Do you grill chicken thighs skin side up or down?

Summertime is the perfect season to fire up the grill and cook some delicious chicken thighs. Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or simply cooking for your family, it’s essential to know whether to grill chicken thighs skin side up or down.

This question may seem straightforward, but the answer can significantly impact the texture and flavor of your chicken. Some people prefer grilling their chicken thighs skin side down for a crispy exterior, while others swear by cooking them skin side up to keep the meat moist and juicy.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into the great debate about grilling chicken thighs skin side up or down so that you can make an informed decision that works best for you. We’ll examine various factors that affect your chicken’s texture and taste, such as grill temperature, thigh thickness, and seasoning.

We’ll also share some expert tips and tricks on how to grill chicken thighs perfectly every time, from marinating your meat to checking for doneness. Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a first-time chicken chef, this guide will help you achieve mouth-watering results with ease.

So without further ado, let’s get started on our quest for perfectly grilled chicken thighs.


What is the Age-Old Question?

The timeless debate over whether to grill chicken thighs with the skin side up or down has been haunting grill masters for ages. While many have their own opinions on the matter, there is still no clear answer to this age-old question.

Grilling chicken thighs with the skin side up offers a multitude of benefits, including crispy and flavorful skin. As a barrier between the meat and the heat source, the skin allows for even cooking without burning, while also trapping in moisture for tender and juicy meat. However, this method requires constant attention to prevent flare-ups and charred skin.

On the other hand, grilling chicken thighs with the skin side down can lead to a healthier meal by rendering out excess fat. This technique also helps to prevent burning and results in an even cook. However, it may not offer the same level of crispiness as grilling with the skin side up.

When deciding which method to use, personal preference is key. Do you prioritize crispy skin or even cooking? Are you willing to monitor the grill closely or prefer a more hands-off approach? It’s important to experiment with both methods and find what works best for you.

Additionally, factors such as the cut of chicken and grill temperature should be taken into consideration. For thicker cuts like bone-in thighs, starting with the skin side down can ensure even cooking before flipping over to crisp up the skin. High grill temperatures may require grilling with the skin side down to prevent burning.

Pros and Cons of Grilling Chicken Thighs Skin Side Up

Grilling chicken thighs is an art, and one of the most debated topics among grill masters is whether to grill them skin side up or down. While both methods have their benefits, there are pros and cons to consider before making a decision.

Let’s start with the pros of grilling chicken thighs skin side up. Firstly, this method results in crispy skin that turns a beautiful golden brown color, which is hard to resist. Secondly, the skin acts as a barrier between the meat and direct heat from the grill, preventing overcooking and drying out the meat. Lastly, flipping chicken thighs when skin side up is easy without sticking to the grill grates.

However, there are also cons to this method that should not be overlooked. One major disadvantage is flare-ups caused by the fat in the chicken skin. This can lead to uneven cooking and charred skin, which can ruin your meal. Secondly, grilling chicken thighs skin side up takes longer than grilling them skin side down due to the barrier created by the skin. Lastly, the skin can prevent heat from penetrating the meat, leading to tougher, chewier meat.

Pros and Cons of Grilling Chicken Thighs Skin Side Down

If so, you’re probably familiar with the age-old debate of whether to grill them skin side up or down. As an expert on all things grilling, I’m here to give you the lowdown on the pros and cons of grilling chicken thighs skin side down.

Let’s start with the positives. Grilling chicken thighs skin side down is a fantastic way to render out the fat from the skin, creating a crispy and mouth-watering crust. This texture and flavor is a delight for any taste buds. Moreover, this method can prevent the skin from burning or sticking to the grill grates, saving you from any cleaning hassles.

However, there are also some potential downsides to consider. One issue with grilling chicken thighs skin side down is that it can cause uneven cooking. The skin acts as an insulator, preventing heat from reaching the meat underneath and potentially leaving you with undercooked or overcooked chicken. That’s not what we want.

Another possible drawback is the risk of flare-ups and smoke. When fat from the skin drips onto the flames, it can cause them to ignite and produce smoke. Not only is this unpleasant to deal with, but it can also be dangerous if left unwatched.

So, what’s the verdict? Grilling chicken thighs skin side down can be a tasty and effective technique, but it’s essential to be aware of these potential issues and take steps to avoid them. Keep an eye on your cooking time and temperature, and try using a drip tray or foil to catch any excess fat and prevent flare-ups.

To summarize, here are some pros and cons of grilling chicken thighs skin side down:


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  • Crispy and flavorful crust
  • Prevents skin from sticking or burning


  • Risk of uneven cooking
  • Risk of flare-ups and smoke

Factors to Consider When Choosing Grilling Method

Look no further than the humble chicken thigh. But how do you choose the best grilling method for this tasty cut of meat? Let’s explore the factors to consider when making your decision.

