Ever wonder how to make perfectly cooked, moist, and tender grilled boneless chicken breast? I’ll show you how to make it with a simple 4 ingredient marinade and a propane grill.
Grilled chicken breast is super versatile and can make a multitude of healthy meals. Unfortunately, it is often overcooked and dry.
Here I’ll show you how to get it perfect every time. My secrets? A simple, salty marinade, a well-prepared grill, and a high-quality digital thermometer.
Master this technique, and you’ll crave grilled chicken 24/7.
Pound boneless skinless chicken breast halves to a uniform thickness. This makes sure they cook evenly and quickly. It also keeps them from drying out and getting tough.
A simple 4 ingredient marinade serves several purposes.
Olive oil coats the chicken with a protective layer that keeps it from sticking to the grill. It also helps prevent it from drying out and adds flavor. Using only enough to coat the chicken ensures the final product is not greasy or heavy.
Crushed garlic & black pepper = flavor, baby.
Last but not least, salt adds flavor and brines the chicken. This results in juicy and tender meat.
- Use boneless skinless chicken thighs in place of the breasts. Note: they will take a few minutes longer to cook.
- Don’t have a grill? Cook them on the stovetop in a well-seasoned and lightly oiled cast iron pan. Use the same technique described in the grilling instructions.
Looking to spice things up? Try one of these flavor variations in your marinade.
- Lemon Pepper: Add the zest of 1 lemon and 2 more teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper to the marinade.
- Spicy: Add 1-3 teaspoons of dried cayenne pepper to the marinade.
- Rosemary: Crush 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried rosemary in your hands and add to the marinade.
A high-quality, quick-read thermometer makes a huge difference. I love my Thermapen!
How to cook grilled chicken
Make the marinade. Crush and peel the garlic. Add it along with the olive oil, salt, and pepper to a gallon-sized freezer bag. Squish around the outside of the bag with your hand to mix the ingredients. Set aside while you prepare the chicken.
Pound the chicken. Lay the chicken breasts flat in a single layer and use a meat tenderizing mallet to pound each piece. Try to get each breast to a uniform thickness. If there are small thin pieces around the edges, you can trim those off for perfectly even cooking.
Pro-tip: I like to leave the small thin pieces and snack on them when they’re done. 🙂 Chef’s treat.
Cut the chicken. If you’re planning to make them into sandwiches, go ahead and cut them into bun-sized pieces. Otherwise, leave ‘em whole.
Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken pieces in the bag of marinade. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the bag. Massage everything around to coat the chicken. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Prepare the grill. Start with clean grill grates, then oil the grates while the grill is cold. To make it easy, dip a wadded-up paper towel in cooking oil, making sure it is not dripping. Hold the oil-soaked paper towel with tongs and rub the grates. Preheat the grill to medium-high with the lid shut. Aim for about 400℉.
Grill the chicken. Place chicken on the grill and close the lid. Cook for 4 minutes, then flip each piece and close the grill. Cook for 4 minutes on the second side, then flip again and check the temperature. The minimum temperature for chicken breast is 165℉. If they aren’t done and aren’t getting too brown, cook for another 2 minutes with the lid closed. Then flip, check the temperature, and repeat until they reach 165℉.
Pro-tip: Rotating 180 degrees during each flip will help you get those classic grill marks.
If the chicken gets too brown before it reaches 165℉, move it off the direct flame to finish cooking. My grill has a handy little shelf that works great for this. Get it to a less hot part of the grill. Total time should take between 8-16 minutes.
Rest and serve. Allow the grilled chicken to rest for a few minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute. At this point, you can sauce it up if you wish.
Tips and tricks
If the chicken does not release when you flip it, let it cook for about a minute longer.
Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the chicken and the exact grill temperature.
How to serve grilled chicken breast
- Make a perfect grilled chicken sandwich.
- Pair with it with tortellini summer salad.
- Make pressed picnic sandwiches.
- Add it to a salad like this strawberry & goat cheese salad.
- Chop it up for cranberry pecan chicken salad.
- Serve it with your favorite sides. I love it with street corn, pasta salad, coleslaw, or twice-baked potatoes.
What’s your favorite way to serve grilled chicken? Let me know in the comments!
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