Looking for a twist on classic grilled chicken? Check out this Greek lemon chicken. It is grilled chicken that has been marinated in a grand collection of Greek flavors—lemon, garlic, and herbs. What makes this chicken so good is the flavor is complex, while at the same time the ingredients are familiar so even picky eaters will give it a try.
When you use yogurt in the recipe, it not only adds tenderness and moisture but tempers the fresh lemon juice so the chicken gets as much benefit as possible from the marinade. You won’t have to worry about the chicken getting mushy because of the acid in the lemon. Check out this post for more information about what the various ingredients of a marinade bring to the party.
Choosing Chicken Breasts for Greek Lemon Chicken
When you check out chicken breasts in the meat department, the first thing you notice is how much variation there is in size. A recipe might call for chicken breasts—but when choosing meat a single raw chicken breast can range from 3-8 ounces—that’s over double in weight! How do you choose?
Check out how the recipe will use the chicken. In this dish, the chicken will be grilled and each person will receive an individual portion. So choose a package where each breast weighs in about 4-5 ounces as that will give generous portions. I like to look for a package of chicken breasts that are similar in size. My next criteria is choosing meat that is as evenly thick as possible since even thickness cooks at the same rate.
Chicken breasts by nature are thicker at one end and taper to a point at the other. You can always plan on butterflying the chicken (check out this post to learn how to butterfly chicken) and then cut the chicken into individual portions.
Yogurt in The Marinade
Yogurt is common in Mediterranean cuisine, and while Greek yogurt is extra thick and tangy, I choose to use everyday yogurt in the marinade since it is thinner. You don’t need to choose a fancy brand either, just plain yogurt. Since the recipe calls for the zest of a lemon, it is a moot point whether to use fresh or bottled lemon juice in this dish. Conveniently, you will need the juice of a lemon as well in the marinade.
When making a marinade, I usually don’t use a bowl, rather I add each ingredient to a gallon size zip-close bag. Then before adding the protein, you can easily smash the bag to combine all the ingredients together before placing the meat in and sealing the bag. This allows you to quickly assemble a marinade and place it in the refrigerator to marinate, with minimal clean-up. When the time to cook, remove the bag from the refrigerator, remove the meat from the bag and pat it dry while the grill heats up. This process makes cooking easy and stress-free.
Rule of thumb for any marinade: for every pound of meat, you will need about 1/2 cup of marinade. Thick marinades will need a little more to coat all the surfaces of the meat.Print
Greek lemon chicken is tender, flavorful, and moist from the marinade bursting with lemon, garlic and oregano.
- 1–1/2 pounds chicken breast, divided into 6 portions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Lemon slices for garnish or lemon zest
For the lemon garlic marinade:
- 5 ounces plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest from 1 lemon)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, (about 2 sprigs)
- 2 teaspoons dried crushed oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- At least 8-16 hours before cooking (the day before or morning of), trim and portion the chicken breasts.
- In a gallon-size tip-close bag, combine the yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, dried oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Add the chicken pieces and smush bag so the marinade coats all the chicken. Marinate for at least 8 hours, up to 16 hours is fine.
- When ready to cook the chicken, preheat grill to medium high, between 375°F – 400°F. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and pat dry with a paper towel on all sides. Using a silicone brush, lightly brush the chicken pieces with olive oil.
- When the grill is ready, arrange the chicken pieces on the hot grates and grill for 4-6 minutes. Rotate each piece 45 degrees to creat the grill marks and continue grilling for an additional 4-6 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over and grill for another 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 160°F.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and let the pieces rest for 10 minutes to allow the meats to redistribute throughout the meat.
- Arrange chicken pieces on a serving plate. Garnish chicken with fresh parsley and lemon zest. Place lemon slices around the platter edge for decoration and as an accompaniment to the chicken and serve warm.
Keywords: yogurt, lemon, Greek chicken