Avoid Overcooked Grilled Chicken!

As the weather gets warmer, we like to fire up our backyard barbecue grill. I love the flavor of grilled foods, but it’s easy to accidentally overcook meats and poultry. Avoid this grilling blunder by using a meat thermometer. The USDA offers a chart listing all the safe minimum cooking temperatures for various foods including chicken. Click here to link to the chart.

The minimum cooking temperature for chicken is 165°. However, some people prefer the texture of cooked poultry a bit better around 170°. In general, I find that people tend to overcook chicken much more than they undercook it, so that’s why it’s important to take away the guessing and use a thermometer.

Try this flavorful Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes recipe that has a simple marinade with the popular flavors of tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar. The chicken only take 4 to 6 minutes per side to grill, so it’s great for quick weeknight meals.


Grilled Basil Chicken and Tomatoes

Here’s the perfect recipe for midweek summer barbecues! Relax after work with a cold drink while your savory chicken marinates, then toss it on the grill. Enjoy! —Laura Lunardi, West Chester, Pennsylvania

4 Servings      Prep: 15 min. + marinating      Grill: 10 min.


8 plum tomatoes, divided

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each)


Cut four tomatoes into quarters and place in a food processor. Add the vinegar, basil, oil, garlic and salt; cover and process until blended. Pour 1/2 cup dressing into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until serving. Pour remaining dressing into a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170°.

Cut remaining tomatoes in half; grill or broil for 2-3 minutes on each side or until tender. Serve with chicken and reserved dressing. Yield: 4 servings.

Nutritional Facts: 1 chicken breast half with 1 tomato and 2 tablespoons dressing equals 174 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 63 mg cholesterol, 179 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 24 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

If you prefer dark meat pieces of the chicken, try this recipe for Grilled Thighs and Drumsticks.  This recipe is great for a family gathering, since it makes enough to serve 12 to 14 people. And, if you need fewer servings, simply cut the recipe in half.


Grilled Thighs and Drumsticks

When Mom makes chicken, this is the way we like it prepared. It’s juicy, has great barbecue flavor and makes a big batch, so it’s perfect for a summer picnic and family reunions. -Brenda Beachy Belvidere, Tennessee

12-14 Servings      Prep: 10 min. + marinating      Grill: 30 min.


2-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

2 cups water

2 cups cider vinegar

2 cups ketchup

1 cup canola oil

4 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons prepared mustard

4-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke, optional

10 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and chicken drumsticks

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt


In a large bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients. Pour into two large resealable plastic bags; add equal amounts of chicken to each bag. Seal bags and turn to coat; refrigerate overnight.

Drain and discard marinade. Prepare grill for indirect heat. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.

Sprinkle chicken with seasoned salt. Grill chicken skin side down, covered, over indirect medium heat for 15-20 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 180°. Yield: 12-14 servings.



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