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

  2. 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!

    Andrew

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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?

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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?

    Thanks,

    Justin – Puget Sound, WA

  12. 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.

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

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

  15. 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.
    -Kris

    • 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.

  16. Sam, so glad you liked it!

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

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

  19. 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.

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