The Reason You Shouldn't Grill Chicken Uncovered

A scent of charred goodness wafts through the air, and you know it's grilling season. You've donned your most hilarious apron, prepped your cooking station, mixed your secret basting sauce, and you're ready to sear seriously. Your favorite fare laid out on the grill is a summer sight to behold, but admiring your barbecued food might be the very thing that makes for a dry dish.

Of all the barbecued fare, The Kitchn recognizes chicken as one of the easiest proteins to dry out on the grill. It's understandable; you don't want to poison your guests, so you opt for poultry jerky in lieu of salmonella. It's important to remember that not all cuts of chicken need to be grilled into submission, and you can create different zones of heat for various cuts. Place your marinated, brined, or dry-seasoned chicken over the low-heat zone, gently grilling it. Check it with a thermometer, and as it nears the proper temperature, move it to the hot zone to give it grill marks or crisp up its skin.

It's tempting to be a helicopter griller when working with poultry, but staring down your chicken might actually make it as dry as the air surrounding it. Grills come with a lid for good reason, and keeping it down while cooking can make or break your barbecue.

Keep a lid on it

There are a few tried and true methods to ensure even cooking for various cuts of chicken on the grill. You can pound out uneven chicken breasts to make sure that they grill to temp evenly and utilize separate cooking zones to grill bone-in or skin-on cuts to the ideal temperature (per The Kitchn).

When the lid on your grill is closed tight, the heat within gets trapped and creates a convection style of cooking. The movement of the trapped heat cooks the chicken from above and below, achieving an even temperature. According to Epicurious, the best way to get perfectly juicy poultry on the grill is to keep it covered. You're essentially creating an outdoor oven with the bonus flavors that only a grill can impart.

It's still crucial to lift the lid for a quick temperature check and to make sure that your chicken isn't over-charring in a hot spot, but a good griller should limit letting the heat out by taking a quick peek at their poultry only every five to eight minutes.