A solid weeknight staple and friend of salads everywhere, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a hero of the fridge—they're quick, flexible, and can take on any number of seasonings and styles. Put them on the grill, and you can level up even more on your layers of flavor. Paula Disbrowe, author of our newest book, Any Night Grilling, shows us how to char chicken breasts to juicy, delicious perfection—and serve them with sass.
With a clean, mild flavor, a chicken breast begs to be seasoned. Start with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Super-lean cuts need added fat for flavor and to prevent them from sticking to the grill. For the best results, coat the meat and the preheated cooking grate with oil before cooking.
When time allows (such as the morning before cooking), marinate breasts in a resealable plastic bag with olive oil, salt and pepper, and chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, or marjoram are great options) or spice blends (harissa, garam masala, cumin and smoked paprika, or even curry paste moistened with vegetable oil).
The cooking process needs to be quick to avoid drying out the meat, so grill over high heat until the breasts are lightly charred and white throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. For faster, even cooking (hence a lesser chance of overcooking), pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness before grilling.
For the juiciest results, it's essential to let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Garnish with big-flavored toppings like olive relish, crumbled aged cheese, salsa, or spicy mayo. Give grilled breasts a rich, creamy backdrop by serving them over a slather of hummus (top with hot sauce), feta or goat cheese puree, or a dressing of your choice.
Once your breasts are off the grill, give them a little more sizzle on the plate. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of Paula's suggestions, drawing from famed culinary destinations and favorite dishes, alike.
Serve pounded, grilled chicken breasts over thinly sliced endive and sun-dried tomatoes. Top with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, flaky salt, and serve with a lemon wedge.
Top fresh arugula (or assorted grilled chicories) with chicken, oil-cured olives, and a drizzle of aioli.
Marinate breasts in harissa-spiked olive oil, then grill and serve sliced in grilled pita bread with cucumber salad and spiced yogurt sauce.
Serve chicken breast on a toasted baguette with bánh mì fixings, or on sourdough bread with crisp bacon, lemony mayo, and sliced tomato.
Make chicken tacos with a spicy cabbage slaw, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime, and charred corn tortillas.
This article was originally published in March 2018, but we're running it again to give you even more ideas for summertime grilling season.
Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.Order Now