exceptional grilled chicken

I’m sorry to disappoint you if you ever believed otherwise, but only a fraction of the recipes on this site come from a place of adoration — i.e. I’ve always loved this dish, thus we all need to make it at home. A far greater amount come from befuddlement that people are so into something I find so unspecial. Maybe it’s not as bad as it sounds. I mean, would you rather get a recipe for a dish from someone who loved it to the moon and back and may not see its flaws or from a deep skeptic that had to be convinced by an exceptional version? Or so I tell us as a long windup to the fact that there are probably few summer dishes I like less than grilled chicken. Let’s take something that already leans dry and cook it for what is usually way too long and make it more dry! Here’s a thick sweet sauce that almost guarantees there will be little texture or color on the outside. I’m not saying that good grilled chicken doesn’t exist (I like this and that one, for example, and yours, yours is fantastic), it’s just far less common than bad grilled chicken.

brine itone vinaigrettegrill high then moderatetoss in vinaigrette

I guess you could call this my Unpopular Opinions week. It’s okay, though, I still love the Aperol spritz.

exceptional grilled chicken

This recipe is for all three of you who have not left the room after reading the above. Like last week’s raspberry crumble tart bar recipe, it was inspired by Ruth Reichl’s list of favorite recipes from her Gourmet years, however, it’s less an adaptation of the 2003 recipe from John Willoughby and John Schlesigner’s recipe and more a “Yay! That’s my favorite way to grill chicken too!” What we all agree on is that perfect grilled chicken — I mean, exceptional grilled chicken, grilled chicken that’s forgiving of human (whoops I left it on a couple minutes too long), grill (my grill suggests heat more than it blasts it), and chicken (look, I got what the grocery store had in stock that day) imperfections — has three distinct steps: brining the chicken, grilling it, and then tossing it in a brightening vinaigrette or sauce to finish. It makes the kind of grilled chicken I want a second piece of, which is unprecedented enough that my husband dropped his jaw when I reached for it. It makes the kind of grilled chicken I want to make twice a month for the rest of the summer. It makes the kind of chicken I think would make all of our weekends more delicious.

exceptional grilled chicken + vinegar slaw with cucumbers and dill

See also: My slow-and-low dry-rub oven chicken also begins with a brine.


One year ago: Garlic-Lime Steak and Noodle Salad
Two years ago: The Red and Black
Three years ago: Cucumber Yogurt Raita Salad and Chicken Gyro Salad
Four years ago: Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Picnic Pink Lemonade
Five years ago: Nancy’s Chopped Salad
Six years ago: Lobster and Potato Salad
Seven years ago: Rhubarb Snacking Cake
Eight years ago: Strawberry Summer Cake and Spring Salad with New Potatoes
Nine years ago: Creamed Chard and Spring Onions, Avocado Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing and Homemade Pop Tarts
Ten years ago: Slaw Tartare and Strawberry Shortcakes
Eleven years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake and Molly’s Dry-Rubbed Ribs
Twelve years ago: Coconut Pinkcherry Yogurt and Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Chocolate Caramel Tart, Falafel and Baklava Babka
1.5 Years Ago: Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
2.5 Years Ago: Spinach Sheet Pan Quiche and Chocolate Caramel Crunch Almonds
3.5 Years Ago: Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes, and Date Breakfast Squares
4.5 Years Ago: Cranberry Pie with Thick Pecan Crumble and Twice-Baked Potatoes with Kale

Exceptional Grilled Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet, 2003
  • Print

At the end are three vinaigrette/sauce options; I could never choose a favorite but shown here is the first one, adapted from Gourmet. Note: The chicken quantity here is relatively small; it works for our family on weeknights. You probably won’t regret doubling it, and you’ll want to double the vinaigrette/dressing you use as well. Finally, don’t have a grill? Blast your chicken in oiled, shallow baking pans a very hot oven (500 degrees) until the skin is crisp, then reduce the heat (to 400 degrees) and roast the rest of the way, about 30 to 40 minutes total cooking time.

