Now that the summer is half over (how is that happening?!!) I think it’s high time I share my go-to, easy, no fuss extremely flavorful citrus marinade that will make grilling ordinary chicken breasts new and exciting. Don’t you think? Guys, we’ve got to maximize every grilling moment we’ve got!!
That said, I’ve got a grilling pet peeve when it comes to marinades. I hate overly fussy ones, where you have to precisely measure out hard-to-find ingredients and chop or mince them up just so. Ugh! Takes the fun out of the carefreeness that grilling outdoors is supposed to be all about—you know that vacation-y feeling you sort of get when you taste something cooked out-of-doors, even if it’s a just a typical Tuesday night.
So I especially love this marinade, because it’s totally flexible and not fussy. No using only half an orange and letting the other half get buried in the fruit drawer only to be tossed out a week later. And you don’t need to measure out precisely 2 teaspoons of lemon zest. Nope. Not here. This is not baking where precision matters. So for this easy marinade, you simply zest an orange, lemon and lime and then juice them all. Or cut the lime and use more lemon. Or only use limes. Though it does add a lot more complexity when you use all three, so I recommend you give it a try that way.
Then if you have some onion you chop some up and throw it in. Or use a shallot instead. Or skip them both and add in more garlic. Whatever you like. You just want to keep it balanced—so if you don’t want to skip the honey—it cuts the acidity and you don’t want to lose the oil—but if you use a 1/3 cup instead of a 1/4, it isn’t going to matter.
I also especially love this marinade because it’s not an overnight one. Sure, there are perks to do-it-ahead-of-time prep, but that means you have to have thought of it the day before and often I find myself just starting to think about what’s happening for dinner at around 4:30pm. So it’s especially nice to be able to whip up a quick marinade that doesn’t require all-night long chicken soaking.
But the main reason I love this marinade so much, is that it makes the chicken taste so great! Bright, zesty and summery. It’s everything you could want. Now get to it—cause (gulp) those lazy, hazy days are just flying by!! Happy grilling!
Grilled Chicken with No-Fuss Citrus Marinade
Makes enough to generously feed 6 hungry people—you could probably stretch to 8 depending on what else you are serving
Prep Time for Marinade: 10 minutes; Marinating Time: 1 hour and up to 6; Cook Time: 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken and the heat of your grill
The zest and juice of 1 orange
The zest and juice of 1 lemon
The zest and juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup oil (olive or vegetable), plus additional for oiling grill grates
A few slices of chopped red onion (or any onion or shallot if you like)
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced or grated
Honey (I like to squirt a little glob or two in—no need to measure)
A little squirt of Dijon mustard
A pinch or two of kosher salt and black pepper
About 3 pounds of chicken breasts (if they are thick, I like to slice them lengthwise in half to make two thinner halves)
1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together well. Add the chicken and mix it around so that all the pieces get coated (you could also do this in a resealable plastic bag, but in the interests of the environment, I try to marinate in bowls now instead). Cover and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 6. Any more than that and the acid in the marinade will start to break down the chicken so this is not one to let sit overnight.
2. Oil grates of your grill generously and preheat. Drain chicken and discard leftover marinade. Grill chicken until entirely cooked through. Serve immediately. Cover and chill any leftovers. It’s great to use for salads and sandwiches and will last at least a few days.
Note: Recipe adapted from years of experimenting—feel free to throw in any herbs you like or leave out the orange and sub in with more lemon and other stuff like that.