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How To Grill Juicy Chicken Breasts

how to grill juicy chicken breasts overhead view

Tired of a grilled chicken breast that has the moisture content of a baseball glove? In this blog I’m going to give you three incredible tips about how to grill juicy chicken breasts every time. Along with using a technique from my unforgettable grilled chimi chicken kabobs that’s completely out of the box.

In addition to showing you how to grill juicy chicken breasts, I’m also going to tell you a few things to avoid when throwing your chicken on the grill. I promise, following the tips in this blog will have you turning out juicy grilled chicken quickly, and with minimal effort.

sliced grilled juicy chicken breast
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How Do You Grill Chicken Without Drying It Out?

My first tip for incredibly juicy grilled chicken, is to get the meat into a uniform thickness. Because chicken breasts are often almost two inches thick on one end, and taper to about a half an inch on the other, even cooking is challenging.

raw chicken breast on wooden cutting board

By the time the thick portion of the breast is cooked through, the thin portion is overcooked, completely dried out and inedible, like completely wasted. So, get the meat as close to uniform thickness as possible.

This is easily achieved by pounding the thicker portion of the boneless skinless chicken breast to flatten it out some. I recommend loosely wrapping the meat in plastic wrap, placing it on a cutting board and using a flat head meat tenderizer or rolling pin to pound the thickest portion of the chicken.

Pounding the thickest portion of the meat will flatten it out significantly. Starting with a chicken breast that’s uniform in thickness is the first step in the direction of a super juicy chicken breast.

flattened chicken breast next to fat chicken breast
Notice the difference between the chicken breast that has been pounded versus one that has not.

How Do You Keep Chicken Breast Moist While Grilling?

This is my second tip for grilling juicy chicken breasts. Start by wet brining (soaking) your chicken, after you’ve pounded it into a uniform thickness. You can start to taste the results of brining your chicken for as little as 30 minutes, but it’s most effective if you can brine it for four hours.

Brining longer than four hours is fine, so consider putting the chicken breast in the wet brine before work in the morning and they’ll be perfect for grilling by dinner time.

chicken breast soaking in brine

Brining your boneless skinless chicken breasts in a solution of water, salt, and a touch of sugar is the perfect way to get not only moisture, but flavor into the meat.

Unlike seasoning a chicken breast which only seasons the outside of the meat, brining allows the salt to penetrate into the meat, and keeps it amazingly moist while grilling it.

How Do You Cook Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts so They Don’t Dry?

My third tip to ensure boneless skinless chicken breasts don’t dry out on the grill is to cook them to the appropriate temperature, removing the guesswork by using a reliable instant read thermometer.

We’ve been accustomed to thinking that chicken breast needs to be cooked to 165 °F for it to be safe. That’s only partially true; let me explain.

Food doneness charts for safe eating are based on temperatures that will kill essentially all bacteria instantly. But…safe food is a product of both time and temperature. So, while all bacteria in chicken will die instantly at 165 °F it will also die at 150 °F if held at that temperature for roughly three minutes.

juicy grilled chicken breast sliced into strips

I suggest you look at the appendix from the USDA website for complete guidance on the time at temperature for safe food consumption.

All this to say, don’t cook the chicken till it reaches 165 °F internal temperature. Because chicken breast is so lean, it will surely be dry by that point. Instead, remove the chicken when it reaches 150 – 153 °F and tent it with foil, allowing it to rest and maintain temperature for 3 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tips For Grilling Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

The Salt: All salt is not equal. For this process I’ll be using table salt as it’s the least expensive and most people have it on hand. Understand table salt is a very fine grain of salt and therefore will be more “salty” per unit of measure. Almost double by volume compared to kosher salt, for example.

So, I like to go with two tablespoons of table salt for every six cups of water in the brine. And a touch of sugar too; more on that later.

The Mayo: I use mayo in place of olive oil on some proteins for a couple of reasons. First, it helps get that nice sear that I love. Second, and maybe more importantly, it works very well at preventing food from sticking to the grill. Chicken breast, having very little fat, tends to stick to the hot grill grates, and the mayo really helps with that. It leaves no taste, so even if you don’t love mayo, or despise mayo, definitely bite the bullet and try this.

Grill Marks: Don’t worry with these. Grill marks look pretty, but those marks are flavor. So, wherever there isn’t a grill mark is a missed opportunity for flavor. Go for the overall char please, and avoid the temptation for the sexy grill marks!

The Plastic Wrap: Don’t wrap the meat tightly in the plastic wrap. If you do, when you pound it the plastic will split and make a mess. Instead, leave a couple inches between the edge of the chicken and the plastic so the chicken can expand as it’s being beaten into uniform thickness.

The Seasoning: Avoid a seasoning that has too much salt in it. The brining is going to do an amazing job seasoning the meat already, so use any seasoning sparingly or the chicken will be too salty.

sliced juicy grilled chicken breast with rice

How To Make Juicy Chicken Breasts On The Grill

Prep Time: 15 minutes (plus brine time)|Cook Time: 6-8 minutes | Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
6 cups water
2 tbsp table salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp mayonnaise your favorite chicken seasoning, to taste

Step 1: Bring one cup of water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Then add in the salt and sugar and whisk until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add in six heaping cups of ice and whisk till ice melts and water is cold.

Step 2: Place the chicken on a piece of plastic wrap, then fold the plastic over the chicken leaving plenty of space between the edge of the chicken and the plastic.

Step 3: Using a rolling pin, or meat tenderizer, pound the thick portion of the chicken until it’s as close to the thickness of the thin side as possible. I aim for about 3/4″ thick all around.

Step 4: Place the chicken in a bowl and add the cold brine, ensuring the chicken it’s completely submerged. Then, place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, 4-6 hours is even better.

brine being added to chicken in a bowl

Step 5: Light your grill and set up for medium high direct heat. While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, evenly coat the chicken with mayonnaise and lightly season with your favorite chicken seasoning.

Step 6: Place the chicken on the grill, directly over medium high heat. Grill for two minutes per side before flipping. Do this for a total of about 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken, until the internal temperature reaches 153 °F.

chicken breast being grilled over charcoal

Step 7: Remove the chicken from the grill, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with rice or grilled baby bok choy.

juicy grilled chicken breast served with rice
how to grill juicy chicken breasts overhead view

How To Grill Juicy Chicken Breasts

5 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp table salt
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise

Instructions

  • Bring one cup of water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Then add in the salt and sugar and whisk until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add in six heaping cups of ice and whisk till ice melts and water is cold.
  • Place the chicken on a piece of plastic wrap, then fold the plastic over the chicken leaving plenty of space between the edge of the chicken and the plastic.
  • Using a rolling pin, or meat tenderizer, pound the thick portion of the chicken until it's as close to the thickness of the thin side as possible. I aim for about 3/4" thick all around.
  • Place the chicken in a bowl and add the cold brine, ensuring the chicken it's completely submerged. Then, place the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, 4-6 hours is even better.
  • Light your grill and set up for medium high direct heat. While the grill is preheating, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, evenly coat the chicken with mayonnaise and lightly season with your favorite chicken seasoning.
  • Place the chicken on the grill, directly over medium high heat. Grill for two minutes per side before flipping. Do this for a total of about 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken, until the internal temperature reaches 150 – 153 °F.
  • Remove the chicken from the grill, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 3-5 minutes. Serve hot with rice or grilled baby bok choy.

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