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Whether you keep them on hand for quick lunches or serve them for dinner tonight, a juicy Grilled Chicken Breast is the perfect way to upgrade any meal. Here’s how to grill perfect ones at home!

The best grilled chicken breast on a plate

Why You’ll Love Juicy Grilled Chicken Breast

  • You Can Use Them In So Many Ways. Lean, healthy, and versatile, grilled chicken breasts are full of potential (hello, Grilled Chicken Salad, BBQ Chicken Salad and Balsamic Chicken Salad!).
  • This Method Is Fail-Proof. Grilled chicken often turns out dry, bland, and rubbery. (Boneless chicken breasts are tricky, right?) With a few easy tips and techniques, you can cook flavorful, tender grilled chicken breasts that are fit for adding to other recipes (like Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad or Chicken Tortilla Casserole) AND worthy of enjoyment as a stand-alone main.
  • It’s Simple and Delicious. As with any method of chicken breast preparation (such as this Air Fryer Chicken Breast or Baked Chicken Breast), a few simple but critical steps will ensure your grilled chicken breast turns out juicy, moist, and well-seasoned all the way through.
Grilled chicken breast on a plate

5 Star Review

“I loved the hint of using a fork to poke some holes in the chicken breast and massaging the marinade into it when in the bag. Nice and juicy!”

— Larry —

How to Make a Grilled Chicken Breast

The Ingredients

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts. I prefer boneless skinless chicken breasts to bone-in chicken and skin-on chicken for grilling because they minimize prep, they’re easy to eat, and they become deliciously tender and smoky on the grill. Plus, they’re rich in protein, vitamins, and iron. For tips on grilling thighs, see Grilled Chicken Thighs.
  • Chicken Marinade. No matter which marinade you choose, it’s critical to create the juiciest and most flavorful chicken breast. You can also simply combine olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt, and any of your favorite spices and herbs. Paprika, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, oregano, thyme, and rosemary are all excellent choices. If you’re looking for a BBQ flavor, check out my Baked BBQ Chicken for inspiration.

Topping Ideas

Finish your grilled chicken breast with any of your favorite toppings.

Tip!

You can use this method to grill chicken breast on a gas grill or charcoal grill.

  • If you do not have a grill, you can use a grill pan like this to cook an indoor grilled chicken breast on the stovetop.

The Directions

Meat being pounded in a bag
  1. Pound the Chicken Breasts. Make sure the middle is fairly even with the ends.
A fork poking holes in raw meat
  1. Poke Holes in the Chicken. This will help the marinade soak in more quickly.
Meat and marinade in a bag
  1. Marinate. Add the chicken to a ziptop bag with the marinade. Seal and marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.
Three chicken breasts on the grill
  1. Grill Chicken. Let the chicken come to room temperature (if refrigerated). Grill chicken directly on the grill grates at 475 degrees F for 8 to 13 minutes, flipping halfway through (that’s 4 to 5 minutes on the first side and 4 to 8 minutes on the other side).
Three grilled chicken breasts on a plate
  1. Let Chicken Rest. Let it rest for a few minutes, add toppings, and DIG IN!

Recipe Variations

Use this recipe as a jumping-off point for your favorite spice rub 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 and additional lemon zest, if desired.
  • 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; it glazes the chicken and caramelizes, giving it lots of flavor. 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. Then use it to top this Buffalo Chicken Pizza.
  • 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.
  • Cilantro Lime Chicken Breast. Swap the lemon juice in the marinade with lime juice, then finish with fresh cilantro. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces for chicken tacos.
Easy grilled chicken breasts on a plate

How Long to Grill Chicken Breast

The amount of time you need to grill juicy chicken breasts without them drying out 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

No time for cooking chicken breasts on the grill? Try making Grilled Chicken Tenders, which cook in about 6 minutes.

Grilled chicken breast and salad on a plate

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight 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

If you’re planning to make grilled chicken breasts for a crowd, they can be marinaded up to 12 hours in advance. Grilled chicken is easy to make in bulk and freeze.