  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Diamond kosher salt (use 2 tablespoons if any other brand)
  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken parts with skin and bones
  • Oil for grill
  • To finish
  • One of the three vinaigrettes, below

Brine your chicken: In a large, sealable freezer bag or container with lid, mix water, salt, and sugar. Add chicken parts and seal container or bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour and up to 6 hours. When you can’t wait any longer, remove from the brine and pat dry.

Make your vinaigrette: Whisk together one of the ingredient combinations below in a large bowl, and set aside.

Prepare your grill: If using a gas grill, heat all burners to high for 10 minutes, then adjust to moderately high right before you add the chicken. If using a charcoal grill and you have room enough to do so, leave about one-quarter of grill free of charcoal and heat the rest of the charcoals until they’re grayish-white, about 15 minutes.

Grill your chicken: Lightly oil your grill racks. Arrange chicken on racks, cover with lid, and cook until well=browned, turning over once, about 6 to 8 minutes total for smaller parts (wings, thighs, and drumsticks) and 8 to 10 minutes for breasts.

Once chicken is well-browned, if you’re using a gas grill with multiple sections, turn off the center heat and move chicken pieces onto it. If you’re using a gas grill with one heat control, reduce it to medium. If you’re using a charcoal grill and have left an area free of charcoal, move the chicken onto it.

Cook browned chicken, covered with lid, moving chicken around grill as needed and turning over occasionally, until cooked through, anywhere from 12 to 20 minutes (less for smaller parts, of course; gas grills tend to take longer) or until a thermometer inserted into the deepest part of your piece of chicken is 160 to 165 degrees.*

When chicken is almost done, place lemon or lime halves, if using, cut sides down, uncovered, over lit burner until grill marks appear, about 2 to 3 minutes.

To finish: Transfer chicken to bowl with vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat. You can also cover this bowl with foil to keep it warm until needed. Serve grilled chicken with grilled lemons or limes, if using, and any extra vinaigrette on the side.

[We ate this with the Vinegar Slaw with Cucumbers and Dill from my first cookbook, a forever favorite. It keeps really well should you want to stretch it over a few days.]

About temperatures: The USDA recommends 165 degrees F, but the heat will continue to rise after you take the chicken off the grill, so I take mine off at 160 degrees.

About thermometers: A good recipe is one thing, but nothing will more quickly help you perfect any cooked meat dish, grilled or roasted, than a thermometer. For years, I somewhat resisted recommending my favorite (a Thermapen) because it was expensive; it makes sense for people who cook or develop recipes for a living. However, they released a much less expensive one a few years ago (ThermoPop), and it works just as well — I immediately bought one and often buy it as a gift. Not sponsored, but I hope that goes without saying for every single thing on this site.

Three vinaigrettes/sauces:

  • Garlic-lime-herb: Whisk 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon dark brown sugar, Sriracha (to taste) together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of a neutral oil, whisking the whole time. Stir in 1/4 cup chopped mint or cilantro, or a mix thereof. Have two limes, halved crosswise, ready to grill and serve.
  • Lemon-herb: Whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or oregano, or a mix thereof, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes together in a bowl. Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking the whole time. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley. Have two lemons, halved crosswise, ready to grill and serve.
  • Salsa verde: Blend 1 cup roughly chopped herbs (ideally mostly parsley plus a mix of mint, cilantro, thyme and any other herbs you’d like with chicken) with 2 cloves garlic, 1 anchovy, and 1 teaspoon capers with 1/4 cup olive oil in a food processor. (Or, finely mince everything by hand.) Add the juice of half a lemon. Adjust to taste, adding more lemon or olive oil as needed. If you wish, have two lemons, halved crosswise, ready to grill and serve.
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    131 comments on exceptional grilled chicken

      1. Wench

        I got a ThermaPen as a gift a few years ago and no lie, it has *changed my life*. The bread is for sure cooked through! The burgers from the grill are neither hockey pucks nor too raw to eat! Steak is exactly how we want it!

        It’s amazing and I love it.

        Also… hmmm, I got some bone in chicken breasts and thighs in my freezer RIGHT NOW and I’m feeling like we might have this tomorrow.

      2. Elaine Smith

        Like Deb, I resisted the expense of a good instant thermometer for years. Then I was given a Thermopop as a gift. How did I live without this? I can highly recommend this – or a Thermapen if it’s in your budget.

