Grilling chicken breast can be tricky to get just right, but with the right tips and tricks in this recipe, you can have juicy, flavorful grilled chicken every time. If you want the best grilled chicken you’ve ever had, you only need 5 ingredients and this recipe!

sliced marinated grilled chicken

Marinating and grilling meats has been a culinary practice for centuries and down here in Texas, we grill almost year-round. It’s warm most of the year and well… barbecue is a main staple. You might think just brisket, but we love all types of barbecue, including grilled chicken.

It’s easy to end up with a bland, dry chicken breast, so I want to show you my go-to method for grilling juicy chicken that gives you not only the best flavor but also how to make sure the chicken breast is grilled to perfection.

why you’ll love this easy marinated grilled chicken breast

I completely understand that grilling chicken breast can be tricky to get right and sometimes feels intimidating because of that. You’ll love this recipe because not only is it easy to make, but it uses minimal ingredients.

This recipe uses the science behind marinating to give you the best juicy, flavor packed chicken with hardly any effort.

Because of the type of ingredients and their ratios in the marinade (combined with a few simple grilling tricks), you’ll have juicy and tender chicken every single time.

This is such a delicious marinade that I used the other night. Simple with ingredients I always have in the pantry, would definitely recommend to anyone.

– Joe

Ingredients for brown sugar marinade for chicken

  • boneless, skinless chicken breast – you’ll want to trim any excess large pieces of fat from the chicken. You’ll also need to pound them to even thickness with a meat mallet or even a rolling pin works great. This marinade also works well on boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • light brown sugar – dark brown sugar works in this recipe too, so whichever you have on hand works. Dark brown sugar will just give it a deeper maple flavor than light brown sugar.
  • olive oil – you can also use avocado oil or any other neutral-tasting, high-smoke point oil.
  • soy sauce – you’ll need the salty flavor from the soy sauce, but I do tend to have low-sodium soy sauce on hand in my house most of the time. This not only adds flavor, but the needed salt to help the other flavors be absorbed easily. You can swap it out for liquid aminos if needed.
  • apple cider vinegar – vinegar does help tenderize the meat so it’s a necessary component in the marinade. However, you can swap it out for a different type of vinegar if you like. But don’t worry, it doesn’t end up tasting like vinegar at all.
ingredients for marinated grilled chicken

How to make this easy chicken marinade for grilling

The beauty of this recipe is that it uses the science of marinades to give you the best results. It’s so simple to throw together and have the best grilled chicken breast. The kind that has friends asking how you did it.

Detailed instructions and measurements to make marinated grilled chicken are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

  1. Start by combining the marinade ingredients. You’ll want to go with an airtight container or zip top style bag (think Ziploc). Either one works well, you just want it to be sealed air tight and not leaking in your fridge.
  2. Next, you’ll pound out the chicken breasts so that they’re even thickness. This is what helps them to cook evenly and you won’t end up with little sections that are overcooked and dry. You can use a meat mallet between to sheets of plastic wrap or a rolling pin works great too. That’s usually what I end up using.
  3. Just add the chicken to the marinade and let it soak in there (in the refrigerator) for at least 2 hours, but no more than 24 hours.
  4. When you’re ready to grill them, preheat the grill to medium heat (about 375ºF-400ºF) and oil the grates.
  5. Place the chicken breast on the grates and let them cook for about 7 minutes on each side. Don’t keep flipping with them. Resist the urge to mess with them! Just let them grill. You’ll want to cook them until the internal temp reaches 165ºF when using an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part.
  6. Once you remove them from the grill, it’s important to let them rest for a few minutes. This lets the juices redistribute. Once they’ve rested, serve them up and enjoy them with your favorite sides!

Why this marinade works so well

Science! Yep… science. Did you know there’s science behind why certain marinades work so well? I know it may seem a little boring, but the truth is, once you know this little trick for marinades, you’ll have so much more success with your grilled meats.

Acid – In this case, we’re using vinegar as the acid. The acid helps tenderize the meat by breaking down its proteins. It’s actually a process called denaturation. But overall, it makes the meat more tender and flavorful.

Oil/Fat – For this recipe, we’re using olive oil, but avocado oil works great as well. The oil helps coat the surface of the meat, prevents moisture loss, and enhances the overall juiciness and flavor.

Salt – Salt not only adds flavor, but it also helps penetrate the meat to allow other flavors to be absorbed more deeply. For this recipe, we’re using the salt from the soy sauce.

Flavorings – Things like herbs, spices, garlic, and onion all add to the flavor. The soy sauce for this recipe, the soy sauce serves at the salt and some of the flavor. The brown sugar is part of the flavor in this one as well!

