The secret to juicy grilled chicken isn’t always in the seasonings or complicated marinades. It’s all about HOW you grill the chicken. Here’s how to grill chicken breasts perfectly every single time.
Sometimes I get all wrapped up in outdoing / improving / out-creating some of my most favorite / simple / craveable recipes.
It’s easy to get caught up in the complicated when I see all sorts of crazy inspiration and crazy mash-ups on the big, ol’ www. Totally inventive concoctions that take humble and mundane basic recipes I’ve always known and loved, then stuffed them into a firecracker with whatever’s trending at the moment, lit the wick, and ka-boom-er-ama!
That’s not this recipe.
This grilled chicken recipe is right back to the basics. The very basic. The elemental and absolutely essential. The simplest, juiciest chicken breast recipe you might ever make / grill /eat that will be the base to every chicken recipe you throw on the griiiiiilllll. And it just might possibly lead you to lick that wick and send you over the moon.
What’s Needed to Make Grilled Chicken?
I love that you can doctor up grilled chicken breasts so many different ways, but if I know I’ll be using the leftover chicken in other recipes like my favorite Italian chicken wrap or chicken caprese sandwich I prefer using minimal ingredients.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts, extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper is really all you need to make this easy grilled chicken.
How to Grill Chicken Breasts
This recipe is the main building block and grilling guide I use as the base for nearly all of my grilled chicken recipes. The secret to juicy grilled chicken isn’t in the seasonings or complicated marinades. It’s all about HOW you grill the chicken.
Start off by searing your chicken on both sides over high heat, then, turn off one burner (or move the coals to one side if you’re grilling with charcoal) and move the chicken to the side of the grill where the heat has been turned off.
Cover, and let the chicken bake in the indirect heat until it hits an internal temp of 165 degrees F or juices run clear. That is seriously the secret, to pay attention to the internal temp of your chicken.
In testing the chicken breasts for internal temperature, slide the thermometer laterally at one end, so it hits the center of the piece. If you’re using chicken on the bone, be sure your thermometer doesn’t hit the bone, just the chicken meat, or your temp will be off.
Once the grilled chicken breasts are cooked, transfer to a plate and tent with aluminum foil to allow the juices to rest. Cutting the chicken too early will cause the juices to run out.
How Long to Grill Chicken Breasts
In total, you’ll need to grill the chicken breasts for around 25 minutes. The first 15 minutes will be over direct heat, and the last 10 minutes you should transfer the chicken to the side of grill that you’ve turned off. Be careful not to overcook the grilled chicken, otherwise it’ll become tough and rubbery.
Which Meat Thermometer Should I Use?
I’ve tried dozens of thermometers and have hated so many of them due to inconsistent readings. I finally found this digital thermometer that I absolutely love! It’s an investment but totally worth it.
How to Season Grilled Chicken
Simple seasoning with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper is where all the flavor starts. From there you can add more dried seasonings if you’d like. Sprinklings of chipotle powder, smoked paprika or lemon pepper have all made there way to my grilled chicken at one point or another. But more often than not, I find the best grilled chicken seasoning is good ol’ salt and pepper.
And have you grilled lemon halves before? They’re one of my favorite grilled food flavor enhancers. The heat caramelizes the cut side and brings all of the juice front and center, making the lemon’s ultimately squeezeable. Try it on fish or veggies too. And if you’re a fan of limes or oranges, go crazy and experiment!
If you prefer flavoring your grilled chicken breasts with marinades, I highly recommend trying my Greek Chicken Marinade. It’s so easy to make, and the resulting grilled chicken is insanely flavorful.
Tips for Making the Best Grilled Chicken
I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. If you’re a fan of a cut whole bird or the darker meat chicken thighs, the same principles apply, just change up your cooking time.
If you don’t own a meat thermometer and aren’t sure whether your chicken is done, resist the urge to slice into the middle of a chicken breast — that’s a guaranteed way to lose most of the juices. Instead, prick the chicken with a fork to see if the juices run clear. If the juices are pink, the chicken isn’t cooked through.
More Easy Grilled Chicken Recipes to Make
The Best Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe
The secret to juicy grilled chicken isn't in the seasonings or complicated marinades. It's all about HOW you grill the chicken. Here's how to grill chicken breasts perfectly every single time.
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt , to taste
- freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 2 lemons halved
Prepare the grill for direct cooking at high heat (450°F). Brush the cooking grates clean.
Drizzle the chicken breasts with extra virgin olive oil and rub over the breasts. Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place the chicken breasts on the hot grill. Cover and cook for 5-6 minutes or until they easily release from the grates. Flip the chicken and cook for 4-6 minutes longer or until the breasts are firm to the touch and opaque all the way through, registering 160°F internal temp (the temp will rise to 165°F as the chicken rests). Add the lemon halves half way through cooking the chicken, cut side down, and cook for 3-5 minutes then move the lemon halves to the top rack of the grill.
Transfer to a plate and cover with a piece of aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Squeeze the lemon on the chicken for extra flavor.
*I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. If you’re a fan of a cut whole bird or the darker meat chicken thighs, the same principles apply, just add more time cooking time.
More Grilling Recipes You’ll Love
- How to Make the Best Easy Grilled Corn
- Grilled Shrimp Vietnamese Spring Rolls
- Grilled Swordfish with Smoked Paprika and Herb Fruit Salsa
- The Best Juicy Grilled Pork Chops
- The Best Grilled Salmon
- Grilled Vegetables with Chimichurri Sauce
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