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The Best Grilled Chicken Recipes

The Best Grilled Chicken Recipes

One of our favorite ways to prepare chicken in the summertime is on the grill. There’s something about the smell of chicken on the grill that is so reminiscent of summer, and even when you grill in other seasons, it brings to mind long summer days, and enjoying the outdoors while grilling a delicious meal.  Everyone has their favorites of course, but we think these are some of the best grilled chicken recipes to try.

Grilling is also super easy and creates very few dishes!  Perfect for those who love to cook but hate to clean! You can even grill delicious sides along with your meat (making sure you adhere to proper food safety protocols of course), such as marinated vegetables, or even grilled fruit (yes, grilled fruit!) for dessert. Some of our personal grilled fruit favorites are pineapples and peaches.

But of course, the cornerstone of your grilled meal will be the chicken. A flavorful dry rub or marinade is a great place to start, or you can make or purchase a paleo barbecue sauce to add some moisture and flavor. 

The Best Meals Begin with the Best Ingredients

No matter how delicious your seasonings or how impressive your cooking skills, a meal is only as good as the quality of its ingredients. Once you make the switch to pasture raised chicken, you’re bound to notice a difference in the taste of your meat. Because of the eclectic, nutritious diet that chickens are afforded when they graze on pasture, the meat from pasture raised chickens has a much more intense and savory flavor than its factory farmed counterparts. We’ve all heard the old saying “you are what you eat”, and in this case, a varied diet for the chickens results in a much more complex flavor in their meat. 

Apart from the incredible taste, pasture raised meat is much more nutritious, and this is also because of how the chickens are raised. The nutritious diet that the chickens eat throughout their lifetime results in meat that has 3 times the omega-3s, fifty percent more vitamin A, D, and E (really!), and 21 percent less saturated fat than factory farmed chicken. We’ve experienced firsthand the benefits of switching to a diet of high quality food, including pasture raised meats, and we can attest to the health benefits that we noticed once we made that life-changing decision.

A Little Prep Work Goes a Long Way

Sometimes, knowing how to prepare chicken for grilling is more important than the grilling itself. While grilling can impart a savory, delicious flavor to your chicken, if you’re not careful, your grilled chicken can turn out dry and rubbery. But following these few easy tips will help ensure that your grilled chicken turns out moist and flavorful so you can enjoy the best grilled chicken recipes:

  • Tenderize your chicken - this can be done a couple of different ways. 

  • Mechanically tenderizing meat is done with a meat mallet or other piece of kitchen equipment. Simply place your chicken breasts in a gallon sized freezer bag, and pound them until they reach your desired thickness. About a ½ inch is what we recommend. If you cook with chicken breasts often, you’ve likely noticed that they are usually quite uneven, with thickness in the middle of the breast, and a much thinner cut towards the ends. When grilling, the ends can tend to get dry and overcooked while you work to get the thickest part of the meat to a safe temperature. Mechanically tenderizing the chicken helps to balance the thickness of the meat, resulting in more even cooking and a more tender piece of meat. 

    Enzymatically tenderizing can be done by adding a bit of fruit or fruit juice such as pineapple, papaya, or kiwi to your marinade. It sounds funky, but these fruits contain digestive enzymes that help to break down the tough fibers of meat. Just make sure not to marinate the meat for too long, or it will become mushy. We recommend marinading your chicken for about 30 minutes. 

    Finally, thermally tenderizing meat is done by cooking it for a long time over a lower temperature to help break down the connective tissue and collagen. This technique is better reserved for grilling cuts of meat such as ribs or brisket, so we recommend mechanically or enzymatically tenderizing your chicken breasts prior to cooking.

  • Marinate, marinate, marinate! Marinating chicken prior to grilling helps to infuse a delicious flavor in the meat. Using the same gallon-sized freezer bag you (hopefully) used to tenderize your meat, make a marinade using a recipe of your choice, or just "wing" it ;) with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. You can put the bag in the refrigerator and marinate for a few hours (unless you’ve used one of the enzymatic tenderizers mentioned above, then you’ll want to marinate for no longer than about 30 minutes). Make sure the marinade completely coats the chicken prior to cooking, and you can even baste the chicken with it early in the cooking process, but don’t reuse the marinade or baste the chicken towards the end of the grilling process, for food safety reasons.

  • Don’t overcook your chicken - This seems like a no brainer, but it is surprisingly easy to overcook chicken, especially on a grill where the heat may be higher than other forms of cooking. An easy solution is to invest in a digital meat thermometer. This will allow you to monitor the temperature of the meat during the grilling process, and to remove the meat from the grill once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. The chicken will continue to cook slightly as it rests, so removing it from the grill as soon as it reaches 165 degrees F ensures that it won’t become a tough, overcooked piece of meat. 

  • We hope these tips will help you to really up your grilling game, especially in time for you to enjoy these last few weeks of summertime grilling season and before we move into the seasons of cold-weather comfort foods like casseroles and soups. 

    Grilled chicken pairs really well with a fresh salad, roasted (or grilled!) vegetables, or even a summertime soup like gazpacho. It’s such a versatile meat and depending on how you choose to marinate or spice it, grilled chicken can be the cornerstone of so many different meals. 

    Happy grilling and please enjoy the best grilled chicken recipes!

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