Leftover Ideas

Whether on pizza, pasta, salads, or sandwiches, you really can’t go wrong with having leftover grilled chicken breasts in your fridge.

Healthy grilled chicken breast and salad on a plate

What to Serve With Grilled Chicken Breasts

  • Tongs. The ultimate grill tool!
  • Instant-read Meat Thermometer. The most accurate way to ensure chicken is cooked through.
  • Grill Pan. Perfect for making an indoor grilled chicken breast with grill marks and other grilled chicken recipes.

Tips for Grilling Chicken Breast Without Drying It Out

  • Marinate. Marinades tenderize meat by changing its protein structure which helps it stay juicier for longer. Even 15 minutes can make a major difference in results. (Check out my go-to Chicken Marinade or Chicken Thigh Marinade!)
  • Pound. Pounding the chicken to an even thickness helps it cook more evenly on the grill so 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. Whether you’re making this grilled chicken breast recipe, chicken wings, skewers, or even a whole chicken, the best way to ensure your chicken is not dry is to use an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temperature. Chicken and other poultry are considered safe to eat at an internal temp of 165 degrees F in the thickest part. 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 (e.g., Grilled Pork Chops or Grilled Pork Tenderloin), allowing it to rest is mandatory. Resting allows the juices to reincorporate into the protein. If you cut it right away, those yummy juices will

Grilled Chicken Breast

4.94 from 15 votes
The BEST grilled chicken breast and marinade recipe! An easy method for making tender, moist grilled chicken breasts every time. So Juicy!

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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 to an even thickness. It doesn't need to be ultra thin—just make sure the middle is fairly even with the ends (the chicken should be about 1/2-inch thick).
  • With a fork, poke holes all over the chicken (this will allow the marinade to absorb).
  • In a large ziptop bag, combine 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 for 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, then flip. The chicken should lift easily off the grill; if it sticks, allow it to cook another minute or two.
  • Recover the grill and cook for an additional 4 to 8 minutes. Chicken is considered done at 165 degrees F. I like to remove chicken from the grill around the 155-160 degree F mark and allow it to finish cooking while resting. DO NOT OVERCOOK, or your chicken will be dry.
  • Place the chicken on a plate and let rest for at least 5 minutes (resting is mandatory!). Add any desired toppings or sauces. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • *INGREDIENT NOTE: You can use any of your favorite chicken marinades for this recipe. See the 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4); about 7 ouncesCalories: 226kcalProtein: 42gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 127mgPotassium: 734mgVitamin A: 60IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Grill Chicken on the Stovetop?

Yes, you can make grilled chicken breasts on the stovetop using a grill pan. Your level of heat should at least be set to medium-high. This will vary depending on your stove. The cook time will remain the same. Keep an eye on the temperature of the chicken and on your heat as well. 

Can an Analog Thermometer Be Used to Test Chicken for Doneness?

If you only have an analog thermometer, you can also use it to test the chicken for doneness in a pinch. However, an inexpensive digital instant-read thermometer is game-changing tool for grilling. If you cook meat often, I highly recommend this lightening fast, dead accurate one.

How Long Do You Cook a Chicken Breast on the Grill?

The time a chicken breast takes to cook through on the grill will depend on its weight and thickness. A small chicken breast can cook in 7 to 8 minutes, where a large one may need 14 minutes. I’ve outlined more general guidelines above.

Can You Grill Chicken Breast From Frozen?

Yes. It is possible to prepare grilled frozen chicken breasts, but it is tricky. You will need to utilize both direct and indirect heat to prevent the chicken from drying out and ensure the middle reaches the proper internal temperature for doneness. For best results, thaw the chicken first, either overnight in the refrigerator, or in an airtight bag in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure the chicken does not get too warm.

What Temperature Is Best for Grilling Chicken?

I prefer grilling chicken on high, or about 475 degrees F. This cooks the chicken faster, keeping it from drying out.

Should I Grill Chicken With the Lid Open or Closed?