    1. Shawn Tripp

      We’ve found it even more effective to use the currently popular “reverse sear” method for chicken too. Put it on indirect heat until almost cooked, THEN put it over direct heat to add some colour. Instead of trying to brown cold wet chicken you are browning hot dry chicken, it’s an easy last step.

    2. naomibeth

      I love grilled chicken ever since I got a Thermapen and can cook it perfectly every time. Would you brine kosher chicken?

        1. Ellen

          Agree that you do not need to brine kosher poultry. That’s why I use a kosher turkey at Thanksgiving – it’s a great shortcut.

          1. emjayay

            All those cheap turkeys from Butterball on down are injected with a solution containing a lot of salt also, so are essentially brined already. I would rather pay $20 than $80 for a turkey so I go with the cheapo ones. Unless you are talking about a heritage breed turkey for $160 you could tell everyone it’s a free range organic turkey raised as a pet and no one would be able to tell the difference.

      1. patti with an i

        Kosher chicken is by definition already brined; it’s soaked in salt water (sugar not included) to remove any remaining blood from the meat. Of course, the “brining” isn’t the full extent of the process, it has to happen under rabbinical supervision and a bunch of other stuff blah blah, but all meat that is kosher has been soaked in a salt solution.

        I’m not sure how much sodium or salty taste remains behind in the meat after the kashering process is done, but I’d be wary of further brining. We always get a kosher turkey for Thanksgiving, and they’re always spectacularly juicy!

    3. Pam

      I’m usually too lazy to bother with a brine, as it always seems to involve a whole bird. But I totally handle parts. Great weekend project—thanks!

      Ditto on the ThermoPop. It has totally changed my grilling game, especially for chicken and salmon. Over-cooked chicken is just bad, but over-cooked salmon is a crime.

    4. Marisa

      Hmm, for other brands of salt, is it “use 1/2 of a 1/4 cup, aka 1/8 c if another brand” or is it “don’t use 1/4 c, use 1/2 c for another brand”?

      1. deb

        I don’t find soy to be a good replacement for fish sauce (I really don’t think anything tastes quite like it) but there are other soy marinades you might like. I often do 1T each rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil (plus a dash of hot sauce and pinch or two of sugar) for a dumpling dipping sauce, could be good here.

      2. Savanah Washington

        I replace fish sauce with mushroom/umami powder in most recipes and I’ve found it to be a great substitute :)

    5. Mimi

      Oh, bless you a thousand times over for letting people know you don’t have to boil and then cool brine. Almost every brine recipe I’ve ever seen calls for this (totally unnecessary) step. Just stir that brine up and eventually it will all dissolve! I figured this out years ago when I first started brining my Thanksgiving turkey and have never looked back. I too saw this marinating after grilling method in this month’s Bon Appetit and can’t wait to try it.

      1. deb

        Thank you. I also find it BAFFLING for simple syrups! Like, leave the sugar in the liquid and wait 5, 10 minutes tops (but sometimes not even 5) and it will dissolve. Let’s all keep that in mind when we make lemonade this summer.

        1. Really?! I don’t have to boil simple syrups?! I feel a little dumb for saying this, but I thought I read somewhere a long time ago that the sugar doesn’t dissolve. . . properly??. . .unless the whole business is heated up? Maybe that was for an icing. . .? But really really, I will try your method and simplify my summer!!!

          1. patti with an i

            You can dissolve more of a solid if you heat the liquid into which you’re dissolving it than you can in a colder liquid (reach back into your memory bank for your chemistry class discussion of a “super-saturated solution”), but I’m pretty sure that most recipes for either brine or simple syrup don’t come close to being actually super-saturated. I think the recipes mostly call for heating because they think people will get tired of stirring, but just leaving it for 10 minutes sounds easier still.

      1. deb

        In the oven or on the stove? If in the oven, use the oven directions in the headnotes. On the stove… well, I find it hard to cook the chicken through.

    6. Esss

      This is similar to my strategy for grilled vegetables, which I unpopularity find pretty meh. Marinate them in a vinegrette, grill, and then toss them back in the leftover sauce. Crispy grilled edges and actual flavor. Never thought of applying the technique to meat before, thank you!

