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Grilled Glazed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts


Why this recipe works: To produce great grilled flavor and glaze the meat in a relatively short period of time, we brine the meat while the grill heats to season it and keep it moist during cooking. Milk powder hastens the Maillard reaction and provides a surface for the glaze to adhere to. For a savory glaze with balanced flavor, we use a small amount of corn syrup, which is less sweet than other sweeteners, to provide viscosity but not a lot of sweetness.

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  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 recipe glaze (see related content)


Adapted from


Step 1

Serves 4

1. Dissolve salt and sugar in 1½ quarts cold water. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Combine milk powder and pepper in bowl.

2A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter mounded with charcoal briquettes (7 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour two thirds evenly over half of grill, then pour remaining coals over other half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

2B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn other burner(s) to medium-high.

3. Clean and oil cooking grate. Sprinkle half of milk powder mixture over 1 side of chicken. Lightly spray coated side of chicken with oil spray until milk powder is moistened. Flip chicken and sprinkle remaining milk powder mixture over second side. Lightly spray with oil spray.

4. Place chicken, skinned side down, over hotter part of grill and cook until browned on first side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Flip chicken, brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook until browned on second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Flip chicken, move to cooler side of grill, brush with 2 tablespoons glaze, and cook for 2 minutes. Repeat flipping and brushing 2 more times, cooking for 2 minutes on each side. Flip chicken, brush with remaining glaze, and cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Where Grilling and Glazing Go Wrong

Here’s what usually happens when you try for a deep sear and a substantial glaze.

BURNT GLAZE, BLAND MEAT: Layer on glaze from the get-go and it tends to burn. The chicken may be moist, but it lacks flavorful browning.

NICE GLAZE, DRY MEAT: If you wait to apply the sauce, you’ll get good browning and a substantial glaze but dry, overcooked chicken.


The Power of Milk Powder

To make sure that our chicken breasts could be both browned and glazed in the time it took the chicken to cook, we had to accelerate browning. A surprising ingredient—milk powder—was the solution. Milk powder contains both protein and so called reducing sugar (in this case, lactose), the keys to the Maillard reaction, the chemical process that causes browning. Faster browning gave us more time to layer on the glaze.

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