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What are the ingredients in like meat grilled chicken?

Grilled chicken is a popular and healthy protein choice that can be part of a balanced diet. The main ingredient in grilled chicken is, of course, chicken. However, there are often other ingredients used to enhance the flavor and texture of the chicken during cooking. Here is an overview of the most common ingredients found in grilled chicken recipes.


The primary ingredient in grilled chicken is chicken meat. There are a few different cuts of chicken that work well for grilling:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – Chicken breasts are very popular for grilling because they are lean and cook quickly. The boneless, skinless variety has the bones and excess fat removed.
  • Chicken thighs – Chicken thighs have a bit more fat than breasts so they tend to be juicier. Bone-in, skin-on thighs are ideal for grilling.
  • Chicken drumsticks – Drumsticks take a bit longer to cook than breasts or thighs but the meat near the bone helps keep them moist during grilling.

When choosing chicken for grilling, look for cuts that are fresh and uniform in size and thickness to ensure even cooking. It’s best to avoid pre-injected enhanced chicken, which has been injected with a saline solution – this can affect the flavor and texture.


Marinades are liquid mixtures used to add flavor and moisture to grilled chicken. There are endless options for homemade and store-bought marinades with a range of flavors.

Some typical marinade ingredients include:

  • Oil – Olive oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil, etc help keep chicken moist and add flavor.
  • Acid – Ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt help tenderize chicken.
  • Seasonings and herbs – Garlic, onions, spices, herbs infuse flavor.
  • Sweeteners – Sugar, honey, maple syrup.
  • Soy sauce or tamari.

Chicken can be marinated anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight depending on time. The acids in the marinade will start to breakdown and “cook” the chicken if left for too long.

Rubs and Spices

Dry rubs and spice blends are also popular ways to add big flavor to grilled chicken. Some classic grilled chicken rubs include:

  • Barbecue spice rub – Smoky spices like paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder.
  • Jerk seasoning – Spicy allspice-based rub popular in Caribbean cuisine.
  • Cajun seasoning – Spicy blend with garlic, onion, paprika, oregano, thyme.
  • Lemon pepper – Combination of lemon zest and cracked black pepper.
  • Herbes de Provence – Savory dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano.

Rubs can be brushed on chicken right before grilling to form a flavorful crust when cooked over the heat.

Sauces and Condiments for Serving

While marinades and rubs add flavor during cooking, sauces and condiments can provide a flavor boost when serving grilled chicken:

  • Barbecue sauce – Sweet, smoky, tangy flavors.
  • Teriyaki sauce – Sweet soy and ginger glaze.
  • Peanut sauce – Creamy nutty Thai condiment.
  • Tzatziki – Cool yogurt-based cucumber sauce.
  • Chimichurri – Fresh herb sauce popular in Latin cuisine.
  • Pesto – Herb and nut sauce made with basil, garlic, pine nuts.
  • Salsa – Fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro.

Drizzling one of these sauces over grilled chicken right before eating adds a punch of extra flavor.

Oils for Grilling

It’s important to use the right kinds of oils when grilling chicken to prevent sticking and help the chicken develop color and char:

  • Vegetable oil – A neutral, high smoke point oil like canola, grapeseed or avocado oil.
  • Olive oil – Excellent flavor but has a lower smoke point so best for marinades or drizzling after cooking.
  • Cooking spray – Helps prevent sticking to the grill. Look for natural options without propellants.

Avoid unrefined, low smoke point oils like extra virgin olive oil, nut oils and sesame oil for grilling – these can burn quickly on a hot grill.

Flavor Boosters

There are lots of ways to add extra flavor nuance to grilled chicken beyond just marinades and sauces:

  • Fresh herbs – Rosemary, thyme, oregano, cilantro all add freshness.
  • Spices – Cumin, chili powder, paprika, curry powder.
  • Citrus – Lemon, lime, orange for juice and zest.
  • Garlic – Fresh minced or granulated garlic.
  • Shallots – Sweeter, more delicate flavor than onions.
  • Ginger – Fresh grated for a spicy kick.
  • Honey – Adds sweetness and encourages browning.

Using a combination of these ingredients in marinades, rubs or finishing sauces results in chicken that’s bursting with flavor.

