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Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette

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Serve Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette over salad greens, rice pilaf, or pasta for an easy and delicious dinner. This easy recipe starts with perfectly grilled chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper.

Once removed from the grill, the chicken is basted with a sweet and tangy lemon vinaigrette. Light, fresh, and healthy, this is one of my favorite grilling recipes ever.

It is possible to skip the marinade and still get deliciously tender and juicy grilled chicken — and in just 15 minutes, too. For years, we’ve followed Bobby Flay’s EASY technique for grilling perfectly moist and tender chicken. No more overcooked or dry chicken for us — thanks, Bobby!

two grilled chicken breasts on a blue plate with lemons

How to grill chicken

Follow these tips for moist and juicy grilled chicken breasts every time:

  • Start with a hot grill. The grill should be preheated to a medium high temperature, approximately 400 degrees.
  • Pound the chicken. Boneless chicken breasts are not uniform in size, so you want to pound them so they are an even thickness. To do this, either place them in a large ziplock plastic bag or between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and use a rubber meat mallet to gently pound the chicken to about a 1/2-inch thickness. You may also use the palm of your hands or a rolling pin to pound the chicken.
  • Season the chicken. Brush the chicken with olive oil on all sides, then generously season it with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Don’t flip, flip, flip! Only turn the chicken once during cooking. Cook the chicken on the first side for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Avoid overcooking. The chicken will continue cooking a bit once it is removed from the grill and tented with aluminum foil. With the chicken pounded to an even thickness, it will cook more evenly and take less time.
  • Tent with aluminum foil. This step is very important and will ensure that the chicken retains all those wonderful juices, keeping it moist.
  • Give it a rest. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
dredging a lemon half in turbinado sugar

Caramelized lemon vinaigrette

Caramelizing Meyer lemons creates a delicious layer of flavor in this simple vinaigrette. The process is pretty simple: 1.) dredge the cut side of the lemon halves in turbinado sugar; 2.) cook until the sugar caramelizes; 3.) squeeze out the juice for the vinaigrette.

It’s important to remember that sugar can burn quickly, so as the lemons cook watch carefully. You don’t want them to get scorched (charred and black). Instead cook until the cut surface is a nice golden brown.

Use a set of tongs to check the lemons frequently, then remove them to a plate to cool when they turn the color desired. Once cool, whisk the lemon juice together with a pinch of salt, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil to make the vinaigrette.

Leftover Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette is not only delicious on today’s grilled chicken, it’s wonderful on grilled fish, kale salads, and even pasta salads.

Variations

You may enjoy substituting other citrus fruit in this vinaigrette recipe, like:

  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Pink or red grapefruit
caramelized lemon halves on a plate

Let’s cook!

I love using turbinado sugar in recipes and keep a box handy for sprinkling on top of my muffins and scones before baking. However, if you don’t have turbinado sugar (or sugar in the raw) in your pantry, you may use regular white sugar instead.

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Yield: 4 servings

Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette

two grilled chicken breasts garnished with charred lemons on a blue plate

Serve Grilled Chicken with Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette over salad greens, rice pilaf, or pasta for an easy and delicious dinner.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 8- oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette

  • 2 Meyer lemons, halved
  • Raw or turbinado sugar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Chicken

  1. Preheat the grill to high heat, approximately 400 – 450 degrees.
  2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then place them in a large ziplock plastic bag or between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Use a plastic meat mallet or the palm of your hand to pound the chicken to an even thickness, about ½ inch.
  3. Brush the chicken with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place on the preheated grill and cook, without turning, for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook on the other side for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken to a platter and baste immediately with the vinaigrette. Loosely cover the chicken with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve drizzled with more vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette

  1. Preheat a small sauté pan — do not use cast iron — over medium high heat until hot, but not smoking.
  2. Dip the cut side of each lemon half in the raw sugar. When the pan is hot, press the sugared side of the lemon onto the surface of the pan. Cook until the lemons start to caramelize, bubbling and sizzling, being careful not to burn.
  3. Remove the lemon halves to a plate and cool completely, then squeeze ¼ cup of the juice into a small bowl. Save any leftover juice and lemons for later use.
  4. Add a pinch of salt, Dijon mustard, and white wine vinegar to the bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking until the dressing is emulsified.

Notes

Vinaigrette recipe adapted from Food 52.
Perfectly Grilled Chicken Breasts, Bobby Flay’s GRILL IT!, 2008
  • You may substitute regular white sugar for the turbinado sugar.
  • When dredging the lemons, only a light coating is needed.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 692Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 382mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 71g

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