How to Grill the Perfect Chicken Breast
Ever since we moved in with Jan, Finn has been a grilling machine! He always loves to cook, but there’s just something about grilling that gets this guy extra excited! Maybe because he can cook tons of food at once and get our food prep done for the week super quickly? Or maybe it’s just a guy thing and grilling makes you feel tough? Who the heck knows. I just know that I love to be on the receiving end of this love for the grill because I get to eat all of his amazing food!
Every week, Finn grills a bunch of chicken breasts that we can eat for lunch and dinners (here’s an older post on how we food prep for the week). During the winter, he usually makes chicken in the oven, but this time of year he is all about that grill life. After getting such great feedback on Finn’s watermelon video, I figured it would be fun to create a “how to grill a chicken breast” video. Sure, it’s a little basic, but if chicken is a staple protein in your diet then you might learn a few tricks that you can use at home!
Honestly, I never ever pay attention when Finn is cooking (he likes me outta the kitchen and outta his way. I certainly can’t complain), so I learned a lot when we shot this video. I had no idea he pounded out the meat (that’s why it gets so noisy in there!) and I didn’t know that you really just let the meat hang out and you don’t check it constantly (thank goodness I’m never manning the grill). Finn’s chicken is always juicy and grilled to perfection, so I asked him to share all of his tricks of the trade with you!
How to Grill Chicken Breasts – Video & Recipe
A few Sundays ago, we shot this video of Finn grilling. It was a hot day and boy does it get toasty near the grill. We were both dying out there! You can view the entire video below or check it out on Youtube right here (and please subscribe to our channel when you’re over there as we’re creating a lot of video content these days!).
My Favorite Parts
- (1:05) Baseball cleats…ha!
- (1:15) Yes, this is a true story. This was back when I tried to make dinner. I learned my lesson.
- (2:05) The man makes so many damn dishes. I seriously don’t know how he does it!
- (4:18) Waiting is the hardest part…
- (5:13) It really is a good marinade!
How to Make the Perfect Grilled Chicken
- 2-4 boneless chicken breasts
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tbs oil
- 3 tbs white vinegar
- 1 packet pre-made marinade seasoning
- Flatten chicken to about 1 inch thickness (this helps the chicken cook quicker and more thoroughly.
- Combine oil, vinegar, water, and marinade seasonings. You can use your own homemade marinade or use a pre-packaged marinade like we did.
- Marinate chicken for about 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- Heat the grill to 450 degrees. (You’ll reduce the heat while cooking.) Make sure the grill is clean before using!
- Grill chicken (without opening the grill!) for 7-8 minutes.
- Flip chicken and cook for another 7-8 minutes (without opening the grill!).
- Allow chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting.
How to Grill Chicken Breasts, Step-by-Step
We didn’t have time to put alllll of his tips into the video, so I figured I’d share a few more here too. Here are some more tips on how to grill chicken breasts.
Pound Your Chicken Breast
We like to buy fresh chicken breasts from the grocery store and we always try to buy the best quality available. Usually, that’s free-range chicken that is antiobiotic-free. We get pretty thick chicken breasts, so Finn uses a meat tenderizer to make them a little thinner and more uniform.
Just put your chicken in a plastic bag and whack it with the flat portion of the mallet. Start in the middle and work your way out to the edges until it’s all the same thickness. If you don’t do this, the middle will take forever to cook and the ends will get dry and rubbery. Not good at all!
Finn likes to buy these Grill Mates packets at the grocery store because they’re pretty cheap and have tons of flavor. They have all kinds of different flavors and we’re always trying new ones! This “Zesty Herb” one was pretty tasty! Just follow the directions on the back of the packet, which calls for vinegar, water, and vegetable oil.
Finn usually puts the chicken in the marinade in the morning and then cooks later that night…so it’s probably in the juicy concoction for 4-6 hours. Sometimes he’ll do it the night before, but don’t let your chicken marinate for more than 24 hours. Even just an hour will make your chicken so.much.better. Don’t skip this part!
Prep the Grill
I seriously had no idea how much prep was involved in getting the grill ready for food. That thing gets dirty! Finn always uses a grill brush (like this one) to get the grill super clean. If you skip this part, it will be super smokey and messy. He just brushes all of the gunk off and gets the grates as clean as possible.
Next, he heats that baby up…aiming for 400-450 degrees when grilling chicken. Jan’s grill isn’t the best, so it has been a bit of a learning curve for Finn this summer. We had a Weber at our condo and ended up selling it to our neighbors when we moved. We’re definitely planning to buy a Weber for the new house because the quality is the best. We’ve had cheap grills in the past and they always break down after a season. Webers can last forever, so it’s actually worth the splurge. We just need to stop spending so much money on the house before we can buy one! ha!
Finn usually goes a little hotter when heating the grill up, and then when he puts the chicken on he can turn the heat down a bit.
Grill your Chicken Breast
This part actually seemed like the easiest to this non-grilling gal. Simply put your chicken breasts on, turn the heat down a little bit, and let them cook for 6-8 minutes. It will really depend on the thickness of the meat, but for these that’s what Finn did.
Then, close the grill and don’t touch them. Seriously. You may have the urge to peek, but every time you open up the grill, heat will escape and it won’t be good. Just set a timer and flip them after that time. Cook them for 6-8 minutes on the other side and you’re good to go! Unlike beef or pork, you don’t want any pink in the middle and the internal temperature should be 165 degrees. Finn sometimes uses a meat thermometer to make sure that the middle is cooked all the way through.
Let it Rest & Enjoy
Finn swears that your meat will be way juicier if you let it “rest” for 10-20 minutes, so I’d suggest listening to him on that part. He usually just covers it and then cuts it after the resting period. It always turns out super juicy and yummy!
So there you have it…a Finn family staple that we make each and every week. And by “we”, I mean “Finn”. But I definitely eat it 🙂
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.