      1. jdierks

        350–400°F on the dome thermometer should work well on the Green Egg for grilling jobs like this.

        If you have a way to raise the grid above the fire ring, that would allow the chicken to cook a little slower and avoid scorching.


    7. cathy

      I have a Costco package of boneless and skinless chicken breasts in my freezer. Can they be used instead of the chicken parts with skin and bones?

        1. Helen

          Hi Deb – My mum also has a genius cooking strategy for chicken that would probably not mean that you have to cut it up. You cut out the backbone and lie it flat. You could brine it then… she cooks it on a flattop outdoor grill with a brick wrapped in aluminum to keep it flat. It is super delicious and cooks pretty evenly. I now always roast my chickens like this too.

          1. deb

            Yes — that’s what I do here, minus the brine. I love spatchcocked chicken and it takes well to brining but is also, when grilled in one piece, less prone to drying out.

    8. TerryB

      Where do you buy small chicken parts? A bone in breast of chicken from any number of grocery store weighs in at 14 to 18 ounces. Drumsticks come about 5 or five to a pound. Is the only solution to cut whole chickens? And all I can say about boneless chicken breasts is I would not want to run in to one of those chickens in a dark alley.

      1. deb

        I usually buy Murray’s or Bell & Evans chicken and they run smaller. And lol, SAME. I do think cutting up a chicken is the most economical and makes the most reasonably sized parts. I’m not great at it but I’m getting better. Works best, of course, if the people eating with you like a mix of dark and light.

        1. Megan

          Trader Joe’s also sells a grill pack of breasts, thighs and drumsticks that’s just about perfect for this recipe

    9. Bethany

      I’m definitely trying all of these options! My family basically lives off of your gyro chicken and will happily accommodate these into our rotation!!

    10. Marcia

      I thought everybody loved all grilled chicken.I have an old friend who only makes it burned and dried out, And I even like his, because “tradition”… it’s summer, right? I love my Thermapen too.

      1. Denise

        Always looking for different cucumber recipes. I’m curious about the cucumber salad in the picture. Where could I find it?

    11. Janet

      Loved your link to the Grub Street article. I just came home from France where I enjoyed a LOT of spritz. Was sooo annoyed by the NYT article!

    12. Carla

      1000% agree with the Thermapen…love mine!!
      I wonder, how this chicken would be cooked Sous vide, finished on the grill and tossed with the vinaigrette??? I’ve started doing that for fried chicken and it’s amazing!!

    13. Could not agree more about grilled chicken!! I actually almost didn’t open the link because it immediately brought to mind politely smiling through tough, desiccated chicken with grill marks on it. Then I remembered it’s you, so you probably had a solution. Can’t wait to try!

    14. Elisabeth

      Man, this was tasty! We did the brine, halved it for 2 chicken breasts. My husband grilled it up and we threw together the lime vinaigrette and we’re so happy with the result! I used coconut oil in the dressing, as I just ran out of my other neutral oil-it was so tasty-perhaps a bit coconut forward, but mixed well with the other ingredients! Tastiest chicken we’ve made in a while. Thanks!

    15. Adam

      Hi, cooked this today and it was delicious! Is it okay to leave it in brine for longer 9 hours (eg whilst at work) or would that cause problems?
      Thanks again!

        1. Jen

          Made this tonight with great success! Used chicken leg quarters and the garlic-lime vinaigrette. First time brining chicken and it was so easy! Thanks Deb for another successful dinner :)

    16. Nancy

      Please give this it-is-too-hot-in-my-kitchen-to-cook exceptional chicken a try and I will try yours!: Penzey’s Greek seasoning is the key and not the one by the same name from Spice House; mix juice and fine zest from a lemon with 3 count EVO and generous amount of the seasoning mix, marinate for 1-4 hours then grill. We never tire of this, guests rave that this is the best chicken they have ever tasted, no need to even add salt or pepper. The shipping cost to Hawaii is crazy $$$ (have these people not figured out how to use the very affordable 3 day priority mail to Hawaii?) so our visitors are asked to bring a big bag as their contribution to the luau!

