Grilled Lemon Thyme Chicken

Do you sometimes wish that dinner could just magically appear on the table when you walk in the door at night?

Vertical top-down image of a plate with a whole chicken breast with seasoning next to white rice and asparagus, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I swear, I have these fantasies about little fairies that come into my house to clean, cook, and clean again.

Yes, I realize that is somewhat delusional. But it really would be nice, wouldn’t it?

Even though we don’t actually have access to magical fairies that will come down and take care of all the stuff that we don’t want to do, we can turn to recipes that are easy and oh-so-tasty to make our weeknights a little easier.

Vertical image of a sliced whole chicken breast on a plate with asparagus and white rice on top of a blue napkin.

With the return of warm weather, when it’s time to head outside again and fire up the grill, it’s possible to stay healthy with bright, fresh flavors and simple ingredients.

You really won’t believe how simple and straightforward this recipe is. And it’s big on fresh flavor, packed with tangy citrus and herbal notes.

Lemon is one of my favorite ingredients to pair with chicken. What a bright difference it makes in our lemony grilled chicken pasta, or in our skillet chicken thighs with caramelized lemon!

For this recipe, all you have to do is throw everything into a zip-top bag. You mix everything together in the bag, and then you let the poultry sit in the refrigerator until it’s infused with all that flavor.

Vertical top-down image of two plates with poultry, asparagus, and rice on a blue napkin.

There’s fresh lemon juice and zest to bring some brightness to the party. And the garlic and mustard give some savory balance to it all.

Then there’s the freshly chopped thyme that punches your taste buds in the face with herb flavor.

Vertical image of a plate with one sliced and seasoned chicken breast with prepared asparagus and white rice, next to silverware and a glass of white wine on a dark blue napkin.

All of this comes through, paired with those smoky notes you get from cooking the chicken on the grill.

Seriously, how simple is that? You just throw it all together the night before to marinate, and then you can pull it out when you’re ready to make dinner.

Throw the meat (without dropping it…) on the grill to get that fire-kissed flavor. It makes for a really easy meal, and you don’t even have to dirty a dish to do it.

I love to grill up vegetables alongside the meat to make even less work for myself. You can choose to grill whatever is in season, from asparagus to broccoli, artichokes to leeks, fennel and summer squash. If you’re tired of grilling, turn to the pressure cooker for another appliance that will help you save time and energy. I love pressure cooked carrots!

Horizontal image of a whole chicken breast seasoned with thyme next to white rice and asparagus.

When it comes to getting dinner on the table easily, this is about as close as we can get to those magical fairies swooping in to do it all for us.

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Horizontal image of a white plate with sliced and marinated grilled chicken with fresh asparagus and white rice.

Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Thyme

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


Embrace the fresh flavors of citrus and herbs with easy grilled lemon thyme chicken. Simple ingredients infuse the poultry with flavor.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 pounds)
  • Zest of 1 lemon (1-2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme


  1. Place chicken in a gallon size zip-top bag. Add lemon zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, and thyme to the bag.
  2. Close the top and shake to dispense all ingredients evenly and coat the poultry.  
  3. Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat grill. Place chicken on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes per side, until a meat thermometer registers 165˚F and the chicken no longer pink inside.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Main Course

Keywords: Grilling recipes, barbecue, chicken, lemon, thyme, marinade

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients

Horizontal image of lemons, herbs, condiments, and raw chicken breast on a dark surface.

Zest the lemon, using your favorite zester or microplane. You should have about 1 to 2 teaspoons of zest.

Cut the same lemon in half, and juice it. You should have about 2 to 3 tablespoons of juice. Remove any seeds.

Peel 2 cloves of garlic and mince them finely, or push them through your garlic press.

Remove the stems and chop enough thyme leaves until you have about 3 tablespoons total.

Measure out the remaining ingredients as listed. Set out the boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Step 2 – Marinate

Horizontal image of chicken breasts and marinade in an airtight bag.

Add chicken to a gallon size zip-top bag.

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bag. Close the top and shake to dispense evenly. Make sure the meat is coated well.

Refrigerate overnight, or for up to 24 hours.

Step 3 – Grill

Horizontal image of two chicken breasts cooking on a grill.

Preheat the grill when you’re ready to cook.

Remove the poultry from the marinade and place on the hot grill. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, until a meat thermometer registers 165˚F and the meat is cooked through.

Add Some Sides, and Dinner Is Served

I mentioned pairing this chicken with grilled vegetables that are in season, but what about the starch side?

Personally, I think white rice is where it’s at with this with meal. The grilled flavors mash up so well with the rice, and you can also use brown or wild rice if you prefer. With a mild flavor, the rice doesn’t overpower the grilled star ingredients.

Horizontal image of a white plate with sliced and marinated grilled chicken with fresh asparagus and white rice.

You can also choose to serve up some potatoes, or even polenta make a nice option.

For more simple poultry recipes that you can make on the grill, try these:

What will you serve on the side with this grilled lemon thyme chicken? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 2, 2010. Last updated: February 28, 2021 at 14:43 pm.

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.

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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