Juicy Grilled Citrus Chicken

I get sooo tired of boring grilled chicken recipes. Most don’t infuse enough flavor and they often turn out dry. Grilled Citrus Chicken is different. Come learn why!

Grilled Chicken with Lemons on a White Plate


Looking for juicy chicken on the grill? Check out my Citrus Grilled Chicken recipe and tips for the best chicken on the grill!

Grilled Citrus Chicken is a flavorful and moist grilled chicken recipe using lemon, orange and garlic. Perfect for a salad, sandwich or to eat on its own.

Grilled chicken often comes with its own set of problems. Lack of flavor and being dried out. I am going to give you a few tips for grilled chicken to make sure this doesn’t happen!

PRO TIP: Tenderize the crap out of chicken for the grill!

It is actually just one main tip. A tip that will work with nearly any marinated grilled chicken breast recipe.

Raw chicken breasts on a cookie sheet

Tenderizing your chicken using a meat mallet achieves two things.

The first is that your chicken is now a uniform thickness. Dry Chicken happens when people cook to the correct temperture at the thickest part of the meat, but that means the rest of the breast is overcooked and rubbery.

Grilled CHicken with lemons

The second is that tenderizing breaks down fibers and opens them up, allowing all of the flavors from your marinade to soak right on in. In fact, even if you only have an hour to marinate, tenderizing will still allow it to have flavor, so imagine how great it will taste after 6-24 hours!

Okay… there might be a few more than one tip….

Grilled sliced chicken on a salad

Cutting thin slices will also help your chicken marinate all the way through and cook more evenly. Whether you do both tenderize and cut slits will depend greatly on the size of the chicken breast. If they are smaller or thin, do one or the other, not both.

Picking the right marinade is also as critical as tenderizing your chicken. You want a marinade that has an acid, salt and fat. Alternately, you can use a brine recipe for chicken with citrus flavors in it.

In this case, the lemon, orange and lime provides the acid, the salt is the salt and olive oil is the fat. Beautifully simplistic.

close up of lemon wedges with grilled chicken

Water is the only item that will truly sink into your meat, but it will take on the other flavors you’ve added to the easy marinade.

This one seems obvious, but it is the most common mistake when grilling chicken: do not overcook your chicken! Chicken needs to be an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Take it off the grill right before it approaches this temperature and allow it to rest, which will bring it up to the right temperature. Don’t be worried about looking like an ametuar using a meat thermometer. Every notable chef has one attached to their being at all times.

Close up of grilled sliced chicken

Don’t guess and ruin it, just take the darn temp!

Lastly, allow your chicken to rest. Resting allows juices that went to the center of the meat (think of puckering) to redistribute. Cutting into it too early can result in losing all those juices to the cutting board.

In review, tips for juicy chicken on the grill:

  • Tenderize and/or thinly slice your chicken.
  • Use a flavorful marinade with salt, acid, fat and water.
  • Don’t overcook your chicken.
  • Use a digital thermometer to measure doneness, don’t just wing it.
  • Allow your chicken to rest before serving.

With these tips and my Grilled Citrus Chicken recipe, you will be ready to rock and roll. Use this chicken in a salad, a sandwich or even on its own!

Grilled Citrus Chicken for Pinterest

If you liked this grilled chicken recipe, you’ll love these two:

close up angled shot of chicken on a plate with lemons

Ranch Grilled Chicken

4.59 from 36 votes
Fire up the grill and make this delicious and juicy Ranch Grilled Chicken for dinner tonight! The best part? You only need 5 ingredients!
See The Recipe!
bowl of easy chicken tortilla soup with tortilla strips, avocado and cilantro

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

4.50 from 12 votes
This is an easy chicken tortilla soup that can be on your table in less than an hour. A rich tomato broth with a bit of spice and large chunks of chicken make this a hearty and comforting meal!
See The Recipe!

Questions you might have about how to make citrus chicken marinade:

Do I have to use chicken breast? Nope! You can use whatever cut of chicken you prefer. I’ve actually decided I like boneless chicken thighs the most on the grilled. Drums are also a lot less expensive, have tons of flavors and are great for parties.

How long can I marinate the chicken? You can marinate the chicken up to 24 in advance. The least amount of time is 10 minutes, but chicken really needs time to absorb the flavors.

If you are running low on time, you can also use a meat tenderizer to break apart the fibers, allowing the marinade to sink in fast.

Plated grilled chicken with lemons

Can I freeze marinated chicken? You can! I sometimes freeze raw chicken in marinade or cooked chicken in individual pieces. I can take them out and defrost them for salads or sandwiches on the fly.

What sides go best with grilled chicken? I personally think of cookout items like:

Won’t my chicken get cold if I let it rest? I guarantee you that your chicken will be too hot to eat right off the grill. Allowing it to rest for 5 minutes won’t let it get too cold, but will allow it to be juicier.

Can I eat grilled chicken cold? Sure! Make this chicken and stick it in the fridge for a low carb snack or salads. Great for lunches and meal prep too.

Grilled Chicken Salad
close up of lemon wedges with grilled chicken

Grilled Citrus Chicken Recipe

4.34 from 3 votes
Looking for juicy chicken on the grill? Check out my Citrus Grilled Chicken recipe and tips for the best chicken on the grill!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4



  • Lightly tenderize chicken using the flat head of a meat mallet. Cut slits into each chicken breast about 1/2 inch apart and only cutting half way through the breasts. This will help the marinade sink in and cook quicker on the grill.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a large plastic bag along with chicken. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.
  • Heat grill to medium-high heat. Spray with grill approved cooking spray and place chicken directly over heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until done. Since the sizes of chicken varies greatly, so will the cooking times.
  • Remove and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!


Chicken can also be baked at 350 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes or until fully cooked.


Calories: 385 kcal, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Protein: 48 g, Fat: 19 g, Saturated Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 145 mg, Sodium: 409 mg, Potassium: 867 mg, Sugar: 1 g, Vitamin A: 99 IU, Vitamin C: 11 mg, Calcium: 11 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Calories: 385
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken on the grill, citrus chicken marinade, grilled chicken recipe
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. This looks fabulous! I can’t wait to add this one to my lunches. I’m always looking for great dishes with chicken so I can stay healthy. Love it!

  2. I would love to be able to grab a salad kit. Having it be a southwest kit would be a bonus! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I always have good intentions when I buy a bunch of produce for salads. Despite my efforts I end up with a drawer full of disappointment. There are times when a kit would make things a lot easier.