When it comes to dinner, I’m a planner. I have a routine. I find out what’s on sale at my favorite grocery store, ask my family what they feel like having, look at the weekly calendar to figure out who’s going to be home when, and plan menus from that. More often than not, there’s a white index card on my refrigerator with the menu for each night’s dinner written on it.
But every once in a while, that system falls apart. Life gets extra busy, or I realize at 5 p.m. that I forgot to put that pork roast in the slow cooker, or a million other things, and I just have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner.
This quick and easy lemon grilled chicken is perfect for those times. You can have it on the table in under an hour, with ingredients you probably have on hand. It’s also a great meal planned ahead, when you can give the chicken more time to marinate. It’s inexpensive, low in calories, and super tasty.
To begin the recipe, thaw and trim the chicken breasts. If you have to thaw them in a hurry, you can use the microwave. I used three boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that I bought at Costco, and they were huge, so I cut them in half, making diagonal cuts to try to keep the pieces an even thickness. After trimming away the fat and tendons, I had about 24 ounces of chicken breast, which serves six people, or four if they’re really hungry.
The marinade for this chicken contains olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. It doesn’t have a strong mustard taste, though – the mustard just enhances the lemon flavor. Mix up the marinade and put it in a bowl just large enough to hold it and the chicken breasts, and let the chicken marinate anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Longer is better, but don’t go past 2 hours, because marinating chicken breasts in an acidic liquid too long can make them tougher.
I cooked my lemon chicken on a stovetop grill pan, but you could also cook it on an outdoor grill or in a frying pan. You can serve this with a simple baked potato and veggie side dish for a no-fuss healthy dinner. This recipe pairs well with Slimmed-Down Roasted Broccoli, Balsamic Roasted Carrots, or Berry Spinach Salad.
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- ¼ c. olive oil
- Juice of 1 large or 2 small lemons (about ¼ c.)
- 2 t. Dijon mustard
- ½ t. salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 t. dried thyme
- Cut chicken breast pieces in half, if they are very large, making diagonal cuts to keep pieces an even thickness. Trim visible fat and tendons. Whisk remaining ingredients in a medium bowl to combine. Add chicken pieces and press down so chicken pieces are covered with marinade. Allow chicken to marinate at least 20 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Heat a stovetop grill pan, frying pan, or outdoor grill to medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, or until no longer pink in the center. If using an instant-read meat thermometer, cook to 160 degrees.
- Remove chicken from heat and serve with additional lemon wedges for garnish (optional).