Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe (with Marinade)
Feb 15, 2023, Updated Jul 03, 2023
This Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken is the perfect weekday meal on the grill. The lemon pepper marinade has all the fresh flavors from the lemon, with generous amounts of pepper and then the chicken is finished over the grill with even more pepper flavor.
- The marinade is great with any cut of chicken and will add flavor in as little as 2 hours.
- Great to make the marinade in the morning and then have ready for dinner that night.
- The chicken is juicy and tender if cooked to the proper temperature over direct heat.
Table of Contents
Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade Ingredients
- Boneless-Skinless Chicken Breast – Bone-in works well too, if that’s all you have.
- Lemon – We use the zest of one lemon for aromatics and then the juice of two lemons for the marinade. Be sure you zest one lemon prior to juicing to make it easier to zest.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – The EVOO helps bind the marinade as well as the fat helping to coat the chicken. Be sure it’s emulsified (bound with the other ingredients).
- Dijon Mustard – We recommend a good quality Dijon for acidity and to help with binding. We do not recommend yellow mustard.
- Kosher Salt and Coarse Black Pepper – We add this to the marinade for flavor.
- Fresh Thyme – The aromatics from the fresh herb is lovely. You can also sub for herbs de Provence.
- Red Chile Pepper Flake – Adds a touch of heat.
Related Article: How to Make a Chicken Marinade
Season the chicken after the marinating is done and right before you add to the grill.
Troubleshooting Flavor – Lemons
Various lemons will have different flavors depending on how ripe they are. If you find the marinade is too bitter or too acidic then you can add a touch of sugar or honey to offset it, in 1 teaspoon increments. Alternatively, you can substitute your typical lemon with the sweeter Meyer lemon varietal.
For a nice garnish add grilled lemons.
How To Make Lemon Pepper Chicken
- Combine: In a small bowl combine all marinade ingredients and whisk to combine so the oil emulsifies with the rest of the ingredients. Place the lemon pepper marinade in a 1-gallon plastic baggie and then place the chicken in the bag. Gently combine the marinade with chicken and slowly seal the baggie releasing as much air as possible.
- Marinate: Marinate the chicken in the baggie in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. We typically make it in the morning and then pull out right before dinner, or roughly 8 hours (but even 2 hours will give the chicken great flavor).
- Prepare Grill: Set up grill for two-zone grilling, targeting 400 – 425 degrees Fahrenheit in the cooking chamber. Remove the chicken from the marinade and then season with the SPG rub. Discard the marinade.
- Grill: Grill the chicken over the direct heat for 4 minutes per side or until the chicken as a nice crust on both sides. Then move to indirect until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit using a good instant read thermometer like the Thermoworks Thermapen One. Be sure you stay close to grill so you can flip them when you see the right amount of color.
On a gas grill we ran two burners at medium to achieve the right temperature and grilled direct because of the lower direct heat.
In an oven – bake at 375 degrees F for up to 20 minutes or until the right internal temperature. We use a sheet pan we line with parchment paper and then add a cookie drying sheet over the top. Then we place the seasoned chicken breast and bake.
Related Article – When is chicken actually safe to eat?
Wine Pairing for Lemon Pepper Chicken
To me this one screams Chardonnay (oaked or un-oaked). They tend to have bright aromatics, like citrus, that I think goes so well with juicy lemon chicken. They also tend to have nice acidity (which will be beneficial, to match the acidity in the lemons). You could also go for a Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, or something similar too with good citrus and acidity. But I would definitely stick with a white wine for this dish.
Other Grilled Chicken Recipes
We have a host of other grilled chicken ideas great for a quick meal.
- Pellet Grill Chicken Thighs
- Apricot Glazed Grilled Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Lollipops with Spicy BBQ Glaze
- Jerk Grilled Chicken
- Perfect Grilled Chicken
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Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
- 1 Gallon Sized Plastic Baggie
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast
- 2 tablespoons SPG seasoning, (salt,pepper,garlic)
Lemon Pepper Marinade
- zest of one lemon, (zest the lemon before you juice it)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, (about 2 lemons)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- Combine: In a small bowl combine all marinade ingredients and whisk to combine. Place the lemon pepper marinade in a 1-gallon plastic baggie and then place the chicken in the bag. Gently combine the marinade with chicken and slowly seal the baggie releasing as much air as possible.
- Marinate: Marinate the chicken in the baggie in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (up to 8).
- Prepare Grill: Set up grill for direct grilling targeting 400 degrees in the cooking chamber. Remove the chicken from the marinade and then season it on both sides with the SPG rub. Discard the marinade.
- Grill: Grill the chicken over the direct heat for 4 minutes per side or until the chicken as a nice crust on both sides. Then move to indirect until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit using a good instant read thermometer. Be sure you stay close to grill so you can flip them when you see the right amount of color.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.