    17. Illana

      Deb – is there a reason that the chicken parts couldn’t be in the brine for longer in the fridge, like 24 hours?

      1. deb

        They can and it definitely won’t bother me. However, I have heard people complain in the past about too much brining, where the meat seems overly soft or juicy. But again, it doesn’t bother me.

    18. Lenora

      I made this today with the lemon herb vinaigrette and after we ate I deleted all my other recipes for rubs and marinades. This is perfect. Thank you so much.

    19. Barb

      I brined for right around 6 hours and made one of the sauces (garlic lime herb). That said, I ate the chicken (thighs and wings) with no sauce and it was the bomb. Then I used the sauce as a dressing for kale and spinach and it was delicious. I want to eat this every day. 🥰

    20. I only have two recipes for chicken on the grill that we like and both involve brining. I will try your recipe – maybe I will now have three grilled chicken recipes! (One of my recipes is white-sauce chicken – do you know this? A vinegar/mayo/black pepper marinade and a very low/slow grill? So succulent and flavorful – apparently a Southern thing)

    21. Maro

      Loved this! Used thighs and (sort of) the Garlic-Lime-Herb dressing. I’ve always been wary of grilling chicken because it’s so often overlooked and terrible. This was a great, easy recipe.

      1. Maro

        oh! and the thighs i used were boneless/skinless and it all turned out just amazing. less overall cooking time, of course.

      2. Maro

        I made this again on Sunday, replicating the great results. I forgot to mention previously that instead of fish sauce (in the garlic-lime dressing) i used miso, which tasted great. there’s nothing better than easy & delicious; the brine may make it not exactly “quick”, but the cook time — especially with boneless — is really fast.

        1. Jessie

          Followed suggestions from previous comments given what I had on hand – I used boneless skinless thighs, only brined for an hour, and made the lime vinaigrette (subbed yellow miso for fish sauce and used only mint). The vinaigrette knocked our socks off, we poured the extra over fresh tomatoes/cucumbers/avocado and served alongside the chicken with brown rice. The next time I cheated and used a George Foreman grill, and it was still moist and fabulous. Absolutely amazing, will make this again and again.

    22. Nicole

      I’m so excited about this post!!! Chicken in general, but especially grilled chicken, is one of my most hated foods, yet I know I should eat it because it’s good for you. Can’t wait to try this!

    23. Sharon Anderson

      This recipe sounds delish but I think I remember seeing something once about not using the marinade you brined with to add to chicken already cooked? Wouldn’t that contaminate the cooked chicken?

      1. Rebecca F

        She’s not using the brining liquid again. The vinaigrette has not touched any raw chicken, it’s just tossed with the cooked chicken at the end.

    24. ChickenCurious

      Is there any major difference with brining vs marinating in a dressing? Also, any tips for the latter? I regularly find that for no matter how long I marinate chicken in whatever flavor mixture I chose that day, the taste rarely comes through in the cooked meat. This is true even if I poked some knife holes in the meat. Thanks for any tips you have to share?

      1. deb

        Yes there is. First, I agree with you on marinating; thought it was just me. Brining is much more science-y: it basically pumps moisture into the meat, so it doesn’t dry out as easily when cooked. It’s a godsend for white meat.

    25. Ceri McCarron

      Didn’t have bone in chicken so I used boneless skinless thighs and breasts. Worked like a charm and I will for sure do this again. I did the Lime-Garlic-Herb on the thighs and the Lemon-Herb on the breasts. I likes them both, my daughter preferred the lime. I really like that you can get different flavored batches for basically no extra effort so for the next couple days dinner is sorted and it won’t feel like the same leftovers.

    26. Annie

      Thought I’d be coming here to say that brining was unnecessary, bla-bla-curmudgeon-bla. But I should know by now to trust Deb. Wow. I make grilled chicken at least once a week during not-winter, and this was WAY better than my usual!! Not sure it will become regular just because of timing/work/life/etc, but even brining for an hour made a huge difference. Loved the lemon dressing. Thank you as always, Deb!!

    27. Sarah Korwan

      It’s embarrassing how often I’ve made your slow-and-low rub dry rub chicken over the years. It’s my go-to and find it exceptional, ESPECIALLY on the grill.

