Elevate your grilling game with our foolproof guide on how to grill chicken breasts to perfection! Say goodbye to dry, overcooked chicken and hello to juicy, flavorful, and succulent delights.
Let’s dive in and learn the secrets to grilling chicken breasts that will leave your guests craving more!
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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.
Easy Grilled Chicken Breasts
- 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 Tbs Sweet rub
- 1/3 cup Olive oil
- 3 tbs White wine vinegar
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Sugar
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 1 tsp Salt
- Trim the chicken to remove any excess fat, connective tissue, rib meat, or loose pieces of chicken.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a gallon-size baggie and add the chicken.
- 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.
Grill The Chicken
- Preheat the grill to 350°F.
- Grill low and slow over indirect heat. Using a meat thermometer, keep track of the temperature to prevent overcooking.
- Once the chicken reaches 150-155 degrees in the thickest part of the breast (about 20-25 minutes), sear the outside of the chicken.
- Sear the chicken over high heat, removing immediately once the chicken reaches 160 degrees to prevent overcooking,
- Put the chicken on a plate and cover it tightly with foil once it hits 160 (about 10 minutes) so it can continue to cook to reach the food-safe temperature of 165 degrees.
- Once your chicken has reached 160 degrees it's safe to serve and enjoy!
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!
And if you want to try something with a little more flavor, try our smoked chicken breast recipe.
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
If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!