A solid weeknight staple and friend of salads everywhere, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a hero of the fridge—they're quick, flexible, and can take on any number of seasonings and styles. Put them on the grill, and you can level up even more on your layers of flavor. Paula Disbrowe, author of our newest book, Any Night Grilling, shows us how to char chicken breasts to juicy, delicious perfection—and serve them with sass.
With a clean, mild flavor, a chicken breast begs to be seasoned. Start with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Super-lean cuts need added fat for flavor and to prevent them from sticking to the grill. For the best results, coat the meat and the preheated cooking grate with oil before cooking.
When time allows (such as the morning before cooking), marinate breasts in a resealable plastic bag with olive oil, salt and pepper, and chopped fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, or marjoram are great options) or spice blends (harissa, garam masala, cumin and smoked paprika, or even curry paste moistened with vegetable oil).
Keep it snappy
The cooking process needs to be quick to avoid drying out the meat, so grill over high heat until the breasts are lightly charred and white throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. For faster and more even cooking (hence a lesser chance of overcooking), pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness before grilling.
Give it a rest
For the juiciest results, it's essential to let the meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Top it off
Garnish with big-flavored toppings like olive relish, crumbled aged cheese, salsa, or spicy mayo. Give grilled breasts a rich, creamy backdrop by serving them over a slather of hummus (top with hot sauce), feta or goat cheese puree, or a dressing of your choice.
by Paula Wolfert
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Once your breasts are off the grill, give them a little more sizzle on the plate. Need some inspiration? Here are a few of Paula's suggestions, drawing from famed culinary institutions and favorite dishes, alike.
Serve pounded, grilled chicken breasts over thinly sliced endive and sun-dried tomatoes. Top with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and flaky salt and serve with a lemon wedge.
Top fresh arugula (or assorted grilled chicories) with chicken and big-flavored ingredients like oil-cured olives and a drizzle of aioli.
Pair chicken breasts with a grain salad, such as one made with farro, freekeh, barley, or quinoa.
Marinate breasts in harissa-spiked olive oil, then grill and serve sliced in grilled pita bread with cucumber salad and spiced yogurt sauce.
Serve chicken breast on a toasted baguette with bánh mì fixings, or on sourdough bread with crisp bacon, lemony mayo, and sliced tomato.
Make chicken tacos with a spicy cabbage slaw, sliced avocado, a squeeze of lime, and charred corn tortillas.
One cut, so many options. What's your favorite way to dress up grilled chicken breasts? Let us know in the comments! And for more of Paula's tips and serving suggestions, pre-order our newest book, Any Night Grilling!