Chicken Legs are the perfect outdoor party food, but it’s hard to get them just right on the grill. Here, you will learn how to grill chicken legs without burning or under cooking them.
Grilled chicken legs are almost always on our menu whenever we host a barbecue party. I don’t know what it is about them that we love so much, but I think it has to do with how easy they are to handle. I mean, think about it! You literally can pick one up, grab a napkin, and go back to your business without having to use a plate.
When we moved out of our condo and into our single-family home, my husband and I had no idea how to grill. With a bigger kitchen and more space to enjoy outside, we began cooking more together and learning new tricks as the time went on. Cooking together is one of my favorite ways to cook, and I love that our children are witnessing our teamwork in the kitchen.
Beef was pretty easy to master, but chicken quickly became our nemesis on the grill. We could never keep it from burning on the outside. Then, after many trial and error barbecues, we finally figured out how to cook chicken legs on the grill. It took us a whole summer to learn how to grill chicken legs without burning them.
How to Grill Chicken Legs on a Gas Grill
Clean them beforehand.
Every now and then, some packages have tiny bits of bone fragments loose, or they might have a little too much fat left on them. It’s best to check them and rinse them off under a low stream of cold water in the sink before prepping them. Remove any excess fat if possible, but leave the skin on. Too much fat creates flare-ups and burns the chicken on the outside.
Season or brine at least four hours.
Marinate them overnight or for a minimum of four hours before cooking. My go-to marinade is a simple zesty one with extra virgin olive oil, ginger, and garlic paste.
If you brine them, be sure to rinse them off and pat them dry before grilling them.
Always cook on a clean grill.
As with any meat or vegetable you are grilling, make sure the grill is clean. The trick to keeping your grill clean is by doing it right after you’re done grilling. Let the grill cool off a bit while you eat, but don’t leave it and wait until the next time you grill to clean it.
Grill Chicken Legs without Burning Them
Cook them low and slow.
Low and slow is better than burnt and raw, wouldn’t you agree? That’s why we choose to cook them mostly covered over indirect heat for the first 30 minutes; then over direct heat, uncovered, for the last 10-15 minutes. Times may vary according to your grill, so give or take a few more minutes for both steps.
When grilling different types of meat, it’s best to always start with the bone-in chicken pieces because they take the longest to cook. Don’t forget to check the temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken reaches 165ºF before serving. Happy Grilling!
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic and ginger paste
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 8 chicken legs (skin on)
- Whisk together olive oil, salts, paste, lime zest, and lime juice in a small bowl.
- Combine marinade and chicken legs in a gallon-size zipper bag. Seal and mix together well. Remove air pockets and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
- Preheat one side of a clean grill to medium heat (about 350ºF), coat grill grates with any high heat cooking oil using a heat-safe brush.
- Cook chicken legs over indirect heat 30 minutes covered, turning every 7-10 minutes to cook evenly.
- Move chicken to grates over direct heat, finish cooking uncovered 10-15 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes to crisp skin.
Home Chef Tips:
If you don't have a heat-safe brush for grilling, you can also use half a small onion or paper towel dabbed in oil with tongs.
If you are using a basting sauce with sugar in it, it’s best to wait to brush it on after the first 15 or 20 minutes. If you put the sauce on too soon, it could cause your grill to become sticky and create burn spots that will burn the skin.
We hope you find these tips and tricks for grilling chicken legs from SoFabFood Contributor, Stephanie from Spanglish Spoon, helpful during your next cookout. If you enjoyed this recipe, be sure to stop by our Outdoor Grilling section for more amazing recipes. For daily recipe inspiration, subscribe to our newsletter, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Pinterest. Enjoy!