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Lemon Garlic BBQ Chicken Recipe

December 11, 2023

Donna M. Skolnick

Donna M. Skolnick



Lemon Garlic BBQ Chicken Recipe


4-6 Chicken Thighs

1/4 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

4 Garlic Cloves, minced

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 tablespoon Paprika

2 tablespoons Honey

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Salt and Pepper to taste


Marinate the Chicken:

In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 4 minced garlic cloves, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Coat 4-6 chicken thighs with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the Grill:

Ensure the grill is hot and clean for optimal cooking.

Grill the Chicken:

Cook the marinated chicken thighs on the preheated grill, turning occasionally, until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Baste with Marinade:

Periodically baste the chicken with the remaining marinade for added flavor.

Serve and Enjoy:

Once cooked, serve the lemon garlic BBQ chicken hot, garnished with fresh herbs and lemon wedges.


Chicken Thighs: The Juicy Foundation of Flavor

Chicken thighs serve as the cornerstone of our BBQ recipe, carefully selected for their distinct advantages in grilling. Unlike leaner cuts, chicken thighs boast a higher fat content, rendering them more forgiving on the grill. This choice is grounded in the expertise of culinary professionals who understand that the additional fat content plays a pivotal role in maintaining the juiciness and flavor of the meat during the grilling process.

Reasoning Behind Choosing Chicken Thighs:

  • Higher Fat Content: The decision to opt for chicken thighs is rooted in their inherently higher fat content compared to leaner cuts like chicken breasts. According to insights from renowned culinary experts, this higher fat content contributes significantly to the overall succulence and flavor of the grilled chicken. The extra fat prevents the meat from drying out, ensuring a moist and enjoyable eating experience.

  • Forgiving on the Grill: Grilling can be a delicate process, and the forgiving nature of chicken thighs makes them an ideal choice. The added fat content not only enhances flavor but also provides a buffer against overcooking, resulting in tender and mouthwatering chicken.

  • Richness in Flavor: The richness of chicken thighs, with the interplay of meat and fat, adds depth to the overall flavor profile. This choice aligns with the culinary principle that a balance of fat contributes to a more satisfying and flavorful culinary experience.

  • Versatility: Chicken thighs are known for their versatility in absorbing and complementing various flavors. This quality makes them an excellent canvas for the vibrant and aromatic lemon garlic marinade, allowing the chicken to absorb and showcase the intricate flavors of the other ingredients.

In summary, the deliberate choice of chicken thighs in this BBQ recipe stems from a comprehensive understanding of both the science and art of grilling. The emphasis on fat content, forgiving nature on the grill, richness in flavor, and overall versatility make chicken thighs the perfect canvas for crafting a memorable and delectable dish.

Fresh Lemon Juice: A Zestful Elixir of Flavor and Tenderness

Fresh lemon juice, a vibrant elixir of citrusy goodness, plays a crucial role in elevating the flavor and tenderness of our BBQ chicken. Beyond its delightful taste, the inclusion of fresh lemon juice is backed by scientific insights into its ability to impart brightness to dishes and contribute to the tenderization of meat.

Reasoning Behind Using Fresh Lemon Juice:

  • Acidity for Brightness: Fresh lemon juice is chosen for its acidity, which imparts a bright and lively flavor to the BBQ chicken. Culinary experts and chefs recognize acidity as a key element in enhancing the overall taste profile of dishes. The lemon's tangy notes provide a counterbalance to the savory and smoky components of the marinade, creating a harmonious and well-rounded flavor experience.
  • Tenderization through Acid: The scientific aspect of using fresh lemon juice lies in its ability to tenderize the meat. Research, notably from institutions like [University of California, Davis], emphasizes that acids, such as those found in lemon juice, play a crucial role in breaking down muscle fibers. This breakdown contributes to a more tender texture in the cooked meat, ensuring a delightful and palatable eating experience.
  • Aromatics and Complexity: Beyond its acidity, fresh lemon juice introduces aromatic complexity to the marinade. The natural oils present in lemon zest add a layer of fragrance that enhances the overall sensory experience. This aromatic quality aligns with culinary principles that emphasize the importance of engaging multiple senses in the enjoyment of food.
  • Balancing Sweet and Savory: In the context of the BBQ chicken recipe, fresh lemon juice serves as a balancing agent. Its citrusy notes complement the savory elements of the garlic, mustard, and paprika, while the hint of natural sweetness contributes to a well-balanced and nuanced flavor profile.

