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Grilled chicken is a staple across households and restaurants alike, but what takes this from a simple dish to a gourmet dining experience are the bold flavors, textures, and creativity that each chef brings to the table. In the year of the pandemic, we’ve all become home chefs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t elevate our own cooking to match the level that we enjoy with fine dining.
Crafting the perfect grilled chicken, like any other masterpiece, is an art. The grilling technique, unique seasonings, and plate-mates all come together to form that delectable juicy bite. With the help of some renowned chefs, you can become the ultimate grilled chicken expert, and your only concern will be scouting a suitable wine pairing. Here, eight world-class chefs, including several Global Dining Collection chefs, have come together with Departures to share their best grilled chicken recipes.
Chef Nik Sharma’s Grilled Spiced Chicken Salad with Amchur
Chef Nik Sharma is well known for his cookbook The Flavor Equation, which was named “A Best Cookbook of 2020” by The Washington Post, The L.A. Times, and Forbes, among others. He offered a chicken salad recipe from the book, citing a unique flavor approach that results in a juicier and more flavorful chicken breast. When making this chicken salad, Chef Sharma recommends a splash of lime juice and a bit of amchur for a dose of acidity. However, you can also use this recipe in sandwiches with a little mayonnaise, in which case, Chef Sharma suggests adding 2 Tbsp of fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, and tarragon, noting that both breast and thigh meat from the chicken would work here.
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (total weight about 1 pound)
¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
2 heads butter lettuce (total weight 14 ounces), leaves separated and torn
3 shallots, thinly sliced
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ to 2 teaspoons amchur (powdered, sun-dried unripe green mango; available at Indian stores and online)
“You will need to plan a few hours in advance to marinate the chicken. Here’s a kitchen trick that I use at home to plan ahead for the week: I marinate the chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator, then freeze it with the marinade in small batches in resealable bags. Whenever you’re ready to cook the chicken, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or leave it out on the kitchen counter and then cook it.”
- Pat the chicken thighs dry with clean paper towels and place them in a resealable bag.
- In a medium bowl, combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil, the vinegar, coriander, cumin, red chilli powder, salt, and black pepper. Pour over the chicken in the bag, shake to coat evenly, and seal. Refrigerate the bag to marinate for at least four hours and up to eight hours. When ready to cook, bring the bag out and leave on the kitchen counter for at least 15 minutes to warm to room temperature.
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the grates with a little oil. Take the chicken thighs out of the bag with a pair of kitchen tongs, tapping them on the side of the bag to get rid of any excess liquid.
- Place the chicken on the hot grates and grill until they are completely cooked (165°F on an instant-read thermometer) and develop grill marks on each side, four to five minutes per side.
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and let rest for five minutes. Cut the chicken into strips.
- Place the lettuce leaves, shallots, and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Whisk the lime juice and remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl and pour it over the vegetables in the bowl.
- Season with salt and black pepper and toss to coat evenly.
- To serve, place the chicken on top of the salad and sprinkle the amchur on top.
Reprinted from The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma with permission by Chronicle Books, 2020
Chef Cédric Vongerichten’s Grilled Chicken Lombok
Cédric Vongerichten is the executive chef and co-owner of Wayan, a modern Indonesian restaurant, named one of Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America. The restaurant was influenced by Cédric’s French technique and his wife Ochi’s Indonesian roots, as well as the couple’s travels through Southeast Asia. This summer, the couple are launching Wayan on the Water: a luxury dining experience on a 1926 Mariner III charter boat, where guests can enjoy a two-hour sunset cruise and prix fixe dinner service inspired by Wayan's signature cuisine. Cédric developed this particular recipe, an Indonesian version of the classic BBQ chicken, for the summer, which boasts simplicity and flavors.
For the Kombu Brine
4 quarts water
½ cup sugar
½ cup salt
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch rosemary
A piece of kombu
Few leaves of makrut limes
For the Lombok Marinade
½ cup Long red chili fingers, with seeds
¼ cup Shallots, peeled
3 tablespoons Garlic, peeled<
2 cup Tomatoes, ripe
2 tablespoons Palm Sugar
4 tablespoons Honey
1 tablespoon Salt
4 tablespoons Coconut oil
For the Brine
- Combine all ingredients in a large container.
For the Lombok marinade
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until it has a slightly chunky consistency.
For the Chicken
- First, the chicken is deboned or halved and placed in a kombu-based brine for six hours. This helps to season the meat and keep it juicy. After six hours, pull the chicken out from the brine and let it sit for one hour in the Lombok marinade.
- Then, it’s time for grilling. Pre-heat your grill to a medium-high temperature, preferably using charcoal and wood for a better flavor.
- Place the chicken skin side down on the grill and brush the leftover marinade all over the chicken. Once skin is golden and lightly charred, flip over and continue cooking. Grill until the chicken is fully cooked, about 15 minutes for breasts and 20-25 minutes for legs and thighs.
- Finish with a squeeze of lime juice, shallots and garlic chips. Enjoy!
