Grilled Chicken Breasts

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The ultimate healthy, quick, and delicious dinner cheat code is a perfect grilled chicken breast recipe that you can adapt as a healthy main dish, or use in wraps, sandwiches, salads, and pasta!

sliced grilled chicken breast on a cutting board with chopped parsley on top
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picture of grilled chicken breasts on a white plate

How Long To Grill Chicken Breasts

This recipe is more of a method than a “recipe” – we’re breaking down the important steps for cooking chicken breasts – so you have all the tools you need to make grilled chicken breasts perfectly, every time.

One of the most important parts of grilling chicken breasts, which are very low fat, is to not overcook the chicken.

My Pro Tip

Recipe Tip

Chicken takes about 10-12 minutes to grill – but timing should be seen as an estimate. Always go off the temperature of the chicken and grill to 160 degrees, not the timing of the recipe (always let chicken carryover cook to 165 during the resting period before serving.)

Overcooked grilled chicken is tough, dry, and bland – but you’ll quickly know by the appearance and texture of chicken if it’s cooked (always probe to be sure) after making this dish a few times.

sliced grilled chicken breast on a cutting board with chopped parsley on top

How to Grill Chicken Breasts

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts: Chicken breasts serve as the main protein component of the recipe. They are lean and versatile, providing a blank canvas for the flavors to shine. Chicken breasts become tender and juicy when properly grilled.
  • Italian Dressing: Italian dressing acts as both a marinade and a flavor enhancer. It brings a combination of herbs, spices, vinegar, and oil, adding tanginess and depth of flavor to the chicken breasts. The dressing helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with a delicious Italian-inspired taste.
  • Garlic Powder: Garlic powder contributes a rich and savory flavor to the chicken breasts. It adds depth and aroma without the need for fresh garlic. Garlic powder also enhances the overall taste profile of the dish and pairs well with the other ingredients.
  • Soy Sauce: Soy sauce brings a savory and umami flavor to the chicken breasts. It adds depth and richness to the marinade, balancing the tanginess of the Italian dressing. Soy sauce also helps to tenderize the meat and creates a delicious caramelization when grilled.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Salt and black pepper are essential seasonings that enhance the taste of the chicken breasts. They help to bring out the natural flavors and add a touch of seasoning. Salt helps to tenderize the meat and balance the overall seasoning, while black pepper adds a subtle kick.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following method:

  • Marinate. Put chicken breasts in a large zip bag and cover with Italian dressing, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Gently squeeze the air out of the bag. Shake bag so all the chicken is covered with dressing. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  • Preheat. Pre-heat and clean grill- rubbing ½ an onion on the hot grill cleans and flavors the grates.
  • Grill. Remove chicken from bag with marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Cook chicken on medium high heat until 165 internal temperature, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve. Enjoy when hot, or refrigerate and use for s sack-lunch.
grilled chicken breast with chopped parsley on top on a white cutting board

Grilled Chicken Temperature

Preheat the Grill: Make sure your grill is preheated to the appropriate temperature before adding the chicken. For chicken breasts, medium-high heat (around 375-400°F or 190-200°C) is usually ideal. Preheating ensures that the chicken cooks evenly and helps to create those desirable grill marks.

Use the Two-Zone Grilling Method: Set up your grill with both direct and indirect heat zones. Start by searing the chicken breasts over direct heat for a couple of minutes on each side to create a flavorful crust. Then move them to the indirect heat side of the grill to finish cooking more gently. This helps to avoid excessive charring and allows the chicken to cook more evenly.

Cook to the Right Internal Temperature: Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken breasts. The chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Avoid overcooking, as this can lead to dry chicken. I’ll often remove chicken from the grill at 155°F as it will carryover cook the final 10 degrees as the chicken rests before slicing.

How to Keep Grilled Chicken Breast From Drying Out

Tenderize the Chicken: Before grilling, you can tenderize the chicken breasts by lightly pounding them with a meat mallet or a rolling pin. This helps to break down the muscle fibers, making the chicken more tender and juicy.

