How to Get Crispy Chicken Skin on the Grill

Who Doesn’t Love Crispy Chicken Skin?

We all love to have crispy chicken skin, but how many times it comes out rubbery and moist? In this article, we will are going to talk about how to get crispy chicken skin?

We spend a lot of time talking about having the perfect sear on a steak, which sauce to mop on it, and how to smoke a brisket to tender perfection. However, we forget that there is more for the cue than beef.

Grilled chicken is delicious and crispy, and it is one of the most favorite dishes with a long history. In fact, it is where many people start their bbq journey.

It is easy to make grill chicken and enjoy; getting the skin crispy is elusive as heck. What’s the secret, or secrets, behind chicken skin that isn’t either dried out or rubbery?

All is about to be revealed. Chicken lovers, this one’s for you.

How to Get Crispy Chicken Skin on the Grill

Start with a Dry Bird

It is well known that something wet cannot be crispy. So the first step towards crispy chicken is to get rid of unnecessary moisture in it.

If you have frozen chicken, then defrost it thoroughly first. If not frozen, then pat it dry on all sides with a paper towel. Don’t rub hard; press the towel against the skin and let it wick the water away.

After that, let the chicken air dry in the fridge. Leave it unwrapped on a platter for at least a couple of hours, but it is preferred to leave it overnight.

Salt Your Way to Success

Salt helps to dry out the moisture. It is the number one enemy to crispy skin. If you have ever read, then you must know that salt draws moisture out of the meat. Even if you haven’t, you may have noticed that bathing in saltwater dries out your skin. The same thing applies to chicken. As an add-on to drying the chicken in the fridge, try sprinkling salt on the skin to help pull moisture from inside. Don’t use table salt, though; for this, you’ll want to use kosher or flaky sea salt.

Stretch it for Smoothness

A raw chicken can be ugly and possibly has wrinkles on it. Since the skin sits loosely, it is possible to pull it and stretch it and smooth it until it is tight. You can use scissors to remove excess flaps and toothpicks or skewers to pin down edges. That drum-tight skin will cook evenly and without pockets of moisture.

Leave Your Chicken Alone on the Grill

Many grillers love to poke, prod, or flip the meat around the grill. However, the good idea is to leave the meat be and let it do its thing. It is especially suggested for chicken skin; the more you move it, the more it will have wrinkly or tear.

Cook at the Right Temperature

When you roast chicken at higher temperatures, the fat in the skin renders faster and friendlier —, and that means lightly crispy, crunchy, brown chicken skins fresh out of your pellet grill.

Smoke chicken between 275° F to 350° F in your pellet smoker until the internal temperature hits 170° F

Searing and Separating

It scares us to have a burnt chicken, or it dries out on the grill. But if we monitor, sear may be precisely what exactly you need to crisp up the skin.

Start with superheating your grill before you place the chicken on the grate. Please do not put it directly above the flames; either turn off a burner and put it there, or shove aside some charcoal and plunk it down. This reduces the chance of flare-ups from dripping juices.

Sear for each side for 3-4 minutes and then move it to a proper indirect heat zone to continue cooking. After some minutes, carefully remove the skin using tongs and lay it directly on the grate. Once the chicken is ready, please remove it from the grill, but keep cooking the skin. Once it’s golden and crispy, please remove it from the grate and drape it over your chicken.

Crank Up the Heat… for a Bit

High heat increases your chances of crispier skin. Just be careful to avoid burning!

High heat increases the chances of getting crispier skin. Just be careful to avoid burning. Similar to searing, you may also try to put the chicken on the grill at a very high temperature than you normally would. Think 400F or higher, but still away from direct heat to reduce flare-ups. The high temperature will dry the skin, but the skin will protect the meat. Once the skin starts to turn brown, you might wish to move the chicken to a cooler zone to end cooking.

What to Avoid When Aiming for Crispy Chicken Skin

Miss the Marinade

A good dunk in a marinade will add a lot of flavor to any meat. But with chicken, it is a recipe for crispy skin.

Belay the Baste

If we apply a baste too early it will add moisture to the skin before it gets crispy. Add it just minutes before you are ready to take it off the grill.

Save the Sauce

Same as a baste a yummy bbq sauce will also add moisture that you do not want. Instead of that use a dip or apply it just when you are about to remove the chicken from the grill.

Skip the Smoker

Smoked chicken is amazing, but it is never crispy. Smokers are great for making tough meat. For crispy skin, you need a high temperature and the shortest possible cooking time.

To Wrap it Up

Of all the techniques to get a crispy chicken skin what is the best? It is probably a combination of several one.

Try to mix and match all the methods until you get the skin to the level of crispiness you most like. As so often happens in BBQ, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. There are just guidelines, tips, and a chance for you to experiment!


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