Cooking with Beer: Juicy Grilled Lager and Lemon Chicken

Beer and I have always had a rocky relationship. Perhaps this is because my first experience was with an exceptionally light beer.

Vertical image of a plate and a serving platter of grilled poultry with lemon wedges, with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, and two mugs of foamy beer, on a gray surface, printed with orange and white text at the midpoint and the bottom of the frame.

That flavor of beer was not ideal as far as my taste buds were concerned, and it took me a very long time to want to try it again.

It wasn’t until I started cooking with beer that I really began to appreciate the flavor of a tasty brew.

So, why cook with beer when you can just drink it?

Vertical image of a white rectangular serving platter of grilled boneless, skinless poultry with metal tongs and wedges of lemon, on a gray slate surface with a white and blue striped dish cloth, and a mug of beer.

Well, there are actually a lot of benefits to cooking with beer. The drink brings a richness and sweet nutty flavor to so many different types of recipes.

It can be used in soups and stews, marinades, sauces, desserts, and so much more.

It’s even ideal for those who don’t partake in alcoholic beverages, because most of the alcohol content will cook out as you make the recipe.

Vertical overhead shot of a white serving platter and a matching plate of grilled chicken with lemon wedges, with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, with a mug of beer to the right and a striped white cloth napkin topped with a knife and fork to the left, on a gray slate surface.

There are many different kinds of beer to choose from when you cook, and this choice all depends on the flavor that you want to achieve in the final product.

For example, stouts bring chocolate and coffee notes, whereas IPAs bring a bitterness that is often too overpowering for a simple recipe like this one.

Ales and lagers are great for adding to your cooking arsenal, and the lager is the one to reach for in this case. Lagers are lighter and typically drier than other types, so the flavors complement the lemony brightness of the marinade.

Vertical image of a white plate of grilled chicken, broccoli, and mashed potatoes, with a white cloth with blue striped topped with silverware, and a plate of more poultry in the background, on a gray slate surface.

Now, each type of beer is distinctive, so you can feel free to experiment as you desire. I noted the exact beer that I used for this recipe in the ingredients list below, but you can feel free to deviate from this suggestion, depending on your preference.

As a converted beer lover, I always recommend using beers from local breweries in your cooking, to support local business if you can.

Vertical overhead shot of four grilled, boneless, skinless chicken breasts with five wedges of lemon on a white ceramic serving platter, with metal tongs.

By marinating the meat in a combination of beer, lemon juice, honey, and fresh basil, the poultry seeps up those nutty, bright, sweet, and herby flavors as it sits.

As always, remember that the longer you let it marinate, the stronger the flavors will come through as an end result. It’ll also make the poultry juicier when you grill it.

Vertical image of a mug of beer and a plate of grilled chicken with lemon wedges, on a white cloth with blue stripes on a gray slate surface, with a black mottled background.

Then you cook it on the grill, which gives you that charcoal-kissed flavor that is truly scrumptious.

The best part, this protein main is also super versatile. You can serve it with just about any vegetable and starch combination you can think of. Keep reading below the recipe for some more inspiration in the side dish department.

A hand with manicured dark purple nails squeezes a wedge of lemon onto grilled chicken, on a white plate with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes, with a white cloth napkin, silverware, a serving platter of more poultry, and a mug of beer.

This recipe is ideal for a weeknight dinner when you don’t want to spend too much time cooking when you get home. Grilling is a fast cooking method (as opposed to the slow-cooking of barbecue), and you can simply assemble the sides you want on the stove, in the oven, or even on the grill right next to the chicken.

A white serving platter of grilled chicken with lemon wedges is in the background, with metal tongs and two mugs of foamy beer, with a white plate of chicken, broccoli, mashed potatoes, and cut citrus in the foreground, on a white cloth with blue stripes that is topped with a stainless steel knife and fork, on a gray slate surface.

The entire family will want to run to the table for this recipe. Don’t worry though, because as I said before, the alcohol will evaporate on the grill, leaving delicious flavor behind. That means you don’t have to worry about serving it to the kiddos.

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Horizontal image of four grilled chicken breasts on a white serving platter with wedges of lemon, with two mugs of beer to the right and left, and a white cloth with blue stripes in the foreground, on a gray slate surface.

Grilled Lager and Lemon Chicken


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours, 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

Beer isn’t just for drinking anymore. This juicy grilled lager and lemon chicken is a tasty way to enjoy your favorite brew outside the glass.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs work great too, about 3 lbs total)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup lager beer
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients inside a gallon-size zip top bag. Seal tightly and shake to distribute evenly. Place in the refrigerator overnight.  
  2. When ready to cook, remove chicken from marinade and place on preheated grill. Discard bag.  
  3. Cook 5 minutes on each side, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165˚F.  Serve immediately.

  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Poultry

Keywords: grilled chicken, beer, lager, lemon, marinade

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep Produce and Measure Remaining Ingredients

Peel a clove of garlic and mince it, or push it through your garlic press.

Chop the fresh basil leaves until you have 1 teaspoon total.

Zest the lemon, juice it, remove any seeds, and measure out what you need.

Overhead shot of two small square and four small round glass prep bowls of oil, soy sauce, beer, minced garlic, honey, and fresh herbs, beside a black plate of four raw chicken breasts without bone or skin, on a gray and white background.

Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as they are listed on the ingredients list.

For the beer, I used Lawnmower Lager from Caldera Brewing Company in Oregon, a tasty brew that’s available in my local markets.

When you’re choosing the lager for this recipe, be sure to stay away from the major commercial brands like Budweiser or Coors. You want something more flavorful, so look to your local breweries for their lighter lagers.

Stick to something like an American lager or even a pilsner, and stay away from dark bock styles because they will overpower the lemon flavor instead of complementing it.

Step 2 – Marinate Overnight

Trim the chicken, if needed. Place the chicken, garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, lemon zest, beer, and basil in a large zip top bag.

Overhead horizontal shot of a large zip-top bag filled with raw chicken breasts and a marinade mixture of garlic, fresh herbs, citrus juice, and lager beer, on a gray and white surface.

Seal the bag tightly and shake to distribute the marinade evenly. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3 – Grill

When you’re ready to cook, preheat your grill.

Vertical image of a grill with four boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been coated in a marinade containing minced garlic and fresh herbs on top of the grate.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, and discard the bag with any remaining liquid.

Horizontal image of four grilled chicken breasts on a white serving platter with wedges of lemon, with two mugs of beer to the right and left, and a white cloth with blue stripes in the foreground, on a gray slate surface.

Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. The internal temperature should reach about 165˚F. Serve immediately, with wedges of lemon and your favorite sides.

What Should I Pair with This Chicken Entree?

I like to keep things simple when such a stellar main dish is hitting the table.

My personal favorite combination is broccoli and roasted potatoes, but you can essentially pair this chicken with any combination of vegetables and starch, greens and starchy veg, or vegetables and legumes.

Here are some of my favorite veggie side dishes for your dinner inspiration:

Overhead shot of a round white plate and a rectangular serving platter of grilled chicken with lemon, with mashed potatoes and broccoli on the side of the dinner plate, a white cloth napkin with blue stripes topped with silverware, and a mug of foamy beer, on a gray slate background.

Which combination of sides is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below. And be sure to come back and rate the recipe when you’ve tried it!

Need some more chicken inspiration? Here a few more of our favorite recipes to check out:

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on April 12, 2011. Last updated: May 14, 2019 at 19:47 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

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