We love fried chicken. Of course we do—how could we not? But we also love grilled chicken, and this sometimes leads to difficulty when deciding what to cook. Crispy, tasty, breaded fried chicken, or savory, semi-smoky grilled chicken? Well, why should we have to decide when we can have the best of both worlds? By “air frying” our chicken on the grill, we can get the crunch of fried chicken with the flavor of the grill.
We learned this method, presented by Postal BBQ, for grilled fried chicken, and we love how it turned out. In this post, we’ll cover the thermal angles and the cooking tips you need to make amazing fried chicken on your grill. We’ll be using Signals®, Billows™, and Thermapen® ONE to make sure we hit the temps just right, and we recommend you do too. Let’s take a look.
What is air frying? Can I use my grill as an air fryer?
An air fryer is a fancy, mono-tasking version of a convection toaster oven. It consists of heating elements and a fan that circulates hot air over and around your food. This circulating air dries the food’s surface so that it can crisp, and it provides enough fresh heat to the food that any oils in it will “fry.” Air fryers are fun and useful, but not actually unique in their abilities. 1
You see, blowing concentrated, hot air on your food is something that many devices can do, including Billows BBQ Control Fan. Attach Billows to your kettle grill or another grill, and you can pump hot air onto your food, but this air tastes like the joy of burning charcoal.
We often use Billows to keep our smokers at a perfect low temp, but it can also be used to jack a grill up to high temps, like the 400°F (204°C) we need to air fry chicken. As long as you have hot, circulating air, you’re basically “air frying.”
Air frying chicken on the grill
Using your grill as an air fryer for this recipe is easy. Bread chicken as you would for fried chicken, heat your grill to 400°F (204°C), but set it up for indirect cooking. Cook the chicken, spraying it from time to time with nonstick cooking spray. Use Signals to monitor the air temp, control Billows, and alert you when your chicken reaches the dark-meat doneness temp of 180°F (82°C). You can monitor both a thigh and a drum while also monitoring the air using Signals’ four channels. 2 And, of course, verify the temps using your Thermapen ONE.
Do you need oil to air fry on your grill?
The marketing folks at the air fryer companies tout the low/no oil virtues of air frying, claiming it is more healthy than oil frying—there is some truth to that, but only some. Yes, the hot circulating air will dehydrate the surface of many foods, causing them to crisp even without adding oil. But air fryers really shine when just a little bit of oil is introduced to the equation. If you were to put breaded chicken in an air fryer without any oil, it would certainly get somewhat crisp, but not as crisp as we would like.
The addition of the spray-on oil takes this recipe from a bready-baked chicken to a fully-fried chicken. And you will still get less oil in the breading than you would if you were to deep fry it. So, yes, you need the oil, but you’re also getting much less of it. Not that that matters much to me when I’m eating fried chicken, mind you, but I know it matters for some people.
Don’t spray oil onto open flames
It should go without saying, but I will stress here that when you spray an aerosol of oil onto your chicken on the grill, you need to be careful not to spray directly onto the open flame/coals. You want fried chicken, not a fireball in the face.
This recipe is a fun one, and really does bridge the divide between fried chicken and grilled chicken. You end up with a subtle smoke/fire taste, but with flavorful, crisp breaded skin. I very much recommend it! Use our critical temperatures and keep the heat in check using Billows and Signals, and you’ll love what air frying in your grill can do.Print
Grilled air-fried chicken, based on the method from Postal BBQ.
- Set up your Billows and Signals with your grill. Prepare the grill for indirect-heat cooking and preheat the grill to 400°F (204°C).
- Combine the flour, BBQ rub, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Whisk together the buttermilk and eggs in another medium bowl.
- For each piece of chicken, dredge it in the flour mixture, then dip it in the egg/buttermilk mixture, then dredge it again in the flour mixture. Set it aside and coat the rest of the chicken.
- Once the chicken is all coated, place it on the grill, making sure no pieces are touching.
- Insert a probe into a drumstick and another into a thigh, making sure neither is touching bone. Set the high-temp alarms for those channels at 180°F (82°C).
- Close the lid and cook for about 20 minutes. Open the lid and spray all the pieces of chicken with cooking spray, being careful to not spray any open flames with the oil.
- Flip the chicken, re-placing the probes if necessary. Spray the side that is now on top.
- Cook another 20 minutes, flip again, and spray any areas that are not looking crispy. Continue cooking until your Signals sounds.
- When the high-temp alarm on your Signals sounds, check the chicken with your Thermapen ONE. If the lowest temp you see is at least 180°F (82°C), you can remove the chicken from the grill. (Note that the drumsticks will probably get there before the thighs. You can let them cook longer if you like. Dark meat can handle some higher internal temps.)
- Remove the chicken from the grill, and serve it up with your favorite sides!
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