Marinade After Cooking for a Better Chicken Breast on the Grill Recipe
Stop marinating chicken for hours or overnight.
Seriously, it doesn’t do anything.
The longstanding technique of marinating chicken before you cook it has been debunked. If you don’t believe me (come on, you can trust me) check out this article or this one from experts who have been around the food game much longer than me.
Congratulations, you just gained back 24 hours of “cooking” (or marinating) time!
So, what can you do to get a tender, moist, and flavorful (the things that marinating was supposed to do) chicken breast on the grill?
First off, cook it correctly and buy a high-quality chicken. This will take care of the moist and tender part.
To build flavor, you have some options. My favorite is reverse marinating. And that is exactly what makes this garlic herb chicken recipe so tasty.
Cut up the chicken while it’s still warm and let it rest in a delicious marinade (aka sauce) after it’s done cooking. It’s like a post-grilled chicken breast marinade.
Here’s the thing…. When you marinate chicken before cooking, the marinade doesn’t actually penetrate the meat.
So, you’re not adding any flavor other than what is left on the surface. Go straight to the surface and add the sauce after you grill the chicken with this garlic thyme reverse marinated grilled chicken breast recipe.
Why is Reverse Marinating Better Than Traditional Marinating?
Marinade barely penetrates past the surface of chicken. So, all the flavors of marinade are just sticking to the outside of the meat.
This reverse marinating method is way quicker than scheduling an overnight marinade. You can make the sauce while the meat cooks. Plus, you’re getting even more flavor because you have a tasty sauce to serve with your reverse marinated grilled chicken.
And do you know what happens to all that marinade your raw chicken sat in overnight? It has to get tossed. So, that’s a bummer.
But wait, there’s more…
Want a super tasty meal prep chicken? Reverse marinated grilled chicken is your new best friend. The meat gets more flavorful after sitting in the marinade overnight. So, instead of adding time before cooking, your chicken will be marinating while it’s packed away for meal prep for the week.
Saving you time and money while adding flavor? Sounds pretty good.
Does This Mean I Shouldn’t Marinate Chicken Overnight Anymore?
Well, it’s up to you. But, I’m not going to. The one thing marinating can help you with is in the flavor department.
Marinating coats the surface of the meat with a tasty sauce. The sauce is the first thing that cooks when the chicken hits the pan (or grill or oven). And it releases flavor.
If you still insist on marinating, you can shorten up the time. 10-15 minutes is plenty of time for the surface of the chicken to get nicely coated. Or just dip it in the sauce right before cooking.
Type of Chicken to Buy
If you’re like me, sometimes you stand frozen with indecision in the chicken aisle. There are just so many options like cage-free, free-range, organic, air-chilled, the list goes on.
I won’t get into exactly how to read a chicken label and buy breasts for this garlic herb chicken at your grocery store. Check out this post on everything you need to know about buying chicken that walks you through how to buy chicken.
Long story short, the best chicken you can buy at your grocery store will be organic, free-range or pasture raised, antibiotic free, and air-chilled. Chicken from your local farmer’s market is also a great option.
But, both of these will cost you. For a cheaper option, try out a bunch of different types of chicken within your price range and rely on your taste buds.
How to Grill Chicken Breast
Let’s get real, you probably overcook chicken breast and other cuts a lot. I know I do.
But, a perfectly cooked chicken is just so much better than an overcooked one. Here’s how to grill chicken breast to tender, juicy perfection:
- Prepare a grill for medium-low heat.
- Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt. Lightly oil grill grates.
- Place chicken on grill and close lid. Grill chicken 5 minutes.
- Flip breasts, close the lid and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer depending on the size of the breast until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160-165F and the juices run clear.
Can I Cook Reverse Marinated Grilled Chicken Another Way?
Yes, you can cook the reverse marinated grilled chicken pretty much any way you want to. Oven baked, pan fried, and poached chicken breast all work great.
I wrote all about the best ways to cook chicken breast in this post on how to cook chicken breast 3 different ways. Use any of these methods.
Garlic Herb Chicken Variations
Feel free to use your home chef superpowers to change up the sauce for this garlic herb chicken. Here are some ideas:
- Use a different herb – garlic, thyme, and chicken are a great combo, but there are plenty of other herbs you can use. Oregano, rosemary, parsley, and tarragon are all great options.
- Swap vinegar for lemon – I love to use lemon as my acid in cooking. But, I often don’t because that means I (and you) will have to keep lemons on hand. Which I simply don’t do. A bottle of vinegar is just way more convenient.
- Use a different cut of chicken – Breasts are perfect for marinating because they have a low fat content. But, try this technique on thighs, legs and chicken. Pull apart and chop up some leg meat and toss it in a wrap for a delicious meal.
- Add a can of beans – Make it a meal and add a can of chickpeas to the mix. Double up the sauce and add a can of chickpeas with the chicken to soak up some flavor.
More Chicken Breast
- How to Cook Chicken Breast: 3 Ways
- Sheet Pan Chicken Breast Tacos With Roasted Tomato Salsa
- Easy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Chicken 101: Everything You Need To Know About Cooking Chicken
Garlic Herb Reverse Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast
- 2 chicken breasts
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves plucked from woody stems
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar or lemon)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt
- Prepare a grill for medium-low heat. Rub breasts all over with olive oil and season generously with salt. Lightly oil grill grates.
- Place chicken on grill and close lid. Grill chicken 5 minutes. Flip breasts, close the lid and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160-165F and the juices run clear. Let rest for 5 minutes once done.
- While you grill the chicken, make the marinade. Combine garlic, thyme, vinegar, oil, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
- Cut chicken breasts into 1/2 inch slices. Pour marinade over and let sit for at least 15 minutes and up to an hour.
Skip the Marinade For a Quicker Dinner
I don’t know about you, but I was actually pretty pumped to learn that marinating doesn’t really do much. How many times have you looked up a chicken recipe for the same day only to see that it says to marinate it the day before? Well, now you can rest easy and skip that long soak.
But, don’t skip the saucy piece for that extra flavor. Just add a tasty sauce during or after the cooking process, don’t overcook the chicken, and you are on your way to the best bird of your life.
Now time for me to go back and update any recipes that call for marinating.