The Grilling Process

Now that we’ve covered the main ingredients used in grilled chicken recipes, let’s look briefly at tips for the grilling process itself:

  • Use a clean, well-oiled grill grate to prevent sticking.
  • Grill over direct medium-high heat, moving the chicken as needed to prevent burning.
  • Aim for an internal temperature of 165°F to ensure chicken is cooked through.
  • Allow chicken to rest 5-10 minutes before serving for juicier meat.
  • Take care not to overcook chicken, which can result in dry, rubbery meat.

With the right ingredients and proper grilling method, you can achieve perfectly cooked, flavorful and juicy chicken off the grill!

Health Benefits of Grilled Chicken

One of the reasons grilled chicken is such a popular ingredient is because it’s a healthy, lean protein source that’s easy to flavor. Here are some of the key health benefits:

  • High in Protein – Chicken provides all 9 essential amino acids needed for muscle synthesis and growth.
  • Low in Fat – Skinless chicken breast contains only about 3 grams of fat per serving.
  • Good Source of B Vitamins – Important for energy and cell function. Especially high in niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.
  • Contains Selenium – A trace mineral that supports thyroid and immune system function.

Chicken also contains various minerals like phosphorus, zinc and magnesium. When combined with veggies or whole grains, grilled chicken can be part of a balanced, nutritious meal.

Common Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the ingredients in grilled chicken:

Does grilled chicken need to be marinated?

Marinating is not strictly necessary but it helps add delicious flavor and keeps the chicken moist. Quick marinating for even 30 minutes makes a difference. Or rub chicken with oil and spices before grilling.

What’s the best oil to grill chicken in?

Use oils with a high smoke point like avocado, grapeseed or light olive oil. Avoid unrefined olive oil or nut oils that can burn. Cooking spray also works well.

How long does chicken need to marinate?

At least 30 minutes up to overnight for maximum flavor infusion. Longer than overnight risks the acids essentially “cooking” the chicken.

What are good marinade flavor combinations?

Classic combos include lemon-herb, barbecue, Greek yogurt-based marinades, teriyaki, jerk seasoning marinades. Get creative mixing oils, acids, fresh herbs and spices.

Should you grill chicken on high or low heat?

Use a medium-high heat, around 350-450°F. High heat risks burning the outside before the inside cooks. Moderate heat allows even cooking.

Tips for Juicy, Flavorful Grilled Chicken

Follow these simple tips for the best results when grilling chicken:

  • Pound chicken breasts evenly to match thickness.
  • Brush chicken with oil or cooking spray before grilling.
  • Arrange thinner pieces in the center of the grill.
  • Grill on one side without moving to get a good sear.
  • Flip only once during cooking for better char.
  • Allow chicken to rest before cutting for juicier meat.
  • Don’t overcook! Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.
  • Keep a close eye on the grill to prevent burning.

With high-quality ingredients and proper technique, you can enjoy restaurant-quality grilled chicken at home.

Grilled Chicken Recipes

Now that you know a bit more about the ingredients that go into grilled chicken, here are some delicious recipe ideas to try:

Simple Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Whisk together oil, lemon zest and juice, parsley, garlic and seasonings. Place chicken in a gallon size zip top bag and pour in marinade. Seal and refrigerate 1-2 hours, flipping occasionally. Grill chicken over medium-high heat 6-8 minutes per side until cooked through.

Grilled BBQ Chicken

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp each smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Combine barbecue sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Place chicken in a gallon bag, pour in 3/4 of the barbecue sauce mixture. Marinate 30 minutes-1 hour. Grill chicken over medium heat 15-20 minutes until cooked through, brushing with remaining barbecue sauce during last 5 minutes.

Jerk Chicken

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp each thyme, allspice, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 6 chicken drumsticks and/or thighs

Mix together oil, jerk seasoning, lime juice, brown sugar and spices to form a wet rub. Rub jerk mixture all over chicken. Marinate 30 minutes to overnight. Grill over medium heat 15-20 minutes until cooked through.


Grilled chicken is all about maximizing flavor with quality ingredients. A flavorful marinade, spice rub or sauce along with perfect grilling technique results in juicy, tender chicken with great char and crispy skin. Experiment with globally inspired marinades like jerk, peri peri, teriyaki or Indian tandoori. Tailor the heat level by adjusting the spices. Grilled chicken also pairs well with simple sides like grilled veggies, potatoes, rice or greens. Enjoy this healthy, high-protein option as the star of a satisfying meal any night of the week.