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Best Grilled Chicken Quarter Recipes

Best Grilled Chicken Quarter Recipes

Grilled Chicken Quarter Shopping Tips

Buy whole chickens and ask the butcher to quarter them for you. You will save an average of $5 per pound, or more.

Grilled Chicken Quarter Cooking Tips

Legs take longer than breasts to cook. For more consistent results, mark the chicken on the grill and then finish cooking them in an oven.

If you like grilled chicken with golden crispy skin, say “thank you, to Bob Baker.”

Baker was a professor of food science at Cornell University and I once had the honor of meeting him when my wife was a PhD candidate in microbiology at Cornell.

A specialist in poultry, he helped invent such oddities (at the time) as chicken nuggets, turkey ham, and poultry hot dogs. But in picturesque Ithaca, NY, where Cornell is located, about six hours north and west of Manhattan, he is best remembered for Cornell Chicken, and there is nothing odd or artificial about his wonderful recipe. In fact, the recipe has become so popular it is served all across Western New York. It is not known for sure when he introduced the recipe but it is contained in a Cornell Cooperative extension Bulletin probably from the early 1950s. Here is a photo of Nathan “Nate” Hardy from the early 1960s in Almond, NY contributed with permission by his family. The buildings in the background were once chicken houses.

I lived in Ithaca for 18 years and fell in love with this recipe in a hurry. Every fund-raising event, every fire department cookout, every little league barbecue, must serve this recipe or nobody would come. Even though Baker died in 2006, his family continues to operate Baker’s Chicken Shack at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

Cornell Chicken is often served with Syracuse Salt Potatoes, small white local potatoes boiled in salty water. The area is also a major cabbage producer, so Waldorf Slaw is another natural NY themed side. Wash it all down with a white wine from the Finger Lakes. Riesling is the strong suit there. End the feast with Concord Grape Pie a unique invention from nearby Canandaigua Lake topped with a scoop of ice cream from The Cornell Ag School’s Dairy Bar where they students are taught to make it properly. I’ll have the world’s best butter pecan, please.

Below is my slightly modernized version of Dr. Baker’s Original Recipe. I found Dr. Baker’s original recipe just a bit salty with three tablespoons, so I cut it back to one. He recommends cooking it over an open flame without a cover, but that method often yields charred skin, flareups, and soot deposits by the time it is cooked through. It works much better if you start it low and slow on the indirect heat side, and then move it over the direct heat at the end to crisp the skin, using the reverse sear technique. I have also built in a precaution that will make working with raw eggs safer.

Weekend Recipe: Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing

When it comes to barbecued meat, chicken doesn't get a lot of respect. How often do you see chicken on the menu, and think, "Yes!"? It's usually never for me, but when I bite into a perfectly cooked, juicy piece of dark meat, I think,"Oh yeah, chicken is really good!" as if it should be a surprise. This recipe from Cook's Country, with its garlicky-lime marinade, gives grilled chicken the accolades it deserves. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters with Lime Dressing
Serves 4

A garlic press makes quick work of mincing the 6 cloves called for here. You can use 1 teaspoon of dried oregano in place of the fresh called for in the dressing. Do not (ever) use dried cilantro.

6 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
2 teaspoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 (10-ounce) chicken leg quarters, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

1. Combine garlic, salt, sugar, lime zest, 2 teaspoons oil, cumin, pepper, and cayenne in bowl and mix to form paste. Reserve 2 teaspoons garlic paste for dressing.

2. Position chicken skin side up on cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Leaving drumsticks and thighs attached, make 4 parallel diagonal slashes in chicken: 1 across drumsticks, 1 across leg joints and 2 across thighs (each slash should reach bone). Flip chicken over and make 1 more diagonal slash across back of drumsticks. Rub remaining garlic paste all over chicken and into slashes. Refrigerate chicken for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

3. For a charcoal grill: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour two thirds evenly over half of grill, then pour remaining coals over other half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

4. For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium and turn other burner(s) to low. (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature of 400 to 425 degrees.)

5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chicken on cooler side of grill, skin side up. Cover and cook until underside of chicken is lightly browned, 9 to 12 minutes. Flip chicken, cover, and cook until leg joint registers 165 degrees, 7 to 10 minutes.

