Grilled Chicken Breasts

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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!

Grilled Chicken Breasts

A perfectly grilled chicken breast punctuates our summer meals with dependable regularity. This is the recipe for those perfect moist, tender, flavorful, boneless skinless 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. Or pair these with Grilled Peaches with Burrata for a beautiful and very summery meal.

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. Chicken breasts are like a building block for any number of summer meals.

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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Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless 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. See the variations on the marinade below!

  • 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, 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.

Variations

Garlic Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts: Replace the minced shallot with two cloves of garlic – here’s how to mince garlic very finely.

Roasted Garlic Grilled Chicken Breasts: Instead of the minced shallot, use several cloves of roasted garlic in this marinade. Just smush it all up and blend it into the marinade. The roasted garlic adds a soft smoky garlic flavor.

Herbed Grilled Chicken Breasts: Add ¼ cup minced herbs (such as basil, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and chervil) to the marinade. You can be more liberal with herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme, but use a lighter hand with stronger herbs like oregano or rosemary.

FAQs

How long do you grill chicken breasts?

Perfect chicken breasts are grilled for about 10 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 them 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 Breasts are 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 to 180 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 perfectly cooked through just 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! When the meat is sliced, the juices should run clear, not pink, if you’ve cooked it through to the proper doneness.

Make sure to let the chicken breasts rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing them so they can reabsorb their juices and stay moist.

What to Serve With Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts

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

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5 from 2 votes

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!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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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 or 180 degrees.
Variations:
Garlic Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts: Replace the minced shallot with two cloves of garlic – here’s how to mince garlic very finely.
Roasted Garlic Grilled Chicken Breasts: Instead of the minced shallot, use several cloves of roasted garlic in this marinade. Just smush it all up and blend it into the marinade. The roasted garlic adds a soft smoky garlic flavor.
Herbed Grilled Chicken Breasts: Add ¼ cup minced herbs (such as basil, thyme, sage, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and chervil) to the marinade. You can be more liberal with herbs like basil, parsley, and thyme, but use a lighter hand with stronger herbs like oregano or rosemary.

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
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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