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Juicy chicken breast marinated in creamy coconut milk, fresh lime and a sweet red chili sauce making this chicken so tender and flavorful you will want to grill all summer long!

grilled chicken breast with coconut and lime on a wooden cutting board with lime slices

How to Grill Flavorful Moist Chicken

Grilled chicken can be intimidating! People are afraid of under-cooking chicken, which instead results in overcooked, dry, and burned chicken. With the right techniques you can make fantastic moist and flavorful grilled chicken every time. 

  1. Marinate.  Prepping your chicken in advance and letting it soak in a flavorful marinade is key. Not only will this help the chicken fibers to soften up making your meat more tender, but it also soaks the flavor of the marinade into the meat, rather than just on the outside of the chicken to be cooked off.  Marinades can include an acid like pineapple juice, lemon juice, or vinegar. Don’t forget seasonings like pepper, garlic powder, or onion powder. It is also a good idea to include an oil or fat like coconut milk or olive oil (more on ways to make tender chicken here)
  2. Timing. The second step in perfectly grilled chicken is SO important.  You do not want to overcook your meat. With grilling, your heat source comes from under the meat, so you’ll need to turn your meat to cook both sides.  We like to close the lid on the meat to create a little oven and attempt to cook on all sides, and in the middle as well, so the chicken doesn’t sit on one side of the grill too long. You should always use a meat thermometer to determine if the chicken is cooked an up to temp. The internal temp should be 165 for dark meat and 160 degrees for white meat.
  3. Temperature. If you cook your chicken on a grill that is too hot, the outside will burn before the inside cooks. Medium-low is best for a charcoal grill, and medium on a gas grill.
  4. Sauce. You can also brush the meat while cooking with your marinade or a sauce to create a barrier between the direct heat source and the meat, and allow the flavors to cook onto the outside of your meat as well.  Just make sure that you brush on more towards the end of cooking. If there is sugar in your sauce or marinade and you brush on too early, it could burn.
grilled chicken breast with a coconut lime marinade on a wooden cutting board with fresh limes in the background

What Are The Best Cuts of Chicken To Grill?

Chicken Thighs. Thighs are more tender and have more fat than chicken breasts. Thighs will usually be a bit more tender and have a richer flavor because of the fat. You can grill bone in or boneless. Bone-in will take about 12 minutes on each side to cook and boneless is 3-4 minutes per side.

Chicken Drumsticks. Drumsticks can be really fun for kids to eat because it’s like there is a built in handle. They usually come skin on making them super crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Because of the bone, drumsticks will take longer to cook than other cuts. They will need to cook for about 35 minutes and turned every 5 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. For the most tender, fall off the bone drumstick, cook to an internal temperature of 185 degrees.

Chicken Breast. Breasts can be tender and juicy grilled even though they are lower in fat. Try to buy breasts that are 5-8 ounces because bigger than that will take much longer to cook and can dry out on the grill. If you chicken breasts are much larger on one end, you will want to use a meat pounder to even out the thickness so that each breast cooks through at about the same time. If the breast is very thick, you can butterfly it to help even it out. Average size chicken breasts will need to cook for about 5-6 minutes on each side.

Chicken Wings. Wings are the smallest part of the chicken and have the least amount of meat. This means they will cook the fastest. They will only need 2-3 minutes per side and you will want to watch them carefully.

grilled chicken drumsticks with a coconut lime marinade on a wooden cutting board

Ingredients You’ll Need for Grilled Chicken with Coconut and Lime

  • Chicken. You will need about 1 pound of chicken to feed 4 people. I recommend using breast, thighs or drumsticks.
  • Coconut Milk. Make sure to get unsweetened coconut milk – you can use full fat or lower fat, but I recommend full fat for the most tender chicken.
  • Limes. Fresh limes – you will need the juice of 3 good size limes.
  • Sweet Red Chili Sauce. This can be found at your local grocery store. A common brand is Thai Kitchen.
  • Salt and Pepper.
slices of grilled chicken breast with a coconut lime marinade on a wooden cutting board with fresh limes on top

How to Make Grilled Chicken without a Grill

No grill you say? There are several ways to modify.

  • Use an indoor grill pan appliance.   There are appliances that act like grills, like the George Foreman grill. It can sit on your counter, and grill both sides of your meat at once. They are pretty amazing, and a quick way to make your grilled chicken.
  • Use your oven broiler.  In your oven, the broiler setting changes from an all over heat source to just using the heating element on the top of the oven.  I turn that on, but I also use a grill broiler pan that my oven came with, to allow some heat to get under the meat. The grill pan has slats in the bottom, similar to a grilling rack.
  • A grill pan for your stovetop. Rather than an extra appliance, some people like a grill pan that fits on top of your stove. These are great, they don’t take a up a lot of room, and your chicken cooks quickly.
grilled chicken breast with a coconut lime marinade on a wooden cutting board with fresh limes in the background

More Favorite Chicken Recipes

grilled chicken breasts with coconut and lime marinade on a wooden cutting board with fresh limes in the background
  • 1 pound chicken breast, thighs or drumsticks
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 3/4 cup sweet red chili sauce
  • 3 medium limes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • Preheat outdoor grill to medium/high. About 400° F.

  • Season chicken well with salt and pepper.

  • Whisk together 1 cup coconut milk, 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce, juice of 3 limes, and 1 teaspoon lime zest. Reserve 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce to brush on chicken in the last few minutes of grilling.

  • Add chicken to a ziplock bag, pour in the marinade and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes but preferably 2 hours in the refrigerator.

  • Meanwhile, (without discarding marinade) place chicken on grill and cook for: 5-6 minutes on each side for boneless chicken breasts (temp 160°F)3-4 minutes on each side for boneless chicken thighs (temp 165°F)30 minutes for drumsticks turning every 5 minutes (temp 185°F)
  • When there is 2-3 minutes left of grilling, brush on remaining coconut and chili sauce on the chicken. Remove from grill and cover with foil.

  • Let your chicken sit for 10 minutes before serving and slicing. Serve with your favorite summer veggies. Enjoy!

Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 1317mg | Potassium: 533mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 451IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 4mg

Natalie Monson

I’m a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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