First, let’s talk skin. To achieve that coveted crispy texture and added flavor, grilling your chicken thighs skin side up is a go-to move. However, if you’re watching calories or simply prefer a healthier option, removing the skin before grilling will do the trick.

Next, consider cooking temperature. If you’re grilling at high heat – say, with direct flames on a gas grill or over charcoal – starting with skin side down can help prevent burning and ensure even cooking. On the other hand, if you’re using indirect heat or cooking at a lower temperature, starting with skin side up can allow the fat to render out and create that perfect crunch.

Finally, it’s all about texture. Whether you like your chicken tender and juicy or crispy and crunchy is totally up to personal preference. Grilling skin side up will give you that satisfying crunch, while starting skin side down will result in a more tender bite.

Tips for Successful Grilling with Skin Side Up

When it comes to grilling chicken thighs, there are many ways to do it. However, grilling with the skin side up is often preferred for its ability to create a crispy and flavorful skin while keeping the meat moist and tender. To help you achieve that perfect grilled chicken, we’ve compiled a list of tips for successful grilling with skin side up.

Prepare Your Grill Properly

Starting with a clean and oiled grill is key to preventing the skin from sticking and falling apart. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the grates with a thin layer of oil before placing chicken on it. This will ensure that the skin stays intact while cooking, making it easier to flip.

Season Generously

Seasoning your chicken well is crucial for creating a flavorful dish. Use a dry rub or marinade that complements the flavors of the chicken and enhances its natural taste. Be sure to apply the seasoning generously, including under the skin, for maximum flavor.

Cook on One Side First

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When placing the chicken on the grill, arrange the thighs with the skin side up and leave them undisturbed for several minutes. This will allow the skin to sear and form a crispy crust without sticking to the grill grates. Resist the urge to constantly check on the chicken, as opening the lid frequently can cause fluctuations in temperature and result in unevenly cooked meat.

Flip Carefully

Once the skin is browned and crispy, flip the chicken over using tongs and continue cooking until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Avoid using a fork or knife to flip it as this can puncture the meat and release all of its juices.

Let It Rest

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After removing the chicken from the grill, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender dish. Cutting into the chicken right away can cause the juices to escape and result in dry meat.

Tips for Successful Grilling with Skin Side Down

Grilling chicken thighs with the skin side down is a surefire way to get mouthwatering meat that’s juicy and packed with flavor. But how do you achieve that perfect balance of crispy skin and tender meat? Here are some tips that will help you grill the best chicken thighs:

Preheat Your Grill

The first step to successful grilling is to preheat your grill to the right temperature. This ensures that the chicken cooks evenly and prevents it from sticking to the grill. It also helps create a sear on the skin, which adds to its crispiness.

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Oil Your Grill Grates

To prevent sticking, brush some oil on the grill grates before placing your chicken thighs on them. Use a high smoke point oil like canola or grapeseed oil to avoid imparting any unwanted flavors onto your meat.

Season Your Chicken Thighs

Seasoning is key to making sure your chicken thighs are flavorful and juicy. Use a dry rub or marinate your chicken for a few hours before grilling. This not only adds flavor but also helps create a delicious crust on the skin.

Place Your Chicken Thighs on The Grill

Place your chicken thighs skin side down on the preheated and oiled grill grates. Make sure they are not too crowded and have enough space between them for even cooking.

Close The Lid

Close the lid of the grill to allow your chicken to cook evenly and retain its moisture. This also helps in infusing more flavor into your meat, making it more succulent.

Monitor Cooking Time

Use a meat thermometer to check that your chicken thighs have reached an internal temperature of 165°F before removing them from the grill. Depending on their thickness, they will take around 20-30 minutes to cook through.

Flip and Finish Cooking Your Chicken Thighs

Once the skin side is crispy and browned, flip your chicken thighs over and finish cooking them on the other side for a few minutes until fully cooked. This ensures that your meat is cooked through while still retaining its juiciness.

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In the world of grilling, there has been a long-standing debate about whether to grill chicken thighs skin side up or down. While both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, ultimately it comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for crispy and flavorful skin, grilling with the skin side up is the way to go. On the other hand, those who are health-conscious may prefer grilling with the skin side down to render out excess fat.

To achieve perfectly grilled chicken thighs every time, there are a few key steps to follow. First and foremost, properly preparing your grill by preheating it and oiling the grates is essential. Additionally, generously seasoning your chicken and cooking on one side first before flipping carefully can ensure mouthwatering results.

For those who prefer grilling with skin side down, don’t worry – you can still achieve tender and juicy meat by following a few simple steps. Preheating the grill and oiling the grates are important factors to consider, as well as monitoring cooking time while flipping and finishing cooking on the other side.

In summary, no matter which method you choose for grilling chicken thighs – skin side up or down – following these tips will help you achieve delicious results that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

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