Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts

If you’d like to know How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts, this post has all my tricks and tips for perfect grilled chicken! And grilled chicken is great for a low-carb or Keto meal so I’m including links for some of my favorite grilled chicken recipes in this post. 

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Grilling weather is my favorite time of year, and if you think the chicken breasts in these photos look juicy and delicious, you’re right, they were. This popular post on Kalyn’s Kitchen has my five easy steps for How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts that are perfect every time. And it’s grilling weather at last, so I’m updating this post that was way back in the archives on the blog, enjoy!

For years I’ve been marinating boneless-skinless chicken breasts and then grilling them with great results, despite the many recipes I see telling me you should only use bone-in chicken with skin on the grill. Not true! When I catered houseboat trips for over ten years, boneless chicken breasts cooked on the grill were always one of the dinners I made at the lake. There was never a complaint and there were many requests for the grilled chicken recipes. I shared these tips for How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts with many Lake Powell clients through the years.

What if I Don’t have an Outdoor Grill?

I love to make grilled chicken in the summer when I can cook outside on the deck, but any of these grilled chicken recipes can also be  cooked on a stove-top grill pan with ridges, or in an electric griller such as a George Foreman Grill. (links are affiliate links) Use Grilling Recipes to find more recipes  for food on the grill, no matter which type of grilling device you’re using.

Why Do You Need Special Tips for Grilling Chicken?

Chicken breasts don’t have much fat, so you can’t just take a chicken breast out of the package, throw it on the grill, and have it turn out moist and delicious. For good results with boneless and skinless chicken, you need to use techniques designed to keep the chicken juicy. Below are my tips for keeping chicken breasts juicy on the grill!

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts.

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts from KalynsKitchen.com

Step One: Trim the chicken breasts to remove undesirable parts.

Trim each chicken breast carefully to remove fat and tendons and then trim the underneath side of the chicken (tenders side) to make the entire breast close to the same thickness. If there’s a long thin piece on one end, trim it off. (Of course you’re saving these trimmed-off pieces in the freezer to make chicken stock.)

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts from KalynsKitchen.com

Step Two: Cut slits in the chicken help it cook evenly.

Carefully cut small crosswise slits down the length of each chicken breast, being careful not to cut all the way through. This will help the chicken cook more evenly, let the marinade cover more surface of the meat, and it also looks nice when the chicken is cooked.

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts from KalynsKitchen.com

Step Three: Use a marinade with oil, acidic ingredients, and flavorings.

I think marinades for chicken breasts need a generous amount of oil to keep the chicken moist. Most of my recipes have a 2:1 ratio of oil to acidic ingredients. I most often use olive oil, but depending on the other ingredients, you can use peanut oil or any type of vegetable oil. I usually use lemon juice or some type of vinegar for the acidic ingredient. Other marinade ingredients that I frequently use include garlic, onion, shallots, ginger, herbs, mustard, curry powder, soy sauce, sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, and chile powder.

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts from KalynsKitchen.com

Step Four: Marinate the chicken in refrigerator at least several hours.

I like to marinate chicken 6-8 hours, and when I taught school I used to marinate chicken breasts in the refrigerator all day while at work, then cook them when I get home. However, if you’re pressed for time, several hours is what I’d consider the minimum amount of time to get the flavoring and moistening benefits that come from marinating.

Five Easy Steps for Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts from KalynsKitchen.com

Step Five: Judge timing by how the chicken looks and feels (or use a thermometer).

Marinated chicken breasts can be cooked on a gas or charcoal barbecue grill, in a stove-top grill pan with ridges (affiliate link), or even in an electric utensil such as a George Foreman Grill (affiliate link). Whichever grilling device you use to grill it, chicken needs to cook until it’s completely cooked through, but cooking too long will make it dry and tough. I cook chicken breasts at medium-high on my well-used grill. I judge when the chicken is done by the touch and how the chicken looks.

Chicken should feel firm to the touch, but not hard, when it’s done. The outside of the chicken should be lightly browned on both sides. You can also use an Instant-Read Meat Thermometer (affiliate link) to check the temperature (USDA recommended temperature is 165 F for chicken breasts.) Cooking time will depend on the temperature of the chicken, how hot the grill is, the thickness of the chicken breasts, and even weather conditions if you’re cooking outside.

