The Best Grilled Chicken

Chicken – especially chicken breast – is one of those things that tends to strike fear into the heart of every enthusiastic backyard griller.  Grilled chicken though, should be moist and delicious and a simple alternative to burgers and dogs.  Never fear, this fool-proof recipe can take as little as 45 minutes to prepare start to finish, and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Time: 60 – 90 Minutes
Level: Easy
Cost: $6-8/plate
Serves: 4-6


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 chicken drumsticks (if you have a few people who like dark meat)
  • 2 cups plain Greek Yogurt (I prefer the original stuff, not the low fat stuff)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • Pinch saffron or saffron salt (Trader Joe’s sells a decent little jar of Saffron for about 6 bucks)
  • 1 TBSP Dijon mustard (not that yellow crap)
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • bunch fresh cilantro


Whisk all ingredients except chicken and cilantro in a large bowl until well combined.  Marinate chicken in mixture for at least 20 minutes, or up to 1 hour.  (You can do this by dumping the chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade, tossing it in the bowl with the marinade, etc – whatever works.  The key is making sure the chicken is well coated and gets to sit with the acidity of the marinade for a minimum of 20 minutes).

Set up grill for 2-zone cooking, shooting for 400F at grate-level on the hot side.  Lightly oil grill grates to ensure chicken doesn’t stick (if it does, it isn’t the end of the world – it just means you didn’t wait long enough before trying to flip it).  Using tongs, remove chicken from marinade, shaking of the excess, and grill on the hot side of the grill until nicely charred, 7-10 minutes (discard excess marinade).  Flip chicken with tongs and repeat on the other side.  Transfer chicken to cool side of grill and allow to cook through until an instant-read thermometer registers 155F – 160F for white meat chicken, or, for dark meat chicken, shoot for 165F- 170F – if you’re doing both, give the dark meat a 10 minute head start.  Remove chicken from grill, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  While chicken is resting, finely chop cilantro.  Sprinkle chopped cilantro over chicken and serve.

I like to serve this dish Mediterranean style with rice pilaf, pita bread, and hummus on the side.

Note:  The yogurt marinade is a little messy on the grill.  For this recipe in particular, I recommend leaving the grill on high or medium high while the chicken is resting to allow the excess to burn off, and then scraping down the grill grates while they are still hot.

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