Grilled lemon chicken is a tender, juicy and savory grilling recipe that is perfect for summer. It's light, healthy and beaming with Mediterranean flavor!
Grilled Lemon Chicken is a quintessential grilling recipe that’s very basic in ingredients, but rich in flavor! The lemony marinade is made with fresh lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and oregano, which creates a tender and juicy grilled chicken recipe. Pair it with a salad, grilled vegetables or quinoa for a healthy delicious dinner any day of the week!
If you’re intimated by grilling chicken, I used to be as well. But it really just comes down to two important things:
- Marinade: How you marinate the chicken will not only flavor the dish, but it can also help to make it more juicy. My grilled lemon chicken marinade is made with olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and garlic. The acid from the lemon helps tenderize the chicken. Just be careful to not let it marinate too long.
- Chicken temperature: Over-cooked chicken is just not as enjoyable. So getting that perfectly grilled chicken breast will depend a lot on checking for the internal temperature using a thermometer. That’s the fail-proof method!
Grilled lemon chicken marinade
Here’s what you’ll need for the grilled lemon chicken marinade. It has a Mediterranean flavor to it and I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t enjoy it!
- Lemon juice: Make sure it’s freshly squeezed for the best flavor. If you’re inclined, you can even zest some of the lemon to include in the marinade.
- Olive oil: You can use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil. The more refined the olive oil, the higher the smoking point. And it’s also much healthier than using vegetable oil.
- Garlic: Use fresh pressed garlic for best flavor. If you can make incisions into the chicken breast, the garlic cloves will enhance the flavor even more that way.
- Oregano: I use dried oregano since the fresh oregano tends to look black after grilling. I love the way oregano pairs with lemon juice. You can substitute with any dried herbs though like thyme, rosemary, basil or parsley.
Allow the grilled lemon chicken marinade to do its magic. And half hour later, the chicken color will brighten and you’ll notice the marinade actually breaks down the chicken lightly. And that’s your cue to fire up the grill!
After they’re cooked, make sure to let the chicken breast rest for 5 minutes and serve it up with grilled vegetables, a salad, rice or quinoa.
Tips for making grilled lemon chicken
- Allow the chicken to marinate. This is the time to allow the lemony flavor to infuse the chicken. You only need 20-30 minutes, and no longer than 6 hours to avoid tough chicken.
- Place chicken on preheated grill and don’t move it. You want to cook it for 5-7 minutes, and you can press down on it with a spatula or grilling tongs. This lets it fully sear and it will release more easily when it’s fully cooked on one side. And plus it gives those nice grill marks we all like!
- Use a thermometer to indicate doneness. This is the most precise way of telling if the chicken is done and to avoid dry chicken. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 160°F degrees for white chicken breast or 165°F degrees for dark meat.
- Rest the chicken before cutting. This tip is important because it allows the juices to redistribute themselves back through the chicken after cooking. It’s basically what keeps the chicken juicy.
Frequently asked questions
Using a thermometer is the most precise way of telling if the grilled chicken done. Generally when the indicator reaches 165°F you know the chicken is ready. Many grilling experts even suggest 165°F for dark meat and 160°F for white chicken breast.
This will depend on the size and cut of the chicken breast you’re using. But if you’re grilling a standard 6 ounce chicken breast, grill it for 5-7 minutes on one side without touching it. Then use tongs to flip it over and grill for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until a thermometer reaches 160-165°F.
No, I do not recommend marinating the chicken overnight. For most chicken marinades, it’s a great idea to marinate overnight. But since the lemon juice makes up such a big part of this recipe, I would not recommend it here. You can marinate for a few hours, but any longer than that will result in tough and chewy chicken.
Yes, chicken thighs work very well for this recipe. And since they have dark meat, the internal temperature will be slightly higher than the white chicken breast. You may also need to cook for a couple minutes longer on each side, depending on the size and cut of the chicken thighs.
Grilled lemon chicken is a basic and versatile recipe to make for the family, guests or yourself for a healthy flavorful meal. The chicken is juicy, tender, savory and bursting with a bright lemony Mediterranean flavor. Grilling the chicken enhances the lemon flavor and makes it absolutely irresistible during the summer
If you like this grilled lemon chicken, try:
- Pan Seared Chicken Thighs
- Lemon Chicken Piccata
- Creamy Pesto Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken
- Skillet Chicken with Couscous
- Harissa Chicken
- Cilantro Chicken
- Chicken Meal Prep
If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Grilled Lemon Chicken recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!
Grilled Lemon Chicken
- 6 6 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice plus the zest for the lemons
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 4 garlic cloves pressed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- parsley or cilantro for serving
- lemon wedges for serving
- Pat chicken dry and pound chicken if some parts are too thick. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl or resealable freezer bag. Add chicken and toss well to combine. Marinate for at least 30 minute
- Preheat grill or grill pan to medium high heat. Place chicken on the grill for 5-7 minutes. Use tongs to flip over and cook until juices run dry, approximately 5-7 more minutes. Discard extra marinade
- Remove chicken from the grill. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges and vegetables, if desired.