Easy Grilled Chicken Breast
Published Jul 13, 2023, Updated Sep 12, 2023
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The best grilled chicken breast recipe that results in flavorful, juicy chicken every time! Enjoy right away for a simple dinner or store in the fridge for easy meal prep throughout the week.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve made chicken on the grill a few times and it got me thinking… I’ve never shared my go-to recipe for simple grilled chicken breasts. That is, until now!
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my apple cider vinegar chicken recipe, but everyone needs a basic grilled chicken recipe in their back pocket.
With a simple marinade made from pantry staples (that you probably already have in your kitchen) and a quick grilling time, this chicken is incredibly flavorful and versatile. Say goodbye to dry and bland chicken, and hello to juicy, tender chicken that’s packed with flavor.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Make perfectly tender and moist chicken every time!
- It’s a versatile recipe that can be served so many different ways… on its own with sides, in salads, stir-fries, wraps… the options are endless!
- It’s great for weekly meal prep! Make a batch of this grilled chicken and use it throughout the week for easy meal prep.
- You only need minimal, pantry staple ingredients and it’s super easy to put together.
- boneless skinless chicken breasts – around 1 to 1 1/4 pounds are perfect. Using boneless breasts cuts down on cooking time and makes for easy slicing.
- lemon juice – this acidic component helps tenderize the chicken while adding a tangy flavor. Red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be used as a substitute if you don’t have lemons on hand.
- olive oil – helps to keep the chicken moist during grilling and contributes to a beautiful sear.
- seasonings – garlic powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and black pepper.
How to Make Easy Grilled Chicken Breast
Make marinade: Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Marinate chicken: Place your chicken in a shallow dish or a sealable plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring that it’s well coated. Place the chicken in the refrigerator and let it sit for at least one hour. If you have the time, let it marinate for up to 12 hours for even more flavor.
Grill: When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off any excess chicken marinade. Now, it’s time to grill. Heat up your grill or grill pan. Once hot, add the chicken. Grill for approximately five minutes on each side, flipping with grill-safe tongs. You’ll know the chicken is done when it’s cooked through and no longer pink in the center. To be sure, check the internal temperature of the chicken, which should read 165°F.
Serve: Once cooked, you can enjoy the grilled chicken breast immediately. Alternatively, you can let it cool and store it in the fridge for later use. This makes it a perfect option for meal prep throughout the week.
How Long to Cook Chicken
Grilling chicken to perfection requires a careful balance of time and heat. The key is to cook the chicken fully without letting it dry out. The duration of grilling depends mainly on the size of the chicken breast and its thickness. See below for a rough guide to help you.
Remember, these times are just guidelines. The most accurate way to check for doneness is by using a meat thermometer, which should read 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
- Small Chicken Breasts (6-8 ounces each): These smaller pieces generally need around 7 to 9 minutes of grilling time. Make sure the heat is moderate to avoid burning the outer layer while the inside remains uncooked.
- Mid-Sized Chicken Breasts (8-10 ounces each): Slightly larger pieces require a bit more time on the grill. Aim for approximately 9 to 13 minutes to reach that perfectly cooked stage.
- Large Chicken Breasts (10+ ounces): The bigger the piece, the longer it will take to cook thoroughly. For these larger chicken breasts, your grill time might extend to 15 minutes or even longer.
Grilled Chicken Recipe Variations
There are plenty of ways to enjoy this grilled chicken. Here are a few ideas to try:
- Spicy: Amp up the heat by adding some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to your marinade.
- Citrusy: Incorporate some tanginess to your chicken by adding freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to your marinade.
- Herbed: Enhance the flavor of your chicken with a variety of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme or basil in your marinade.
- Asian-Inspired: Try a marinade featuring soy sauce, ginger, garlic and a touch of honey for a delightful Asian twist.
- BBQ: If you’re a BBQ lover, brush your chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of grilling.
- Honey Mustard: Marinate your chicken in this honey mustard dressing and cook as directed!
Tips For Success
- Marinate for flavor – the key to flavorful grilled chicken is marinating it for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours. The longer you marinate, the more flavor the chicken will absorb.
- Even thickness – make sure your chicken breasts have an even thickness for consistent cooking. You can use a meat mallet to pound thicker parts of the breast if you want.
