Grilled Chicken Breasts will make you feel like a real, has-her-life-together grown-up. Whether you keep them on hand for quick lunches (just look at you meal prep!) or serve them for dinner tonight (so healthy!), a juicy grilled chicken breast feels like a meal-time upgrade, and you can easily pull it off at home.
Lean, healthy, and versatile, chicken breasts are full of potential. Sadly, they often turn out dry, bland, and rubbery.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working to revamp our relationship with everyone’s favorite white meat.
With a few easy tips and techniques, you can cook flavorful, tender chicken breasts that are fit not only for adding to other recipes (like Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad or Chicken Tortilla Casserole) but also are worthy of enjoyment as a stand-alone main (Baked Bone In Chicken Breast, Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast, and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast being but a few).
Come summertime, swapping out the typical simple shredded chicken for grilled chicken breast enhances meals in a way that will surprise and delight you.
It seems like a small change—grilled chicken breast takes a little more effort than Instant Pot Chicken—yet it brings joy and satisfaction to meals in a way that I’m convinced only grilled food can.
After all, grilled chicken is what I’d add to my salad in a restaurant given the option (vs. a more plain-Jane Crock Pot Shredded Chicken), so why not treat ourselves at home?
How to Grill Chicken Breast without Drying It Out
As with any method of chicken breast preparation, be it Air Fryer Chicken Breast, Baked Chicken Breast, or another method, a few simple but critical steps will ensure your grilled chicken turns out juicy, moist, and well-seasoned all the way through.
To grill chicken breast without drying it out, be sure to follow these tips.
- Marinate. Even 15 minutes can make a major difference in results. Not only will your chicken have the marinade’s superior flavor, but the marinade actually works to tenderize the meat by changing its protein structure and helps it stay juicier for longer.
- Pound. Pounding the chicken to an even thickness helps it cook more evenly on the grill so that the ends don’t dry out before the center cooks through.
- Poke. While not strictly required, I like to poke holes all over my chicken breast with a fork to help the marinade absorb more quickly.
- Temp It. No matter what other careful steps you take to keep your chicken from becoming dry, NOTHING saves you if you overcook it.
- The best way to make sure your chicken breast is not dry is to use an instant read thermometer to test the internal temperature.
- Chicken and other poultry is considered safe to eat at 165 degrees F.
- I typically remove my chicken around the 155 to 160 degree F mark. The carryover cooking while the chicken rests will bring it to temperature and ensure it is juicy, not dry.
- Rest. No matter what kind of meat you are grilling, allowing it to rest is mandatory. Resting allows the juices to reincorporate into the chicken breast. If you cut it right away, those yummy juices will escape onto the plate.
The Best Way to Grill Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
The ingredients and directions you’ll find in this recipe will give you the best, juiciest chicken breast on the grill.
You can use this method to grill chicken breast on a gas grill or a charcoal grill.
If you do not have a grill, you can use a grill pan like this one to cook the grilled chicken breast on the stove instead.
- Chicken Breast. Chicken breast becomes deliciously tender and smoky on the grill. Plus, it’s rich in protein, vitamins, and iron.
- Chicken Marinade. No matter which marinade you choose to use, it’s critical for creating the juiciest and most flavorful chicken breast.
- Toppings. Finish your grilled chicken with any of your favorite toppings.
- Pound the chicken breasts.
- Poke holes in the chicken.
- Add the chicken to a ziptop bag with the marinade. Seal and let marinate at room temperature (for at least 30 minutes) or in the refrigerator (for up to 12 hours).
- Let the chicken come to room temperature (if refrigerated). Grill the chicken at 475 degrees F for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over and grill for another 4 to 8 minutes.
- Let it rest for a few minutes, add toppings, and DIG IN!
How Long to Grill Chicken Breast
The amount of time you need to grill chicken breast will vary based on the size of the breast and how thinly you pound it.
- Small Chicken Breasts (6- to 8-ounces each): 7 to 8 minutes
- Medium Chicken Breasts (8- to 10-ounces each): 8 to 12 minutes
- Large Chicken Breasts (10 ounces or more): 14 minutes or longer.