In conclusion, the incorporation of fresh lemon juice is a thoughtful choice that goes beyond mere flavor enhancement. Its role in providing brightness, contributing to meat tenderization, adding aromatic complexity, and serving as a harmonizing element in the marinade makes it an indispensable component in creating a memorable and delightful BBQ chicken dish.

Garlic Cloves (Minced): A Symphony of Savory Depth and Umami Elegance

Garlic, in the form of minced cloves, stands as a cornerstone in our BBQ chicken recipe, imparting a robust, savory taste and aromatic depth to the marinade. This humble yet potent ingredient is not just a culinary staple but a masterful enhancer, as recognized by culinary schools that highlight its unique ability to elevate the overall flavor profile of dishes, infusing them with a distinctive umami quality.

Reasoning Behind Using Minced Garlic Cloves:

  • Robust Savory Flavor: The inclusion of minced garlic cloves is deliberate, aiming to introduce a robust and savory taste to the BBQ chicken marinade. Culinary experts, drawing from years of experience, acknowledge garlic as a versatile flavor enhancer that can bring depth and complexity to a wide range of dishes.
  • Aromatic Depth: Beyond its taste, minced garlic contributes to the aromatic depth of the marinade. The release of aromatic compounds when garlic is minced activates the olfactory senses, enhancing the overall sensory experience of the dish. This aromatic dimension adds a layer of sophistication to the BBQ chicken, engaging not only the palate but also the sense of smell.
  • Umami Quality: Garlic is celebrated in culinary circles for its ability to impart umami—a savory taste that goes beyond sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. This umami quality enhances the perceived richness and depth of flavor in the BBQ chicken, creating a more satisfying and enjoyable eating experience.
  • Versatility in Pairing: Garlic's versatility extends to its compatibility with various other flavors. In the context of the BBQ chicken marinade, minced garlic harmonizes with the citrusy notes of lemon, the smokiness of paprika, and the sweetness of honey, creating a symphony of tastes that dance on the palate.
  • Culinary Tradition: The use of garlic in culinary traditions worldwide further emphasizes its importance. It is a timeless ingredient that has transcended cultural boundaries, becoming a fundamental component in a myriad of cuisines.

In essence, the inclusion of minced garlic cloves is a deliberate choice that goes beyond mere seasoning. It is a strategic decision to infuse the BBQ chicken with a multifaceted flavor profile, combining robustness, aroma, and umami elegance.

Olive Oil: Nurturing Moisture for Succulent Grilled Perfection

Olive oil, carefully chosen for its unique properties, plays a pivotal role in the BBQ chicken recipe by keeping the meat moist during grilling. This selection aligns with insights from the [Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health], which underscores the ability of monounsaturated fats in olive oil to retain moisture in cooked meats, ensuring a succulent and flavorful outcome.

Reasoning Behind Choosing Olive Oil:

  • Moisture Retention: The primary rationale for incorporating olive oil into the marinade is its exceptional ability to retain moisture in grilled meats. The monounsaturated fats present in olive oil act as a natural barrier, reducing moisture loss during the grilling process. This is crucial for preventing dryness and preserving the juiciness of the chicken.
  • Flavor Enhancement: Beyond its moisture-retaining properties, olive oil contributes to the overall flavor profile of the BBQ chicken. The mild, fruity notes of olive oil subtly infuse the meat with a delightful taste that complements the other elements in the marinade. This dual functionality of enhancing both moisture and flavor makes olive oil a valuable component.
  • Health Benefits: The choice of olive oil is also influenced by its well-documented health benefits. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy and contribute to a balanced diet. This aligns with the growing emphasis on health-conscious cooking practices without compromising on taste.
  • Emulsification Support: Olive oil serves a practical purpose in the marinade by aiding in the emulsification of ingredients. Its properties enable it to blend seamlessly with other components like lemon juice, mustard, and honey, creating a cohesive and well-incorporated marinade.
  • Culinary Tradition: Olive oil's presence in the marinade echoes centuries-old culinary traditions, particularly in Mediterranean cuisine. Its use goes beyond functional aspects, adding a touch of tradition and authenticity to the preparation.

In summary, the inclusion of olive oil in the BBQ chicken recipe goes beyond its role as a mere cooking ingredient. It is a strategic choice that aligns with culinary science, health considerations, and the rich tapestry of culinary traditions.

Paprika: A Tapestry of Flavor and Visual Allure

Paprika, with its smoky undertones and vibrant color, is a key player in the visual and flavor appeal of our BBQ chicken recipe. This choice is anchored in the wisdom of cooking schools, which recognize paprika for its unique ability to enhance both flavor and color in various culinary applications.

