This lemon basil chicken is juicy and tender thanks to the easy marinade. Fresh lemon juice, basil pesto, olive oil, honey, and fresh basil leaves give this grilled chicken tons of flavor! Serve it with a side of rice, add it to a salad, or put it on top of pasta.
If you love this grilled chicken recipe try my grilled tahini chicken!
Why you’ll love it
Easy to make – The marinade for this grilled chicken is quick and easy to make. It only takes about 5 minutes to prep and between 1-3 hours to marinate.
Summer flavor – The bright citrus flavor from the lemon and the fresh sweet flavor from the basil will give you all the summer vibes! Even if it’s not summer, this is a great year-round flavor pairing.
Versatile – The flavor of this grilled chicken is one that goes well with many other ingredients. You can add it to pasta or pasta salads (use it in this strawberry chicken and spinach pasta salad), lettuce or kale salads, wraps, sandwiches, and more!
- Chicken – Chicken breasts or chicken thighs can be used.
- Lemon – Fresh lemon juice adds a tart fresh flavor to the chicken. Squeeze your own lemon juice instead of using bottled for the best flavor.
- Pesto – Pesto is a great way to add a ton of flavor to a recipe. It’s herby, salty, and has garlic in it too. DeLallo basil pesto is my favorite jarred pesto.
- Fresh basil – Fresh chopped basil adds extra basil flavor on top of the pesto.
- Olive oil – Helps to tenderize the chicken.
How to make lemon basil grilled chicken
Marinate the chicken – Combine the lemon juice, pesto, olive oil, and chopped basil in a measuring cup or bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to a resealable bag. Pour in the marinade, seal the bag, and massage it into the chicken. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Grill the chicken – Heat your grill to about 400° F. Clean and oil the grates and then place the chicken on. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes before flipping it over and grilling the other side.
When the internal temperature reaches 165° F. remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. This will ensure that all the juices stay in the chicken rather than going all over your cutting board.
Tips for the best grilled chicken
- Pound out the chicken or cut it in half horizontally so they aren’t as thick. Not only will this reduce the cooking time, but will help the chicken cook more evenly.
- Don’t marinate the chicken overnight. This is a marinade that contains citrus and citrus can change the texture of meat if it marinates too long.
- Let the chicken sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes before cooking it.
- Use a meat thermometer. If grilling meat makes you nervous because you’ve either over or under cooked it, a meat thermometer will squash any doubt you have. When chicken has an internal temperature of 165° F. it is fully cooked.
- Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
How long will the lemon basil grilled chicken keep?
The chicken will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be eaten cold or warmed in the microwave.
How can I cook the chicken if I don’t have a grill?
If you don’t have a grill use a grill pan or skillet and cook the chicken on the stovetop. If you’re using a skillet, you’ll want to add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to it before cooking the chicken.
Let the chicken sit out on the counter for 15-30 minutes before cooking it. Cook it on the first side, undisturbed, for 4-5 minutes. Flip it over and cook another 5-7 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165° F. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it.
Ways to serve lemon basil chicken
- Serve it with a side of rice or quinoa. For extra flavor, add lemon zest and fresh chopped basil to the rice.
- Add it to pasta. It would be delicious in a creamy sauce like alfredo or a lemon sauce. You might also like it in a pesto pasta. Try using it in my popular grilled chicken and asparagus pesto pasta.
- Slice or dice the chicken and add it to a cold lettuce salad. It would be a great addition to this strawberry spinach quinoa salad.
- Use it for sandwiches or wraps. It would be great with a basil or pesto aioli, juicy tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella.
More delicious chicken recipes
Did you make this lemon basil chicken? I’d love if you’d leave a recipe rating and review below.
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pesto
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon chopped basil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add it to a resealable bag. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, pesto, olive oil, and chopped basil. Pour it in with the chicken and seal the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken and refrigerate for 1-3 hours while it marinates.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge 20-30 minutes before grilling and let the chicken come to room temperature. Preheat your grill to 400° F. then clean and oil the grill grates.
- Place the chicken on the grill and let it cook for 6-7 minutes before flipping it over. Continue to cook the chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F. Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 295Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 117mgSodium: 135mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 43g
Nutritional information is an estimate. Please consult a registered dietician for the most accurate nutritional information.