      1. Carla

        I had the same question… I made this once as written…totally delicious. Second time, I brined and cooked Sous Vide…per Chef Steps instruction for fried chicken….finished quickly on the grill. Also delicious! I love Sous vide, because I KNOW the chicken is cooked to the bone!!!

    28. Ellen Lowitt

      Made this tonight with chicken breasts only, using the lime/herb marinade. All four of us absolutely loved it! Deb is totally correct. It came out juicy and flavorful. I unintentionally charred the skin much more than in Deb’s photo, but my son was thrilled and asked me to char it every time. Will be making this regularly!

    29. Donna

      OMG this is truly an exceptional method for grilled chicken, and it was so easy! I used a whole chicken, cut into eight by my butcher. In place of the wet brine I used a dry-brine, but otherwise, followed your grilling instructions exactly. The chicken turned out divine! Very moist with wonderful crispy skin. Tossed in the lime vinagrette, which was very good. Can’t wait to try the others. And obviously, this method lends itself well to any sauce you want to toss it with…Thanks for this method – I’ll be using it all summer long.

    30. Liz

      Made this last weekend with the lemon herb vinaigrette (along with your cookbook cucumber slaw because I’m a copycat, and a batch of buttermilk biscuits). Absolutely amazing. Thanks!

    31. Amy

      Made these last night; tossed half with the garlic/lime/herb vinaigrette (wished I’d blended the herbs in at the end instead of chopping and stirring them in; herbs probably would’ve had better adherence to the chicken) and half with bbq sauce. Both were good. I think the chicken breasts I buy (box of frozen average quality from Costco, injected with saline) are essentially already brined and so I’m not sure if the brining step here improves them much – I rarely grill chicken so it’s hard for me to know, but I think it did? I only needed about half the time for my medium-size chicken breasts on a large propane grill; by the end of the first 8-10 minute window with all burners on medium they were pretty much done and didn’t need the session with the middle burner off but I’m sure that all depends on your chicken size and grill strength. Oh – and I also recommend the Thermapen! I have the Thermapen and the Chef Alarm and have given away a few ThermoPops (and digital scales…I’m a fun friend).

    32. Anne Parker

      This lived up to its billing. I used thighs and marinated about 6 hours. Cooked on a 3 burner gas grill per your instructions. Instead of the sauces you included, I used chimichurri, because I had it. The chicken was moist and tender, and I even enjoyed it cold and sauceless for lunch the next day. Thank you!

    33. Kat

      I made this over the weekend and it truly is exceptional. Tried both the garlic-lime and lemon-herb vinaigrettes (taste testing for an upcoming visit from the in-laws) and my husband and I could not make up our minds, we kept going back and forth changing our minds on which was our favorite! Brining has changed my grill game! Thank you!

    34. sallyt

      LOVED this chicken – the brine is fantastic. I used 2 bone-in breasts, and five b-less s-less chicken thighs – next time I’d do the same and add a thigh. I brined for 10 hours with no ill effects. My thighs took 12 minutes to cook, and breasts around 20 minutes total. I made both the lemon and lime variations, and can’t decide which I prefer – they’re both delicious! I served it with this cauliflower, and lettuce from my garden drizzled with a little lemon dressing.

    35. Beth

      I made this over the weekend for a bbq and it got rave reviews. We did the lemon herb vinaigrette and there was not a morsel left afterward. Thanks Deb!

    36. Allison

      Exceptional grilled chicken is really the only way to describe this. I have only ever brined a turkey for thanksgiving (which by the time you sit down to eat and drown it in gravy, can you even tell the difference between a dry or brined bird)… but THIS was amazing! I halved the brine and used bone in chicken breasts and served with the lemon vinaigrette. This will be a weekly rotation all summer!

    37. Tamar

      I have used coconut aminos in place of fish sauce and thought it worked. It’s got a umami flavour that does the trick. (I used it for the garlic lime noodle steak salad recipe as I have a partner who WILL NOT even try it but will happily eat thai food out.)

