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grilled lemon chicken with lemon wheels on blue striped plate

Grilled Lemon Chicken

  • Author: Elizabeth Van Lierde
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


An easy Grilled Lemon Chicken recipe marinated with fresh lemons and spicy cracked black pepper gets the ultimate char on an outdoor grill, stove or oven.



3 lbs chicken thighs, breasts or drumsticks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest

½ cup fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, sprigs removed (optional)

2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt, to taste

2 lemons, for grilling

olive oil


  1. Place chicken into a large ziplock bag or sealed Tupperware.
  2. Make the marinade: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, olive oil and pepper. Pour marinade over chicken pieces. Toss to coat on all sides.
  3. Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes (an hour is ideal) and up to two hours. 
  4. Remove chicken from the marinade. Sprinkle evenly with kosher salt on both sides.
  5. Slice your lemons into large wheels and brush with olive oil.
  6. Heat your grill on medium-high (350-400 F) for five minutes.
  7. Place chicken breasts on the grills direct heat, close the lid and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. For smaller chicken pieces, cook 3-4 mins on each side. For larger chicken pieces, cook 5-6 minutes on each side. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F. Remove from grill, tent with foil and let chicken pieces rest for 3-5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, grill lemon wheels 1-2 minutes, or until charred. Enjoy!


Don’t Over Marinate: Anything after two hours, the chicken’s texture will begin to break down from the acid in the lemon juice.

Chicken on the Grill: If the chicken pieces are still ‘sticking’ after the first 4-5 minutes, let them continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. The chicken will tell you it’s ready for a flip once it is no longer sticking to the grates.

Stovetop: Set a large skillet over medium-high heat for two minutes. Coat the skillet with olive oil, then add the chicken (in batches, if necessary) and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Set aside. While the chicken is resting, add the lemon wheels and caramelize for 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown.

Oven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the chicken on a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet, making sure there is space between each piece (use two baking sheets, if necessary), along with the lemon wheels that have been brushed with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the lemon wheels are deep golden brown.

Keywords: summer, marinade, citrus