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The Best Grilled, Juicy Chicken Breasts

When I bought my husband a new Weber grill for his birthday (which was on Memorial Day this year), it was clear that we had to host a party and test out this new beauty on our most hungry friends and family.

I have a lovely group of friends, some of who are quite fantastic cooks, and after all the offers to bring dishes, the only things we needed to prepare for this get-together were the grilled meat and the birthday cake (more on that later).

What I worried about was the chicken.


Because we have a few friends who don’t eat beef, we always try to have non-red meat options when we grill for a crowd. The problem is, boneless breasts on a grill are inevitably dry and tasteless. So I consulted my genius advisor – Google – for a solution – and I found one. I brined the chicken breasts.

I carefully followed this recipe – including (and especially) the time for brining, and they turned out juicy, plump, and just plain delicious. We had plenty of leftovers which were still great 2 days later – almost unheard of for chicken, especially when it’s grilled. If you want, you can add a marinade at the very end, but we opted for plain.

Give this a try – it really works!

Coffee-Brined Grilled Chicken Breasts

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 slices lemon (1/4 inch thick)
  • 1 Tbs. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbs. mustard seeds or powdered mustard
  • 1 Tbs. coriander seeds
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 oz. each), trimmed and rinsed
  • 2 Tbs. melted butter or olive oil

This was plenty of marinade – more than enough – for 12 large chicken breasts, cut in half.

Combine the salt, sugar, water, lemon, peppercorns, mustard seeds or powder, and coriander seeds in a  saucepan and heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour mixture into a bowl, add the coffee, and refrigerate, uncovered, until cool, about 30 minutes. Put the chicken breasts in the brine- make sure they will stay submerged. Use a 9×13 glass casserole dish for best results. Refrigerate them in the brine for 3 hours.
After draining the chicken, blot it dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken lightly with olive oil on both sides. Add the breasts to the grill at a 45 degree angle. Grill  about 2 minutes, and then rotate them 90 degrees to create crosshatch marks. Grill 2-4 minutes more. Turn the breasts over and cook until they’re firm to the touch, approximately 4 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately.
This recipe was inspired by a post on Fine Cooking.
I also made a divine chocolate cake – what’s a birthday without a cake? – from Ina Garten. You can find the recipe here.

Sharon Greenthal

Sharon's blog, Empty House Full Mind, focuses on observations of the world from the midlife empty nest. Sharon is the Young Adults Expert on Sharon writes for the Huffington Post and Purple Clover. Sharon is the mother of two grown children - a daughter, 26 and a son, 24. She lives in Long Beach, CA with her husband and their perfect dog, Lambeau. Instagram: sharongreenthal

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Susan Williams

Monday 2nd of June 2014

Sounds delicious!!!

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