once upon a chef

The Best Grilled Chicken

What you'll need

– 1¾ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts – 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – 4 large garlic cloves, minced – 1 teaspoon dried thyme – ½ teaspoon dried oregano – 1¼ teaspoon salt – ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – 1½ teaspoons lemon zest, from one lemon

Pound the Chicken


Place the chicken breasts in a 1-gallon freezer bag and pound to an even ½-inch thickness.

Make the Marinade


Lemon is a key ingredient in this marinade, but I only use the zest. Contrary to conventional wisdom, acidic ingredients (such as vinegar or lemon juice) do not tenderize lean boneless chicken breasts.

Once you’ve zested the lemon, mix all of the marinade ingredients except for the chicken together in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag (go ahead and use the same one you used for pounding if it is still in good shape).

Add the chicken breasts to the bag and massage the marinade into the meat until evenly coated.



Seal the bag and place in a bowl in the refrigerator (the bowl protects against leakage); let the chicken marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.



When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to high heat and oil the grates Be sure your grill is very hot before cooking the chicken; you want nice grill marks and char in the short amount of time it takes to cook these.

After removing the chicken from the grill, let it rest for 3 to 4 minutes before cutting into it. This will help keep the juices in and retain the meat’s moisture. (The timing is perfect as it’s just enough to get it onto plates, add sides, and put on the table).

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