Publication date January 24, 2024
Here’s How to Grill Chicken Breast Everyone Will Love
Forget dry, rubbery chicken nightmares! Grilling the perfect chicken breast often feels like chasing a unicorn—mythical and frustrating. But fear not, here I am to unveil the secret to juicy, flavor-packed chicken breasts that will have everyone begging for seconds (and thirds!).
Forget marinades that promise miracles but deliver dryness instead. My unique brining technique and secret ingredient-infused glaze work hand-in-hand to lock in moisture and explode with flavor. The result? Tender, fall-apart deliciousness that's perfect for salads, sandwiches, or simply savoring solo.
Plus, this recipe is a breeze! We'll prep everything ahead of time, keeping the grill session clean and stress-free.
Why are Grilled Chicken breasts usually dry?
The main reason why grilled chicken breasts are often dry is probably that chicken breasts are very lean and there’s not much fat in them which makes them hard to stay juicy on the grill.
Another reason that they can be dry is because they are not usually an even thickness, which means that the thinnest part dries out before the thickest part is cooked all the way through. But don’t worry it’s possible to make juicy chicken breasts with a tiny bit of work but not hard work.
Ingredients for Perfect Grill Chicken Breast
Here are a few ingredients that you’ll need to make juicy chicken breast:
- 1¾ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1½ teaspoons lemon zest, from one lemon
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Step by Step Instruction
Source: The Spruce Eats
Now let’s dive into our favorite part, the best way to grill chicken breast!! By following just a few simple steps you can grill juicy chicken.
1. Step 1: Pound the Chicken
Begin by placing the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon freezer bag and pound to an even ½-inch thickness. This both tenderizes the meat as well as ensures even cooking. Left breasts in their natural shape, the thin side of the fillet dries out while the thicker side finishes cooking. If you don’t have a meat mallet, a saucepan or a rolling pin will both work well.
Step 2: Make the Marinade
When it comes to marinade, lemon is the key ingredient, but I only use zest. It’s generally accepted that acidic ingredients such as vinegar or lemon juice do not tenderize lean boneless chicken breasts. Just the opposite: they “cook” the outer of the meat and give it a leathery texture. The zest gives ample lemon flavor to the chicken without affecting the chicken’s succulent texture.
For zesting you can use a fine or microplane grater. Simply just rub the lemon in one direction against the blades, turning the lemon as you go. Make sure you remove only the yellow part; the white pith underneath is bitter.
Once you’re done with zesting, mix all of the marinade ingredients except for the chicken together in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag (go ahead and use the same one you used for pounding if it is still in good shape). Put the chicken breasts into the bag and massage the marinade into the meat until evenly coated.
Step 3: Marinate
Now seal the bag and place it in a bowl in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage) and let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Step 4: Grill
When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to high heat and oil the grates because it’ll give you the best grill marks. Ensure your grill is very hot before cooking the chicken. It’ll give you nice grill marks and char in the short amount of time it takes to cook these.
If you have pounded thin, chicken breasts only will need 2 to 3 minutes per side…no more! If you try to flip the chicken and it feels stuck, try giving it another 30 seconds. Then it’ll release naturally when it’s ready.
You’ll see that the recipe calls for the grill to be covered while the chicken is cooking. This creates convection heat which gives the chicken a lovely charred exterior and a tender, moist interior. Once you’re done with grilling, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 3-4 minutes before finally cutting it into pieces. This will keep the juices in and retain the meat’s moisture.
Now it’s just ready to get onto plates and enjoy these delicious juicy chicken breasts. While the dish is best to try off the grill, you can also make a double batch of and freeze it for future use in salads, pasta, and sandwiches.
What To Serve with Grilled Chicken Breast
You can serve your grilled chicken breast with a side of creamy cucumber salad, grilled veggie towers, grilled asparagus, grilled corn on the cob, broccoli, or grilled zucchini. You can add it to your meal prep bowls with your favorite grain, on top of a fresh salad, or in a sandwich or wrap. Here are some delicious recipes to serve with grilled chicken:
- Grilled Chicken with Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
- Grilled Chicken with Zucchini, Tomato, and Mozzarella
- Grilled Chicken with Chickpea Salad
- Grilled Chicken with Arugula Salad
- With Roasted Asparagus with Lemon
Tips to make Chicken Extra Juicy
If it’s accessible to you, It’s recommended to use organic chicken breasts whenever possible. Because they tend to be much juicier and less tough, than non-organic chicken breasts, when you use the chicken as a blank canvas to add to recipes it makes a big difference.
Additionally, you can use a little oil or butter when cooking your chicken. This will add richness and help prevent dryness. You can even infuse the oil with spices or herbs for an extra flavor boost.
How long should I grill chicken breasts for?
This is one of the common questions people ask when it comes to preparing perfect chicken breasts. It really depends on how thick your chicken breasts are.
If you flatten them, as mentioned earlier in the recipe, they’re going to need about 4 minutes per side over direct medium-high heat (about 400°F). In case your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, here’s how to find out what temperature it’s at.
After 4 minutes on about 400°F, you flip them over and do the other side for 4 minutes. This will help get you nice parallel grill marks on your chicken and if you want crosshatched grill marks, after the first 2 minutes, turn the breasts 90 degrees and cook for 2 more minutes.
Then flip the breasts and do the same thing on the other side for 2 minutes then turn and give another 2 minutes. But keep in mind that the crosshatched ones won’t be as dark as the parallel ones. I prefer to just do the 4 minutes per side without turning them.
How to Prepare and Preheat Your Grill
While your chicken is marinating and before you’re all set to grill, it’s important to get your grill ready.
- Preheat your grill. Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F, which will both help burn things off that were leftover when you previously grilled and will also prevent your chicken from sticking to the grates.
- Brush it off. Once your grill has preheated use a grill brush to brush off any leftover bits from the last time you grilled.
- Oil the grates. Although it is not always necessary for grilling chicken, if you’re grilling a protein that doesn’t have a lot of natural fat such as plant-based meat alternatives, it’s best to oil the grill grates so that the protein doesn’t stick.