When I’ve got a little window in the morning or if I’m having friends over, I take the time to chop up lots of garlic, ginger, and cilantro to combine with tamari and lime to make a marinade/wet rub for chicken breasts. The “marinade” is heavy on the chopped “stuff” so that some of those goodies will stick to the chicken when it is grilled. But the bold flavors penetrate the chicken, too, and the end result is super tasty and moist. You'll make these often and find lots of ways to use them. I like them leftover, sliced in an Asian salad, served wtih peanut noodles, or used in lettuce and rice-noodle wraps.

I like to butterfly chicken breasts (all but the very smallest and thinnest) before grilling, because they cook more evenly. And the cut surfaces absorb flavor as well. To butterfly a chicken breast, put one hand on top of the flat breast and use the other hand to slide a very sharp knife horizontally – parallel to your cutting surface – about three-quarters of the way through the breast. (You will need to use a slight sawing motion.) Open the breast like a book and run the tip of the knife along the cut you’ve already made to make it slightly deeper so that the breast can open nearly flat. But don’t cut all the way through! Though if you do, no worries, you’ll just have two thinner pieces of breast.  


Susie Middleton

I usually marinate for between 4 and 6 hours but you could certainly go longer if it suited your schedule.

I sometimes serve these topped with a little mound of my Quick Limey Slaw. (For these photos, I used red cabbage instead of green. The red cabbage is tasty, but if you use it, just be sure not to make it too far in advance or you will have a lot of red juices on your plate!)

Serves 3 to 4


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh garlic (about 4 medium cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (about a 1 ½ inch piece, peeled)
  • Zest of one lime
  • 3 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 ½ limes), plus lime wedges for serving
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese rice wine) or maple syrup
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Quick Limey Slaw (optional) for serving


1. Arrange the butterflied breasts in a large, wide non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle them all over with the 1 teapoon salt.

2. To the bowl, add the chopped garlic, the chopped ginger, the lime zest, the lime juice, the tamari, the oil, and the mirin or maple syrup. Gently stir and distribute well so that the breasts are coated with the ingredients. Sprinkle the cilantro in (it tends to clump) and stir that in as well. Spread the breasts out a bit and press down on them so that the liquids are just covering them. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

3. Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 to 40 minutes before grilling. Prepare a hot gas or medium-hot charcoal fire. Scrape and oil your grates. Have ready a pair of long tongs, a large spatula, and a serving platter.

4. Transfer the breasts to the grill. (You can mound a bit of the extra garlic and ginger on the top side, but don't pour the juices in the bowl onto the grill.) If using a gas grill, reduce the heat from high to medium high. Cover. Cook until well-marked on bottom side, about 4 to 5 minutes. Flip the breasts (if they stick a bit, use the large spatula to get underneath them) and cook until well-marked on the second side and cooked through, about another 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Transfer to a serving platter or plates, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, garnish with limes and cilantro sprigs. If using the slaw, top each breast with a small mound of the slaw, or serve the slaw in a bowl on the side.