This super easy Lemon Rosemary Grilled Chicken Recipe is all about layer after layer of flavor.
The secret to incredibly juicy and flavorful chicken is a long soak in a sugar and salt brine. The brine tenderizes the meat and seasons it from the inside out.
Then, layer up the flavor with a simple lemon-rosemary rub and a basting sauce made from butter, rosemary, and dijon mustard.
The recipe includes instructions for an indoor or outdoor grill, or a Blackstone Griddle. It's one of my favorite ways to eat chicken in the summer: Quick, easy, and packed with flavor.
Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken
This simple chicken recipe is a summer family favorite at our home. The chicken only takes a few minutes to cook and is delicious eaten all on it's own or in sandwiches or salads.
Every time I make this grilled chicken, I make extra. Later in the week, we slice it up and use it to top salads, in sandwiches, or even tossed into a quick stir-fry.
The recipe includes instructions for cooking the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill or on a Blackstone Griddle.
What is a Sugar and Salt Brine?
Letting chicken soak for a few hours in a Sugar and Salt Brine makes it incredibly moist and flavorful. That salty-sweet bath flavors the meat from the inside out while adding moisture throughout each piece of chicken.
The process couldn't be more simple:
- Add some salt, sugar, and water to a bowl and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar in the water. It won't dissolve completely and that's ok.
- Submerge chicken thighs in the brine, cover, and let it soak in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
That's it. Once the chicken has been allowed to soak, it's ready to cook.
Will the brine make the chicken taste too sweet or salty?
Even though the brine calls for a half cup EACH of sugar and salt, the chicken will not taste overly sweet or salty.
Sugar and salt inject the meat with flavor and moisture in a subtle way. The chicken will end up tasting like nothing more than really fantastic chicken.
How long does the chicken need to soak in the brine?
Allowing chicken to soak in the brine for even just 1 hour will make it more juicy and flavorful. But, in order for the brine to really do it's magic, it's important to leave the chicken in there for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
Be careful to not let the chicken remain in the brine for longer than 24 hours. Over brining chicken can make the meat mushy. In this case, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.
One more very important thing: It's important to keep the chicken in the refrigerator while it's soaking in the brine. Chicken should not ever be kept for longer than an hour at room temperature.
Even when chicken is in a brine, bacteria can grow rapidly in temperatures above 40 degrees, making it unsafe to eat.
How to Cook Chicken on an Indoor or Outdoor Grill
Heat the grill to medium heat. This means the grill should register somewhere between 325°F - 350°F degrees.
Remove the chicken from the brine and dry with paper towels. After rubbing the chicken on all sides with lemon zest, place it on the hot grill.
Let the chicken cook on one side for 5-6 minutes. Flip the pieces over and let them cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. As it cooks, baste it a few times with the lemon juice and butter mixture.
How to Cook Chicken on a Blackstone Griddle
If using a Blackstone, turn the burners to medium and allow the grill to heat for at least 10 minutes before cooking the chicken.
Just like cooking the chicken on a charcoal or gas grill, let the chicken cook on the hot griddle for 5-6 minutes per side. If you try to move the chicken and find that it's sticking to the griddle, wait a minute or two. As the chicken cooks, it will loosen from the surface of the griddle, making it easier to turn.
Use a brush to baste the chicken with the lemon juice and butter mixture as it cooks.
FAQs and Expert Tips
A: Whether you're cooking chicken on a grill or a Blackstone Griddle, it's important to keep an eye on it. On a grill, if it looks like it's beginning to burn, move the pieces away from the hottest point on the grill. Using indirect heat can result in chicken that's more evenly cooked.
On a Blackstone Griddle, the hottest part of the griddle is the middle. If you're concerned that the chicken is burning, move the chicken to the outside edges and lower the temperature of the burners.
Keep in mind that black spots on the outside of the chicken from the grill is perfectly fine. You want to avoid a situation where the outside of the chicken is completely blackened and burned, but don't worry about black marks caused by the hot surface of the grate or griddle top.
A: If the grill or griddle is between 325°F - 350°F degrees, it will take about 5-6 minutes per side to cook boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
But, the length of cooking time does depend on the thickness of the chicken thighs and the temperature of the grill. Be flexible and keep an eye on the chicken while it cooks.
A: I feel that an instant read meat thermometer is essential to knowing when chicken (or any kind of meat) is done cooking. You'll know the chicken is done when the inside of the thickest part of the thigh register 165°F degrees.
Alternatively, remove a piece of chicken from the grill and cut into it. If there is no pink in the center, the chicken is done.
What To Do With Leftover Lemon Rosemary Chicken
My favorite thing to do with leftover grilled lemon rosemary chicken is to use it in a salad.
Pile leftover chicken on a mountain of fresh greens with roasted carrots and dates, grilled pineapple, and candied almonds. Pour a little rosemary honey tahini dressing over the whole thing and you've got a flavor packed meal that's so good you'll find yourself making extra chicken just to make this salad later in the week.
Weekly Meal Plans that include Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken:
If you're making this as a part of Summer Meal Plan #2, this chicken is used to top tahini dressed salad with roasted carrots, dates, and grilled pineapple. Optional: Grill a few extra pieces to top Spaghetti Puttanesca on Day #5.
Lemon Rosemary Chicken Makes a great Camping Recipe!
This chicken can be cooked on any kind of grill or grate over an open campfire. It also works well on a Blackstone Griddle. Make sure the griddle is well seasoned, or rub the surface with a bit of oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
Save space by putting the chicken in the salt and sugar brine and mixing up the lemon zest mixture and lemon butter mixture before you leave for a camping trip.
Looking for a great cocktail to go with that chicken? Check out this list of 21 camping cocktail recipes!
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup salt
- 2 ½ - 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon fresh, minced rosemary
- 3 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoon butter
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl and add 3 quarts (12 cups/ 100 fluid ounces) of cold water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt in the water. Submerge the chicken in the water and let it soak in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Combine the zest, oil, 1 tablespoon of the rosemary, 1 tablespoon of the dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small dish. Cover and set aside.
- In small saucepan, add the butter, remaining rosemary, mustard, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, stirring from time to time to combine. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.
- Cook the chicken on an indoor or outdoor grill, or a Blackstone Griddle. Heat a grill to between 325°F - 350°F degrees (medium heat). If using a Blackstone, turn the burners to medium and allow the griddle to heat for at least 10 minutes before cooking the chicken.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and dry with paper towels. Lay the chicken on a large plate or platter and rub it with the lemon zest mixture.
- Lay the chicken on the grill and cook for 5-6 minutes. Keep an eye on the chicken while it cooks. If it looks like it's begining to burn, move the pieces away from the hottest point, to the edges of the grill or griddle.
- As the chicken cooks, use a brush to baste the chicken with the lemon juice and butter mixture. Turn the chicken over and let it cook for 5-6 minutes on the other side. Continue to baste the chicken as it cooks.
- The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F degrees, or when there is no pink visible when you cut into a piece.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 461Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 292mgSodium: 1428mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 55g