Seriously Simple: Grilled chicken breasts take on a Greek flavor | Food and Cooking

Seriously Simple: Grilled chicken breasts take on a Greek flavor | Food and Cooking


Dried oregano adds a deeper, earthier flavor to the chicken than fresh oregano.

If you’re like me, you probably have a couple of barbecued chicken “keepers” that you rotate repeatedly. For me it’s my lemon mustard chicken, pesto chicken and grilled chicken with classic barbecue sauce.

I had a hankering for a new taste. That’s how this juicy, herbed chicken came to be.

Marinating poultry in yogurt will ensure tender meat and a luscious result. I prefer full-fat Greek yogurt for its thick unique flavor. I started with that idea and then added lots of garlic, lemon zest and juice and a big burst of dried oregano.

Why dried? It adds a deeper, earthier flavor than fresh oregano. Oregano is the herb I use most often for Greek dishes. Look for an extra-virgin Greek olive oil that has plenty of fruitiness along with a light peppery finish. Four cloves of garlic might seem excessive, but it is needed here.

This Seriously Simple dish might just make it into your chicken rotation in the months to come. You can also use chicken thighs. Or cut into cubes and make brochettes. The marinade is also pretty yummy on fresh salmon. If you use salmon, marinate no more than two hours before grilling.

What to serve alongside? How about cooked orzo with crumbled feta cheese, sweet baby peas, an olive oil drizzle and fresh herbs? A crisp white Greek wine would be a fitting beverage accompaniment.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Greek-Style Marinade

  • 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 medium minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1-pound)
  • To garnish:
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh oregano leaves or parsley

1. Combine the Greek yogurt and olive oil into a medium-sized bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, minced garlic, oregano, salt and black pepper and stir to blend. Taste for seasoning.

2. Reserve half of the marinade in a small bowl and refrigerate. Marinate the chicken in the medium-sized bowl for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours in the refrigerator. (The chicken can get mushy if left longer that 4 hours marinating,)

3. When ready to grill, prepare the grill for medium high heat grilling. Grill the chicken, about 8 minutes per side or until they have grill marks, the chicken has no pinkness in the interior and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes, covered loosely with aluminum foil, before serving.

4. Serve the breast whole or sliced on the bias. Garnish with sliced lemons and oregano or parsley. Offer the remaining marinade in a side bowl to accompany the chicken.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at

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