These simple grilled chicken breasts are marinated in lemon, garlic and herbs and bursting with Mediterranean flavors. The perfect all-purpose grilled chicken recipe for easy dinners, salads, sandwiches and more!
I will go ahead and say it – this is the PERFECT grilled chicken recipe. This easy Mediterranean style marinade is simple to make and bursting with flavor. It’s perfect for pretty much any meal you’re pulling together that needs some grilled chicken – salads, sandwiches, pasta. Or enjoy it as a simple, healthy protein with your favorite sides.
Flavoring and tenderizing plain chicken breasts with a marinade are an absolute must in my opinion. If you have at least 45 minutes to spare before dinner needs to be on the table, you should not skip this process.
Marinating chicken doesn’t take much time at all and it really elevates the flavor. I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of two hours for boneless, skinless chicken breasts for best flavor and texture. Marinating chicken in acid (like lemon or vinegar) helps to break down the fibers and tenderize the meat. However, if you let it go for too long, it will completely change structure of the meat and you could end up with stringy or mushy chicken. Nobody wants that!
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The ingredients for this recipe are simple, healthy and delicious with classic Mediterranean flavors. It’s my go-to recipe for making tasty chicken for a variety of meals.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: This marinade will work with any cut of chicken. Just adjust your marinating and cooking times appropriately depending on what you’re using. If your chicken breasts are very large or particularly thick, I recommend butterflying them for more even cooking.
- Olive Oil: Use good olive oil. My go-to is always The Furies.
- Fresh Lemon: Juice and zest of one whole lemon (plus more for serving if desired)
- Red Wine Vinegar: This one is my favorite!
- Dried herbs: I used a mix of basil, thyme and oregano for a classic Mediterranean flavor.
- Paprika: Adds a bit of color.
- Fresh garlic: Fresh is the only way to go in a marinade in my opinion.
- Shallot: For a subtle onion flavor.
- Fresh Parsley: Adds freshness.
- Salt & Pepper
Mince shallot, garlic and fresh parsley and combine with lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, dried herbs, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl. If you’re planning to marinate in a zip top bag you can make the marinade right in the bag!
Butterfly the chicken breasts by making a cut lengthwise about ¾ of the way through the breast. Then open it like a book and gently flatten. Butterflying ensures that the thickness is more uniform throughout the meat and that it cooks evenly. Place chicken breasts in a shallow dish (or zip top bag) and coat completely with marinade. Cover tightly and place in the fridge for 30 minutes or up to two hours.
When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill (or grill pan) to high heat and oil the grates. Be sure that your grill is screaming hot before you put your chicken on. That’s how you avoid any sticking and get the best grill marks. If you try to flip it and it feels stuck, leave it be for another 30 seconds or so. It will easily release when it’s ready.
Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your chicken breasts. I recommend using a meat thermometer to cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Somewhere between 4-8 minutes per side for a medium sized breast. If your chicken breasts are on the thinner side or you’ve flattened them out by butterflying, check the temperature after about 4 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the heat, tent with foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before slicing. This will allow the carry-over cooking to bring it up to 165 degrees and ensure that the juices redistribute throughout the chicken breast. Do not skip this step. If you cut into meat that hasn’t had a chance to rest, the juices will run out onto the cutting board. No one wants dry chicken!
If you don’t have fresh lemons on hand, double the amount of red wine vinegar.
You can also use all-purpose Italian seasoning if you do not have basil, oregano and thyme on hand.
This marinade is delicious on any cut of chicken. Follow the same steps and adjust your grilling time according to the cut. Chicken is safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Notes and Tips
If you don’t have a meat thermometer in your kitchen, you are causing yourself a lot of unnecessary stress! This bluetooth version is a dream for grilling as you can monitor it without standing over the grill trying to guess if it’s ready. Life changing really.
NEVER re-use meat marinade to baste or pour over cooked meat. This could make you very sick. Once the raw chicken is done marinating, discard the marinade. If you want to add more flavor as a finish, set aside a few tablespoons of the marinade BEFORE you add the raw chicken to pour over for extra flavor.
If you have a few extra lemons, cut in half and place cut side down on grill to char for a few minutes. Serve with charred lemons and fresh parsley for garnish.
Cooked chicken is great for meal prep! This will keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
What to Serve with Mediterranean Grilled Chicken to Make a Meal
Grilled Mediterranean Chicken
- 1 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 2 large or 3 small
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Shallot minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
- Black pepper to taste
- Mince shallot, garlic and parsley.
- In a shallow dish or zip top bag, combine all marinade ingredients.
- If your chicken breasts are large, butterfly them (see link in post instructions)
- Add raw chicken breasts to the marinade and coat thoroughly.
- Cover the dish tightly or seal up the bag and place in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes and no longer than 4 hours. 2 hours is the recommended time.
- When ready to eat, heat grill (or grill pan on stove) to high.
- Grill on high for 4-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
- Remove from heat and tent with foil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes until the carryover cooking allows the chicken to reach 165 degrees in the thickest part. Serve.