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Mouth-watering Italian Grilled Chicken boasts a perfect level of tenderness with a sweet, tangy, and savory flavor all at once. This copycat recipe comes from Carrabba’s Italian Grill — a go-to spot for many who love Italian cuisine — and incorporates the restaurant’s unique signature seasoning and is basted with an incredible sauce made from fresh ingredients. Every single bite is enjoyable and appetizing!
Summer is here, so it’s time to fire up the grill! Grilled chicken is perfect as a main dish for lunch or dinner, and it also tops a salad or pasta so well.
I love when you can enjoy a restaurant-quality dish in the comfort of your own home. Even better is the sense of accomplishment you get when you take a bite of the copycat recipe, which tastes just like your restaurant favorite!
Key ingredients & substitutions for Carrabbas Grilled Chicken Recipe
- Chicken | For this recipe, use boneless skinless chicken breasts. If preferred, use boneless chicken thighs instead.
- Salt and pepper | Season the chicken with a little kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Garlic | Add subtle spice with granulated garlic. If necessary, garlic powder will also work.
- Onion powder | Onion powder brings a rich flavor to the seasoning mix.
- Oregano | Complete this copycat Carrabba’s Grill seasoning with a pinch of dried oregano.
- Butter | Use creamy unsalted butter to saute the onion and garlic.
- Onion and garlic | Add flavor to the recipe with a small yellow onion and minced fresh garlic cloves.
- Flour | Thicken the basting sauce with all-purpose flour. For a gluten-free alternative, use cornstarch or arrowroot.
- Oil | You’ll get the best taste with extra-virgin olive oil, but you can use standard olive oil if preferred.
- Red wine vinegar | Add red wine vinegar to bring tangy notes to the sauce. If you don’t have it on hand, white distilled vinegar also does the trick.
- Dijon mustard | For a richer and deeper flavor, add Dijon mustard to the mix. If necessary, replace it with regular or stone-ground mustard.
- Lemon | Brighten the sauce flavor with fresh lemon juice. Store-bought also works, but it will have a more subtle flavor.
- Sugar | Sprinkle in a little granulated sugar to sweeten the basting sauce.
- Italian parsley | As a final touch, add freshly chopped Italian Parsley to the blend, bringing refreshing herbaceous notes. Use dried parsley if needed.
How to make the Best Italian Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe
Enjoy the delicious flavors of classic Carrabba’s grilled chicken in just seven simple steps!
STEP 1 | Prepare the chicken breasts
Start by patting the boneless chicken breasts dry with paper towels, then place them on a tray. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and oregano.
Next, sprinkle the spice mixture evenly on all sides of the chicken and let it rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the basting sauce.
STEP 2 | Saute the onions and garlic
Now, onto the sauce! In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the finely chopped onion, cooking them until they’re nice and tender, taking about 5 minutes.
Next, sprinkle in the garlic and continue cooking for just another 30 seconds until it’s fragrant.
STEP 3 | Combine sauce ingredients
Then, stir in the flour and cook for another minute, stirring constantly — be sure not to brown the ingredients.
Whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and sugar, and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until the ingredients slightly thicken.
STEP 4 | Add the parsley and let cool
Next, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the parsley. Before firing up the grill, let the mixture cool to room temperature. The grill will separate, so whisk again before using it.
- Garnish — Save some lemon wedges to garnish the meal and add a bit more refreshing citrus flavor as a final touch. Or serve it with a tasty lemon butter sauce.
- Grill Pan — If preferred, you can cook this recipe indoors with a grill pan.
STEP 5 | Start grilling!
Once the basting sauce has cooled, preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates. Place the chicken on the grill, then baste with the sauce.
STEP 6 | Baste and check doneness
Cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, then flip and baste it on the other side. Continue grilling and basting until just cooked through, about five more minutes.
Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 155 degrees. The exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
STEP 7 | Rest and serve!