In more of a hurry? Try making Grilled Chicken Tenders, which cook in about 6 minutes.
More Ways to Season Grilled Chicken Breast
Use this recipe as a jumping-off point for any of your favorite rubs and seasonings. In addition to the go-to chicken marinade I’ve suggested in the recipe below, here are a few more ideas to get you started.
- Lemon Grilled Chicken Breast. Zest 1 additional lemon into your marinade. Finish the grilled chicken with an extra squeeze of lemon juice.
- Italian Grilled Chicken Breast. Season the chicken with Italian seasoning. Serve topped with a handful of grated Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.
- BBQ Grilled Chicken Breast. Instead of marinating, brine the chicken by sprinkling it with kosher salt. Let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Brush off the excess salt. Baste the chicken with Barbecue Sauce before and halfway through grilling. Serve with extra sauce for dipping.
- Buffalo Grilled Chicken Breast. Instead of brushing the chicken with BBQ sauce per the above, brush it with Buffalo sauce.
- Teriyaki Chicken Breast. Create a marinade using 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade to brush over the finished grilled chicken.
How to Use Grilled Chicken Breast
- On Pizza. Finish off your favorite pizza with diced pieces of grilled chicken breast. It would be a scrumptious addition to Ricotta Pizza with Peaches or English Muffin Pizza.
- On Pasta. Grilled chicken would be a delicious addition to Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff or Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese.
- On Salad. Add diced grilled chicken to a salad like this Red White and Blue Quinoa Fruit Salad or Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad.
- On a Sandwich. A grilled chicken breast sandwich, like this Grilled Chicken Sandwich or these Green Chile Grilled Chicken Burgers, is a delicious way to utilize this recipe! Serve the grilled chicken breast on your favorite bun with cheese and other toppings.
- To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Chicken can be marinaded up to 12 hours in advance. Grilled chicken is easy to make in bulk and freeze.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Tongs. The ultimate grill tool!
- Instant Read Thermometer. The most accurate way to ensure chicken is cooked through.
- Grill Pan. Perfect for making grilled chicken breast inside.
Pull out those tongs and get your grill on. This juicy grilled chicken breast is here to bring the heat!
Grilled Chicken Breast
- 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts about 3 medium breasts
- 1 batch best Chicken Marinade* see notes
- Chopped fresh herbs crumbled feta cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice, optional for serving
- Oil for grilling
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board (leave several inches between them and work in batches as needed). Cover with plastic wrap to keep things tidy, and with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or your fist, pound the chicken an even thickness. It doesn't need to be ultra thin—just make sure the middle is fairly even with the ends (the chicken will be about 1/2-inch thick).
- With a fork, poke holes all over the chicken (this will allow the marinade to absorb).
- In large ziptop bag, combine all of the marinade ingredients, then add the chicken.
- Seal the bag to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Place in a pan or bowl to catch any drips. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate it to marinate for up to 12 hours (5 to 6 hours is ideal). Even 15 minutes is better than nothing!
- When ready to grill, preheat the grill to high (475 degrees F). If your chicken has been in the refrigerator, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grates.
- Place the chicken on the grill presentation (smooth) side down, shaking off any excess marinade. Cover the grill and let cook 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, then flip. The chicken should lift easily off the grill; if it is sticking, allow it to cook another minute or two.
- Recover the grill and cook on the other side for 4 to 8 additional minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through (chicken is considered cooked at 165 degrees F. I remove mine around the 155/160 degree F mark and allow the carryover cooking to finish the rest). DO NOT OVERCOOK or your chicken will be dry.
- Place the chicken on a plate and let rest at least 5 minutes (resting is mandatory!). Add any desired toppings. Enjoy!
- *You also can use your favorite chicken marinade. See blog post above for suggestions. At a minimum, marinate the chicken in a mixture of 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 to 4 cloves garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of your acid of choice (lemon juice, lime juice, red wine or balsamic vinegar, etc.). You also can toss in a few teaspoons of your favorite dried herbs (I like Italian seasoning).
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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