Grilled Lemon Chicken is an easy recipe with just a few basic ingredients, but gives you the most tender juicy grilled chicken. The bright lemon flavor goes well with so many different dishes that are healthy and family friendly!
I used to think grilling was only for warmer weather. But now I have decided it’s actually a great way to cook all year round! I love any excuse to enjoy the outdoors and grilling outside is even better. Do you love to use your outdoor grill? I love a simple grilled chicken, grilled veggies and for sure a good burger! This lemon chicken has quickly become on of our favorite ways to cook chicken. It is delicious by itself, served in a pasta dish, over rice, topped on a fresh green salad, or even tossed in a soup.
Ingredients to Make Grilled Lemon Chicken
For this recipe, I used a simple lemon pepper marinade that can be made with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.
- Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point and is perfect for grilling chicken.
- Lemon Juice + Zest – you will want fresh lemons for this recipe – the juice and zest add lots of flavor as well as help to tenderize the chicken.
- Salt + Pepper – sea salt and freshly ground pepper add the best flavor
- Chicken – you can use chicken breasts or thighs for this recipe
The sauce is just an extra, but if you are serving the lemon chicken as a main dish, this sauce is absolutely delicious! A few simple ingredients are combined to create a fresh and flavorful sauce with lemon dijon flavors. A garlic press is useful for a quick preparation of the garlic cloves.
- Greek Yogurt: Plain Greek yogurt gives this sauce a creamy and slightly tangy base with added protein!
- Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves minced well
- Lemon Juice: Fresh squeezed.
- Dijon Mustard: – adds a tangy flavor
- Salt + Pepper: sea salt and freshly ground pepper add the best flavor
Tips for Grilling Lemon Chicken
- Marinate. Prepping your chicken in advance and letting it soak in a flavorful marinade is key. Not only will this help the chicken fibers to soften up making your meat more tender, but it also soaks the flavor of the marinade into the meat, rather than just on the outside of the chicken to be cooked off. You don’t need to marinade your chicken for hours and hours to get the benefits.
- Thin pieces of chicken: 30 minutes – 3 hours is ideal.
- Thick pieces of chicken: 5-6 hours is ideal.
- Temperature. Make sure you pre-heat your grill before you put the chicken on. Also, if you cook your chicken on a grill that is too hot, the outside will burn before the inside cooks. Medium-low is best for a charcoal grill, and medium on a gas grill.
- Use a Meat Thermometer. If you want tender, juicy grilled chicken, using a meat thermometer is the best way to make sure your meat is done without overcooking. The internal temp should be 165 for dark meat and 160 degrees for white meat.
Frequently Asked Questions
▪️Pasta with alfredo sauce
▪️Rice, quinoa, couscous
▪️Roasted sweet potatoes
Typically you can marinate chicken up to 24 hours. But when you have an acid in the marinade (lemon juice), you don’t want to marinate your chicken longer than 3 hours. If you leave your chicken in a marinade with an acidic ingredient for too long, it can become mushy and stringy.
It really depends on the cut of chicken you choose. Chicken should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Here is a guide for popular cuts:
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Time: 5 to 6 minutes per side
Temperature: Medium-high (400˚F)
Time: 2 to 3 minutes per side
Temperature: Medium-high (375˚F)
Boneless Skinless Thighs
Time: 7 to 8 minutes per side
Temperature: Medium-high (375˚F)
A delicious grilled meal doesn’t have to be difficult and it can be healthy too. This meal can be enjoyed during the week or served at a weekend backyard barbecue with friends. Fire up your grill and enjoy a fresh and flavorful meal!
Grilled Lemon Chicken
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, juice of two lemons (about 1/4 cup), lemon zest, salt and pepper.
- Place chicken in the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but not longer than 3 hours.
- Prepare grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.
- Brush and oil the grill grate.
- Place the chicken on the grill directly over the fire and cook until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked through 165°F, about 5 to 8 minutes on each side.
- Serve grilled chicken with lemon yogurt dipping sauce and your favorite side dish.
- To make the dipping sauce, in a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, garlic, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie