Best Grilled Chicken Recipe
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It’s time to fire up the grill! This grilled chicken recipe, made with a flavorful marinade of lemon juice, garlic and seasonings is one of our all-time favorite grilling recipes.
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There are a few secrets to making the best grilled chicken breast, and I’m sharing everything you need to know below. This chicken recipe is fast and easy to prepare because it doesn’t need to soak in the marinade for long – even just 30 minutes is enough to tenderize and flavor the meat.
Tips for the Best Grilled Chicken Breast
- Use a marinade. Marinating chicken breasts both adds flavor and helps to tenderize the meat. The marinade used in this recipe is made with just a few simple ingredients and makes the best grilled chicken.
- Pound the chicken to an even thickness. 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.
- Clean the grill. You want to start with clean, oiled grill grates for the best grill marks.
- Grill over moderate heat. This ensures that your chicken won’t burn or dry out.
- Use an instant read thermometer. Overcooking chicken is a surefire way to dry it out. The best way to tell when chicken is done is to use an instant read thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the meat.
- Let the grilled chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing or serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. If you slice the chicken right away when it comes off the grill all of the juices will run out, which is definitely not what you want.
Grilled Chicken Marinade
Flavorful, juicy grilled chicken starts with a great marinade. This grilled chicken recipe uses a simplified version of my Chicken Marinade recipe. Here’s what you’ll need for the marinade:
- 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: Olive oil is essential in a good marinade because it keeps the meat moist and helps to transfer the flavors of the marinade to the chicken. The lemon juice is acidic, and without olive oil to balance the acid your chicken would turn out tough.
- Garlic: You can’t beat the flavor of fresh garlic!
- Dried Oregano: Feel free to substitute Italian seasoning if you prefer.
- Chili Powder: Adds a little extra flavor to the marinade, but it does not make the chicken spicy.
- Salt and Pepper: For flavor.
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. This Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken recipe is another one of my favorites!
This is THE BEST marinade for chicken. We made it for a chicken BLT salad and were so impressed. We’re going to try it on some shrimp next. There wasn’t a single thing we would have changed. Definitely a keeper!!! Thank youLaura
How to Grill Chicken
Start by whisking together the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top plastic bag and pound them with a meat mallet (or rolling pin) to an even thickness, about 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick.
Add the marinade to the bag with the chicken, seal, and squish/turn the bag to coat all of the chicken with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, clean and oil the grill grates of a gas or charcoal grill. Heat the grill to medium high, 375-450 degrees F.
How Long to Grill Chicken Breast
Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the extra marinade. Grill the chicken breasts for 5-8 minutes per side with the grill cover closed, until cooked through. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F. For the best grill marks and juicy chicken, begin cooking the chicken on a hotter part of the grill for a few minutes and then move it to lower heat to finish cooking through. Using two heating zones keeps your chicken from burning on the outside or drying out while the inside cooks through.
Let the chicken rest on a clean plate for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
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.
This grilled chicken recipe is so versatile! Here are a few ways to enjoy it.
- BBQ: Serve it with a few tasty side dishes for a BBQ or cookout. Try Potato Salad, Coleslaw, Fruit Salad, Corn Salad, Tabouli or Cilantro Lime Rice.
- Grilled Chicken Salad: Serve with lettuce and your favorite salad ingredients, or add grilled chicken to one of these salad recipes.
- Grilled Chicken Sandwich or Wrap: Serve a grilled chicken breast on a toasted burger bun with lettuce, tomato, onion and a sauce – we love it with Guacamole! Or use it to make a chicken wrap for lunch.
- Burrito Bowl: Try it in this Burrito Bowl recipe.
- Pasta: Add sliced grilled chicken to Pesto Pasta or this Caprese Pasta.
- Meal Prep: Cook extra grilled chicken to save time with meal prep later in the week.
Best Grilled Chicken Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds
- Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top plastic bag and pound them using a meat mallet or rolling pin until they are an even thickness, about ½-inch thick.
- Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken, seal the bag, and place it in a baking dish (in case of leaks). Turn the bag to coat all parts of the chicken. Place chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- Clean the grates of a gas or charcoal grill (or use an indoor grill pan). Oil the grill grates and heat the grill to medium high (375-450 degrees F).
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard extra marinade. Grill chicken for 5-8 minutes per side, until cooked through. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F. For the best grill marks and juicy chicken, begin cooking the chicken on a hotter part of the grill for a few minutes and then move it to lower heat to finish cooking through.
- Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve chicken right away or refrigerate to use for lunches, salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, etc. throughout the week. Cooked chicken can be stored for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
- Nutrition information assumes all of the marinade will be consumed, which it will not be.