My Favorite Low-Carb Grilled Chicken Recipes:

Thumbnail photo Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken

Rosemary Mustard Grilled Chicken

Very Greek Grilled Chicken

Thumbnail photo for Garlic, Lemon, and Herb Grilled Chicken Breasts

Garlic, Lemon, and Herb Grilled Chicken Breasts

Thumbnail poto for Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Capers, and Oregano

Grilled Chicken with Lemon, Capers, and Oregano

Thumbnail photo for Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar

Grilled Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar

Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken (super easy!)

More Recipes for Juicy Grilled Chicken:

Savory Low Carb Marinade for Chicken
Grilled Fusion Chicken
Grilled Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce
Grilled Chicken with Tarragon-Mustard Marinade
Grilled Garlic Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

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    69 Comments on “How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts”

  1. I love all your dishes they look so fresh and lite, great for keto, Thank you.

  2. Pingback: The Sunday Skinny 6/2/19 - Skinny Fitalicious®

  3. Pingback: Peruvian Grilled Chicken Recipe - Andrea Meyers

  4. Another trick to get juicy meat is grilling at room temperature (not cold meat) and letting it rest in alu foil after grilling. Same with beef.

  5. Sorry, I wasn't clear in my question. I do have the boneless, skinless breasts, but was using its pre-butchering orientation to clarify top and bottom sides (my bad). I was in a hurry to get the breasts prepped and into the marinade, so I didn't wait for you answer. After having done the prep, only one side does make sense. It would be a bit more onerous than I would like to stagger the cuts on the bottom side.

    Thanks again, Kalyn. I've used your site for years, but this is my first question/comment. We love your recipes!

  6. Kalyn, I have one question for you: Do you cut slits in only the upper side (fascia side toward the skin), or the underside (toward the bone) as well? Thanks!

  7. I can't believe I am saying this, but I am EXCITED to grill chicken breasts – thanks for this post!

  8. Of course! Sorry about that! I subscribed for the low-carb and delicious recipes. Thank you. I will normally try to use some kind of natural and safe zero calorie sweetener for things like this. I just have a problem putting flavors together. Thanks again.

  9. These do sound super! I am grateful for them! I do have a question. I really like marinades with a little sweetness. Did I miss any here or do you have any sweet ideas on this subject! Tks!

    • My blog is focused on low-carb eating so sweet marinades aren't something I'm interested in. But you could use these same principles with a sweet marinade; maybe try googling it?

  10. That balsamic chicken looks extra yummy. Going on the list for this weekend. I like the idea of the slits in the chicken. I've never tried that and never liked how the grilled chicken turned out. Thanks.

  11. I really like the idea of cutting the chicken before hand, so that the inside gets nice and moist too.

  12. Michele, to be honest I think this type of thing is best served right after it's cooked. If you MUST make ahead and reheat, I'd probably do it in a slow cooker, maybe adding a tiny amount of liquid to keep the chicken moist.

  13. I am serving 60 ladies with warmed chicken breast, sliced (using your recipe) over fresh salad the day following cooking them. What do you recommend for warming and keeping them moist the next day? Thanks!

  14. Ashlie, so glad the tips worked for you!

  15. I googled chicken breast recipe because I needed a quick idea for Mother's Day lunch and your blog popped up. Great, simple tips! I did the 2:1 ratio of oil to acidic like ou suggested and added a bunch of other good spices. The kitchen was moist and delicious off the grill! I usually blow at grilling chicken so I'm really pleased at your lesson!

  16. I took that photo years ago so I have no idea what size they were, but this will work with chicken breasts of any size. If they're really huge though, I like to cut them in half so they cook more evenly.

  17. What size are the breasts in the photos? 6OZ?

  18. You're welcome, so glad it is useful.

  19. Chicken breasts are a big part of my diet. Thanks for the tips. I'm not the greatest cook and eating chicken breasts can get boring, but this will definitely help.

  20. Hi Kristen,

    Many thanks for writing the entry! I'm a kitchen newbie and I've been looking forward to making my first chargrilled chicken. Your tips will go a long way 😀