How to Grill Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

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How to grill boneless skinless chicken breasts so they stay juicy and don't get dried out.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Grilled Chicken Breast: The Problem

When it comes to grilling, chicken breasts can be problematic, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The meat itself is lean, and without the bones to insulate it or skin to protect it, that naked chicken breast on the grill has a tendency to easily overcook and dry out.

So, what to do?

One method is to marinate chicken cutlets, or chicken breasts pounded to an even thickness, and quickly grill them on high heat. We use this method for our cilantro lime chicken and it works fine.

Grilled Chicken Breast: The Solution (Brine!)

Another way, which doesn’t require you to change the shape of the chicken breasts, is to brine the chicken first, for half an hour.

Perfectly done Sliced Grilled Chicken Breast ready to eat

All it takes is 30 minutes in a simple 1/4 cup kosher salt, 4 cup water brine solution, for the chicken breasts to absorb enough moisture so they can better hold up to the heat of the grill without drying out.

After half an hour the salt that is absorbed isn’t so much as to make your chicken salty, but enough so that the flavor of the grilled chicken will be enhanced. We would normally salt grilled chicken breasts, right? Don’t need to do that if you brine.

Then it’s a simple rub with paprika (great for color) and olive oil (no sticking on the grill), and onto the hot side of the grill it goes for searing, and the cool side for finishing. And you have beautiful, perfectly juicy grilled chicken breasts!

How to Grill Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Brining time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

It's always a good idea to use a meat thermometer when cooking meat at least an inch thick. We take our chicken off the grill at a little bit lower temp (150°F) than is  usually recommended for poultry, but that's because the chicken will continue to cook for a few minutes off the heat, and we let the chicken rest for several minutes before eating, so it's safe.



  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup Diamond Crystal kosher salt (or 3 Tbsp sea salt or Morton's kosher salt)


  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (plus more olive oil for the grill)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika


1 Brine the chicken breast: Use a whisk to dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts to the brine. Put in refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

2 Prepare your grill: Arrange your grill so that one side is for high direct heat, and the other side is cooler.

Alternatively, you can use a grill pan, heat on medium high heat.

3 Coat chicken with oil and paprika: Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry. Coat with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with paprika.

4 Grill the chicken breasts: Brush some olive oil on the grill grates. Place chicken breasts on the hot side of the grill (or on the grill pan). Let grill without moving, until the chicken pieces start getting some grill marks (you can lift up one to check).

When the chicken pieces have browned on one side, turn them over, and move them to the cooler side of the grill. Cover, and let finish cooking.

Remove chicken from grill when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 155°F.

5 Let the chicken breasts rest: Cover the breasts with foil to rest. The chicken will continue to cook in its residual heat while it rests. Let it rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Serve with grilled peppers, pineapple salsa, or just a squeeze of lime!

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Cilantro Lime Chicken here on Simply Recipes

5-Minute Grilled Chicken Cutlets from Serious Eats

Plate of Veggies and Perfectly Grilled Chicken Breast

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

25 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. JayP

    Thanks so much for the great tip, turned my usual dry skinless boneless chicken breasts into a delicacy


  2. Kim

    I added tonnes of thyme to the brine, and used generic BBQ spice (dried, Selection brand) after the olive oil brushing.

    I didn’t have a grill safe thermometer, so once I moved the chicken breasts to the cool side and limed them, I just kept checking for clear juices. I think I could have taken them off just a few moments sooner, but I get nervous about salmonella…!

    They were juicy, delicious, and my son rates the recipe a 9.5 out of 5. Thanks so much!


  3. Shannon

    I’m going to use this recipe but I bought boneless skinless chicken breast. Do I still do the brine with the same amount of salt?

    Show Replies (1)
  4. Zas

    Thanks again, Elise!! Another wonderful recipe. I can’t remember when I started following you but I’ve been beyond pleased with everything I’ve made from your site. Thank you for sharing such deliciousness!!! May God bless you and your family!

  5. Cathy

    I am making roasted vegetable with orzo and would like to make this chicken ahead of time for a lunch crowd. Would this chicken stay moist ?
    Also any other side dish recommendations ?
    Thank you

    Show Replies (1)
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Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken BreastsHow to Grill Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts