Juicy tender chicken with lots of fabulous flavor. Go from thinking “what’s-for-dinner?” to dinner-on-the-table in 30 minutes with this delicious Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts recipe.
I couldn’t let the season slip away without sharing one of our favorite recipes of the summer. This Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts recipe has been a frequent flyer on our dinner rotation and there are lots of reasons why…
To start with, they’re super delicious. The combination of moist, tender chicken, bright, fresh lemon and fragrant rosemary just can’t be beat and is a universal favorite. The flavor profile, is similar to one of the top ten most popular recipes on The Café, these Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemon, Garlic and Rosemary.
If you think grilled chicken breasts are dry and boring, you’ll be shocked. Just follow the recipe and the simple tips outlined below. You won’t believe the difference!
Add quick to super delicious and you’ve got a winner in my book. These Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts can go from thoughts of “What’s for dinner?” to dinner-on-the-table and ready-to-eat in 30 minutes. If the chicken’s still in the freezer, it will take about 30 minutes longer, but still quite do-able, even on a busy weeknight.
It’s also easy peasy. While the grill heats up just stir together lemon zest, chopped, fresh rosemary, garlic salt, fresh ground pepper, a pinch of crushed red pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Spread half of this flavorful rub all over four skinless, boneless chicken breasts and let them soak in the deliciousness for the next 10 minutes. That’s all it takes, by the time the grill’s ready to roll, so is the chicken.
A few secrets to grilling juicy, flavorful chicken breasts
There are several secrets to grilling juicy chicken breasts. First of all, don’t grill too hot. You want nicely golden brown chicken with a tender exterior, not breasts with dark char marks, making for a leathery coating. Charring is great with chicken thighs as they have a higher fat content, but doesn’t work well with lean breasts. A medium-high setting on the grill will work well.
Another key is using an instant read thermometer. The interior temperature goal with chicken is 160˚F, anything higher will result in overcooked meat. The higher you go above 160˚F, the tougher the chicken becomes. You don’t need a expensive thermometer, but don’t opt for a super cheap one either, as they don’t remain accurate for very long. This one is reasonably priced, recommended by Cook’s Illustrated and has over 2,400 5-star reviews on Amazon.
There’s one last little step in this recipe that adds tons of flavor and keeps the chicken tender. Just add a splash of fresh lemon juice, a few tablespoons of olive oil and a bit more chopped rosemary to the remaining rub. Drizzle this delicious sauce over the chicken just as it comes off the grill. I promise, you’ll be wondering whatever happened to dry, boring grilled chicken!
Our favorite way to enjoy these Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts is super simple. I just add a side of tomato wedges, sliced cucumbers and a sprinkle of crumbled Feta cheese. If I have a ripe avocado I’ll add that too. A drizzle of Zoe’s Copycat Salad Dressing is the final touch. It makes a super delish, super healthy and amazingly satisfying meal and on the low end of the calorie spectrum.
Café Tips for making these Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts
- Forget to thaw the chicken? No worries! Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts are easy to thaw. Just put the frozen breasts in a resealable plastic bag and place the bag in a large bowl of cold water. It will only take about 30 minutes and you’ll be good to go.
- Look for medium thick chicken breasts. You don’t want them too thin, as these are easy to over cook, but not too thick either, as it’s difficult to get the center cooked through.
- If your breasts are super thick in the center, you can flatten them slightly with a meat mallet or the bottom of a small heavy duty sauté pan; otherwise, there’s no need.
- If possible, choose an organic lemon for this recipe and wash it well. You’ll be using the zest as well as some of the juice and organic lemons are not sprayed with chemical pesticides.
- Lemons vary in size dramatically. Look for medium to large lemons for lots of delicious lemon flavor.
- The official temperature for chicken is 160˚F, but chicken will continue to cook for a few minutes, after being removed from the grill. Take it off at 155˚F and the chicken will be perfectly cooked.
- I like to grill a few lemon halves when serving this Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts. It’s totally optional, but makes for a pretty garnish.
- Don’t use super high heat to grill these chicken breasts. A medium high setting on the grill will work well. You want light golden grill marks, not charred, as this will create a leathery exterior. If you notice the chicken starting to char, move it to a cooler part of the grill.
What I used to make and serve these Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Breasts
- finely grated zest from 1 medium or large lemon
- 1 ½ tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon crush red pepper
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts trimmed
- lemon halves optional
Heat grill to medium-high then clean and oil grates.
While grill is heating, make the rub and finishing sauce. For the rub, combine lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the chopped rosemary, garlic salt, crushed red pepper, black ground pepper and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small bowl. Stir well. Remove approximately half of the rub mixture and set aside.
Rub the chicken breasts on all sides with the rub mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 10-30 minutes.
For the finishing sauce, add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tablespoon chopped rosemary and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the remaining rub. Stir to combine and set aside.
Add chicken breasts to preheated, oiled grill and allow to cook for about 4 minutes or until light golden brown. Grill marks are fine, but don’t allow the breasts to get dark char marks. This will create a leathery tough exterior. See Café Tips above in post.
Flip chicken to opposite side and grill for another 4-6 minutes until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155˚F.
Remove chicken from the grill to a serving platter. Immediately, drizzle with the finishing sauce and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy. (Chicken will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the grill to reach recommended temp of 160˚F. - see Tips above.)
If grilling lemon halves, brush them lightly with olive oil and grill until golden brown with grill marks. Serve with chicken for garnish.