6. Transfer chicken to hotter side of grill, skin side down, and cook (covered if using gas) until skin is well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until leg joint registers 175 degrees, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to platter, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, whisk remaining ¼ cup oil, lime juice, cilantro, oregano, and reserved garlic paste together in bowl. Spoon half of dressing over chicken and serve, passing remaining dressing separately.

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How to make the BEST grilled chicken:

Marinate the Chicken

Flavorful, juicy grilled chicken starts with a good marinade. My marinade recipe starts with olive oil and lemon juice. The lemon juice adds bright, fresh flavor. You can add the zest of two lemons to your marinade for more lemon flavor. When you marinate chicken in lemon juice, you don’t want to marinate for more than 2 hours or the acid will start to make the chicken tough. I recommend marinating your chicken for at least 30 minutes and no more than 2 hours.

Olive oil is essential in a good marinade because it keeps the meat moist. The lemon juice is acidic, and without olive oil to balance the acid your chicken would turn out tough. You will also add garlic and seasonings to the marinade. You may season the chicken to your tastes by adding other herbs that you enjoy, fresh or dried, to your marinade. Or try some Dijon mustard for extra flavor. My honey Dijon grilled chicken recipe is another one of my favorites!

For food safety, be sure to always place chicken in the refrigerator while it marinates. Do not ever leave it sitting out at room temperature. You will also want to discard any leftover marinade after you remove the raw chicken.

I use a zip-top plastic bag set in a baking dish to hold my chicken and marinade. The dish will catch any spills, should your bag leak. You can flip the bag over halfway through the marinating time to evenly coat the chicken.

This bag holder is really handy for holding your zip-top bag while you fill it!

How to Pound Chicken Breast

Pounding your chicken is an essential step to making tender, evenly cooked chicken breasts. When you buy chicken breasts at the store, they are often thicker on one side and thinner on the other. You want to pound them to an even thickness so that they cook evenly. The pounding process also tenderizes the meat.

To pound your chicken, place it in a zip-top bag and seal the bag. Use a meat mallet, rolling pin, or any heavy, flat object to pound the chicken into an even 1/2-inch thickness. You can then add your marinade to the same zip-top bag with the chicken.

Tips for Grilling Chicken

You can cook your chicken on an outdoor gas or charcoal grill, or indoors on a grill pan. You want to start with clean, oiled grill grates for the best grill marks. Clean grill grates also minimize the amount of potentially harmful blackened bits on your food.

You want to grill over medium high heat (375-450 degrees F). Using moderate heat ensures that your chicken won’t burn or dry out. Start grilling your chicken over direct heat to get nice grill marks and browning and then move it to a low heat part of the grill to finish cooking. Using two heating zones keeps your chicken from burning on the outside or drying out while the inside cooks through.

Cover your grill while cooking to keep the heat even around your meat. An instant read thermometer is the best way to check if your chicken is done. Insert the thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the meat. You want your grilled chicken to reach a temperature of 165 degrees F.

Once your chicken is cooked through, let it rest on a clean plate for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Slicing it right away when it comes off the grill will cause all of the juices to run out, which is definitely not what you want.

Troubleshooting: Why Would your Chicken be Tough?

If your chicken gets tough or blackened on the outside by the time the inside is cooked through, it may have cooked over too high heat. Next time, try cooking your chicken more slowly over lower heat.

If your chicken is tough and dry all the way through, it is most likely overcooked. This can happen with very large chicken breasts if you do not pound them to a thin, even thickness. Aim for 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness for grilling.

If you do end up with overcooked chicken, a simple sauce is an easy way to add moisture. Shred the meat and toss it with some barbecue sauce. Or add salsa and use the chicken in a salad or tacos.

I recommend serving your grilled chicken with a side of red potato salad, grilled corn salad or no mayo broccoli salad.

Foreman Grill Chicken Recipes

Making chicken recipes on your Foreman Grill is easy and provides healthy and delicious meals anytime. Chicken can be prepared any number of ways but the most popular method for cooking chicken on your Foreman Grill is using boneless skinless chicken breasts. They can be prepared using our basic Easy Grilled Chicken recipe or with any number of other flavorful combinations of herbs, spices, sauces, etc. Boneless skinless chicken breast is low in fat, high in protein, and provides an excellent main course for any meal. There are a few things to keep in mind when preparing chicken on your Foreman Grill:

Thinner is better. Purchasing boneless skinless chicken breast that are already cut thin will make the process even easier. The ideal thickness is 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick. If you have thicker chicken breasts, use a meat mallet and pound them thin. This will also help to tenderize the meat.

