Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tzatziki

Easy grilled lemon chicken breasts with garlic, oregano, and thyme are packed with flavor and served with a cucumber yogurt tzatziki sauce.


This Grilled Lemon Chicken Breast recipe with a creamy homemade Tzatziki guarantees perfectly juicy and flavorful grilled chicken every time. The lemon marinade is made with a few simple ingredients you likely have at home already and couldn't be easier to make.

Now that the weather is getting warmer, we are trying to eat more meals outside since it is nice to have a change of scenery. These backyard picnics have been a huge hit with the kids and mean less clean-up, so that's a win.  Lemon and chicken is a natural combination so these easy lemon grilled chicken breasts were an easy option. 

The thing I love most about this recipe is that lemon naturally tenderizes the chicken so you don't have to worry that it will turn out dry. You can pair it with any combination of fresh or dried herbs and you'll get tasty, delicious chicken breast every time. Plus the tzatziki style yogurt dip with cucumber, garlic, and lemon makes the perfect dipping sauce. 

Lemon chicken breast that is grilled with yogurt sauce, rice, and fresh lemons.

What to Serve with Grilled Lemon Chicken

With the classic flavors in this chicken dish, there are almost endless opportunities for side dishes and ways to serve the chicken. 

  • Any time I am making chicken on the grill, I am also making grilled vegetables. Grilled broccoli, grilled green beans, and grilled yellow squash are favorites.
  • For something heartier, I love serving this with some grilled corn on the cob or baked potatoes.
  • Make a big Israeli Salad for a light and healthy side dish packed with cucumbers, tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a lemon dressing. 
  • This is delicious served over a bed of rice, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or another grain. It also works with pasta, orzo, or couscous.
  • Serve this with a large green salad or make a Greek style salad for the side with feta cheese, black olives, and lemon juice.

Recipe Ideas and Tips

Many people struggle to cook chicken breats on the grill but with these tried and true tips, you can make perfectly tender and juicy grilled chicken. 

  • One of the most important tips for making juicy, tasty grilled chicken is ensuring the chicken has a uniform thickness so it cooks evenly. Since chicken breasts tend to be really large, start by butterflying the chicken if it is really thick. Then use a mallet to pound the chicken slightly in any especially thick areas. If you don't butterfly the chicken, then make sure to pound it so it has a uniform thickness.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure you don't overcook the chicken. No one wants to eat dry chicken. Chicken breasts should be cooked to 160-165 degrees. 
  • It is also important to let the chicken rest when it comes off the grill. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes so the juices have time to redistribute throughout the meat. If you cut it to soon, the juices will leak out on to the plate. 
  • When using lemon as a marinade, do not over-marinate the chicken. The enzymes in the lemon will break down the chicken. This is good in the short term since it helps tenderize the chicken but if it marinates for too long, it can change the texture. 
  • Cook the chicken on a preheated grill.  This ensures the chicken gets a nice, browned exterior and those grill marks we all want,
  • Leave the chicken alone and do not move it too early. Many people complain that their chicken sticks to the grill but this usually is an indication it isn't ready to flip.  Wait until the chicken releases easily from the grill grates to flip it. 

Ideas for Leftover Grilled Lemon Chicken

You'll want to make a double or triple batch of this chicken since it makes the best leftovers. Here are some ideas:

  • Make a Greek Salad with grilled lemon chicken, Romaine lettuce, veggies, feta cheese, black olives, and a homemade Greek dressing.
  • Chop the chicken to make a healthy lemon chicken salad. Consider adding some dried cranberries for a touch of sweetness that is so good with the lemon. 
  • Slice the chicken and pair it with hummus and veggies for a quick wrap. 
  • Toss the cooked chicken with cooked pasta, vegetables, and a light salad dressing to make a quick pasta salad.
  • Make a hot pasta dish with cooked pasta, extra lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, broccoli, and your leftover chicken. 

Lemon chicken breast that has been grilled with oregano and thyme.

How to make lemon marinade for chicken?

Lemon is a natural pairing with chicken and works great as a marinade since it helps tenderize the chicken. Start with a fat like olive oil or Greek yogurt. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest. Then add flavorings like dried herbs, fresh herbs, garlic, and other seasonings. Let the chicken marinate for 2-6 hours. 

How long to grill chicken breasts?

Generally speaking, chicken breasts will take 4-6 minutes per side is you have pounded them slightly to create a uniform thickness. They are ready to flip when the edges are cooked, there are brown grill marks, and the chicken releases easily from the grill. The chicken breast is ready when it reaches 160-165 degrees Some people like to remove the chicken at 155 degrees and then let it rest under a foil tent for 5-10 minutes until the temperature reaches 165 degrees. 

Can this lemon chicken be baked?

This can also be made in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken on a prepared baking sheet or glass baking dish. Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Smaller pieces will take around 20 minutes whereas larger pieces could take around 30 minutes. Cook until 165 degrees and let rest. 

Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?

Sure! This recipe works great with chicken thighs as well. Boneless skinless chicken thighs will take about 4 minutes per side on the grill. 

Looking for more grilled chicken recipes?

The Recipe
Grilled lemon chicken breast with tzatziki on a bed of rice.

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tzatziki

PREP TIME: 3 Hours
TOTAL TIME: 3 Hours, 15 Min
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  • 1.33 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (or garlic powder)
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest for marinade)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt (for tzaztiki)
  • 1/2 English cucumber (or Persian cucumbers, for tzaztiki)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (for tzaztiki)
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest (for tzaztiki)
  • 1 tbsp. dill, chopped (for tzaztiki)

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Start by preparing the chicken breasts. For larger chicken breasts, you will want to cut the chicken in half to create two thinner pieces of chicken. Then pound the chicken in any thick portions to create breasts that are fairly uniform in thickness.


Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and the marinade to a ziploc bag or container. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours in the fridge. Rotate the chicken a few times during the marinating process to ensure it is evenly marinated.


Make the tzatziki: Grate the cucumber and use a paper towel or cheesecloth to squeeze out all the extra moisture. Stir it into the yogurt along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.


When ready to cook, preheat the grill. Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting excess drip off. Cook for 4-6 minutes per side until cooked to 160-165 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz
Amount Per Serving
Calories 261
Calories from Fat 78
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 76mg
Sodium 78mg
Total Carbohydrate 6g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 35g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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On Grilled Lemon Chicken with Tzatziki
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September 26, 2021 - 14:54
Hi, quick question. How much lemon juice and zest is used for the marinade? Is it the other half of the lemon used for the tzatziki? Thanks! The recipe sounds really good.
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September 28, 2021 - 15:57
Updated! Thanks.
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