Chef Andre Fowles’ Jerk Chicken
Chef Andre Fowles is a three-time Food Network Chopped champion and chef de cuisine at Miss Lily's, a Caribbean haven with two New York City locations as well as international outposts. The restaurant just launched Jamaica in a Box: a three-course jerk chicken featuring Miss Lily’s housemade sauce, jerk corn with mayo and toasted coconut flakes, rice and peas, cucumber escovitch, mango chutney and old fashioned banana pudding. The Jamaica in a Box kit is currently available locally to New Yorkers with a national delivery option via Goldbelly, launching this April. Chef Andre offered a scrumptious jerk chicken recipe inspired by Caribbean flavors.
2 Whole chickens split in half backbone removed
4 bunches green onions
2 medium yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
10 each yellow scotch bonnet
6 sprigs fresh thyme
15 whole allspice berries
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons Brown sugar
2 ounces water
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon jerk marinade
1/2 cup tomato paste
5 1/2 tablespoons scotch bonnet minced
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups water
1 teaspoon allspice powder
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
For Jerk Marinade
- Put all ingredients in a food processor and turn on until smooth paste is formed and reserve.
For Jerk Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive heavy bottom pot and cook over low heat until the mixture reaches a thick, saucy consistency (similar to ketchup). Place contents in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Cool and store in a refrigerator for up to one week. Adjust by adding water if too thick, and simmer down if too thin.
- Place split chicken in marinade for 24 to 48 hours.
- Pre-heat grill to medium heat and allow wood/ charcoal to burn to ember coals.
- Place chicken skin side up over low-medium heat and cover…let cook for 10-15 minutes making sure no fire kicks up and move gently if needed before allowing to burn. If too hot, move chicken to cooler part of grill. Flip the chicken and char the skin until desired char is achieved. Flip once again, start to baste with jerk sauce. Keep this up for about 20 minutes.
- Keep cooking and basting until internal temp is 165°F. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Chef Sandy Virk’s “Grilled” Tandoori Chicken
Chef Sandy Virk is a British Indian chef most well-known for her organic Indian food truck, Jivana—which translates to the “meaning of life” in Punjabi. Opened in 2018, Jivana has catered to the likes of Netflix, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, and the radio station KCRW, among others. Chef Virk’s most recent venture is a full-service restaurant opening this Spring in Marina Del Rey, California, called Jivana Café. As the only organic Indian restaurant in Los Angeles, Jivana Café will be inspired by traditions of Punjabi street food sellers and fuse authentic Indian flavors with farm fresh produce and locally sourced ingredients. Virk offered a grilled chicken recipe that highlights these cultural flavors in a delicious bite.
4 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of relatively decent sized ginger
2 tablespoons of red chilli powder
1 tablespoons of nutmeg
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon red food colouring for the “iconic tandoori colour”
2 cups of natural yoghurt
4 pounds chicken breast, chicken thighs or drumsticks
Pinch of sea salt
1 bunch of fresh coriander
½ bunch of dried fenugreek
- Peel the garlic and ginger, blend in a food processor.
- Transfer to a large bowl, and then add a good pinch of sea salt and add the chilli powder.
- Add lime juice, yoghurt, the cinnamon, cumin, garam masala, fenugreek, nutmeg, coriander and food colouring. Mix thoroughly to combine all ingredients.
- Score the chicken breasts, allowing the flavours to penetrate and then add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge to marinate overnight.
- Once you’re ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature.
- Grab the chicken and drizzle with oil.
- Preheat gas grill before cooking to medium-high heat. Lightly grease surface.
- Rotate chicken, close lid, reduce heat to medium, and cook seven to 10 minutes more, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Add the coriander leaves before serving. Delicious with basmati rice, raita and pomegranate salad!
Chef Michael Solomonov’s Pargiyot Three Ways
Chef Michael Solomonov needs no introduction. The Global Dining Collection chef and James Beard Award winner helms Zahav (with co-owner Steve Cook), one of many CookNSolo establishments that bring the flavors of Israel to Philadelphia. Most recently, the duo opened Laser Wolf, an Israeli skewer house, in February 2020. To learn more about Israeli culture, food and people, you can tune into Solomonov’s new free digital series, Bringing Israel Home, which airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Each episode features conversations with experts and friends in Israel as well as live cooking demonstrations where Michael will take questions from the audience. In keeping with this cultural inspiration, he offered the recipe for Pargiyot Three Ways from Zahav. (© 2015 by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.)
1½ cups roughly chopped onions
1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup of canola oil<
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1½ cups roughly chopped onions 1⁄4 canola oil
¼ cup harissa
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
Amba (Mango Pickle) Marinade
1½ cups roughly chopped onions 1 cup amba puree
¼ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons water
- For any of the marinades: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree until the mixture is smooth and about as thick as a milkshake. You may need to add a couple of tablespoons of water to thin the mixture.
- Toss two pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into one-inch chunks with the marinade and seal in a zip-top bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours or up to two days.
- When ready to grill, wipe off the excess marinade, thread the chicken pieces on skewers, and grill directly over hot coals, turning every few minutes, until the chicken has lightly charred on the exterior and is cooked through about eight minutes total.