Marinate! There are many marinades available in your supermarket and they are often very affordable. Try placing the meat in the marinade in the morning and they’ll be nice and flavorful by the time you’re ready to grill for dinner. Use a glass baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator. You can also make a simple marinade using equal parts olive oil and vinegar. White wine vinegar is ideal and brings out a wonderful flavor in the chicken.

Don’t over or undercook. It is important to make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly. If unsure, use a meat thermometer and cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Cooking times for boneless skinless chicken breasts is usually 4-6 minutes, depending on how hot your grill gets.

Use the hottest setting and make sure to preheat your Foreman Grill. The hotter the grill, the better chance you have of getting nice grill marks. Always preheat the grill for at least 5 minutes with the lid closed.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons dried crushed red pepper
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) cut-up whole chickens*

Stir together first 6 ingredients until blended.

Place half each of vinegar mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag seal. Repeat procedure with remaining vinegar mixture and chicken, placing in a separate zip-top plastic freezer bag. Chill chicken at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade.

Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 35 to 40 minutes or until done, turning occasionally.*8 skinned and boned chicken breast halves and 8 skinned and boned chicken thighs may be substituted for whole chickens. Chill in marinade at least 1 to 2 hours, turning occasionally. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until done.

Adobo sauce, what surrounds the chipotle chiles in the can, is a fantastic single-ingredient wet rub for grilled chicken, smoky with just a touch of heat that won't be overwhelming for kids.

Curry paste is a flavor powerhouse, full of roasted aromatics, earthy spices, fiery chiles, and more. Yellow curry powder is commonly used in green curry paste recipes, serving as the flavor backbone it's convenient, too, providing lots of spices in a single handy ingredient. You can substitute 1 tablespoon lemongrass paste (found near the fresh herbs) for the fresh stalks simply add right to the food processor instead of roasting.

This recipe goes with: Curry-Poached Cod with Snap Pea Slaw, [SUB_RECIPE_LINK <151955>]

Smoked and Grilled Chicken Quarters

In this smoked and grilled chicken quarters recipe, I demonstrate how to get some smoke flavor on the chicken then finish it off to perfection on a really hot grill.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1.5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan or Cherry
  • 4-6 Chicken quarters
  • Olive oil
  • Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
  • Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce)
Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

This step is optional but highly recommended.

Without getting technical, when you soak poultry in a brine solution it:

  • Draws salty water into the chicken causing it to end up more juicy
  • The saltiness of the water makes the inside of the chicken taste as if it was perfectly seasoned

Basic Brine Recipe

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup of salt
  • ¾ cup of brown sugar (optional but recommended)

Add the salt to the water and stir until dissolved.

Add the brown sugar (if desired) and stir once again until it is dissolved.

This will give you a wonderful, all purpose brine that is great on almost any poultry.

I like to put the chicken quarters down into a large zip top bag and then pour the brine into the bag over the chicken to cover.

Brine in the refrigerator or in temperature of 33 to 39°F.

About 4 hours in the fridge is all you need.

When it's done brining, give the chicken quarters a good rinse and you are ready to proceed.

My original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) works really well with brined chicken quarters since it is low on salt. Most rubs are very high in salt and that is not only unnecessary, it means you have to be really careful and use it very lightly in order to not make it end up too salty.

To help the rub to stick, I like to brush on some olive oil.

Make sure to get oil and original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) up under the skin a little as well. I usually do this first then the outside.

Apply a tablespoon or two of my original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) to the top of the chicken and spread it all over with your hands so that it mixes with the oil and creates a nice paste.

Move the seasoned chicken quarters to a pan/rack or similar device and it's ready to go into the smoker.

Setup your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F. I prefer to keep it on the low side when I plan to finish them on the grill. This gives me a little more time in the smoke.

Once the smoker is ready, place the pan/rack containing the chicken on the smoker grate. If you do not have these special racks or anything that will work in a similar fashion, just place the chicken directly on the grate. Leave about 1 inch between them to allow the smoke full access to the meat.

Leave the chicken quarters in the smoker using indirect heat for about 1 hour during which time it will reach about 140°F internally. This depends on the temperature of the meat when it goes into the smoker, how often you open the door, the actual temperature you maintain, etc.