- Preheat the grill – ensure your grill is preheated before you add the chicken. A hot grill sears the chicken quickly, locking in juices and creating a delicious char.
- Don’t overcook – use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temp of 165°F. Overcooking leads to dry, tough chicken.
- Rest before serving – allow your chicken to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the grill before slicing. This helps retain the juices, resulting in moist and tender chicken.
There’s plenty of ways you can serve grilled chicken breast. You could enjoy it over a bed of rice with veggies, on top of a salad, in a warp or on its own. Here are a few ideas to get you inspired:
- With a side salad: Serve it with a side salad like this massaged kale salad or easy spinach salad.
- With grains: Serve it alongside rice, quinoa, farro or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option.
- With veggies: Veggies + chicken = the best dinner! Pair it with these grilled sweet potatoes, roasted broccoli, air fryer brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus or roasted carrots.
- In a bowl: Add grilled chicken to this mediterranean quinoa bowl or chicken burrito bowl.
- In a wrap: Wrap up slices of this chicken and add it to your favorite tortilla with a sauce and veggies.
- On a salad: Use it in my grilled chicken salad or add grilled chicken to this kale caesar salad or to make it a meal-sized salad. Or use grilled chicken in this pear salad for more flavor.
- On pasta: Enjoy this grilled chicken with your favorite pasta! Or make this chicken fajita pasta salad.
- On a sandwich: Cut thin slices of grilled chicken, add some to toasted bread with tomato, lettuce, onion and avocado for a tasty sandwich.
How To to Meal Prep Grilled Chicken
Grilled chicken is a perfect meal prep option. I love having some cooked chicken on hand to add to salads, wraps or grain bowls for easy meals throughout the week.
Just prepare the chicken as the recipe states, let it cool and then put it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
How to Store Leftovers
In the fridge: Allow the grilled chicken to cool completely, then store it in an airtight container. It will stay fresh for up to 4 days.
In the freezer: Cool the chicken completely, then wrap each piece individually in plastic wrap or foil. Place the wrapped pieces in a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. You can also pre-shred or chop for easier defrosting.
How to reheat: Thaw frozen chicken in the fridge overnight. For reheating, place it in a baking dish, cover with foil and heat in a 325°F oven until warmed through, typically 15-20 minutes. Alternatively, you can also reheat the chicken on the stovetop over medium-low heat until warmed through.
Grilled Chicken FAQ’s
Certainly! If you don’t have an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan, you can still prepare this chicken using your stovetop or oven. While these methods won’t have the smoky flavor of grilling, they’ll still yield a tasty and juicy chicken breast.
Stovetop: On the stovetop, heat a skillet (I prefer to use a cast iron pan) and cook the chicken, adjusting the cooking time as necessary.
Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Add oil to a cast iron skillet and turn heat on medium/medium-high heat. Add chicken breasts to the skillet and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side. Move the skillet from the stovetop into the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked throughout.
The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful it will be. If possible, try to let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour, but if you have more time, let it marinate for 12 hours. If you’re pressed for time, even 30 minutes of marinating can make a difference in the flavor of your chicken breast.
Popular Chicken Recipes
- Healthy Chicken Enchiladas
- Apple Cider Vinegar Chicken
- Confetti Chicken Casserole
- Blackened Chicken Cobb Salad
- Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Maple Turmeric Chicken
- Chicken Fajita Bowls
- Healthy Chicken Tacos
- Chicken Fajita Pasta Salad
- Poppy Seed Chicken Pasta Salad
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken
- Baked Caprese Chicken
Be sure to check out all of the chicken recipes on EBF!
Easy Grilled Chicken Breast
- 1- 1 ¼ lb boneless chicken breasts
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, or red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Whisk vinegar, oil, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined.
- Place chicken in a shallow dish or 1-gallon sealable plastic bag. Add the marinade, toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
- Remove chicken from the marinade, shake off excess and discard leftover marinade. Heat a grill or grill pan. Once hot, place the chicken on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until you have grill marks on both sides and the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink. You want the internal chicken temperature to be 165F.
- Enjoy chicken immediately or let cool, package in storage containers and save for later use.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.