Grilled chicken quarters are one of the least expensive ways to put on an impressive meal for your family, or for a crowd. As much as I love my bourbon buffalo wings, the price of wings has recently gone through the roof; making grilled chicken leg quarters for .79 per pound super attractive.
In this blog I’m going to give you some great tips for cooking chicken, no matter if you’re using a gas grill or a charcoal grill. In less than an hour, you’re going to be serving up some delicious grilled chicken quarters that will have everyone asking for your secrets.Jump to Recipe
How Long Does It Take To Cook Chicken Quarters on the Grill?
I can appreciate the need to know how long it takes to grill chicken quarters. You have to plan for dinner time, guests arriving, etc. so cooking times are important. To that end, I’ll say it takes roughly 45 – 55 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken quarters.
The quarters are the part of the chicken that include both the thigh and the leg and the range in size is drastic. So, it’s super important to use a reliable instant read thermometer when grilling these.
Ensure you’re checking the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken thigh, and not touching a bone with the temperature probe.
More on the correct internal temperature later; but spoiler alert — don’t just assume that since the USDA says dark meat chicken is safe at 165 °F that’s it’s best served at that temperature.
Do You Flip Chicken Quarters on the Grill?
This depends a great deal on what style of chicken you’re making. If you’re only doing a simple oil and dry rub, I recommend grilling directly over medium high heat and flipping often.
For this recipe, we’re using my homemade bbq sauce (feel free to use your favorite of course) so flipping isn’t done as much. We’ll start with few flips over direct heat, but soon move them to indirect heat and the flipping stops.
Why? Because we want the sauce to get sticky and stay on the chicken. Flipping with sauce applied usually ends up with most of the sauce stuck and burned to the grill grate.
What Temperature Do You Grill Chicken Quarters At?
Far more important than what seasoning you use, what BBQ sauce you use, or what wood you use for added smoke flavor, is the temperature you run your grill. Run it too low, and you’ll end up with rubbery skin.
Run it too hot, and you risk burning the skin or the sauce or seasoning. So, be mindful when you’re making grilled chicken quarters, or any skin on chicken.
I suggest running the grill at 375 °F. This temperature is hot enough to get the skin crispy, but not so hot that any sauce or seasoning will burn.
Tips For Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters
The Temp: The USDA advises that dark meat chicken is safe to eat at 165 °F. This is true, it is safe. But that doesn’t mean it’s done. Try taking these grilled chicken quarters up to 185 – 195 °F internal temperature.
Because of the nature of the dark meat, the chicken is still very juicy. But, instead of being rubbery like drumsticks get when served at 165 °F, they’re pull apart tender.
The Smoke: This is optional for this recipe. I enjoy a mild hint of smoke on my chicken, if you don’t you can forgo the wood chunks.
The Position: After searing, position the chicken on the grill as far away from the heat source as possible. Using a higher indirect heat for these is ideal for crisping the skin without burning it with direct heat.
The Crunch: Want an even more crispy texture to the chicken skin? Try dusting the skin with some baking powder and letting them sit uncovered in the refrigerator for an hour or so, before putting them on the grill. The baking powder will pull moisture out of the skin, making it more crisp when it’s cooked.
The Grill Set Up: You’ll want to set up for two zone cooking. If you’re using a gas grill, light one burner on one side of the grill and leave the other burners off in order to establish a cool zone for indirect cooking.
The Sauce: The homemade BBQ sauce is optional here. This recipe is more about the technique for grilling the perfect chicken quarters. While I love the seasoning and sauce included here, use your favorites, or go Memphis style — no sauce!
How To Make Perfect Grilled Chicken Quarters
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 50 Minutes | Serves 4-6
4-6 chicken leg quarters
1/4 cup avocado oil, divided
1 cup BBQ sauce, optional
For The Rub
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp light brown sugar
3 tbsp turbinado sugar
3 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp chipotle pepper
1 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Step 1: Light your grill and set it up for two zone heating, leaving the lid open for now on a charcoal grill, close the lid on a gas grill.
Step 2: While the grill is preheating, combine all ingredients for the rub in a bowl and whisk together. Pour into a shaker bottle and set aside. (This will be more rub than you need, but it’s great to keep on hand.)
Step 3: Lightly coat the chicken on both sides with avocado oil.
Then, place the grilled chicken leg quarters skin side down over medium high direct heat. Turn the chicken every two minutes, for a total of 10 minutes.
Step 4: Move the chicken over to the indirect heat side of the grill, skin side down. Lightly brush the bottom side of the chicken with avocado oil, then season with the rub in a shaker bottle. Flip the chicken to skin side up, brush with more avocado oil and season the skin.
If you’re going to add some wood for a smoky flavor, this is the time to do that.
Step 5: Close the lid and establish the cooking temperature at 375 °F as indicated with a reliable leave in thermometer.
Step 6: Allow chicken to cook until internal temperature reaches 160 °F before brushing on the first coat of optional bbq sauce. Close the lid and repeat the optional bbq sauce process at 170 and 180 °F.
Step 7: Remove chicken from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 190 °F. Feel free to give one last coating of bbq sauce or a light dusting of the rub, that’s optional.
- 4-6 chicken leg quarters
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- 1 cup BBQ Sauce
For The Rub
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp turbinado sugar
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp coarse ground pepper
- 1 tsp chipotle pepper
- 1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- Light grill and set up for two zone cooking.
- Combine ingredients for the rub, mix well and transfer to a shaker bottle and set aside.
- Lightly coat the chicken with avocado oil, then place it skin side down over direct heat. Flip every 2 minutes for 10 minutes.
- Move the chicken over to the indirect heat side of the grill, skin side down. Lightly brush the bottom side of the chicken with avocado oil, then season with the rub in a shaker bottle. Flip the chicken to skin side up, brush with more avocado oil and season the skin.
- Close the lid and establish the cooking temperature at 375 °F.
- Allow thew chicken to cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 °F before brushing on the first coat of optional bbq sauce. Close the lid and repeat the optional bbq sauce process at 170 and 180 °F.
- Remove chicken from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 190 °F. Feel free to give one last coating of bbq sauce or a light dusting of the rub, that's optional.
- Serve hot with your favorite BBQ sides.