Use dry pecan, cherry or another favorite wood for smoke the entire time it is in the smoker.

Here is a picture of the chicken quarters after 1 hour in the smoker:

Be sure to use a thermometer such as the ThermoWorks Smoke X to monitor the temperature of the chicken while it cooks in the smoker and grill.

Heat the grill to very high heat just before the chicken is finished smoking.

Once an hour of smoking has passed, place the chicken on the grill over direct heat and brush on a little of my barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) while it finishes cooking.

Watch it carefully to make sure it does not burn.

When the chicken quarters reach 165-170°F, they are finished cooking and are ready to eat. If you are cooking multiple pieces, do a final temperature check on every piece of chicken using a Thermapen or similar instant read meat thermometer to make sure it is at least 165°F in the thickest part and safe to serve to your family and/or guests.

Serve the chicken quarters immediately when they are finished cooking.

How can I prevent rubbery chicken skin?

This is the bane of most people who love smoked chicken and there is no easy answer. Here's a few things that will get you chicken with pretty good bite through. Crispy chicken skin is very difficult to acquire unless it spends some time submerged in hot grease.

  • Finishing on the grill.
  • Smoking at much higher temperatures (250-275°F).
  • Allowing the chicken to air dry in the fridge for several hours prior to seasoning.

Will brining make the chicken taste too salty?

I have never had this happen using my ratio of 1 gallon water and 1 cup of kosher salt (Morton). You can rinse the chicken when it is done brining so that any residual salt on the outside is removed if you're worried about it.

Could I use this recipe for thighs and/or chicken legs?

Absolutely! The chicken quarter is simply a leg and thigh still attached.

Can I cook the chicken on the grill with smoke?

You could definitely add some smoke chips to your grill and just cook it the entire time on the grill. Depending on your heat setting, it would probably finish a lot quicker and may not be as smoky as true smoked chicken but it would still be very good.

Don't be afraid to color outside of the lines when it comes to cooking outdoors.


  1. Brine chicken and make vinaigrette:
    1. Bring water, sugar, and 1/2 cup salt to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Cool brine completely, then add chicken and soak, covered and chilled, 6 hours.
    2. Remove chicken and pat dry.
    3. Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, mint, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and remaining teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking until combined.
    1. Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of charcoal (80 to 100 briquettes). Leaving about one quarter of grill free of charcoal, bank lit charcoal across rest of grill so that coals are about three times higher on the opposite side.
    2. When charcoal turns grayish white (after 15 to 20 minutes), check fire temperature and grill chicken parts according to instructions in accompanying article. Transfer chicken as cooked to bowl with vinaigrette and turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.
    3. When chicken is almost done, grill lime halves, cut sides down, uncovered, over coals until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes, then transfer to platter with chicken. Serve limes with chicken and serve remaining vinaigrette on the side.
    1. Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat to moderately high.
    1. Sear chicken in 2 batches on lightly oiled grill rack, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 6 to 8 minutes total. Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all seared chicken on rack above shut-off burner.
    2. Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, moving chicken around grill (to avoid flare-ups) and turning over occasionally, until cooked through, 12 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken as cooked to bowl with vinaigrette and turn to coat, then transfer to a serving platter and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.
    1. Sear chicken (in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding), starting with skin sides down, on grill, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes total. Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all breasts on rack over shut-off burner.
    2. Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl with vinaigrette and turn to coat, then transfer to platter to keep warm, loosely covered with foil.
    3. When chicken is almost done, grill lime halves, cut sides down, uncovered, over lit burner until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes, then transfer to platter with chicken. Serve limes with chicken and serve remaining vinaigrette on the side.

    Recipe Summary

    • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), quartered, rinsed, and patted dry
    • Summer Bread Salad

    Preheat grill to medium-high. (If you are using a charcoal grill, coals are ready when you can hold your hand 5 inches above grill for just 3 to 4 seconds.)

    Combine salt and pepper. Rub chicken with mixture, covering all sides and shaking off excess. (You may not need all of the mixture.) Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

    Place chicken on grill, skin side down. Close cover, and grill 8 minutes. Flip chicken, and close cover. Grill until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes more.

    Transfer chicken to a plate, and let rest 15 minutes. Serve with bread salad.

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