Juicy? But aren’t grilled chicken breasts usually dry?
Chicken breasts need not be dry. And today we’re featuring juicy grilled chicken breasts to prove it.
Grilled chicken breasts tend to get a bad wrap because they often come out dry. Chicken thighs and legs, on the other hand, usually come out juicy.
The reason for this difference is the fat content. Chicken breasts have very little fat and therefore come out dryer unless some form of moisture is added into the meat.
So how do you make chicken breasts moist and juicy? You brine them!
Brining is something I only started doing in recent years. I can say that once I tried, my mind was blown!
So what’s a brine? What’s this magical potion?
There’s really no magic. A brine is basically a salt water bath for raw meats. The brine can be as simple as dissolved salt in water or it can also have more ingredients for additional flavour, if you want. In addition to salt, other common ingredients include peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sugar, etc. The trick is to make the water taste like the ocean.
For today’s recipe we kept our brine simple with only salt in the water.
Brining is perfect for lean cuts of meat. You can brine breast, pork chops, turkey, and more. For smaller cuts such as chicken breasts and pork chops, 30 to 60 minutes is perfect and will drastically enhance the juiciness and flavour of your meat. For larger cuts like a whole turkey, it’s best to brine overnight in a large container.
Whether for a short period of time, or overnight, you have to remember to always put the covered brining container in the fridge!
So was brining the only trick? Nope! We flattened the chicken as well.
Chicken breasts are pretty thick and uneven. It’s hard to cook them through to the centre without drying the outside, especially the thinner, less meaty part of the breast.
A simple method to ensure the chicken cooks evenly is to flatten it. Before brining, place one chicken breast at a time in a sealable clear bag and beat it with a meat mallet/tenderizer (over a cutting board) until the chicken breast is about 1/2 inch thick all around.
By flattening the chicken, the meat cooks quickly and consistently through-out.
About those spices…
After I flattened and brined the chicken I added some spices before putting the breasts on the grill.
While the brine already adds moisture and flavour to the meat, it’s okay to add spices before grilling. For today’s recipe, i used a basic combination of spices: salt, pepper, garlic, powder, chili powder and paprika.
And the result? Perfectly delicious, juicy chicken breasts!
We invite you to give our recipe a try. Brine, flatten and eat well, friends!
Brined and flattened juicy grilled chicken breasts
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 6 cups water
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts skinless
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- Vegetable oil for brushing/greasing the grill
- Whisk and dissolve the salt in the water in a medium bowl.
- Flatten the chicken breasts. Place one chicken breast in a sealable clear bag over a cutting board, and beat it with a meat mallet/tenderizer until it's about 1/2 inch thick all around. Repeat for all chicken breasts.
- Place the chicken breasts in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and place the bowl in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to about 400 ºF.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the bowl and pat each one dry with paper towel.
- Place all 4 flattened chicken breasts, side by side on a large serving dish.
- In a small bowl, mix together all the spices.
- Sprinkle the spices evenly over all 4 chicken breasts, on both sides.
- Drizzle some oil on a paper towel or old clean cloth towel and use tongs to brush the oil over the grill grates.
- Place the chicken breasts on the hot grill and close the lid. Cook for about 2 minutes.
- Open the lid and (without flipping) rotate the chicken breasts 45 degrees to create the cross hatch. The 45 degree angle is just for asthetics and doesn't need to be exact. Close the lid and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Flip the chicken breasts and repeat the last 2 steps.
- Your chicken is ready to be served! Serve on a ceaser salad, with fries, over some pasta, or any side you love. Enjoy!