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Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts That Are Perfect Every Time

If you’d like to know How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts That Are Perfect Every Time, this post has all my tricks and tips! And grilled chicken is great for a low-carb meal and most of my grilled chicken recipes are also Keto, low-glycemic, and gluten-free. Use Grilling Recipes to find more recipes  for food on the grill.

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How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts That Are Perfect Every Time top collage photo

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 reminding you about this method by 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 every time we were at the lake. There was never a complaint and there were many requests for the recipes. I shared these tips for How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts with many Lake Powell clients through the years.

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.

Of course, 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 chicken breasts that don’t dry out 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 several hours.

I like to marinate chicken 6-8 hours, and I  used to frequently marinate chicken breasts in the refrigerator all day while I’m 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, or even in an electric utensil such as a George Foreman Grill. Whichever method 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 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.

Here are some of my favorite recipes for perfect juicy grilled chicken:

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 of Kalyn’s 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 and Garlic Aioli Sauce
Mustard, Lemon, and Coriander Grilled Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette
Grilled Lemon-Cumin Chicken with Charmoula Sauce

How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts That Are Perfect Every Time found on KalynsKitchen.com

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69 comments on “How to Make Juicy Grilled Chicken Breasts That Are Perfect Every Time”

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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 😀

  11. Andrew, that sounds good (I love rosemary with chicken!) Glad you're enjoying the recipes.

  12. Hello Kristen,

    Considering what you said, i ended up not using bacon. Instead i used slices of smoked turkey breast. Indeed, the effect was great as the chicken breasts kept moist as well as better seasoned. Additionally, I put rosemary sprigs along with coal in the grate, which gave a fantastic flavor to the meal!

    Thanks again for the good advice and spectacular recipes!


  13. Andrew, I'm sure that would add flavor and keep the chicken moist, but my recipes are designed to follow principles of the South Beach Diet, which limits saturated fat (therefore, no bacon.) For people who don't care about that, I bet it's tasty.

  14. Hello Kalyn, i must say that your way of cooking is impressive!

    Lately I have cooked this recipe, but adding a small detail and would like to know your opinion about it. Indeed, after marinating the chicken breasts, and at the time of placing them on the grill, i put slices of bacon over the breasts, for two main reasons: to maintain moisture, since the steam stays inside the chicken; and to give a touch of extra seasoning.

    What do u think about that twist?

  15. I don't use sugar, so I'm not going to post recommendations for brining the chicken with a mixture that uses that, but I can assure you that this chicken marinated in a mixture that includes oil is most certainly not dry, even without brining.

  16. You can certainly pound the chicken breasts (and probably wouldn't need to cut the little slits.) I kind of like the uniform look of the chicken with slits (and I even trim them to be close to the same size) but pounding will give the same effect of the marinate penetrating better and the chicken cooking more evenly.

  17. Question – I almost always pound my chicken before I marinate and grill it. The few times I haven't, I end up regretting it – What about you guys?

  18. Good tips Kalyn! I know I'm late to the party, but I need to try this!

  19. Always love a good grilling recipe – especially for chicken. Always seems easy but can dry so quickly. I am a huge fan of the the grill pans for the top of the stove. Couldn't live without it.

  20. Justin, sorry but I never grill chicken with the skin on, partly for the reasons you've described, and partly because I don't want the extra saturated fat from the skin.

  21. My wife loves crispy chicken skin on her grilled chicken, but when I attempt this, the teryaki sauce / skin combination usually sticks to the grill and peals off. Any tips for grilling skin-on chicken and ending up with crispy results on a reliable basis?


    Justin – Puget Sound, WA

  22. I've cooked this type of chicken recipe on a George Foreman grill, so I can't imagine why an electric grill wouldn't work.

  23. I am going to do the grilling today. Wonder if an electric grill work as well as a charcoal fired one.

  24. Kris, I was not recommending cooking chicken in the microwave, in fact I clearly said I wouldn't use it.

  25. Some readers might be confused as to the term "microwave" here. You should never cook raw chicken in a microwave as it's extremely dangerous. Quite simply the chicken cannot get hot enough to kill bacteria or enterobacteria salmonella, which contrary to popular belief needs to be heated at 165 degrees plus for at LEAST 10 MINUTES. If they are refering to a toaster oven or something of the like that can have a metal rack inside then that is different and more like a full-sized oven. Though, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there to fully cook your poultry and always do it outside of radiation.

    • The important thing to notice is Saraswathy is asking about a microwave with a grill. It actually has a heating element built in for cooking meat in it. I just bought one however they don't provide recipes. Hopefully as they become prevalent recipes will become more readily available.

    • I don't have experience with this type of microwave, and I'd probably still recommend a broiler or stove-top grill pan if you don't have a grill.

