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Foolproof Grilled Chicken


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  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 1/2 to 6 pounds chicken parts with skin and bones
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice plus 4 limes, halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
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Servings 6


Step 1

Brine chicken and make vinaigrette:
Bring water, sugar, and 1/2 cup salt to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Cool brine completely, then add chicken and soak, covered and chilled, 6 hours.
Remove chicken and pat dry.
Whisk together lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, mint, cilantro, red pepper flakes, and remaining teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking until combined.

Sear chicken (in 2 batches if necessary to avoid crowding), starting with skin sides down, on grill, covered with lid, turning over once, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes total. Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all breasts on rack over shut-off burner.
Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer chicken to bowl with vinaigrette and turn to coat, then transfer to platter to keep warm, loosely covered with foil.
When chicken is almost done, grill lime halves, cut sides down, uncovered, over lit burner until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes, then transfer to platter with chicken. Serve limes with chicken and serve remaining vinaigrette on the side.

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