If your grill has a lid, I recommend closing it when cooking. This gives you the best of both worlds—an oven-like atmosphere that circulates hot air around the chicken for even cooking, and the direct heat from the grill for that nice sear.

How Long Before You Flip Chicken on the Grill?

Flip chicken breasts after 4 to 5 minutes, or as soon as you’re able to easily lift them from the grates without them sticking.

More Healthy Chicken Recipes

Lean and loaded with protein, here are some of my favorite healthy chicken recipes:

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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34 Comments

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  1. Hi Erin! I love the instant read thermometer precision. My chicken ALWAYS gets too dry (I thought that was the price to pay for no salmonella 😅). Just curious what the difference would be between using an instant read and the analog thermometer? Since I already have an analog thermometer, want to know if that’ll work in a pinch!

    1. Hi Zack! I only have an instant read thermometer that I love and use, so I am not able to tell you the differences. A quick Google search should be able to help you better to decide between the two! Thanks!

  2. These sound great! Would they be equally good cooked
    on a grill pan on the stove? If so, what level of heat would
    you use and how long would you cook them on each side?

    1. Hi Cathy, yes you can cook this on a grill pan on the stove. Your level of heat should at least be on medium-high, this will vary depending on your stove. The cook time will remain the same. Definitely keep an eye on the temperature of the chicken and on your heat as well. Hope this helps!

  3. Juiciest chicken ever!! Even my husband who usually turns up his nose and white meat commented how good this was.5 stars

  4. We grill chicken every week and this method is by far the best! Even my picky children love chicken this way. Thanks Erin!5 stars

  5. This marinade was absolutely awesome!!! so easy to make. I loved the hint of using a fork to poke some holes in the chicken breast (after pounding it our some) and massaging the marinade into it when in the bag. Grilled it for 6 minutes on each side…finished nice and juicy! Thank you , thank you, thank you!!5 stars

  6. Wish I could give 10 stars! How did I not think of poke? I thought I made enough for leftovers, ha! The chicken I’ve dreamed of forever and I made it! (thank you)5 stars

  7. LIterally perfect. Will be our go-to from now on! Pounding made all the difference and I love that I already had the ingredients.5 stars

  8. Ok I was skeptical that I could ever have a chicken breast that wasn’t dried out but I have to say this recipe surprised me! My guests kept raving over it! Finally no fear grilled chicken breast.5 stars

  9. This marinade is delicious! We’ve made it twice in the past 2 week! Leftovers go great with a bag Ceasar Salad!5 stars

  10. I needed a dependable after-work recipe for chicken breast. I found it today. Delicious.5 stars

  11. So, I had these chicken breasts in the fridge for a few days already. Needed to use them up before they went bad. Scrolled through your site again, looking for ideas, and BAM! This recipe popped up. Sounded delicious, and with all those good reviews, I had to try it! I marinated my chicken breast for more than 12 hours and it was so awesome. Moist and flavorful. Thanks so much for the recipe.5 stars

  12. As a novice cook I love your recipes, they are always easy to follow, not too complicated and can be easily done by everyone. I was so happy with how my grilled chicken breast turned out. I served it over cauliflower rice and steamed veggies.5 stars

  13. Turned out to be a nice day, so I decided I wanted to do some grilling! I made and it was quite good. I paired it with a pesto salad, so the flavors were incredible together! Next time though, I will get regular breasts and cut them in half and pound. I was being lazy and got the “thin sliced” and they were simply way too thin. They grilled in about 3 minutes and the marinade was just a little too much for them :) Not the recipes fault, the chickens fault. Tip for others: don’t risk the “thin sliced”, take the extra 3 minutes and cut a regular breast in half. And it was almost a little too lemony, although again, I think it might have been the fact that my chicken was so thin and I left it marinade about three hours. Despite that and how this it was, it was very good! I will definitely give it another try and use regular chicken breasts.4 stars

  14. Absolutely the best chicken marinade! I’ve tried others and this one by far exceeds the others. Whole family loved it. It was so flavorful and delicious. This will definitely be the only chicken marinade recipe I use. Thanks, Erin!5 stars