  26. Sam, so glad you liked it!

  27. thanks! i used to hate chicken because it was so dry but i tried this and i love it!

  28. Anonymous, as I said, I haven’t cooked chicken breasts in the microwave. Sounds like it is working for you.

  29. Microwave ovens work great to cook chicken. The breasts stay very juicy but do not tend to brown. You can coat with lemon juice to get some browning. However, for grilled chicken breasts you should marinate them for a couple of hours. Then microwave for about 5 minutes while the grill heats up. After that put them on the grill until browned on each side. After removing them from the grill cover with foil for 5 minutes before cutting. The micro greatly cuts down on the grill time. I have done this for years and get great compliments on my chicken breasts.

  30. thank you thank you thank you!!
    i found this by googling “great grilled chicken”

  31. Saraswathy, I haven’t ever tried cooking chicken breasts in the microwave, so I’m not sure how it would work. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, I’d be more likely to use the broiler of the oven or a stove-top grill pan than the microwave.

  32. Great tips.. I was trying to grill chicken breasts for the first time and it didnt turn out well.. I will try ur suggestions for success for sure.. I have a microwave oven with grill. Do u think it will work out well in there?

  33. omgness!!!!! im like 14…and like i used ur tips and stuff…and like my whole family was complimeting me!!! THANKS SOOOOO MUCH!!! i had a problem with the grill…it ran out of gas…so i had to finish em in the oven…i put them on the rack and like let the jucies drip on a pan underneath…luckily they turned out mega juicy and like rocked!!!! thanks again!

  34. Cool, I’m glad I could help. And thanks for explaining that you removed the link, because for a minute there, I thought I forgot to add it to my commnet.

    Love your site!

  35. Kat, thanks for tipping me off about the person who definitely stole the concept of this post, even if it was not word-for-word, and did indeed illegally use my photo. I will be contacting that web site, but I remove the link from your comment so it doesn’t send traffic to their site.

  36. Thanks for the tips! And just as an FYI, I think this person plagiarized you.

    At the very least, she stole one of your images.

  37. I think I’m gonna try that this weekend. Sounds great.

  38. I had never grilled before and am a horrible cook. I grilled this recipe and we loved it. It is foolproof if I can do it.

  39. I really like the idea of slicing the meat for a better marinade cover. Thank so much for the tip! All the grilled chicken recipes look wonderful!

  40. ahh..why didn’t I think of that ? I usually make slits for fish, and as for boneless chicken breast, I use the mullet and give it a chop, thx for the reminder, Kalyn 🙂

  41. Great post Kalyn!!

  42. No grilling around here (apartment living has a lot less perks *g*), but I shall broil soon your delicious sounding “Grilled Curried Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Sauce” (I work for peanuts!).
    Thanks for the always great recipes and cooking ideas, I appreciate very much the time and knowledge you invest for us.

  43. Kristen, thanks. Grilling is great fun.

    Sophie, didn’t know that about the U.K. Wonder why? Glad it was useful for you.

    Brilynn, me too, until it gets so cold that the meat is cold while it’s on the grill!

    Sarah, glad you liked it.

    Lannae, I know Cookiecrumb and have read about her eating local experiences. Very interesting, but much easier to do in California. I’m eating produce from my garden for at least 5 months a year and shopping at our farmer’s market, so I think that’s pretty local, but I wouldn’t be able to give up olive oil or fish, neither of which would ever be produced here.

    Astrid, hi, glad you liked it.

    sher, I am not really amazing, I’m glad you like the way the chicken turned out. (You are pretty amazing yourself.)

  44. Those really are absolutely perfect chicken breasts. Fabulous! You’re amazing.

  45. they looks so good and yummy!
    thanks forsharing your secrets with us :o)

    I used similiar “tricks” to keep chicken breasts moist …

  46. Kalyn, I love BBQ, but then again I live in TN where BBQ is a way of life. The step by step you gave is awesome!

    I propose to you a challenge when your growing season is at its height: cook and eat locally. I got the idea from Cookiecrumb at madeater.blogspot.com and I am now trying it for a week too. I have found that grains are not local (I had to make an exception with brown rice) that it is forcing me to eat low carb.

    What do you say, are you game?

  47. I love, love, love boneless chicken breasts on the barbecue. Great tip about slitting the breasts to let the marinade really get in there. I am definitely going to try that next time.

  48. I love that grilling season is back! Although technically, it never really left for me, I would bbq in the snow, it just wasn’t as pleasant.

  49. Thanks Kalyn, these are really good tips! In the UK you virtually never get chicken breast still with the skin or bones so it’s really easy to end up with something that’s a bit dry

  50. These are all great tips. I am just now learning how to grill. It has been my hubby’s domain up until now. I’ll have to keep these great tips in mind. Thanks for sharing them and thanks for sharing your favorite recipes!
    Your photos are mouth watering!

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