Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken {My Go-To Grilled Chicken Recipe}

My go-to chicken marinade, this lemon and garlic grilled chicken is FABULOUS! It is the best chicken for BBQs but also perfect for throwing in salads and other dishes that call for cooked chicken.

Several lemon garlic grilled chicken breasts on white platter.

Everyone needs a go-to grilled chicken recipe, and this is mine. I have been making it for years (since 2009!) and it continues to be the recipe that I make every time I need the perfect chicken for a BBQ/cook out lineup or for a simple weeknight meal. 

It’s especially delicious used in other recipes that call for cooked chicken (I’ve highlighted a few favorites below!). The flavors are so simple…but definitely prove to be more than the sum of their parts. Juicy and bursting with bright flavors, this chicken is the best. When I make it, I always double or triple the recipe and refrigerate the leftovers to use (ok, hoard) for lunches in the following days.

How long can chicken marinade in lemon juice?

A lot of people ask me this question! The acidity in lemon juice can “cook” the chicken if left to marinade too long, but I’ve found that if the chicken pieces aren’t overly thin or small, this chicken can marinade for up to 12 hours with no issues (and I’ve left it to marinade as long as 24). 

Lemon garlic grilled chicken cut into pieces on white plate.  

This chicken is so tasty on its own, but wow, it is AMAZING in the following recipes. It would be phenomenal in any salad-type recipe calling for cooked or grilled chicken. 

Avocado Chicken Salad
Grilled Chicken Orzo Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad
Chopped Greek Chicken Salad
Greek Chicken Burritos
Add it to either of these salads: Orzo Salad with Basil, Tomatoes and Feta or Summer Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad

Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 11 hours 55 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours 20 minutes
Lemon Garlic Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • Juice of 1 lemon, approximately 3 tablespoons
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, about 2 medium cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt (I use coarse, kosher salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 to 2 pounds chicken breasts (see note)

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients.
  2. Place chicken in a ziploc bag or shallow dish and pour the marinade over chicken, tossing to coat the chicken evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but up to 18 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to medium- or medium-high (I use about 375 degrees on my pellet grill) and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees at the thickest part of the chicken. (The chicken can also be cooked in a skillet on the stove or broiled in the oven.)

Notes

I like to use thin cut chicken breasts or chicken tenders (I find they absorb the flavor and marinade better). If I only have thicker chicken breasts, I cut them in half lengthwise (like a hamburger) to form thinner cutlets before marinading.

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Recipe Source: adapted from my sis-in-law, Erin W.
Recipe originally posted February 2009; updated August 2019 

Lemon and Garlic Grilled Chicken