Perfectly juicy, tender grilled chicken is possible when you follow our simple recipe. With a few tricks, you can make the best grilled chicken at home! Our method works for all cuts of chicken, but is especially helpful for grilled chicken breasts.
2 to 3 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs, use skinless or skin-on chicken
Zest of 1 lemon, peeled or finely grated
3 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a large knife or minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like things
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Fresh herbs and lemon wedges, optional, for serving
Make the marinade. Whisk lemon juice, oil, maple syrup (or honey), mustard, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper together until the salt has dissolved. Stir in the garlic and lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate. Use within a day.
If you are grilling chicken breasts, pound them first. Place the chicken into a large zip-lock bag, and then use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound them to an even thickness, between 1/2-inch and 3/4-inches thick. Depending how many breasts you have, you might need to do this in batches.
To marinate the chicken, add the marinade and chicken to a resealable food-safe bag or container and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes and up to a day. We don’t recommend marinating more than a day in advance since the lemon in the marinade can cause the chicken to toughen.
When you are ready to grill the chicken, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and then prepare your grill. Clean the grates and then heat the grill so that one side is on high heat (for direct cooking) and the other side is on low heat (for indirect cooking).
Carefully brush the grates with high-heat oil (I use avocado oil). Be careful when you do this, the oil can fall down into the flame and it can flare up.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any garlic or lemon zest. Place the chicken down over the hottest side of the grill. Let the chicken cook, with the lid open, until the underside has grill marks (it’s okay to lift one piece of chicken up to check); 3 to 5 minutes.
Carefully pick up each piece of chicken, gently wiggling it from side to side if it is a bit stuck in places, and then place it back down, grill marks facing up, over the cooler side of the grill.
Close the lid of the barbecue and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively, if you are worried the chicken will overcook, take the chicken off when the thermometer reads between 155°F and 160°F, then cover with foil. After a few minutes, the chicken will finish cooking and reach 165°F.
Allow the cooked chicken to rest on a plate loosely covered with foil for 5 to 10 minutes, and then slice into thick slices. Save all of the juices that are left on the cutting board and on the plate, and then pour it over the sliced chicken. Serve with lemon wedges and fresh herbs scattered over the top.