Grilled Lemony Chicken with Asparagus

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

With a bit of forethought, you can get an entire meal off of the grill. One trick is to heap the coals into a bank, giving hot and cooler areas for cooking. After browning the chicken over the hot coals, the chicken is moved to the cooler area to finish, freeing up the hot area to grill the asparagus. The lemon marinade is a keeper.

Simple Tip for Grilled Lemony Chicken with Asparagus

Marinating is a good flavor booster, but too much of a good thing can be bad. A marinade will only penetrate 1/8 inch or less into food, no matter how long you let the food soak. When protein foods like meat, poultry, or seafood come into contact with the acidic ingredient in a marinade (be it lemon juice, wine, or vinegar), the protein softens, giving the food a mushy texture. Most foods need only a short soak—a half hour usually is plenty.

4 servings

Cooking Methodgrilling



Total Timeunder 1 hour

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, healthy, low calorie, low carb, soy free



Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, savory, tangy


  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, about 7 ounces each
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or ¼ teaspoon each dried thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage


Prep: Crush garlic under a knife and peel. Lightly pound chicken breasts to even thickness with meat pounder or heel of your hand. Snap off woody ends of asparagus.

Mix lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, mustard, herbes de Provence, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper in 1-quart zipper-seal plastic bag. Add chicken, close bag, and refrigerate while preparing barbecue grill, but no longer than 30 minutes or so. In another plastic bag, toss asparagus with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Build a hot fire in a barbecue grill (or preheat gas grill on high). Spread coals in a bank, with a double thickness of coals on one side of grill and a single thickness on the other. (On a gas grill, keep one burner on high and the other on low.) Lightly oil grill grate. Grill chicken over the hot, thick bank of coals (high burner), until the underside is seared with brown grid marks, about 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side, about 2 minutes more. Move chicken to the cooler, thin bank of coals (low burner). Grill until chicken feels firm when pressed in the center, about 10 minutes.

After chicken has grilled for 5 minutes, arrange asparagus over hot coals (high burner), with spears perpendicular to grid so they don’t fall through. Grill, rolling asparagus occasionally on grid to turn and cook evenly on all sides, until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes depending on thickness of asparagus. Use a metal spatula to transfer asparagus to platter. Season asparagus with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Transfer chicken to platter and serve.



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