Brown Sugar Grilled Chicken Breasts

This has to be one of the most delicious and fun recipes I’ve made recently! It’s also a great way to relieve stress – but you’ll have to read a bit farther to find out about that…….
The inspiration for this recipe came from my online friend Nicole at The Galley Gourmet, one of my favorite blogs. Nicole always has something wonderful to share and often, after checking out her blog post for the day, I find myself running off to the grocery store to buy an ingredient or two that I’m missing – in order to make her tempting sounding (and looking!) recipe of the day! My only complaint is that I don’t live a little closer to Nicole. She does incredible Sunday Dinners and then posts a menu from them the following week, along with a few of the recipes. I just bet if I lived nearby I could weasel a dinner invitation from her, yum, yum, yum!

When I saw Nicole’s Grilled Butterflied Brown Sugar Chicken I just knew I would have to try it (like that night for dinner!). As usual, I made a few little changes to suit my family’s tastes. While Nicole uses a whole chicken I decided to try it with bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts as no one in my family is crazy about the dark chicken meat (legs and thighs).  I cut back a bit on the butter, used orange marmalade instead of her apricot jam and added just a bit of Sriracha for a little kick. Last, I adapted the recipe for gas since we don’t have a charcoal grill.

Did I tell you this is fabulous? Oh, and you might be wondering why in the world I would call this recipe a stress reliever!? Nicole suggests butterflying and pounding the whole chicken to an even thickness. I had never tried this before, but I did it with the bone-in, skin-on breasts. I placed each one between two heavy duty plastic bags and pounded them like crazy (yes, bones and all!) until they are large, thin and perfectly evenly thick. This helps them to become amazingly tender and cook up quickly and evenly – I also felt strangely relaxed after whacking away for a while! 🙂

If you don’t have any chicken breasts in the house, you might just want to throw your shoes on and take a spin over to your local market. You won’t be sorry, and I have a feeling that you’ll be making this yummy chicken again and again!!


P.S. A little heads up – plan ahead a bit, as the chicken requires a “sit” in the fridge for an hour (or longer) before grilling.

P.P.S. Oh, and check back tomorrow for a wonderful recipe – Grill Roasted Rosemary Potatoes  that I served with my chicken, you don’t want to miss this one!

See what I mean?

Brown Sugar Grilled Chicken Breasts

4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola Oil
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons orange marmalade
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Sriracha
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Rinse and dry the chicken. Trim any excess fat and place, skin side up, between two heavy duty plastic bags. With a meat mallet, pound the chicken vigorously until flattened, even and approximately 1/2 inch thick. Pat dry with with paper towels and transfer to a rack set over a baking sheet. Refrigerate the chicken, uncovered, for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.*

2. Meanwhile, combine the butter, sugar, lemon juice, marmalade mustard, Sriacha and smoked paprika. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick. Transfer half of the sauce to a small bowl for basting and keep the remaining sauce warm over low heat until ready to serve.

3. Preheat the grill to medium high.

4. Brush the skin of the chicken with the canola oil and season both sides generously with with sea salt and pepper. Clean and oil the grill grates. Place the chicken skin side down Cover the grill and cook until skin is lightly browned – about 5 minutes. Flip chicken so that the skin side is up and, using a basting brush, brush with some of the sauce. Cover and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken again and brush underside with more sauce. Cover, lower heat a bit and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Turn chicken one more time and cook until done, about 4-5 minutes, or until the breasts registers 150º F, checking to make sure that the sauce isn’t caramelizing too quickly. If it is, move the chicken to a part of the grill that has indirect heat.

(The temperature will continue to rise as the chicken rests). Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, brush with additional sauce, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with the reserved warm sauce. Enjoy!

*Nicole explains the reason for this:
Placing the chicken in the refrigerator uncovered for a period of time does two things. First, it dries the skin which helps prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill. Second, if it’s left in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight, this draws more moisture from the bird which intensifies the flavor– kind of like a quick dry age.
I say:
Brilliant! It works!


10 thoughts on “Brown Sugar Grilled Chicken Breasts”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *