Monday, July 27, 2009

Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken Recipe (Low-Carb, South Beach Diet, Dairy-Free)

This recipe for Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken is about as easy as it gets for tasty grilled chicken!  This one is for all busy cooks who don't like to fuss.

Grilled Chicken
I've been away for five days attending the 2009 BlogHer Conference, but a few days before BlogHer I cooked this long-ago favorite version of grilled chicken, with a marinade that only has four ingredients. Some people might turn up their nose at a recipe like this with packaged ingredients, but if you're a busy mom who wants something easy that kids will eat, this Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken may become one of your favorites. Like the title says, it's completely foolproof, 100% delicious, and easy. You can also use the same marinade for kabobs or tin-foil dinners, so read after the recipe for those variations.

(Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken was updated and added to Recipe Favorites July 2009.) 

You might want to read my post about how to make grilled chicken breasts if you haven't seen it. I start by trimming the chicken and then making small slits the length of each chicken breast to help the marinade penetrate. (I'm sure this marinade would also be great for grilled chicken thighs or legs, either with or without the skin.)

I actually pour out a tiny bit of dressing and mix the marinade right in the bottle! I use Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing, mixed with a package of Zesty Italian salad dressing mix (dry mix), a bit of Spike Seasoning, and some black pepper. (If your store carries a generic Zesty Italian mix like the one in this photo, that will work just fine.)

If you want to make just a few chicken breasts, just write MARINADE on the bottle and stick it in the fridge for next time.

Pour the marinade over the trimmed chicken breasts, and let it marinate in the fridge all day. (I've also changed my plans and marinated this more than 24 hours with no problem.) Grill chicken 10-20 minutes, and serve!

Completely Foolproof 100% Delicious Grilled Chicken
(Makes 6-8 servings, or save some of the marinade in the fridge for another time. I got this recipe from a man named George Bauer who I lost track of years ago.)

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Marinade Ingredients:
1 16 oz. bottle Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing (You can probably use any type of Italian dressing made with olive oil as long as it's not low fat)
1 pkg. Zesty Italian dressing mix (powdered mix)
1 T Spike Seasoning (or less, this is optional but good. You can use other all purpose seasoning mixes if you have one you like)
Coarse ground black pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp.)

(Click this link to see step-by-step photos of how to make grilled chicken breasts.)

Trim all visible fat and membranes from chicken breasts, then cut small crosswise slits about 1/2 inch apart down the length of each chicken breast. (This helps the marinade penetrate and makes chicken cook more quickly and evenly. It also gives a nice look to the cooked chicken breasts.)

Combine marinade ingredients and mix together. (You can pour out a bit of the dressing and combine ingredients in the bottle, then shake well.) Put chicken in single layer in a ziploc bag. Pour marinade over chicken. (If you're not using all the marinade, just label it and store in refrigerator for next time.) Marinate chicken in the refrigerator 6 hours or longer. (This is great to put in the refrigerator in the morning when you go to work and cook after work that night.)

To cook, remove chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Spray grill with non-stick spray or olive oil, then preheat to medium high. (You can only hold your hand there for 2-3 seconds at that heat.) Have a spray bottle ready to spray flames which may shoot up when chicken is first put on the grill. Drain chicken, then put it on the grill with slit side down , rotating after a few minutes for best grill marks. Grill 10-20 minutes, turning every few minutes, until chicken is well browned and firm but not hard to the touch. (Don't baste chicken with reserved marinade which contains bacteria from the raw chicken.) Actual cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is, temperature of the chicken, and even air temperature if you're cooking outside, but I cooked the chicken in the photo about 13 minutes.

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This chicken could also be cooked in a stove-top grill pan with ridges or a George Foreman Grill with good results.

Recipe Variation #1: Chicken-Veggie Kabobs
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 red bell peppers
2 medium sized zucchini
1 red onion or sweet Vidalia or Maui onion
marinade recipe as above

Cut chicken and veggies into same size pieces about 1 1/2 inches square. Marinate chicken as above. Vegetables should be marinated separately and can be marinated for a much shorter time, although you can also marinate both all day if you need to start them in the morning before work.

To cook, spray and preheat grill as above. Thread vegetables and chicken onto skewers, alternating and pressing tightly together (to prevent "spinning" on the skewer). It's best to skewer zucchini so that the skewer goes through the skin. Grill as above, but turn them a little more often.

Recipe Variation #2: Foil Dinners for Camping
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1-2 red bell peppers
2 medium sized zucchini
1 red onion or sweet Vidalia or Maui onion
marinade recipe as above

This mixture of chicken and vegetables is delicious wrapped in individual foil packets and cooked over coals from a campfire. Cut chicken and vegetables into pieces the same as for kabobs, and marinate the ingredients for several hours, or all day.

To cook in foil, drain off marinade, then put an individual serving of chicken, zucchini, pepper and onion into each packet. Double wrap in foil. (I like to spray the inside piece of foil with nonstick spray or olive oil.) Cook over coals about 15-20 minutes, turning every few minutes to prevent burning.