Marinate for Flavor and Moisture: Marinating the chicken breasts prior to grilling can infuse them with flavor and help retain moisture. Use a marinade that includes acidic ingredients like citrus juice, vinegar, or yogurt, as these can help tenderize the meat and keep it moist.

How to Marinate Grilled Chicken. One of the most important things to do to make sure your chicken never dries out, for juicy, tender, and crave-able grilled chicken is marinate your chicken before grilling. Marinating your grilled chicken should not be skipped – it helps lock in tons of flavor and chicken’s natural juices so you’re not stuck with dry grilled chicken.

  • Poke holes in the chicken with a fork or knife. 
    • This allows the marinade’s flavor to sink in to the chicken better.
  • Keep marinating chicken in airtight container. 
    • Food safety is incredibly important when cooking chicken – keep your chicken refrigerated until use.
  • Refrigerate marinating chicken for at least 2 hours. 
    • Chicken marinade will flavor your chicken after about 2 hours in the marinade – you can grill after just two hours and still have tons of flavor.
  • Refrigerate marinating chicken for up to two days. 
    • Chicken can be left in an airtight container in the refrigerator while marinating for up to two days.
  • For extra juicy chicken, grill in foil pouch with marinade. 
    • Making a foil pouch for your chicken breasts in a little extra marinade and sealing it up before throwing it on the grill will give you incredibly juicy and tender chicken.
  • Don’t use leftover marinade. 
    • Food safety, yo.
    • But really – don’t use the marinade your raw chicken has been in on other dishes to cut the risk of cross contamination and salmonella.

Tips for Perfect Grilled Chicken

Start with Quality Chicken Breasts: Choose fresh, high-quality chicken breasts that are of uniform thickness. Look for organic or free-range chicken if possible, as they tend to have better flavor and texture.

Let it Rest: Once the chicken breasts are done, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in moist and flavorful chicken.

Oil the Grill Grates: Prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill by oiling the grates. Use tongs and a folded paper towel dipped in oil to lightly coat the grates before placing the chicken on them.

Does Grilled Chicken Freeze Well. Grilled chicken freezes really well with a couple of tips and tricks:

  • Don’t cut up chicken before freezing.
    • If you’re grilling whole chicken breasts, don’t cut them up when freezing to keep the surface area open to freezer burn less.
  • Freeze chicken breasts individually to “set”.
    • We want to prevent chicken from sticking together in the freezer – since chicken frozen solid together will thaw a lot less evenly.
    • To freeze individually, place on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pop chicken breasts onto parchment paper and freeze until “set” – about 3-6 hours in the freezer.
    • When chicken has initially frozen, remove from baking sheet and add to ziploc or vacuum sealed bag and freeze up to one month.
  • Remove any extra air from container or bag when freezing.
    • To prevent freezer burn, be sure to remove as much extra air in the bag as you can.
sliced grilled chicken breast with chopped parsley on top on a white cutting board

FAQs

How long does grilled chicken last?

Grilled chicken can be stored for up to four days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How long should I grill chicken breast?

The grilling time for chicken breasts can vary depending on their thickness and the heat of your grill. As a general guideline, boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are about 1 inch thick typically take around 6-8 minutes per side over medium-high heat (375-400°F or 190-200°C). However, it’s important to use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, as this is the most accurate way to determine if the chicken is done. The chicken breasts are safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

Can I use an indoor grill?

If it’s raining, snowing, or you just don’t want the hassle of an outdoor grill, we love making grilled chicken with a Ninja Indoor Grill. This appliance also doubles as an air fryer, so you get two appliances in one!

Can I brine chicken instead of marinating before grilling?

Brining can be a helpful step to add moisture and flavor to the chicken breasts. You can soak them in a brine solution (saltwater with optional seasonings) for 30 minutes to a few hours before grilling. Brining can help prevent the chicken from drying out during grilling, resulting in juicier and more flavorful meat.

How can I keep chicken breasts from sticking to the grill?