Reasoning Behind Using Paprika:

  • Smoky Undertone: The inclusion of paprika is driven by the desire to infuse a smoky undertone into the BBQ chicken. Cooking schools acknowledge paprika as a spice that can add depth and complexity to dishes, particularly through its smoky and earthy notes. This nuanced flavor profile elevates the overall taste experience.
  • Visual Appeal: Paprika is not just a flavor enhancer but also a visual artist in the kitchen. Its rich red hue adds vibrancy to the marinade, creating an aesthetically pleasing and appetizing appearance. The visual allure of paprika aligns with the culinary principle that considers presentation as an integral part of the dining experience.
  • Flavor Enhancement: Beyond its visual impact, paprika contributes significantly to the flavor profile of the BBQ chicken. Its ability to complement the savory notes of garlic, the acidity of lemon, and the sweetness of honey creates a harmonious blend of tastes. This interplay of flavors is crucial in crafting a well-balanced and memorable dish.
  • Culinary Versatility: Paprika's versatility in culinary applications is highlighted by its presence in various global cuisines. From Hungarian goulash to Spanish paella, paprika has earned its place as a versatile spice that transcends cultural boundaries. This versatility adds a layer of depth to the BBQ chicken, creating a culinary journey that resonates with diverse palates.
  • Aroma Enhancement: The aromatic quality of paprika contributes to the overall sensory experience of the dish. As it interacts with other ingredients during the grilling process, paprika releases aromatic compounds that engage the olfactory senses, enhancing the anticipation and enjoyment of the meal.

In conclusion, the selection of paprika in the BBQ chicken recipe is a deliberate choice that intertwines flavor, color, and aroma. It is a testament to the multifaceted role of spices in culinary artistry and the desire to create a visually stunning and palate-pleasing dish.

Honey: A Golden Elixir of Sweet Harmony

In the realm of our BBQ chicken recipe, honey assumes the role of a golden elixir, meticulously included to orchestrate a symphony of flavors. This section delves into the rationale behind incorporating honey, emphasizing its ability to balance the savory and citrus notes while introducing a nuanced sweetness. Drawing from insights provided by the [International Journal of Food Science], we explore the multifaceted contributions of honey as a natural sweetener that elevates the overall sensory experience of the dish.

Reasoning Behind Using Honey:

  • Balancing Act: Honey's inclusion in the BBQ chicken marinade is a deliberate choice aimed at achieving a delicate balance of flavors. As a natural sweetener, honey plays a crucial role in harmonizing the savory tones of garlic, the citrusy brightness of lemon, and the smoky undertones of paprika. This balancing act transforms the marinade into a cohesive blend that dances on the palate, ensuring no single flavor dominates the dish.
  • Sweetness Enhancement: The decision to introduce honey is rooted in its unique ability to enhance the overall sensory experience through sweetness. The [International Journal of Food Science] recognizes honey as more than just a sweetener; it contributes to the mouthfeel, aroma, and overall indulgence of a dish. This nuanced sweetness elevates the BBQ chicken from a simple recipe to a gastronomic delight.
  • Natural Sweetener: Honey's status as a natural sweetener aligns with contemporary culinary preferences that emphasize wholesome and minimally processed ingredients. Its unadulterated sweetness not only adds depth to the marinade but also resonates with those seeking natural alternatives to refined sugars.
  • Culinary Versatility: Honey's versatility extends beyond sweetness; it introduces a subtle complexity to the flavor profile. The unique floral and herbal undertones present in different types of honey contribute to the depth of the marinade, making it a captivating experience for the taste buds.
  • Gastronomic Tradition: Honey's role in culinary traditions across cultures adds a layer of depth and authenticity to the BBQ chicken preparation. From ancient times to modern kitchens, honey has been celebrated for its culinary versatility and symbolic significance in various cuisines.

In essence, honey serves as the sweet maestro in the ensemble of flavors, contributing not just sweetness but a nuanced and holistic enhancement to the BBQ chicken marinade.

Dijon Mustard: A Tangy Virtuoso in Flavor Symphony

Dijon mustard, with its tangy kick and emulsifying prowess, emerges as a virtuoso in the flavor symphony of our BBQ chicken marinade. This section unravels the reasoning behind incorporating Dijon mustard, emphasizing its role in providing a zesty counterpoint to the marinade and its ability to enhance adherence through emulsification. Additionally, we explore the broader culinary principle that mustard, and particularly Dijon mustard, adds complexity and depth to marinades.

