Step by step directions showing how to make perfect grilled chicken breast! Tips for the juiciest grilled chicken with just three simple steps, and a classic spice rub!
Once you've learned how to make perfect baked chicken breast and perfectly crispy chicken thighs - it's time to master perfect grilled chicken breast!
It took some experimentation to find the best method for juicy grilled chicken, we've finally cracked the code! We're sharing three crucial (yet simple) steps to achieve the juiciest grilled chicken...every time!
No more dry, tough, overcooked chicken! Best of all, this chicken cooks up in a flash, and is so delicious for your next BBQ, served with our suggested side dishes!
reasons you'll love this method
- our tips result in perfectly juicy, tender chicken every time!
- it cooks up really quickly on the grill over high heat
- the spice rub is classic and SO tasty, but you can also swap it out for your favorite seasoning!
- chicken breast - this post covers how to cook a boneless skinless chicken breast. Bone-in and skin-on will require longer on the grill - try adding an extra 5 minutes per side, and ensure that the chicken is cooked through to 165ºF using a meat thermometer
- oil - helps the rub stick to the chicken, allowing the outside to get nice and crispy. We recommend extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil as both hold up well to high cooking temperatures
- spice rub- using paprika, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and salt brings such a delicious blend of flavors
- brown sugar - the sugar turns liquid at high temperatures, and gets golden and caramelized, making the outside of the chicken breast even more flavorful. However, if you are low carb, you can skip it (it still tastes great without it!)
Step by step directions
Heat grill to high heat (500-600°F).
Chicken breasts are not even in thickness, and if you grill them as is, by the time the middle is cooked to perfection, the edges will be dry. Pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness will allow them to cook evenly.
How to pound your chicken breasts without a mallet:
- sandwich between plastic wrap
- pound with a rolling pin until they are ¾ inch thickness all the way across
It only takes 3 minutes to do this, and it's worth the effort!
Add Spice Rub
Stir together spice blend. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with the spice blend.
Seasoning option - looking for different flavor options? You can place the chicken into a marinade instead of using a rub - see 7 chicken marinade recipes here!
Carefully grease the grill with spray oil (you can also brush the grill with olive oil), then place the chicken on the greased grill.
Cook chicken for 2 minutes per side, then reduce grill heat to medium (roughly 450°F). Continue cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F.
Note - your chicken will continue cooking once off the grill. While most recipes call for removing at 165ºF, this does not account for carryover cooking. For the ultimate juicy and tender chicken, we found 155ºF is optimal.
Remove chicken from the grill and cover with a bowl or baking dish. Allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook while it rests.
Tip - it's crucial to rest cooked chicken breast. This helps all the juices settle so that they don't rush out everywhere when you cut into the chicken breast.
Slice & Serve
Slice chicken against the grain, and serve.
Important tip - if you do not slice it against the grain, it can still end up tough and chewy! To find the grain, look for the pointy tip of the chicken breast and slice diagonally across it and to the upper left. If you can see the lines of the fibers, slice directly diagonally to them. Here's a video that helps show how to slice against the grain!
3 Tips for Success
All barbecues cook differently, which is why it's hard to write a recipe for perfect grilled chicken breast. In fact, many grills have 'hot spots' meaning that even placing your chicken in a different spot on the same grill will have a different cook time. The solution to this confusion:
- Check temperature - Check the internal temperature of your chicken, and don't be afraid to check it often towards the end of the cook time.
- Carryover cooking - Wondering when to take the chicken off the grill? Most recipes say 165°F, but let's not forget about carryover cooking! Your chicken breast will continue to cook for several minutes after you remove it from the grill, so I prefer to remove when it reaches a temp of 155°F.
- Cook time - Again, this depends on your grill, and the size of your chicken breast. Start with a hot barbecue (500-600°F). Sear chicken 2 minutes per side, then continue to cook, 2-4 more minutes, flipping as needed. Total time for 7 oz chicken breast on my grill is 6-8 minutes.
Just like our method for perfect baked chicken breast: high heat! We find this helps to lock in the juicy flavor and texture and cooks the chicken quickly without drying it out. Cooking at lower temperatures for longer is what causes dry chicken!
Find out how to make a dry rub + 7 recipes here! Any of these flavorful spice blends would be perfect.
This grilled chicken breast is best served fresh, but leftovers can be kept for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts roughly 2 average-sized chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 teaspoons paprika
- 4 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pound chicken - Heat grill to high heat (5-600°F). While grill is heating, pound chicken breasts flat: sandwich between layers of plastic wrap, then pound to an even thickness of ¾ inch using a rolling pin.
- Spice rub - Stir together spice blend. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with the spice blend.
- Grill - Carefully grease the grill with spray oil (you can also brush the grill with olive oil), then place the chicken on the greased grill. Cook chicken for 2 minutes per side, then reduce grill heat to medium (roughly 450°F). Continue cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F.
- Rest - Remove chicken from the grill and cover with a bowl or baking dish. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Chicken will continue to cook while it rests.
- Serve - Slice chicken against the grain, and serve.
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