How To Grill Chicken Breasts (5 Easy Steps)

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Are you looking for an easy-to-follow recipe for the perfect grilled chicken breast?

You’re in the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:

  • Ingredients you need
  • 5 key ingredients for marinades
  • Step by step guide for grilling chicken breast
  • And much more!
chicken breasts on a hot grill.

Juicy, grilled chicken breast is closer than you think. These 5 simple steps will have your chicken breast seasoned and smoked just right.

You’ll never bake them again!

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How to Grill Chicken Breast

Chicken breast has a love-hate relationship with smokers and grills.

While it is easy to season and cook, it is also one of the easiest pieces of meat to dry out.

The key here is to use both direct and indirect heat to smoke your chicken breast.

This will help prevent them from drying out, leaving them juicy and full of flavor.

Read More >> Smoked Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

Ingredients for Grilled Chicken Breast

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rub

For the marinade:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Read More >> How To Smoke A Whole Chicken

How to Grill Chicken Breast (5 Easy Steps)

Step One: Trim the Chicken

Quality chicken is an important key to smoked chicken breast.

Most of the time when you buy boneless, skinless chicken breast it is minimally processed so there is some trimming to be done.

You can also buy chicken breast that is trimmed down already to save you some time.

It will likely cost more per pound to buy this way, though!

If you are trimming the chicken breast, simply remove excess fat, connective tissue, rib meat, or loose pieces of chicken. 

Now you are left with uniform pieces of chicken breast for smoking!

For the next step, whether you are trimming yourself or buying the chicken trimmed, you’ll want to be sure that they are fully defrosted before continuing.

An easy way to defrost your chicken is to place it in a Ziploc bag and onto a plate, then put it in your fridge.

Depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, they should defrost in the fridge in about 24 hours.

Step Two: Marinate the Chicken

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a gallon size baggie and add your chicken.

Make sure to press the air out of the bag and seal it tightly, massaging the chicken around the bag to cover it all with the marinade.

Refrigerate for 4-8 hours. If you prefer to customize your marinade, it has 5 key ingredients.

  • Acid- The white wine vinegar is the acid for this recipe, but any wine, vinegar, or even fruit juice will work
  • Fat/Oil- Olive oil is used in this marinade, but any fat or oil will work (vegetable, coconut, canola, etc.)
  • Flavor/Seasoning- The flavor and seasonings here are the parmesan cheese, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic but feel free to mix and match some others in the marinade to fit your taste!
  • Salt- Sea salt, kosher salt, or even soy sauce can be used to add a salty touch to your marinade
  • Sugar- Aside from the basic sugar or brown sugar, you can even use honey or molasses

Read More >> How To Reheat Chicken Wings

Step Three: Grilled Chicken Breast Seasoning

Now that the chicken has had time to marinate and soak up the flavors overnight, it is time to season the outside of the chicken.

Use your favorite sweet rub or other meat seasoning for this step or create a mixture of your very own.

Step Four: Grill Over Indirect Heat

Preheat the grill to 350°F.

You’ll want to take notes from the low and slow crowd for this recipe to maximize the tenderness of your chicken.

Hot and fast cooking start to finish is popular, but when it comes to chicken, you can dry it out quickly and be left with a rubbery, tough mess.

Bring the chicken to temperature over indirect heat.

Using a meat thermometer, keep track of the temperature to prevent overcooking.

For the indirect cooking part of this recipe, you are aiming for 150-155 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.

This will take about 20-25 minutes depending on the steady temperature of the grill and the thickness of the chicken.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Smokers For Beginners

Step Five: Grill Over Direct Heat

The last part of this simple recipe is to sear the outside of the chicken to give it that crisp bite that everyone loves.

The sugar from the marinade will caramelize on the chicken, bubbling and browning over the high heat.

It is easy to overcook chicken when cooking on direct heat, so now is the time to really put your thermometer to use.

You want to pull the chicken off at 160 degrees.

Since chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees, you will need to put the chicken on a plate and cover tightly with foil once it hits 160.

The foiled plate acts as a steam oven for the chicken and will bring it up to a safe temperature without overcooking it.

This will take roughly 5-10 minutes.

Now you’re ready to dig in to the perfect smoked chicken breast!

Read More >> How to Thaw Chicken

How to Prepare Your Chicken for Grilling

One of the secrets to grilling juicy chicken is to brine or marinate your chicken before you start. I recommend marinating your chicken for at least 4 hours before grilling but marinating overnight can work too! 

If you simply brine your chicken, we recommend patting it dry before starting the recipe! 

How to Prepare Your Grill for Grilling Chicken

Chicken cooks best on a grill that has already been preheated, so take the time to set your grill to 350°F while you work on prepping the chicken. You should also brush off your grill of any old debris prior to placing the chicken on the grates.

Optional: You can oil your grates to prevent the chicken from sticking. 

Quick Tips for Juicy Chicken Breasts

  • Always marinate or brine your chicken prior to grilling! This helps keep them juicy!
  • Purchase high quality chicken breasts (sorry to say but those cheap ones will never be juicy!)
  • You can cook chicken breasts on foil to help keep them from drying out!

What to Serve With Grilled Chicken

The cool think about grilled chicken is that it goes with anything! Below are all the recipes we make with grilled chicken in our home. 

  • Garden Salad
  • Pasta salad 
  • Potato salad 
  • Corn on the cob
  • French fries 
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mango salsa
a grilled chicken breast on a plate with salad and lime

Easy Grilled Chicken Breast

Yield: 4

The easiest and juiciest chicken breast recipe perfect for any occasion!

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons sweet rub
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Trim the chicken removing excess fat and any connective tissue.
  2. Marinate your chicken breast by combing all of the ingredients (except the sweet rub) in a plastic Ziploc bag. Add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade and top with the sweet rub.
  4. Preheat your grill to 350°F.
  5. Grill the chicken over indirect heat for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Place the chicken over direct heat until they come to an internal temperature of 160°F.
  7. Cover the chicken in foil and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Then serve and enjoy!
Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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