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Grill-Fried Chicken: Simple, Crispy and Clean

The phrase Grill-Fried Chicken is probably not one you’ve seen before. This delicious chicken is created on the grill, without actually frying anything. The simple process of prep and grilling will deter you from the indoor mess of traditional frying.

Very crispy chicken, grill fried. No deep frying needed.
Crispy chicken drumsticks, grilled.

This post is sponsored by Bacon’s Heir. These posts and affiliate links enable me to maintain and operate this site which is free to the public. I only partner with brands that I personally use and believe in.

Grill-Fried Chicken, Pork Rind Coated

Coated with ground up pork rinds bonded to chicken skin, the only result you should expect is a mouthful of savory flavors, followed up by incredibly moist chicken. The flavors of crispy skin on skin and charcoal will prompt you to grab 2 pieces at a time.

Tandoori spiced chicken with cilantro honey mustard
Tandoori-spiced chicken with cilantro honey mustard

The Simple Process for Grill-Fried Chicken

The process to prepare and flavor the grill-fried chicken really couldn’t be more simple. It starts with any piece of chicken. The best results are absolutely from any piece that has the skin, such as wings or drumsticks.

It does involve one special ingredient, which you cannot replace: Pork Panko.

Constraining my readers with a specific ingredient isn’t something that’s typical, but this really is a must-have. Pork Panko is simply pork rinds, ground up perfectly to the size that mimics traditional panko breadcrumbs. No, you cannot substitute regular panko for the Pork Panko in this recipe and expect the same results.

So let’s quickly break down the process:

  1. Basting the chicken with oil
  2. Seasoning the chicken with Pork Panko & spices
  3. Grilling/Smoking the chicken

The overall prep will only take you about 10 minutes, probably including lighting your grill or smoker. Short prep time and avoidance of indoor frying is what really attracts cooks to this recipe!

Customizing Flavors

Magic takes place at this stage, the flavor profile. The basic ingredients are simple: Oil, Spices, and the Pork Panko. The rest is really up to you, just realized that the Pork Panko will have a salty profile, so make sure your seasoning isn’t too salty.

Baste the chicken with flavored oil before you season them.
Basting the chicken with a chili oil before coating with the Pork Panko.

Stick with Oil – Do not Stray!

Absolutely stick with oil as your binder for the Pork Panko and spices. Coming up with the perfect recipe for this grill-fried chicken resulted in quite a few failures. I wanted to share some of those other experiments and why they didn’t work:

  • Egg & Milk Wash: The breading didn’t stick onto the chicken as well during the grilling process. There was a lot of evaporation that took place, causing the Panko to be more moist.
  • Mayo: This worked well overall, but the side of chicken that first hits the grill tends to stick to the grill due to the higher level of moisture.
  • Buttermilk: This was the worst. The Pork Panko clumped together on the moist surface and did not form an even crust. I do not recommend this.

Type of Oil

I’ve tested this recipe with oils that have higher smoke points, such as olive oil, vegetable oil and canola oil. Coconut oil may not have the same results, however you may be able to use avocado or sunflower oil if you’d prefer.

That bright red oil in the photo above is Korean chili oil. This was created by mixing 2 Cups oil with 3 Tbsp of gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and steeping it on medium heat for 5 minutes on the stove. I did not strain mine, I enjoy the bits of flavors.

Spiceology and Pork Panko make a very flavorful seasoning for the chicken.
Brushed with chili oil, seasoned with Honey Mustard IPA rub by Spiceology

Important Tips for Success

There are a few really important key elements to know about this dish. The recipe might be simple, but you don’t want to miss out on these tips. I’ll put them in order of the process:

  • Taste your Pork Panko mix: Make sure you are seasoning the Pork Panko with spices that are not too salty. This recipe can take flavors, so don’t be shy with the spices.
  • Sprinkle the Pork Panko: Typically when we’re preparing chicken with breading for frying, we just toss the chicken in the bowl with breading. Do not do that here, the oil may clump the Pork Panko together, causing your last few pieces of chicken to have clumped breading. Sprinkle generously from above.
  • Pat the breading on the chicken: When you’re sprinkling on the Pork Panko mix, you want to make sure to pat it into the chicken. It needs to adhere to the oil, don’t just sprinkle it lightly and assume it’s coated.
  • Grill with indirect heat: Aim for about 325-350°F on your grill or smoker. Grilling directly over the coals may crisp up the breading too early, so shove the coals to 1 side of the grill if you’re using charcoal. Smoking is simple, keep the temp at 350°F.

What to serve it with?

You might not bother with a sauce or side, but it can make it exciting. Here’s a few sauces that would go really well with the grill-fried chicken:

Very crispy grill fried chicken
Stop reading, get to cooking!
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Grill-Fried Chicken

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This simple process and some live fire creates crispy, flavorful grill-fried chicken. The Pork Panko creates a delicious, skin on skin flavor that elevates the crust, prompting you to grab two at once.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 lb chicken drumsticks, about 56
  • 3 Tbsp chili oil (or oil of your choice)
  • 2 Cups Pork Panko
  • 2 Tbsp BBQ Seasoning (your choice)


  1. Prepare the Panko by mixing with the seasoning. 
  2. Pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Brush the chicken generously with oil. Use one hand to handle the chicken, the other to sprinkle on the Panko. Sprinkle the Panko generously on the chicken on all sides, patting it down gently with one hand. Do not roll the chicken in the Panko, this will clump the Panko together.
  3. For the Grill: Set up your grill for indirect grilling, aiming for 325-350°F. Clean your grates extremely well, and rub some oil on the grates to prevent sticking. You do not need many coals, this is a shorter cook. Grill the chicken indirectly for about 30-40 minutes, flipping gently every 10-15 minutes. The chicken temperature needs to be at least 165°F, you may cook higher to be safe.
  4. For the Smoker: Set up your smoker for 325-350°F. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature is at least 165°F, you may cook higher to be safe.


You can use this same recipe for any type of chicken. You may need more Panko and seasoning if you use wings, or a whole chicken. Try using flavored oils or seasonings for different flavor combinations.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: BBQ
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One Comment

  1. Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

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