When done, transfer the chicken to a platter or cutting board and tent it with aluminum foil to rest for 5 minutes before serving so it retains all the tasty juices — ENJOY!
- The Touch Test — Without a meat thermometer, there are other ways to tell if the chicken is done cooking and safe to eat. One is called the ‘touch test.’ Relax your hand and feel the fleshy part of your palm just beneath the thumb. This texture is most similar to raw meat. For well-done chicken, press your pinky finger against the tip of your thumb and feel the same area. It is much more form, indicating it is well done and safe to eat. With a quick Google search, discover how to determine other levels of doneness using this method.
Or, if you’re craving something extra special, check out this sweet, summery Grilled Chicken Breast recipe with strawberry salsa!
This grilled chicken recipe is great for serving over fettuccine alfredo or a Caesar salad with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Or you can also make this chicken dish a delicious meal by serving it over tasty Cherry Tomato Pasta.
Try serving the dish with Cucumber Tomato Feta Salad for something refreshing and nutritious. It’s also excellent with classic potatoes and veggies, like Lemon Garlic Smashed Potatoes, and a flavorful mix of Lemon Mustard Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower.
Frequently asked questions
Compared to other methods of cooking chicken, like frying, grilling chicken is typically healthier. But it also depends on the sauce and seasoning ingredients involved, as well as the cut of meat. Grilled chicken breasts with simple seasoning are one of the healthiest ways to enjoy chicken because you need less oil.
Store leftover grilled chicken in an airtight container for three to four days in the refrigerator. First, allow the meat to cool some, but never leave it out for over two hours at room temperature, or you may run into food safety concerns.
To reheat the dish, bake, pan-fry, or grill the chicken until it is heated through, careful not to dry it out too much. Using the microwave to heat the chicken also works but is more likely to result in a dry texture.
If you prefer to bake this chicken recipe in the oven, preheat it to 350 degrees. Then, bake the chicken for about 25 to 30 minutes, spending on the size of the chicken breasts. You want the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees.
Behind the recipe: Carrabba’s Italian Grilled Chicken
Carrabbas Italian Grill is the favorite restaurant for many people and for good reason! Two men from a family with Sicilian roots, Johnny Carrabba III and Damian Mandola came together to introduce America to a unique way of Italian cooking mixed with their family’s travels and influences.
Carrabba’s menu differs from other Italian restaurants because it is a beautiful blend of many cultures that infused the Mandola-Carrabba family for centuries as they traveled from Sicily to the East Coast of America, then inland to Texas and other areas.
For this reason, some Italians criticize their recipes, like the Chicken Bryan, Chicken Marsala, and others, for being not authentic.
However, Carrabbas doesn’t try to stick to traditional Italian meals. Instead, they want to share their diverse family recipes impacted by their history and journey to who they are today.
Italian Grilled Chicken (Carrabba Family Recipe)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Italian parsley
- Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and place them on a tray. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and oregano. Then, sprinkle the spice mixture evenly on all sides of the chicken. Let rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the basting sauce.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the finely diced onions and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly — do not brown. Then, whisk in the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before grilling. The baste will separate, so whisk again before using.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grates. Place the chicken on the grill, then baste with the sauce.
- Cook the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, then flip and baste the other side. Continue grilling and basting until just cooked through, 5 to 7 more minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center reads 155 degrees. The exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
- When done, transfer the chicken to a platter or cutting board and tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Save some lemon wedges to garnish the meal and add a bit more refreshing citrus flavor as a final touch.
- If preferred, you can cook this recipe indoors with a grill pan.
- Without a meat thermometer, there are other ways to tell if the chicken is done cooking and safe to eat. One is called the ‘touch test.’ Relax your hand and feel the fleshy part of your palm just beneath the thumb. This texture is most similar to raw meat. For well-done chicken, press your pinky finger against the tip of your thumb and feel the same area. It is much more form, indicating it is well done and safe to eat.
Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.