Top Tip

Pound out your chicken breast to even thickness (to ensure even cooking) and use an instant read meat thermometer. With the combination of these two things, you’ll avoid overcooking them and having dry chicken.

How to prepare and preheat the grill

One of the main things to be careful of when grilling chicken is not having your grill temperature up to high.

Preheat the grill – The best chicken grilling temp is 375ºF – 400ºF. This will help burn off any leftovers from the last time you grilled and also is the best temperature for grilling chicken breast.

Clean it off – Once the grill has preheated, be sure to clean it off. There are a lot of safety issues regarding wire grill brushes, so I always recommend either a bristle free grill brush or a grill scraper.

Oil the grates – Oiling the grates doesn’t just prevent the food from sticking, but it also helps maintain the longevity of your grill. You’ll want to stick with a high smoke point oil like olive oil or avocado oil. You can oil the grates by using a basting brush. Do not use spray cooking oil on a hot grill.

Grilling tips for chicken

  • Preheat the grill – making sure your grill is preheated properly helps ensure even cooking.
  • Use a meat thermometer – use an instant read meat thermometer to check the temp of the chicken at the thickest part. You’ll avoid overcooking.
  • Pound out to an even thickness – you can use a meat mallet or just a rolling pin. This helps the chicken cook evenly and you don’t end up with unevenly cooked areas.
  • Oil the grates – this marinade has an oil base, but I still recommend oiling the grates. This helps prevent it from sticking.
  • Avoid overcooking – remove the chicken promptly from the grill to keep it from overcooking. It’ll still continue to cook for a few minutes once it’s been removed.
  • Resting time – allow the chicken breast to rest for a few minutes after cooking before you slice or serve it. This allows the juices to redistribute giving you a juicier result.

FAQ for Soy Marinated Grilled Chicken

Can this marinade be used with chicken thighs?

Yes, this marinade works great on chicken thighs as well as chicken breasts.

How long can you marinate chicken in soy?

You can marinate chicken in soy for 2-24 hours.

How long do you cook marinated chicken on the grill?

Depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, you need to cook marinated chicken on the grill for about 7 minutes per side when the grill is at 375ºF-400ºF.

Should you wipe marinade off chicken before grilling?

No, do not wipe marinade off chicken before grilling. Leave all marinate on the chicken for additional flavor.

Does marinated chicken take longer to grill?

No, marinated chicken does not take longer to grill than chicken that hasn’t been marinated.

grilled marinated chicken sliced on a cutting board

Sides to serve with grilled chicken

How to Reheat Grilled Chicken

The great thing about grilled chicken is that it reheats exceptionally well. Be sure to store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. You can use the oven, grill, air fryer, or microwave to reheat it. I feel like the oven is the best method to avoid overcooking.

Oven method: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the grilled chicken on a baking sheet and brush it lightly with oil or broth. Cover it loosely with foil and bake it for 15-20 minute, just until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.

Grill method: If you want to retain the most grilled flavor, brush it with a little bit of oil and grill it for a few minutes on each side over medium heat until it’s completely heated through.

Air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 350ºF. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket and let it heat for 4-6 minutes. Depending on the thickness, you may need a little more or less time.

Microwave method: This is my least recommended method because it runs the biggest risk of overcooking and drying out. However, you can still use it! Place the chicken on a microwave safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel. Heat the chicken on 50% power for 1 minute. Check and continue 1 minute at a time until it’s heated completely through.

Regardless of the reheating method you choose, you should always make sure the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. Per the USDA, this is the safe temperature to consume chicken.

other grilled chicken recipes you might like

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Perfectly Grilled Chicken

5 from 1 vote
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
This is the best marinated grilled chicken recipe that's easy and gives you a juicy, flavorful chicken every single time.



  • Combine the brown sugar, oil, soy sauce, and vinegar in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Add the marinade to a container that can be sealed airtight or a zip top style bag.
  • Pound the chicken breasts to even thickness using a meat mallet (or even a rolling pin works).
  • Place the chicken in the container with the marinade.
  • Seal up the container and mix around to make sure all of the chicken is covered.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
  • When you're ready to grill, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and preheat the grill to medium heat (about 375ºF-400ºF).
  • Once the grill is preheated, oil the grates. Place the chicken breasts on the grill for about 7 minutes per side depending on thickness. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute (it makes a big difference!).
  • Serve and enjoy!


Serving: 1chicken breast, Calories: 244kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 638mg, Potassium: 460mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 34IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 18mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish, Main Dishes
Cuisine: American

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Hi! I’m Kara!

Kara loves all things food and spending time with her family and dogs. She has a passion for cooking and loves making yummy, family-friendly recipes.

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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    This is such a delicious marinade that I used the other night. Simple with ingredients that I always have in the pantry, would definitely recommend to anyone.