South Beach Diet / Low-Carb Diet Suggestions:
The dressing used for this marinade has only 1 gram of sugar per serving, making it perfect for the South Beach Diet or any type of low-carb eating plan. (It's probably gluten-free but check label ingredients to make sure.  For a simple low-carb dinner, this would be great served with Cucumbers CaesarWanna-Be Greek Salad,  Grilled Mushrooms, or Grilled Zucchini. If you don't mind some carbs, you could serve with something like Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi or Tabbouli with Almonds.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Variations of Easy Grilled Chicken:
(Recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)

Very Greek Grilled Chicken from Kalyn's Kitchen

Chicken Souvlaki from Kalyn's Kitchen

Parsley Grilled Chicken from Delish

Grilled Chicken with Easy Tangy Peach Barbecue Sauce from Prudence Pennywise

Balsamic, Dijon, and Garlic Grilled Chicken Breasts from For the Love of Cooking

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon! 

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Hi Kalyn
    Just had to tell you I tried this marinade this weekend and it's fabulous! Even my picky 14-year old stepson, who lives on chicken tenders and ravioli, pronounced it "tasty". I did it with the veggie kabobs...I think we'll be eating these fairly often this summer.


  2. Wow! This is the best chicken I have ever had. My husband and I will be adding this to our weekly favorites :)

  3. Oy, I need to cut back salt, so pre packages stuff is usually out for me. Probably using olive oil and vinegar and some Mrs. Dash would yield good results, no?

  4. Elenka, you can get salt-free Spike, and actually the Newman's Own dressing is pretty low in salt. The one ingredient that does have a lot of salt is the Zesty Italian packets. Remember though, you're only eating the small amount of marinade that stick to the chicken when it's grilled. I'm not sure just olive oil and vinegar with Mrs. Dash would replace all the flavors in this, but I bet it would still be good.

  5. It is that time of year! I just posted a grilled chicken recipe today too.

    I actually am not a fan of bottled salad dressings, so we don't ever have them on hand (why are they always so sweet?). However in a marinate I could see it working quite well.

  6. There are absolutely no turned-up noses here. I am all for a recipe that gets dinner on the table quickly! I am emailing this to myself.

  7. For years I've marinated our meats/veggies using Italian dressing! Great minds think alike! ;)

    Another yummy variation? One part soy to six parts Italian dressing which is especially good with beef and venison.

  8. You know, my family has been cooking a variation of this recipe for years and years! We always get rave reviews when we host BBQs and use this simple marinade. Our variation is just to mix up the italian seasoning packet according to directions (basically that oil and vinegar dressing bottle) and soak the chicken in it for however long. LOVE IT!

  9. Kalyn
    I've been using this marinade recipe for several years now after finding it on your website. And yeah, it uses "packaged" salad dressing - but so what, its delicious and truly foolproof! Everyone loves this chicken when I make it.

  10. This is a great way to grill chicken. I also use the packaged Italian dressing mix (I buy mine from Penzeys in bulk) to combine with whole wheat Panko crumbs. Dip chicken breast slices in olive oil, then dip in the bread crumb/Italian mixture. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes, and you have fabulous chicken tenders that you have made yourself--so you know what's in them!

  11. It's nice to hear from people who have used the recipe or their own variation of this same idea, thanks for weighing in. Like the idea of using the Italian mix with bread crumbs too (and I just went to my first Penzey's store!)

  12. I love your site-I'm the Director of Women's Ministries at a mid-size church and tell all of our ladies about this site! Thanks for the great, healthy recipes. I'm still waiting for your book!!!

  13. KL, thanks so much and nice to know you are enjoying the blog. Not sure if I would ever write a book, and for sure only if I had an offer for money up front (as I hear lots of people work hard writing cookbooks and never make any money from them.) Right now doing the blog is keeping me pretty busy!

  14. OK, my mouth is watering. I try to avoid a lot of the pre-packaged stuff, but let's face it: it's engineered to taste great. And this looks so savory and moist. Might have to grill chicken this weekend...

  15. I love the grill chicken recipe with the Newman's Own marinade. I tried tonight because I was tired of eating the same things....what is even more amazing is that my kids ate it! Thanks!

    April Deonna
    "If you are going to get fit, go all the way."

  16. That looks pretty tasty. I've never tried scoring the breast like that, interesting.

    I have no problem with using packaged ingredients like itailian dressing as a marinade. It was the first way I ever learned to grill chicken!

    I did do a simple chicken breast last week that had only 5 ingredients and it was phenomenal, everyone loved it!

  17. I will be trying this very soon! I really like your blog!

  18. I posted a recipe in my link for a chicken recipe
    this is a new recipe I recently found
    I made it for a family dinner
    the entire family enjoyed it very much

    very nice blog I appreciate good blog content

  19. so you mix one bottle with the zesty itlian and just put enough mrinade to cover the chicken?

  20. Coach Kai, yes, then after the chicken marinates just grill as usual.

  21. hah! perfect for firefighters to make at the firehouse, simple yet amazing. thanks so much!

  22. I loathe boneless skinless chicken breasts as they are always dry and not all that tasty. I made some today with the marinade and they are without doubt DELICIOUS. Thank you!

  23. Anonymous, so glad you liked it. I agree, chicken breasts are often dry but this marinade with the oil in the dressing really keeps them moist and flavorful.

  24. This was *the* best grilled chicken I have ever tasted. Quick and easy, and my husband loved it too!

  25. Kalyn: I have made this grilled chicken 5-6 times now and it is delicious every time and such a life saver since I am always short on time. What I am wondering is : can this be frozen after grilling? I'd like to make it in bulk and use it in different things when I am on the go. Thanks!

  26. Can't think of any reason you couldn't freeze the cooked chicken, although I think the flavor and texture will obviously not be quite as good as when it's freshly cooked.


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