This grilled chicken, made with a flavorful marinade of lemon juice, garlic and seasonings, is one of our all-time favorite grilling recipes. I’m sharing all of my secrets for making the best juicy grilled chicken breast!

Three grilled chicken breasts on a plate garnished with lemon wedges.

This is it. The very best grilled chicken.

Grilling season is here and I couldn’t be happier about it! There’s nothing I love more than throwing dinner on the grill and enjoying a cold beverage outside while the kids play in the yard. These long summer days are glorious!

This grilled chicken is our current grilling obsession. It’s just so good! The marinade is so simple and it gives the chicken such incredible flavor. And if you’re like me and sometimes forget to plan ahead, you’ll be happy to know that even just a 30 minute soak in the marinade is enough to tenderize and flavor the meat.

Having suffered through dry, tough grilled chicken in the past, I was determined to create a grilled chicken recipe that produces juicy, tender chicken, every time. This is that recipe. And I’m sharing all of my secrets to making the best grilled chicken breast you’ve ever eaten. Let’s do this!

Secrets to the Best Grilled Chicken

  • Use a marinade. Marinating chicken breasts both adds flavor and helps to make the meat tender. The marinade used in this recipe is one of my favorites and you’ll need only a few ingredients to make it.
  • 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. This is crucial!
  • 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. Do not overcook your grilled chicken! Overcooking 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 when it comes off the grill all of the juices will run out onto your cutting board, which is definitely not what you want.

My family loves this recipe!  My husband won’t do chicken any other way now!

Sliced grilled chicken breast served with rice.

Grilled Chicken Marinade

This grilled chicken recipe uses a simplified version of my most-loved Chicken Marinade. Here’s what you’ll need for the marinade:

  • Lemon Juice: The lemon juice adds zippy, fresh flavor and tenderizes the chicken. 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. It also balances out the acidic lemon juice, ensuring your grilled chicken has that perfect tender, juicy texture.
  • Garlic: You can’t beat the flavor of fresh garlic!
  • Dried Oregano: Italian seasoning also works great here.
  • Chili Powder: Adds a little extra flavor to the marinade, but it does not make the chicken spicy.
  • Salt and Pepper: For flavor.

You can 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!

Grilled chicken recipe ingredients with labels.

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.

Four raw chicken breasts in zip-top plastic bag with meat mallet resting on bag.

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.

Chicken breasts and marinade in zip-top plastic bag.

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.

Four chicken breasts on the grill.

Let the chicken rest on a clean plate for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Four grilled chicken breasts on a plate, garnished with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.

Troubleshooting: Why is my Chicken 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 of 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.

If you do end up with overcooked chicken, a simple sauce is an easy way to add moisture. Serve the chicken with some BBQ Sauce, Chimichurri or Honey Mustard.

Grilled Chicken Serving Ideas

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, Macaroni Salad, 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 a Pasta Salad, Pesto Pasta or this Caprese Pasta.
  • Meal Prep: Cook extra grilled chicken to save time with meal prep later in the week.
Grilled chicken breasts on a plate with one breast sliced and lemon wedges for garnish.
Four grilled chicken breasts on a plate, garnished with lemon wedges and fresh parsley.
5 from 11 ratings

Grilled Chicken Breast

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
A delicious marinade and easy tips for grilling make this grilled chicken recipe the very best! I like to serve this grilled chicken with our favorite summer side dishes, like pasta salad and cucumber tomato salad. It's also perfect for slicing up and adding to a main dish salad or pasta. See more serving ideas in the post above!


  • 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.
Calories: 258kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 371mg, Potassium: 584mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 0.3g, Vitamin A: 77IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
Cuisine: American
Course: Main Course
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