    38. cary

      Truly perfect! We’ve done the lime version, and my husband actually gets excited when I say I’m grilling chicken! Moist, smoky, crispy bits of skin… I’ve been using a metal skewer or meat tenderizer with lots of little blades to pierce the skin all over. The fat renders out more evenly leaving less flabby skin, and marinades get in better.

    39. LB

      So, grilled chicken is not your favorite, Deb? Let me tell you my favorite, which is, if I may say so, the best ever ever ever.

      Throw about 8 bone in skin on thighs in a ziplock back with the following ingredients: lemon juice (2 lemons), coleman’s dry mustard and curry powder (roughly 1T each), with salt and pepper and EVOO. Marinate 20 minutes. Grill. Rest. Done. BESTEVER!

    40. Josh

      Really enjoyed learning this new technique. I’ve found the sweet spot of brining duration precisely in Deb’s posted window. Repeated several times, the lemon oregano sauce is wonderfully bright and forward. Excellent on the leftovers side as well!

    41. C

      This really is exceptional – have made it with the lemon herb and salsa verde and both were great. I make tons and keep leftovers for salad. An hour in the brine is plenty – gets rubbery if brined longer.

    42. patti with an i

      Made this for our July 4 family gathering, with the lemon-herb vinaigrette, and it was astonishingly good! The chicken was so very juicy and tender, the toss in the vinaigrette made it so incredibly bright and tasty. Everyone loved it!

    43. Debbie

      This truly was excellent. I was worried the skin would lose its crisp with the dip into the sauce but it didn’t. I was so happy with the results. Thanks for a great recipe!

    44. Pamela Poon

      I could not agree with you more, Deb, about the utter disappointment of most grilled chicken! I just made your recipe using the-most-likely-to-dry-out boneless skinless breasts (and some thighs because I always prefer moister dark meat) and they all came out beautifully! That first Thai-style vinaigrette is also superb—really yum—and so easy. (If only fish sauce would smell less like something rotten—never mind, it still tasted great!) Thanks for another SK winner,

    45. Liz

      I made this last night! The chicken was cooked perfectly, but I found the vinaigrette really didn’t do anything to add flavor, so it was pretty bland chicken. How do I get the vinaigrette to stay on the chicken and add flavor? I ended up with a bowl of flavorless chicken with all the vinaigrette at the bottom of it.

    46. Wow. This is amazing to read. I’m really admirative at the level of detail of your recipes. I have tried grilled chicken many times, but could never quite achieve “exceptional” grilled chicken. In France, we are mostly into red meats, that’s how tradition (works well with red wine). I’m definitely going to try this one because my attempts have been unfruitful thus far.

      Regards from Nîmes,

    47. Sarafina Smith

      This was my mom and I’s first time grilling chicken and it was amazing! Even the family members who barely eat meat went back for seconds. We used a mix of drumsticks and skinless breasts with the garlic lime herb dressing and even the breasts didn’t dry out.

    48. Laura

      Made this with the lime vinaigrette. Didn’t have cilantro or mint so I used parsley. Came out wonderful! I was worried that the raw garlic would be overwhelming but it wasn’t. Delicious!

    49. E

      The dressing was excellent but didn’t soak into the chicken, which turned this into an overall bland dish. Super disappointing. Perhaps at least salt and pepper the chicken before grilling?

    50. Elena Knetl

      I am like you where I don’t enjoy grilled chicken, but that’s changed with this recipe. Brining the chicken makes it so flavorful and juicy. It’s so easy, I don’t think I’ll ever make chicken without brining again.

      The salsa verde sauce was delicious.

    51. Olga

      This recipe looks like what my weekend needs!!
      I’ve been wanting to invest in a better thermometer. I don’t mind paying since it’s something that’ll last for a long time. Do you recommend any of the ones where the probe stays in the food while in the oven? We love roast chicken and etc here and that would be real handy in my house.

    52. Sara Grace Cast

      Can’t wait to try this tonight! Question – if I’m making half the chicken, can I make half the brine?

    53. Sarah

      Okay, so I have all the ingredients for the lime dressing… except lime! I DO have lemons.

      Any thoughts on making the lime dressing but with lemon subbed?

      THANKS! :D

    54. Maro

      This recipe NEVER disappoints. We have yet to make it with any bone-in or skin-on cuts — it’s perfect with boneless/skinless thighs or breasts.

