Grilling chicken tenders is a popular cooking method that results in juicy and flavorful meat. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or simply enjoying a delicious meal, knowing how long to cook chicken tenders on the grill is essential for achieving the perfect texture and taste.

The cooking time for chicken tenders on the grill can vary depending on factors such as the thickness of the meat and the temperature of the grill. As a general guideline, chicken tenders should be grilled for about 4-6 minutes per side. However, it’s important to keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t overcook or dry out.

One way to ensure that your chicken tenders are cooked to perfection is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) to ensure it is fully cooked and safe to eat. By using a meat thermometer, you can be confident that your chicken tenders are cooked through without risking overcooking them.

When grilling chicken tenders, it’s also important to properly season the meat before placing it on the grill. You can marinate the chicken in your favorite sauce or create a flavorful rub using herbs and spices. This will enhance the taste of the chicken and add an extra layer of deliciousness to your meal.

Preparing to Grill Chicken Tenders

Grilling chicken tenders is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy this versatile cut of meat. Before you start grilling, it’s important to prepare the chicken tenders properly to ensure a tasty and safe meal. Follow these steps to prepare your chicken tenders for the grill:

1. Choose Quality Chicken Tenders

When purchasing chicken tenders, look for ones that are fresh and of high quality. It’s best to buy them from a trusted source to ensure their freshness. Additionally, organic or free-range chicken tenders can provide a great flavor enhancement for your grilled dish.

2. Thaw the Chicken Tenders

If you’re using frozen chicken tenders, make sure to thaw them properly before grilling. Thawing can be done in the refrigerator overnight or by placing them in a sealed plastic bag and submerging them in cold water. Avoid thawing chicken tenders at room temperature, as it can promote bacterial growth.

3. Marinate the Chicken Tenders (optional)

Marinating the chicken tenders can help to enhance their flavor and make them more tender and juicy. You can choose from a variety of marinades, such as teriyaki, barbecue, or lemon herb. Place the chicken tenders in a shallow dish, pour the marinade over them, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

4. Preheat the Grill

Before grilling the chicken tenders, preheat your grill to medium-high heat. This will ensure even cooking and a nicely seared exterior.

5. Season the Chicken Tenders

Prior to grilling, season the chicken tenders with your desired spices and herbs. You can use a pre-made seasoning blend or create your own with a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and any other spices you prefer.

6. Oil the Grill Grates

To prevent the chicken tenders from sticking to the grill grates, lightly oil them using a brush or an oil-soaked paper towel. This will also help to create appealing grill marks on the chicken.

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7. Grill the Chicken Tenders

Place the seasoned chicken tenders on the preheated grill. Cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, flipping once, until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). The exact cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken tenders and the heat of your grill, so it’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure they are thoroughly cooked.

Once the chicken tenders are cooked, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more flavorful and tender bite.

By carefully following these steps, you can ensure that your grilled chicken tenders turn out delicious, juicy, and safe to eat.

Choosing the Right Cut of Chicken

When it comes to grilling chicken, choosing the right cut is key to achieving the perfect result. Each cut has its own unique flavor, texture, and cooking time, so it’s important to select the cut that suits your taste and preferences.

1. Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts are the most popular cut for grilling. They are boneless and skinless, making them quick and easy to cook. Chicken breasts have a mild flavor and a tender, juicy texture when cooked correctly. To prevent dryness, marinating or brining the chicken breasts before grilling is recommended.

2. Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are a great option for those who prefer juicier and more flavorful meat. They have a higher fat content, which helps keep them moist and tender during grilling. Chicken thighs are also more forgiving, as they are less likely to dry out compared to chicken breasts. You can choose bone-in or boneless chicken thighs, depending on your preference.

3. Chicken Drumsticks and Wings

Chicken drumsticks and wings are perfect for those who enjoy darker meat with crispy skin. These cuts are often marinated or coated in seasoning before grilling to enhance their flavor. Drumsticks and wings take longer to cook than other cuts, so ensure they are fully cooked before serving.

Regardless of the cut you choose, always ensure that the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to prevent foodborne illnesses. Use a meat thermometer to accurately measure the temperature.

By selecting the right cut of chicken, you can ensure a delicious and satisfying meal every time you grill.