Mario Christerna’s Grilled Chicken and Halloumi Salad
Chef Mario Christerna is no stranger when it comes to fusing flavors, and his recipes reflect that artistry. The former MasterChef Latino judge opened the Brooklyn Ave Pizza Co. in Los Angeles’ historic Boyle Heights community in November 2020 and created a menu with flavors that blend his Chicano heritage with hints of other cultures in the restaurant’s surrounding community. Chef Christerna offered his “less is more” go-to salad recipe with ingredients he keeps permanently stocked at home. He cites the dishes’ low calorie count as well as its high protein content and “perfect amount of salty cheesiness” coming from the Halloumi.
2-8 ounce chicken breasts, (grilled) 1” dice
1- 8 ½ ounce Halloumi cheese, cut in half lengthwise, (grilled) ½” dice
1 ½ cups Baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 ½ cups (roughly 6 each) Persian cucumbers, cut in rounds
½ Red onion, julienne
2 lemons, juiced
⅓ cup Olive oil
1 teaspoon Sumac
¾ cup Flat leaf Parsley, chopped, sprigs for garnish
Salt & Pepper
- Turn on grill to medium heat
- Rub chicken breasts with ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Once grill is hot place chicken on grill and cook for approximately six to eight minutes on each side. Cooking times depend on the size of the chicken breast. Always look for an internal temperature of 165°F. Once grilled set aside to rest. Once rested make 1” dice.
- Drizzle a little olive oil on the Halloumi Cheese and place cheese on grill. Grill until slightly soft, approximately three minutes on each side. Make ½ “dice.
- In a medium size bowl add Grilled chicken breast, Halloumi cheese, baby tomatoes, Persian cucumber, red onion, parsley, lemon juice, remaining olive oil, sumac, season with salt and pepper. Toss all ingredients. Plate in a salad bowl. Garnish with Parsley sprigs
- If you have a baguette, you can always grill it then cut it into 1” dice and add to salad and viola, you now have Panzanella. You can always use day old bread as well.
Tristen Epps’ Shado Beni Coco Grilled Whole Chicken
Chef Tristen Epps is a name you want to learn, and fast. Named one of Star Chefs’ 2021 Miami Rising Stars, Epps was born in Trinidad and moved around with his mother to parts of the U.S., Guam, Japan, and the Philippines while she served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy JAG division. Chef Epps’ cooking reflects his travels and knowledge of worldly cuisine. The Chopped champion joined Chef Marcus Samuelsson and the Red Rooster team after meeting on The Taste. Chef Epps is chef de cuisine at the newly opened Red Rooster Overtown in an iconic Black community in Miami. After a pandemic-derailed opening in March 2020, Chef Epps and his team switched gears and created meals for those most in need in partnership with World Central Kitchen. The restaurant officially opened this past December. Chef Epps lives by the motto, “my next dish is my best dish,” and offered a recipe that certainly lives up to that title.
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch parsley
8 cloves garlic
1 large knob of ginger
3 each lemongrass (bottom half only)
3 each scotch bonnet
1 cup fish sauce
2 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons turmeric
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 spatchcock pasture raised chicken
- Place all ingredients in food processor and liquify to chunky paste.
- Pour over chicken and marinate in fridge for as little as six hours to overnight.
- Take out and let chicken come to room temp outside of marinade.
- Heat up charcoal grill and make a cooler section by pushing coals to one side.
- Cook chicken skin side down on medium Jean until skin starts to get crisp and brown.
- Turn over to backside and cook for about eight minutes. Continue to turn for even cooking.
- Cook until temp of chicken is 160°F and then rest slice chicken and serve.
Stephanie Izard’s Belize Grilled Chicken
Global Dining Collection chef, Top Chef winner, and James Beard Award winner Stephanie Izard has made her presence known across Chicago with her restaurant dynasty, including hot spots like Girl & the Goat, Little Goat Diner, Duck Duck Goat, Cabra Cevicheria, and catering to events with Goat Group Catering. Even amid the pandemic, Chef Izard has remained busy, opening a new bakery called Sugargoat last fall, and rapidly expanding her line of spices and sauces, This Little Goat, which is featured in her recipe below.
Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
1 fryer chicken, about 3-4 pounds, spatchcocked
3 tablespoons This Little Goat went to Belize (also available on Amazon)
Torn mint leaves and lemon wedges, for serving
- In a small bowl, whisk together three tablespoons each canola oil and This Little Goat went to Belize spice and ½ teaspoons kosher salt.
- Place the chicken in a baking dish or large bowl and rub all over with the Belize-spiced marinade.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight (the longer the better!).
- Remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before grilling, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat one side of your grill to medium-high/heat heat and brush the grates with canola oil.
- Place the chicken, skin-side down, on the hot side of your grill. Grill over high heat for about six to eight minutes per side, until dark char marks appear on each side.
- Move over indirect heat and continue grilling, skin side down, until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork, about 30-40 minutes more.
- Remove chicken from the grill and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with freshly torn mint leaves and serve alongside lemon wedges.