Grilled Chipotle-Lime Chicken Breasts

One of the things I remember disliking most about apartment living was the inability to grill during the summer. Not surprisingly, when we moved into our house (nearly 5 years ago this month!) a grill was among our first purchases. Neither of us had much experience, and for a while we didn’t venture beyond hamburgers and hot dogs. All that practice paid off because Shane seriously makes the BEST hamburger – it’s always cooked to perfection and I hate that it never comes out as well when I do it myself :)

Over the years we have become comfortable grilling a wider variety of food – from veggies and fruit to steak and seafood. Perfect grilled chicken, though, has always sort of eluded us. That’s especially true when it comes to boneless, skinless chicken breasts (especially if they were thick); it never seemed we could cook them all the way through without them drying out or getting way too charred on the outside. We needed a foolproof method, and finally, we’ve found it with this recipe.

Grilled Chipotle-Lime Chicken Breasts

The chicken is first marinated briefly in a simple combination of lime juice, olive oil and seasonings. It only needs 30 minutes in the fridge, so no need to worry about planning way ahead. As for the actual cooking, it’s done in two steps. After heating your grill, you’ll turn off half the burners and first cook the chicken a majority of the way through over the unlit side. Then, the final few minutes of cooking are completed over the lit side, searing the chicken to achieve those nice grill marks and add some smoky flavor.

I can say with confidence that I’ve never made such perfectly cooked, juicy chicken in my life – it was fantastic! A simple chipotle-lime sauce is drizzled over the chicken before serving, and though the flavor was good, I didn’t need it to enjoy this dish. This whole new world of possibilities has opened up for us now – chicken is going to be on the menu a lot more frequently!

Grilled Chipotle-Lime Chicken Breasts
from Cook’s Illustrated

1 teaspoon chipotle chile in adobo sauce
7 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons water
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-8 oz each)

To make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the chipotle chile, 4 teaspoons of the lime juice, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon of the sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Set aside (do not refrigerate).

To make the marinade: Add the remaining 3 teaspoons of lime juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining teaspoon of sugar, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the garlic and water to a small bowl. Whisk to combine, then pour the marinade into a resealable plastic bag and add the chicken. Toss to coat, then seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

Preheat your grill to high for about 15 minutes then oil the grates lightly (I use the tongs to hold a paper towel that’s been dipped in oil and rub it over the grates). Leave one side of burners on high, and turn the others off.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, and place on the cool side of the grill (top side (the non-tenderloin side) down) with the thicker part of the breast nearest to the lit side of the grill. Close the cover and cook for 6-9 minutes, or until light grill marks develop and the chicken is no longer translucent. Flip the chicken over and rotate so the thinner side is now nearest to the lit burner. Again, close the cover and cook for 6-9 minutes, or until the chicken is firm to the touch and registers 140 F on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer the chicken to the hotter side of the grill and continue cooking (uncovered) for 2-3 minutes, or until dark grill marks develop. Flip and cook until the chicken is cooked through – it will register 160 F on an instant-read thermometer, about another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil – allow to rest for at least 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into 1/4-inch slices and serve with the reserved sauce.