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Grilled Mediterranean Chicken

Grilled Mediterranean chicken – infused with olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, Dijon and herbs – is a go-to chicken dinner in our family. Delicious in a sandwich, salad, soup or over couscous.

I’ve been using variations of this chicken forever. The Mediterranean flavors are very similar to those you’ll find in a Greek or Middle Eastern restaurant.

grilled chicken pieces on cutting board

I prefer to grill the chicken – even in winter – but you can broil or bake the chicken instead. This marinated chicken recipe is great any time of the year, hot or cold.

Serve with lemon wedges along with these great sides: couscous, greek salad, Citrus Salad, Red Quinoa Salad With Roasted Carrots, Herb Potato Salad, Quinoa and Butternut Squash Salad or Curried Rice with Raisins.

Tips

  • Marinating: If you choose to marinate for a longer time to deepen flavors, stick to the lemon zest (not lemon juice).  If you’re marinating for just 30 minutes at room temperature, feel free to substitute the zest with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Which chicken to buy: For the juiciest and most flavorful chicken, boneless thighs, with or without the skin, are best, but skinless chicken breasts are delicious too with the marinade.
  • Cooking time: Most importantly, don’t overcook the chicken! An instant thermometer should read 160-165F/71-74C. And let the chicken rest for 5 minutes after cooking for super juicy chicken.

Tailor To Your Taste

Here are several variations and substitutions you can use.

  • Serving options:
    • Make Kabobs: cut the raw chicken into 2 inch pieces and thread onto metal skewers;
    • Fill a pita sandwich or have chicken salad: After cooking and resting the chicken (or even chilling), cut into smaller pieces.
    • Add to soup: grilled marinated chicken in soup like a Vietnamese Pho or a Vegetable Wonton Soup is fantastic.
  • Chicken options: You can use boneless thighs or breasts. Or bone-in pieces (but you will need to increase cooking time for bone-in chicken)
  • Cooking options (instead of grilling):
    • Broil chicken for 4-8 minutes per side, depending on size of chicken pieces
    • Bake at 400F/204C for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160-165F/71-74C with an instant read thermometer.
  • Herb and spice options: I keep it simple with rosemary, thyme and oregano (fresh or dried). You can also try chives or green onion. Here is a good guide to Mediterranean spices if you want to branch out a bit. And check out our Herbs – The Bare Essentials for cooking with and storing herbs.
  • Toppings: Lemon wedges, tzatziki, garlic aioli, fresh chopped tomato salad, red onions, dill Greek yogurt sauce, fresh parsley or cilantro.

How to make grilled Mediterranean chicken

chicken marinating in ziploc bag
Marinate chicken in this simple marinade of oil, Dijon, minced garlic, lemon zest and herbs.
Mediterranean marinated grilled chicken on the grill with hot flames underneath
Grill chicken for a few minutes per side on gas grill or grill pan.
pieces of Mediterranean marinated grilled chicken on a plate with lemon wedge
Mediterranean marinated grilled chicken cut into pieces laid over quinoa on a plate with lemon wedges
close up of piece of grilled chicken on fork

Shortcut

  • I often use 1/4 cup light mayonnaise instead of the olive oil, an easy way to skip the marinating altogether. Then the whole family dinner can be on the table in 30 minutes.

Make Ahead

  • This chicken can be made up to 2 days ahead. Bring to room temperature, serve cold or warm for a minute or two in the microwave.
  • Alternatively, marinate the chicken a day ahead and grill just before serving and pair with any of your favorite sides.
grilled chicken pieces on cutting board
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4.8 from 29 votes

Grilled Mediterranean Chicken

Grilled Mediterranean chicken – infused with olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, Dijon and herbs – is a go-to chicken dinner in our family. Delicious in a sandwich, salad, soup or over couscous.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Plus marinating time30 mins
Course: Main Course, make ahead
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Servings: 5 (or 4 bigger portions)
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts thighs are juicier/more flavorful; breast are lower fat and calories
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (personal preference)
  • garnish: lemon wedges

Chicken Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil (vegetable oil or mayonnaise can be used instead – I use mayo all the time)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 tbsp fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (or 1/2 tbsp fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 tbsp fresh)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (or 1/4 -1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • MARINATE CHICKEN: Place thighs flat on a cutting board. With the heel of your hand, pound chicken to and even thickness (for even cooking). Put all chicken marinade ingredients in a resealable plastic bag or other container. Mix well to combine. Add chicken pieces. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Shortcut: marinate it for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  • GRILL CHICKEN: (Note 1 for other methods).: Sprinkle chicken with salt. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Place chicken on grill. Grill 4-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness of the chicken. An instant thermometer should read 160F/71C. Cover loosely and let rest for 5-7 minutes before serving. Temperature will rise several degrees.
  • SERVE: Serve with lemon couscous or rice if desired. Note 2 for other serving options. I pour the juices, accumulated on the plate while chicken is resting, over the couscous (or rice) for added flavor. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the chicken if desired.

Notes

  1. Instead of grilling:
    • Broil: Place chicken on pan lined with foil. Broil 6 inches from the heat element at the top of the oven for about 4-6 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through. An instant thermometer should read 160F/71C. Temp will rise with resting for 5 minutes.
    • Bake: at 400F/204C for 35-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 160F/71C with an instant read thermometer.
  2. Variations and Substitutions
    • Serving options:
      • Make Kabobs: cut the raw chicken into 2 inch pieces and thread onto metal skewers, then grill;
      • Fill a pita sandwich or have chicken salad: After cooking and resting the chicken (or even chilling), cut into smaller pieces.
      • Add to soup: grilled marinated chicken in soup like a Vietnamese Pho or a Vegetable Wonton Soup is fantastic.
    • Herb options: I use rosemary, thyme and oregano (fresh or dried). You can also try chives or green onion. Even herbes de provence of other Mediterranean spices. Check out our Herbs – The Bare Essentials for cooking with and storing herbs.
    • Toppings: Lemon wedges, tzatziki, garlic aioli, garlic hummus, fresh chopped tomato salad, red onions, dill Greek yogurt dip, fresh parsley or cilantro.
  3. Make Ahead: Make chicken up to 2 days ahead. Bring to room temperature, serve cold or warm for a minute or two in the microwave.  Alternatively, marinate the chicken a day ahead and grill just before serving.
Nutritional information is estimated based on chicken breasts. Thighs would have more fat and calories. Optional topping choices are not included in calculations.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Grilled Mediterranean Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 309 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 455mg20%
Potassium 686mg20%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 39g78%
Vitamin A 54IU1%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday for company, exactly as written. I cooked it on my cuisinart griddler. Everyone raved about it. Moist and delicious. I highly recommend this recipe. I served it with some jasmin rice and green beans. This is a new favorite.

  2. Hi, I actually have a quick question.

    Is there a chance I could use ground mustard seed in place of the Dijon? We aren’t mustard eaters in my house, And whenever I buy some for a recipe I end up using the teaspoon needed and then find it in the back of my fridge a year later and end up throwing it away.

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