      Made again tonight, we love it with citrus & fresh garden herbs. Thanks for making chicken at home enjoyable!

    55. heidi stettner

      I have made this several times with many different versions of vinaigrette and it is always delicious. My latest variation was to grill cabbage at the same time and then douse it in the vinaigrette as well. Best cabbage ever. Cut it into about 8 wedges, rub it with olive oil and salt, grill alongside the chicken until tender and charred.

    56. Daniella Heller

      Hi there, thank you for the great recipes.My name is Daniella, I am a mother of 11 kids (im an orthodox chabad Jew from Tzfat Israel) and a dog. I llike to cook(so so) and bake(love it!). I adore your site and read all your commentry, but I have the same difficulties with your recipes as with most recipes from the US. Please please for us, metric and celsius users, that do not have gas ovens and butter in cups (how is that possible anyway) think of us (me!!) When you write your recipes. By now i know how to convert quantities and degrees, but is gas oven the same as electric on this case? Thank you.

      1. deb

        You got it! Gas and electric ovens should work the same. I don’t test recipes in convection/fan but for something like this, it wouldn’t matter anyway.

    57. Linda Speert

      I love and often use your healthy and delicious recipes. Your directions are always clear and concise… excellent roadmap leaving no potential questions unanswered. This is the first time I have brined chicken. I will definitely use this technique again, but will plan to prep it even earlier so it can be in the brine longer than the hour I had this time. In spite of that, it was still moist and delicious after coming off the gas grill, even the breast! The Garlic-Lime-Herb Vinaigrette was delicious, even though I did not have fish sauce and, therefore, just omitted it. I will definitely make this again and try your other recommended vinaigrettes.

    58. Ann J Conroy

      If you make it with boneless breasts and thighs do you still do the second grilling step or will it overcook it? I made it with bone in thighs and it was delicious but thought I might try boneless next time. Absolutely delicious!

    59. Alexis

      I am (tragically) allergic to citrus. Any suggestions for a finishing vinaigrette that would use a different kind of acid?

    60. Sonya

      We have made this dish twice (in 2019 and 2021) and each time it’s come out beautifully and tastes delicious. We’ve used vinaigrette #1 both times. We’ve doubled and tripled the recipe for guests. I love it so much I may try it in the fall in the cast iron skillet and oven.

    61. I too have never liked grilled chicken, burnt cardboard-y edges and barely cooked centers. This was a great dish, tender juicy breasts and thighs, wow! I trimmed the boneless breasts and thighs, made them all similar thickness 3/4 inch) then brined for 3 hours before grilling. The vinaigrette was like chimichurri-my husband loved it, too. I grilled zucchini and served it with brown rice and leftover walnut kale salad. Deb we so appreciate your thoughtful way of teaching and cooking. After almost 40 years of cooking, I am still learning and enjoying it because of you (and Kenji)!

    62. Annaliese

      I made this last night using bone-in skin-on chicken thighs on a very temperamental gas grill that has only one setting: blast furnace. By the time the thighs had reached an internal temp of 165, I was convinced they had been ruined because the outsides looked so overdone. But to my great surprise, my partner declared it the best chicken I’d ever made. The thighs were charred and crispy on the outside and SO juicy inside. Not even our terrible grill could ruin them. This recipe is magic!

      I did a 2-hour brine and used the ginger-lime vinaigrette with lime zest added for extra zip. Served it, as suggested, with the cabbage-cucumber slaw from Deb’s first cookbook. A light, satisfying dinner on a hot summer evening. And minimal dishes to wash! Absolute perfection.

    63. Cherie

      Does the Garlic Lime vinaigrette taste fishy at all? My husband eats zero seafood but I’m not opposed to using it if he’s unable to tell. And yes, without his knowledge!

    64. Sarah

      I only love grilled chicken if it’s flavored well and isn’t dry also. My go to grilled chicken recipe is marinating skinless boneless thighs in the Street Cart chicken marinade from your cookbook (which we eat OFTEN) overnight in the fridge and then throwing it on the grill. Give it a try. You can’t go wrong with that marinade.