David Walker

Author Archives: David Walker

David holds the prestigious title of chief grill guru at Backyard Insider. When he is not tinkering in his garden or patio he enjoys hiking, fishing and spending time with his family and dogs. You can read more about David here.

How to Grill Chicken Breast

How to Grill Chicken Breast 

Chicken is likely the most enjoyed meat in almost any cuisine. It is especially popular when cooked on a grill. However, chicken breast is quite lean and can be a challenge to grill properly. It takes a little bit of care to make sure the breast meat remains juicy.

There is no need to stress over grilling chicken breast to perfection. We’ll take you through the process step-by-step with tips for moist and flavorful chicken breast.

How to Grill the Perfect Chicken Breast 

This recipe is for skinless, boneless chicken breasts that can be cooked on a kitchen grill pan/plate or outside on a gas or charcoal grill. We prefer using the indoor grilling method to avoid flare ups of flames. If you do want to grill over a fire, we recommend setting your grill up with a hot zone and a cool zone, otherwise known as direct and indirect grilling. This will allow for you to move the chicken away from the direct heat when flames lick at the meat.

grill chicken with vegetables in Thai cuisine

You will need to pound the breasts so that they are of consistent thickness. This prevents thinner areas from drying out while the meat cooks evenly. And, marinating the chicken for an hour also helps with the juiciness. Finally, you must rest the meat before slicing into it to be sure the moisture doesn’t run out of the breast, causing the muscle to seize up and become chewy.

A few things you will need

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp chef’s knife
  • Plastic wrap
  • Meat mallet or rolling pin
  • Large resealable plastic baggies
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Wire whisk
  • Baking dish or large bowl
  • Grill pan/plate or outdoor grill
  • Kitchen tongs
  • Paper towels
  • Digital meat thermometer
  • Aluminum foil

Prep Time: 

10 minutes + marinating for 1 hour

Cook Time:

8 to 10 minutes


6 to 8


  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil for the grill
  • 1 lemon or lime cut into quarters
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Step 1

Slice the chicken breasts in half widthwise at the thick center portion. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on your cutting board. Put the chicken breast halves on the plastic wrap and cover with another sheet of plastic wrap. (You will likely need to do this in stages or batches). Using the flat face of a meat mallet or a rolling pin, gently pound the thickest part of each piece of chicken to get them to a uniform thickness. You are not flattening the chicken portions into pancakes, just evening them out.

Step 2

Place the chicken into 1 or 2 resealable plastic baggies.

Step 3

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the chicken. Seal the baggies well and massage the chicken to coat well. Place the baggies in a baking dish or bowl to catch any leaks. Put this in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.

Step 4 

Remove the bowl or dish of chicken from the refrigerator and allow the meat to sit for 20 minutes so it can come to room temperature.

Step 5

Put the vegetable oil in the small mixing bowl. Place a wad of paper towel between kitchen tongs and dip this into the oil. Coat the grates of your cold grill with the oil.

Step 6 

Preheat the grill over medium-high heat to approximately 400°F. To check the heat of a grill that does not have a temperature gauge, hold the palm of your hand 5 inches above the grill. If you can only keep it there for 4 to 5 seconds before it feels too hot, the grill is ready. Any more time and the grill is not yet up to temperature.

Step 7 

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, allowing the excess to drip off, and place on the hot grill in a single layer an inch or so apart. Discard the excess marinade. Cook for 4 minutes. Flip over and cook for an additional 4 minutes on the other side. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature reads 165°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer.

Step 8 

Remove the chicken to a clean cutting board and tent loosely with foil. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving to prevent the juices from being released. This is one of the key steps to moist chicken.

Step 9 

While the breasts are resting, grill the lemon or lime quarters just to get some char marks. This also brings out the natural sweetness of the fruit. You can also quickly grill some vegetables to have with your chicken.

Step 10 

Season the cooked chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Serve with the grilled citrus wedges.

Servings Suggestions 

There are many ways to enjoy grilled chicken breasts. We like this lemon and herb chicken served over rice with grilled asparagus or grilled green beans.

Another great way to serve grilled chicken is to make a Caesar salad with romaine lettuce, grilled croutons, parmesan cheese, and a vinaigrette. Slice the chicken into strips and place on top of the salad for a complete entrée.

barbeque chicken breast decorated with some lemon slices putting on wooden board

If you have leftovers, another favorite meal is a sandwich of thinly sliced chicken, ham, Swiss cheese, and Dijon mustard grilled in a panini press or on a contact grill until the cheese is melted and the bread is golden and crisp.

Wrapping it Up

Just to recap, it is possible to grill chicken breasts that are juicy. Start by pounding the breast so that they are an even thickness. Marinate for 1 hour and allow the chicken to come to room temperature before placing it on a hot grill. Check the internal temperature of the meat so that you don’t overcook it.

Be sure to rest the breast portions before slicing into them so that the moisture stays inside the meat. If you follow these tips, you should have perfectly grilled chicken breasts.

How to Grill with Charcoal?