Marinating Chicken Tenders for Grilling

Marinating chicken tenders before grilling is a great way to enhance their flavor and make them more tender and juicy. By adding a marinade to the chicken tenders, you can infuse them with delicious flavors and also help to lock in moisture during the cooking process.

Here is a simple marinade recipe to use for chicken tenders:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
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To marinate the chicken tenders, combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Place the chicken tenders in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag and gently massage the marinade into the chicken tenders, making sure they are well coated. Allow the chicken tenders to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but ideally for 2-4 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

Once the chicken tenders have finished marinating, preheat your grill to medium heat. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Place the chicken tenders on the grill and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken tenders.

After the chicken tenders have finished grilling, remove them from the heat and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help to lock in the juices and ensure that they are moist and flavorful.

Now that you know how to marinate chicken tenders for grilling, you can enjoy delicious and tender chicken every time you fire up the grill. Experiment with different marinades and flavor combinations to find your favorite. Happy grilling!

Preheating and Cleaning the Grill

Before cooking your chicken tenders on the grill, it is important to properly preheat and clean the grill to ensure even cooking and to prevent sticking.

Follow these steps to preheat and clean your grill:

  1. Open the lid of the grill and make sure the gas supply is turned off or that the charcoal is not lit.
  2. If using a gas grill, turn the burners to the highest setting and close the lid. If using a charcoal grill, fill a chimney starter with charcoal and light it using newspaper or a firestarter.
  3. Allow the grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes, or until the temperature reaches around 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit (204-232 degrees Celsius).
  4. While the grill is preheating, use a grill brush to clean the grates. Scrub the grates with the brush to remove any leftover residue or stuck-on food from previous grilling sessions.
  5. Once the grates are clean, use a pair of tongs to dip a folded paper towel into vegetable oil. Rub the oiled paper towel over the grates to create a non-stick surface.
  6. After preheating and cleaning the grill, you are now ready to start cooking your chicken tenders!

Properly preheating and cleaning the grill will help ensure that your chicken tenders cook evenly and don’t stick to the grates, resulting in delicious, flavorful grilled chicken.

Grilling Chicken Tenders: Direct vs. Indirect Heat

When it comes to grilling chicken tenders, there are two main methods you can use: direct heat and indirect heat. Each method has its own advantages and will result in a slightly different cooking experience.

Direct Heat:

Grilling chicken tenders using direct heat means cooking them directly over the flames. This method is perfect if you want to achieve a crispy exterior and a juicy interior. It allows for quick cooking and creates those desirable grill marks on the tenders.

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To grill chicken tenders using direct heat, preheat your grill to high heat. Place the tenders directly on the grill grates and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the tenders. Make sure to flip them only once to ensure even cooking. Use a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are fully cooked.

Indirect Heat:

On the other hand, grilling chicken tenders using indirect heat involves cooking them away from the direct flames. This method is great for those who prefer a slower and more evenly cooked result. It is also ideal for thicker chicken tenders that need longer cooking times.

To grill chicken tenders using indirect heat, preheat your grill to medium heat. Place the tenders on the cooler side of the grill, away from the flames. Close the lid and cook for about 10-12 minutes per side, again depending on the thickness. Use a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are fully cooked.

No matter which method you choose, make sure to marinate the chicken tenders beforehand for added flavor and tenderness. Additionally, always remember to let the tenders rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Whether you prefer the quick and crispy results of direct heat or the slow and even cooking of indirect heat, grilling chicken tenders is a delicious and versatile way to enjoy this popular cut of meat.

Questions and answers

How long do you cook chicken tenders on the grill?

Chicken tenders should be cooked on the grill for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

What temperature should the grill be set to for cooking chicken tenders?

The grill should be preheated to medium-high heat, around 400-450°F (200-230°C), for cooking chicken tenders.

Can you marinate chicken tenders before grilling them?

Yes, you can marinate chicken tenders before grilling them. Marinating adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. It is best to marinate chicken tenders for at least 30 minutes to an hour before grilling.

What are some seasoning options for chicken tenders on the grill?

There are many seasoning options for chicken tenders on the grill. You can use a simple combination of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, or try a pre-made seasoning blend like Cajun, Italian, or barbecue. Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite!

How do you know if chicken tenders are cooked through on the grill?

You can check if chicken tenders are cooked through on the grill by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken tender, and if it reads 165°F (74°C), then the chicken is safely cooked. Additionally, the juices should run clear and the meat should no longer be pink.