Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the workhorse of weeknight dinners in my kitchen. They’re inexpensive, relatively quick to cook and like a blank canvas they take on the flavor of whatever you pair them with. They’re also extremely versatile. You can serve them on their own, sliced and piled on top of a salad, shredded in tacos or chopped in chili, just to name a few. At their best, boneless, skinless breasts can be a mealtime lifesaver. At their worst they can be dry, overcooked and bland. How do we get the most from boneless, skinless chicken breasts – perfectly-cooked with great favor?
How to Add Flavor to Grilled Chicken Breasts
Rubs, marinades and sauces are the foundations of flavor for grilled foods. They’re your one shot to infuse your favorite flavors directly into your food. You can create your own personal rubs, marinades and spices using the herbs and spices you like best. I’m sharing my basic marinade below. It’s easily adaptable and can elevate chicken from good to great in about 30 minutes. (If you need inspiration or fresh ideas, my friend and I literally wrote the ebook to get you out of your grilling rut. Check out The Best International Flavors You’re NOT Grilling With: 30 Recipes for Rubs, Marinades and Sauces with Global Appeal here.)
How to Turn One Breast into Two
Unless you’re buying chicken cutlets, thinly sliced breasts, from your market, you’re probably going to end up with a breasts that are thick at one end and thin at the other. This difference in thickness makes boneless, skinless breasts tricky to cook properly. Most people overcook chicken because no one wants to risk noshing on raw poultry. That would be fowl, right? Over cooked chicken is the stuff nightmares are made of. Dry, tough, chewy, grainy. Blech.
Here’s how I get delicious, perfectly grilled chicken breasts every time AND get a couple of extra servings to boot! Clever culinary tip in 3…2…1…
I cut the chicken breasts in half HORIZONTALLY! One cut turns two chubby-on-one-end breasts into two perfectly even pieces that will absorb flavor fast, cook quickly and more importantly, evenly! No more undercooked, over cooked or unevenly cooked bird! AND you turn one large breast into two servings.
It’s this simple. Place one boneless, skinless chicken breast on a cutting board. Turn your knife (make sure it’s sharp) on its side so that it’s parallel to the chicken breast. Use your other hand to hold the chicken in place and gently slide the knife through the chicken. Your end game is two thin, even pieces of chicken. Boom. Drops knife. (Then cleans cutting board, knife and surrounding surfaces with hot, sudsy water and antibacterial spray to prevent the spread of germs.)
How to Grill Chicken Breasts
Once you’ve cut and marinated your chicken breasts grilling them is a cinch. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Brush your grill or grill pan with oil. Use tongs to remove chicken from marinade, gently shaking off excess, and place on grill (or grill pan). Cook without moving the chicken for three minutes. After three minutes you can carefully lift one end of the breast to check for brownness. Once the chicken’s golden brown, flip it and cook another 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken from grill and let rest for 3-4 minutes before slicing or serving.
Happy slicing, marinating and grilling!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs or 2 teaspoons dried herbs of your choice
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Zest of two lemons, limes, or oranges
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Combine all marinade ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag. Place one chicken breast on a cutting board. Place one hand on top to hold it in place. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut breast in half horizontally, creating two thinner pieces of chicken. Repeat with remaining two breasts.
- Place chicken in bag with marinade. Give the bag a squish or two to make sure chicken is evenly covered. Marinate 1 hour, up to 24 hours.
- Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, allowing
- excess marinade to drain off and place chicken on grill. Cook 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove chicken from grill. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.