Grilled Chicken Breasts

September 20, 2008

Update for 2017: Updating this recipe to emphasize the most important step to grilling chicken breasts. Pounding the thick end of the breast down to an even thickness with the rest of the breast is the most important step for even cooking.

Chicken breasts are one of the most popular and also one of the easiest items to grill. It's also easy to produce chicken jerky if you don't know what you are doing.  These step by step directions will show you how to easily grill delicious, juicy chicken.  There are so many variations with rubs, sauces and marinades that we could probably do a whole site on chicken. We will cover some of these variations in time, but this article focuses on how to grill a chicken breast properly.  The great thing about boneless, skinless chicken breasts is that you can cook them over direct, high heat without much risk for flare-ups since they are so lean. This means you can cook them really quickly and sear in all of those juices. The directions below are for relatively thin chicken breasts, less than an inch thick.  People always ask how long to grill chicken breast, but times may vary based on the thickness of your breasts, heat of your grill, etc.  For these reasons, we can't recommend more strongly the use of a good, instant read thermometer like the Thermapen.  Your target temperature is around 160 degrees.  Ok, we know you are ready to get started, so let's take a look at step by step directions.

  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yields: 4 Grilled Chicken Breasts


4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

Favorite spice


1Light the grill and leave it on medium high for direct heat grilling. Make sure you clean the grates!

2Rinse the chicken breasts under cold running water and then blot dry with paper towels.

3Here is the biggest tip. Using a heavy object and some wax paper or plastic wrap, pound the thick end of the chicken breast to flatten the entire breast to an even thickness. This is key to getting an even cooking, tender grilled chicken breast.

4Rub the chicken breasts with a little olive oil.

5Season you chicken with whatever seasoning you like. This could be as easy a little kosher salt and some fresh ground pepper.

6Place the breast on the hottest part of the grill and don't touch them for about 2 - 3 minutes. People always ask us how long to grill chicken. The answer has a lot of variables, but the chicken will actually tell you. As shown in the photo below, you can actually tell that the chicken breast is cooking through, they will get more and more opaque as they cook. Wait until the opaqueness is showing through to the middle of the chicken and then it is time to flip. If you try to flip them too quickly, they will stick to the grill.

how to grill chicken breast

1Using tongs, lift each breast, rotate 45 degrees and then place them back on the grill. Presentation is half the battle and this will create some impressive grill marks!

2After 2 to 4 minutes, lift the chicken breasts with tongs and flip them over.

Chicken Breasts on the Grill

1Grill for 2 more minutes and then rotate again 45 degrees to make our grill marks on this side.

2Continue grilling for another 2 to 4 minutes and you should be done!  Again, to be sure, use a good instant-read thermometer like the Thermapen, along with our free MeatTemps iPhone app to check the internal temperature of your chicken.  For thicker breasts, you may need to close the lid for 5 minutes or so to cook them all of the way through.

3Remove the chicken breasts from the grill and place on a plate.

See, we told you this was easy! You can even keep a bag of frozen, boneless and skinless breasts in the freezer for last minute meal options. Remember, not everyone loves steak (I know, weird right?) so it's always good to keep some frozen chickn breasts around to throw on the grill so those folks have something to enjoy.  Try them with some greek seasoning, they'll be delicious!  Pick up a VillaWare Pizza Grill and use this chicken recipe as the filler to some killer grilled quesadillas.

As always, be sure to check out our other grilling recipes for more cookout ideas!


16 Reviews

Shawn Phillips

August 16, 2019

Always comes out perfect!
The 45 degree grill lines impress people…haha!
This is my favorite grilled chicken recipe. I just make sure to let the chicken breast sit out and get closer to room temperature and make sure and press it out to make it as flat as possible. We just sprinkle some BBQ seasoning on it and then once it has finished cooking I place it up on the lid rack above the fire and brush Sweet Baby Rays BBQ sauce on it and let it sit with the lid down for a couple minutes. SO yummy!!

Jeremy fellgraff

June 23, 2018

Your instructions were perfect. I left the lid closed but kept grill temp at 400. Never thought I could cook good chicken breasts. Thank you so much

Ash Smith

June 12, 2018

Do you mean turn 90 degree?

Big B

May 25, 2018

This recipe works. I leave the lid closed between steps. For thin sliced breasts I use the low end of the times. For thick(regular) sliced breasts I use the higher time and add the five minutes at the end with the lid closed too. Always tender and juicy…and done! Make sure breast are fully thawed before grilling and that you flattened the thicker breast like it says and it will work flawlessly. FYI-( I used a 6 burner Charbroil grill and it gets up to 450-500 while cooking at points)
Something not mentioned…dust grated with a paper towel covered in olive oil (or some oil) before grilling. This will help prevent sticking when turning.


May 3, 2017

People always ask me how I grill such perfect chicken breasts every time! I tell them it’s so easy! Just follow these directions and your chicken will come out awesome every time!! Thanks so much!!


September 27, 2016

High heat? I tried it and I’ve been cooking these the wrong way for years on low heat. High heat seems to be the key. Delicious. Thank you


July 6, 2016

These were excellent directions. I suck at grilling so the timer was key for me. Next time I will try closing the lid though for a quicker grilling


July 5, 2016

I have to agree, this is a great recipe. I like the pounding of more even cooking! Delicious!

Mark Meinhart

June 28, 2016

Simple straightforward step by step instructions. Worked like a charm!


June 6, 2016

I love making chicken breasts on the grill for meal prepping. I use garlic salt and lemon pepper. So good. Also I leave lid closed


May 8, 2016

Wow! Even giving hubby the directions to cook using high heat made me nervous! He was about to grill them using low heat and I would have agreed. I pounded them out as directed and they were so tender. Thanks for the awesome advice!


January 12, 2016

This was an excellent guide. I just got a grill and my first masterpiece was grilling chicken breast with my girlfriend. Thank you very much!


July 27, 2015

Thank you so family and I enjoyed the chicken so much!!! This website is my go-to for grilling!

Bert B.

July 14, 2015

These are great directions. However, you don’t mention wether to open or close the grill lid during the first ten steps. Do you leave the lid open the whole time and close it ONLY if your chicken breast is thicker?


July 14, 2015

Wow, so simple! Pounding out the thicker side to even the thickness of the breast really helps. It was moist and tender – everyone liked it!


July 9, 2015

Best boneless chicken breast I’ve ever grilled.

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