilling time. All marinades do is to make it tender, juicy, and create layers of sweetness.

Contrary, dry rubs help the skin dry out before browning, but there is no significant change in cooking time. Because you want tasty chicken, you can’t avoid seasoning your chicken. You can use the simplest grilling seasonings ever, the salt and pepper. You can slather with sauce at the end to make it interesting.


Because you know how long it takes to cook chicken on a grill, it doesn’t mean all you need to do is stay on your watch. Remember that quality cannot be rushed; therefore, what the thermometer says counts.