To prevent the chicken breasts from sticking to the grill, make sure the grill grates are clean and preheat them well. Before placing the chicken on the grill, lightly oil the grates using tongs and a folded paper towel dipped in oil. This helps create a non-stick surface.

How do I get grill marks on chicken breasts?

To achieve grill marks on chicken breasts, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and oil the grates. Place the chicken breasts diagonally on the grates and cook for a few minutes without moving them. Then, rotate the chicken breasts 90 degrees and continue cooking. This technique creates those visually appealing grill marks.

Should chicken rest before serving?

Yes, it’s important to let the grilled chicken breasts rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in moister and more flavorful chicken. Tent the chicken loosely with foil to keep it warm during the resting period.

Can I grill frozen chicken breasts?

It’s not recommended to grill frozen chicken breasts directly. It’s best to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before grilling. This ensures even cooking and reduces the risk of undercooking or unevenly cooked chicken.

sliced grilled chicken breast on a cutting board with chopped parsley on top

What to Serve With Grilled Chicken Breasts

We love top top grilled chicken with Tahini Sauce and Zhoug (Skhug) Sauce – or an Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce for a bit of fresh flavor after grilling!

You can find our entire side dish recipe index here.

Find our BBQ style sides here.

sliced grilled chicken breast on a cutting board with chopped parsley on top

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sliced grilled chicken breast next to grilled chicken breast with chopped parsley on a cutting board
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Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts

Delicious, never-dry juicy and flavorful Perfect Grilled Chicken Breasts are perfect for cookouts and picnics – or even chopped up cold for a sack lunch salad, wrap, or sandwich!
Course Chicken
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, chicken breast, grilled food, grilling, healthy food, keto, main dish, poultry
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 32 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 345kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 12 oz Italian dressing
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Put chicken breasts in a large zip bag and cover with Italian dressing, garlic powder, and soy sauce. Gently squeeze the air out of the bag. Shake bag so all the chicken is covered with the dressing. You can also add chicken to a bowl and submerge in marinade.
  • Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
  • Pre-heat and clean grill- rubbing ½ an onion on the hot grill cleans and flavors the grates.
  • Remove chicken from bag with marinade. 
  • Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Cook chicken on medium-high heat until 165 internal temperature, about 15 minutes.
  • Enjoy when hot, or refrigerate and use for a sack lunch.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 345kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 580mg | Sugar: 5g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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4.47 from 109 votes (106 ratings without comment)

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19 Comments

  1. Linda says:

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, will give this a try. Sounds wonderful .

  2. C.M. says:

    If the previous poster does not like ad, just exit the site. She doesn’t have to make rude comments, especially she doesn’t have to pay a cent for this recipe. Thank you for posting this recipe and tips. I’ll try it this week.

  3. Ann says:

    Courtney, can’t wait to try this grilled chicken recipe. I was wondering if you would share the name of the Italian dressing you are using – I’ve not seen a dressing that resembles yours, but it looks yummy! Thanks & keep posting~

    1. Courtney ODell says:

      Hi Ann! I just grab the cheapest store brand bottle for Italian Dressing – I usually shop at Kroeger and grab their in-house brand!

  4. Kerry says:

    So many helpful hints that really worked well (especially the foil pouches)! Thank you for the delicious recipe- made it tonight–best chicken I’ve had in a long time… And I love the alternate marinade ideas- looking forward to trying those another night. Thank you again.

  5. Linda S Gartrell says:

    Thank you for your recipe. I am going to try it today!
    As far as ads go.. I have no problem with that. I have a website, it’s part of doing business. Julie, please keep that in mind when making comments.
    I will say that it seems that many recipes I pull up, I get 3 pages of “life stories” that I have to read before I get to the actual instructions, which drives me a little batty. I think a brief comment that is light hearted, or humorous is good, but pages upon pages.. just too much. LOL.
    Glad you have your recipe and brief notes about it.. some of us just want to know how it works, that it’s yummy and appreciate the time one puts into putting the recipe on line.

  6. susan hussey says:

    This sounds so yummy. I’m going to make it tonight. Thanks for the recipie!!