Reasoning Behind Using Dijon Mustard:

  • Tangy Counterpoint: The decision to include Dijon mustard is rooted in its distinctive tanginess, which serves as a counterpoint to the other flavors in the marinade. This tangy kick provides a dynamic layer that cuts through the richness of olive oil, balances the sweetness of honey, and complements the acidity of fresh lemon juice. The result is a multidimensional flavor profile that keeps the palate engaged.
  • Emulsification Expertise: Dijon mustard's emulsifying properties play a pivotal role in the marinade's composition. The mustard helps bind together disparate elements like olive oil and lemon juice, creating a cohesive and well-incorporated mixture. This emulsification ensures that the marinade adheres effectively to the chicken, facilitating even flavor distribution during the grilling process.
  • Complexity and Depth: Mustard, especially Dijon mustard, is celebrated in culinary traditions for its ability to add complexity and depth to marinades. The unique combination of tanginess and subtle heat introduces a layer of sophistication to the BBQ chicken, making it more than a simple marinade but a flavorful journey for the senses.
  • Flavor Harmony: Dijon mustard acts as a flavor harmonizer, bridging the gap between sweet, savory, and tangy elements in the marinade. Its inclusion creates a well-balanced and integrated taste experience, where no individual component overshadows the others.
  • Culinary Tradition: The use of Dijon mustard reflects a commitment to culinary tradition and quality. Dijon mustard, originating from the city of Dijon in France, is renowned for its smooth texture and sophisticated flavor profile. Its inclusion in the marinade pays homage to the rich heritage of French culinary expertise.

In summary, Dijon mustard is not just a condiment; it is a transformative element that brings a tangy virtuosity to the BBQ chicken marinade, enhancing both flavor and functionality.

Salt and Pepper: The Elemental Duo of Culinary Alchemy

Salt and pepper, the fundamental elements of culinary alchemy, take center stage in our BBQ chicken recipe, contributing essential seasoning that elevates the overall flavor profile. This section explores the reasoning behind the inclusion of salt and pepper, delving into their roles as indispensable agents in enhancing taste, aroma, and the overall gastronomic experience.

Reasoning Behind Using Salt and Pepper:

  • Seasoning Mastery: Salt and pepper are unequivocally essential for seasoning, and their inclusion in the BBQ chicken recipe is grounded in the art and science of culinary mastery. These basic yet potent seasonings serve as the foundation upon which the other flavors of the marinade and the chicken itself are built.
  • Enhancement of Natural Flavors: The primary function of salt and pepper is to enhance the natural flavors of the ingredients. Salt, known for its ability to amplify taste, accentuates the savory notes of the garlic, the umami of the chicken thighs, and the sweetness of honey. Pepper, with its complex aromatic compounds, adds a layer of depth and warmth to the overall flavor profile.
  • Aroma Amplification: Beyond taste, salt and pepper play a crucial role in amplifying the aroma of the BBQ chicken. As the chicken grills, the interaction of salt with the meat enhances the release of volatile compounds, contributing to the enticing aroma that wafts from the grill. Pepper, with its pungency, adds a subtle but distinctive aromatic quality.
  • Balancing Act: Salt, in particular, serves as a key player in the delicate balance of flavors. Its strategic use ensures that the various components of the marinade and the chicken harmonize, creating a well-rounded and satisfying taste experience. This balancing act prevents any single flavor from dominating and ensures that each bite is a symphony of tastes.
  • Palate Cleansing: The presence of salt and pepper serves as a subtle palate cleanser between each bite. This effect is vital for maintaining the appetite-stimulating qualities of the dish, encouraging diners to savor each mouthful and appreciate the complexity of the flavors.
  • Culinary Tradition: The pairing of salt and pepper is deeply ingrained in culinary traditions worldwide. Their ubiquity across diverse cuisines attests to their universal appeal and their status as timeless companions in the culinary journey.

Salt and pepper are not mere condiments; they are alchemical agents that transform the BBQ chicken from a collection of ingredients into a harmonious and delightful culinary creation.

Try this mouthwatering Lemon Garlic BBQ Chicken recipe tonight!

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Happy grilling!

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author = {Güleç, Hakan and Sarper, Fulya},

year = {2022},

month = {08},

pages = {1426-1433},

title = {Honey as a Functional Food; Its Culinary Status},

volume = {10},

journal = {Turkish Journal of Agriculture - Food Science and Technology},

doi = {10.24925/turjaf.v10i8.1426-1433.5163}