9 Rules To Follow For Perfect Grilled Chicken

05/27/2015 07:00 am ET | Updated May 28, 2015

grilled chicken
Photo credit: Foodie Crush

Grilled chicken is a summertime staple, that, if cooked correctly, is the only thing you'll want to eat. But if you're not careful, it can end up tough and tasteless. We're here to make sure that doesn't happen to you.

There are nine essential steps to take (or not take) when grilling chicken. Follow them and you'll taste the difference.

1. Keep the grill hot. A good trick for gauging temperature is the three Mississippi rule. Place your hand about 4 inches above the grill and count "one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi." If you have to pull your hand away by three, then you've reached the right heat.

2. Clean it thoroughly. Not only will this give you a fresh surface to grill on, but removing debris also lessens the chances of food sticking. Make friends with the grill brush. And if you don't have one, a crumbled ball of aluminum foil can do the trick too.

3. Grease the grates. Not only will oiling the grates help prevent food from sticking, but it'll also create those grill lines on the chicken that people like so much.

4. If grilling breast, pound it flat. Chicken is the most unforgiving of meats. Even slightly overcooked poultry will turn dry and dusty. The best way to ensure that doesn't happen is to make the thickness of chicken breasts as even as possible so that it all cooks the same.

5. Brine that bird. Brining is not just for special occasions like Thanksgiving. Even chicken breast benefits from a brine by keeping the meat moist. Enough said.

6. Don't skimp on extras. Rubs and glazes make a savory crust on the chicken, and, well, that's where all the flavor is. Go big or go home.

7. Make the brick your friend. Yes, a brick. Placing a brick wrapped in foil on top of chicken while it cooks helps press it down and makes it cook more evenly. It also covers the chicken, helping it retain moisture. All good things.

8. Remember: chicken that sticks needs more time to cook. If you have to force the chicken to flip, it's just not ready for it. Give it a few more minutes.

9. Don't walk away from the grill. This is not the oven, the grill involves an open flame. One should never leave a fire unattended -- especially when dinner is resting precariously on top of it.

Now that you know the dos and don'ts, get grilling. Here are 18 grilled chicken recipes to get you started:

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