How to Grill with Charcoal?

Gathering friends and family for a cookout is always a welcome endeavor, and the smell of food cooking on a charcoal grill can make the mouth water. Learning the secrets of charcoal grilling will create an experience people want more of and can earn you a great reputation in the neighborhood.

If you have some questions on bringing your grilling skills to the next level, here are a few tips for easy starting, grill maintenance and creating foods that will amaze loved ones every time the grill gets lit. (1)

Proper Grill Preparation 

For those who love the taste of grilled food, keeping their grill ready to go is a key ingredient many new users might not completely appreciate. A grill that has been used will need cleaning but knowing how to do it right can save you time and effort while producing the best environment for cooking food.

corn and steak placing on the charcoal grill

Once you finished cooking, the grill will still be hot. This is an opportune time to run over it with a wire brush to knock off any food particles or residue. Some cooks believe this step is unnecessary, and they prefer waiting until they have started their grill the next time. While that will also work, grills are left outdoors and are subject to investigation by creatures. Cleaning it before it cools is a good way to avoid contamination and keep the grill ready for the next cooking adventure.

Light the Fire 

There are several schools of thought on this part of grilling, and many new users have gone down the path of adding lighter fluid to their charcoal. Yes, it will get the fire started quickly. While those who have experience have found it leaves a residue of unwanted flavor, the first few times might be good with light fluid. Once confidence and experience take over, using a chimney is the best way to light the fire quickly without fluid.

A chimney is simply a round metal piece with holes in the bottom, and paper that has been squashed by hand is placed in the bottom with the charcoal on top. It helps to have a long match or lighter on hand to start the fire through the holes at the bottom, and then it just takes a few minutes before the charcoals will be hot enough to remove it. Make sure to wear oven mitts for this step as the metal will be quite hot and we recommend keeping them one while using tongs to spread the charcoal in the grill once it is hot enough to use.

Create Cooking Zones

Not all foods will need the same cooking temperature, so it makes sense to create cooking zones with differing heat levels. Piling coals in a smaller area will produce high heat, and the areas surrounding these piles will have lower temperatures. Searing food to get that beautiful crust should be done over the hottest part of the grill, but they should be finished in areas with lower temperatures to avoid drying them out before they are fully cooked.

a bunch of food in the roasted time

We must mention grill size here because the amount of food you cook will help determine the number of zones you need to create. If you need to feed a large crowd, two or three hot zones might be necessary. Searing the food quickly to get the process started is a great way to get going, but we recommend moving charcoal around to create more medium and low heat areas to finish it properly. A large grill will accommodate this type of cooking method, but a smaller grill means cooking in batches.

Avoid Flare Ups 

One of the dangers of cooking with charcoal can be flare ups. You want to avoid this for a number of reasons, the most obvious one is to avoid getting burnt. A flare up can create an undercooked piece of food that will be dry and tough. Here are three ways of avoiding them to make sure they are not on the menu.

The vents on the bottom of the grill control the amount of air coming in, and they should be at least partially open for the charcoal to burn. Keeping them under control by not allowing them to be open all the way can avoid flare ups. Shutting the top of the grill can also help with this issue, and it can help keep the cooking area hot without burning the charcoal too fast. For those who have found they get flare up from meat drippings, trimming the fat before cooking is also an option.

Don’t Let Food Stick to the Grill 

One of the most embarrassing things that can happen during the cooking process is to have food sticking to the grill, but it can be avoided. Make sure the grilling surface has been properly cleaned before use. Then follow these recommendations if you would rather put the food on the plate instead of leaving it on the grilling surface.

sausages and meatballs fine grilled

Once the charcoal has been spread in the grill, donning oven mitts and grabbing the tongs is all part of the cooking process. Take a few minutes to soak a paper towel with ordinary vegetable oil and rub it on the cooking surface, so the food is less likely to stick. Waiting until almost the end of the cooking process to add sauces is another way to help avoid this messy issue, and they will still have their flavor component when they come hot off the grill and onto the serving platter.

If you are tempted to just cover the entire surface of the cooking area with foil, we do not recommend it. Part of the joy of using charcoal is the added flavor component, and it will be less than expected if the smoke does not reach the food.

Safe Grill Operation

No one wants a medical emergency during their cookout, so we recommend observing a few safety procedures to create a safe environment for everyone involved. Keeping small children away from the grilling area is a must and choosing one person to designate for this task could be a good way to ensure safety. Even older children should be kept away from the area if the event is a large one, but you can allow them nearer when only the family is present to teach them how to use a grill safely.

Burns are the most common issue arising from charcoal grilling, and they can occur several different ways. Hot food being transferred to serving dishes can drip liquids onto those around the area, so keeping even most adults away is a good habit to follow.

Safety extends past cooking time, and the grill should be monitored as the charcoal cools. We recommend placing the spent charcoal pieces in aluminum foil and putting them in a metal receptacle away from everyone. Some coals might look like they are no longer burning, but they can continue for hours after the cooking is finished.