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A perfectly grilled chicken breast punctuates our summer meals with dependable regularity. These are those perfect moist, tender, flavorful chicken breasts we are all looking for. Nothing dry or boring about them, thanks to a very simple marinade. If you’ve already got the grill on, add some vegetables to the mix, like Grilled Onions, Grilled Eggplant, or Grilled Vegetable Skewers.

The most important thing to say about grilling chicken breasts is these simple words: Make Extra. Leftover grilled chicken breasts will become lunches all week long. Use the leftovers for a delicious Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, Southwestern Chicken Salad Taco Bowl, or a simple Chopped Salad with Chicken.

Grilled Chicken Breast on a plate with grilled vegetables.

Grilled Chicken Breasts: A simple marinade ensures juicy, moist, tender, and flavorful chicken breasts every time. Leftovers can and should be used in different ways all week long!

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Ingredients

  • Chicken breasts 

For the Lemon Garlic Marinade

This 5-ingredient recipe (the only marinade recipe you really need all summer long) is so easy and so perfect on the grill.

  • Shallots – Adds an onion-ey note.
  • Garlic – A pop of garlic is terrific in a marinade.
  • Dijon mustard – Adds a little bit of zing.
  • Lemons – Adds citrusy flavor and helps tenderize the chicken.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Adds flavor and helps the chicken keep from drying out on the grill.

For the salsa (optional):

  • Red & yellow cherry tomatoes – These tomatoes form the base of the salsa, with a great fresh sweetness and a little acidity.
  • Olive oil 
  • Shallot – I love cooking with shallots because of their delicate sweetness and onion flavor.
  • Basil – The summeriest of all the herbs!
  • Thyme 

How to Make Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts

  1. Marinate: Make the marinade and pour it into a large shallow container. Add the chicken breasts and coat them completely. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  2. Make the salsa: Mix the chopped tomatoes with olive oil, shallot, basil, thyme, and salt and pepper.
  3. Dry the chicken: Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels. Discard the remaining marinade.
  4. Prepare the grill: Heat the grill to medium-high. Carefully oil the grill rack.
  5. Grill the chicken: Place the chicken on the grill and turn every two minutes or so to achieve cross-hatch grill marks. The chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  6. Rest: Remove the chicken from the grill to a cutting board and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the tomato salsa if desired.
Grilled Chicken Breast topped with tomatoes.

FAQs

How long do you grill chicken breasts?

Perfect chicken breasts are grilled for about ten minutes total on average, though the time can vary depending on the thickness of the breasts. However, the best way to know if your chicken is perfectly cooked is by taking its internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. The chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees.

What is the secret to grilling chicken breasts?

Marinating your chicken before grilling is the secret to delicious and flavorful chicken breasts. I recommend marinating chicken breasts for 12 to 24 hours for maximum flavor. Don’t forget to pat the chicken dry when you remove it from the marinade to avoid grill flare-ups and get the best browning.

How do you keep chicken breast moist on the grill?

The key to moist, tender chicken breasts is to avoid overcooking your chicken on the grill. Using an internal temperature thermometer is very helpful, but if you don’t have one, grill the chicken breasts until they are white throughout when you cut into one to test. If you press the chicken breast, it should feel firm and springy. Make sure to rest the chicken before slicing, so it retains its natural juices.

How To Tell When Chicken is Done on the Grill

There should be no traces (or only the barest faint traces) of pink inside when the chicken is done, and an internal thermometer should read 165 degrees when an instant-read thermometer is inserted at the thickest part. If you are cooking chicken thighs instead (and those would also be delightful with this marinade), let the internal temperature come up to 170 degrees.

Woman scooping tomatoes onto a plate with a Grilled Chicken Breast.

Once you’ve cooked up your share of chicken breasts, you’ll start to get a sense of when it is just cooked through by feel. Start to give the chicken breast a poke in the thickest part as you finish cooking it. You’ll see that it’s firm and springy but not hard. If you poke it often as you cook it, you’ll start to have a good gauge of what “done” feels like. Having said that — we all definitely need an internal meat thermometer in our lives!

Make sure to let the chicken breasts sit for at least 5 minutes before slicing them, so they can reabsorb their juices and stay moist. When the meat is sliced, the juices should run clear, not pink, if you’ve cooked it through to the proper doneness.

What to Serve With Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts

Red Onion Mint Orzo

Brown Rice Salad

Classic Caesar Salad

Grilled Chicken Breast and vegetables on a plate on an outdoor table.

More Grilled Recipes

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Grilled Chicken Breasts

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 12 hours
Total: 12 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 People
A simple marinade ensures juicy, moist, tender, and flavorful chicken breasts every time. Leftovers can and should be used in different ways all week long!

Equipment

Ingredients 

Fresh Tomato Salsa to Serve (optional)

  • 1 cup red cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup yellow cherry (or teardrop) tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Make the marinade and pour it into a large shallow container. Add the chicken breasts, turning to coat them well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate from 12 to 24 hours.
  • Just before grilling, if making the salsa, roughly chop the red and yellow cherry tomatoes and place them in a medium-sized bowl. Add the olive oil, shallot, basil, thyme, and salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
  • Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and pat them dry with pepper towels. Discard the remaining marinade.
  • Heat the grill to medium high. Carefully oil the grill rack.
  • Grill the chicken, turning once about halfway through the cooking time for simple grill marks on each side. Or, turn the chicken every two minutes or so a total of three times, so that you achieve cross-hatch grill marks (turn the chicken breasts a quarter turn as you flip them), until the chicken is cooked through, an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Remove the chicken from the grill to a cutting board and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving, sliced or whole. Serve with the tomato salsa if desired.

Notes

There should be no traces (or only the barest faint traces) of pink inside when the chicken is done, and an internal thermometer should read 165 F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted at the thickest part. If you are cooking chicken thighs instead (and those would also be delightful with this marinade), let the internal temperature come up to 170 F.

Nutrition

Calories: 3387kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 399g, Fat: 172g, Saturated Fat: 32g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 19g, Monounsaturated Fat: 104g, Trans Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 1161mg, Sodium: 3825mg, Potassium: 8199mg, Fiber: 14g, Sugar: 20g, Vitamin A: 2931IU, Vitamin C: 262mg, Calcium: 287mg, Iron: 19mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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