Slathered with a garlicky, herby sauce this Grilled Chimichurri chicken is an explosion of flavours in every bite. A healthy and vibrant dish that is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, or for your next large backyard gathering.
Grilled Chimichurri Chicken Recipe
This super fragrant grilled chimichurri chicken recipe will win over fans with its irresistible juicy, garlicky, herby sauce dripping all over it. One of the world’s greatest condiments, there’s a hundred different ways you can use a chimichurri sauce. For this recipe, we lavish large quantities of the pungent sauce on boneless chicken thighs before grilling them, and after. Simple. Gorgeous. Delicious.
Packed with flavour, and quick to throw together, this is a fantastic dish for a weeknight, or to serve a crowd when grilling is in full swing. Kids love it, adults love it, and you will love how easy it is to make. I highly recommend you make extra because leftovers make the best lunch sandwiches, wraps, or additions to a grain salad. Si, por favor!
What Is Chimichurri
Beloved all throughout Argentina, and now most of the world, chimichurri is a chunky, herby, oil-based sauce that is bursting with succulent flavours. To make it, purists believe only a blend of hand-chopped chopped parsley, garlic, oregano (dried), oil, and splashes of vinegar should be used. Inevitably, variations of the sauce abound. For some, myself included, cilantro has made its way into the mix. So has red onion (or shallots), and a few pinches of red pepper flakes. Though not as popular as the vibrant green sauce, in some areas of South America, a red chimichurri sauce is also embraced.
In Argentina, chimichurri sauce is typically used as a condiment for asados – smoky barbecued meat – and to flavour other traditional foods such as grilled fish, boiled potatoes, or meat empanadas. I have a very deep love for this sultry yet bold condiment and I love having it on hand to slather over everything, especially during the summer.
For this grilled chicken chimichurri recipe, the sauce is of course used as a condiment but I couldn’t help use it as a marinade as well. So strong and vibrant, it injects flavour into bland chicken meat in mere minutes. If I were to grill a steak however, I would never ever marinate it with the sauce. Aside from it not being traditional, red meat does not benefit much from a marinade, no matter how long you marinate it for.
Ingredients & Notes
Though the ingredients for this grilled chimichurri chicken recipe are very simple, there is nothing simple about the flavours in this dish. Bright, bold, and addictive, this sauce will knock your socks off.
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – More tender and more flavourful than breast, chicken thighs are always my preference for grilling. See faq’s below if you prefer to use chicken breast.
- Shallots – Or red onion.
- Garlic – Don’t panic about the amount of garlic in this sauce. It’s so good, it will make your garlic breath fears feel insignificant.
- Red wine vinegar – can also use white wine vinegar, or white distilled vinegar.
- Fresh parsley, cilantro, and oregano – I use a little less cilantro than parsley but If cilantro isn’t your jam, you can use all parsley. Dried oregano is more traditional but I have lots of fresh oregano growing in a pot so that’s what I used.
- Red pepper flakes – Just a few pinches. Chimichurri is not meant to be spicy.
- Olive oil – You can also use avocado oil, or any other neutral oil.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper – For seasoning.
How To Make It
Though chopping everything by hand makes the chimichurri sauce especially fragrant, using a food processor, or mini chopper, makes things so much easier. I like to use a mini chopper but only to help coarsley chop the garlic, shallots, and herbs. The vinegar, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and black pepper I add without further blending. This allows the sauce to remain a little chunky, and the oil nice and glossy.
Make the sauce:
- Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, or mini chopper, and process until it is finely minced. Add the shallot and process until it’s in smaller chunks. Add all the herbs and pulse until everything is chopped small but not smooth.
- Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the red-pepper flakes, salt, black pepper, vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil and stir to combine.
Make the chicken:
- Trim any excess fat on the chicken (if necessary) and pat it dry. Pour half the chimichurri all over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let chicken marinate for 20 to 30 minutes, or if pressed for time, just until the grill heats up. (Or refrigerate for up to 2 hours).
- Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates.
- Grill the chicken thighs for 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on their thickness, or until they’re nicely charred and juices run clear.
- Transfer to a platter and allow the grilled chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with remaining chimichurri spooned over top.
CAN I USE CHICKEN BREAST?
If you’re looking to to make this grilled chimichurri chicken using chicken breasts, you absolutely can. But for best results, check out this post on how to achieve the juiciest chicken breast on the grill. Essentially, chicken breast that is going to be grilled should be butterflied, and pounded. This will both tenderize the meat and allow it to cook quicker without drying out.
Once you have pounded the chicken breast, you can marinate it following this recipe, then grill them for only 3 to 4 minutes a side.
WHAT ARE OTHER USES FOR CHIMICHURRI SAUCE?
This zesty sauce will quite literally liven up whatever it touches. Spoon it over steak, fish, vegetables, crispy tofu, or grain bowls. And I am not exaggerating when I say slices of crusty baguette for dipping into the sauce could easily be one of my greatest joys in life. Yup, that good.
CAN CHIMICHURRI BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME?
For the best vibrant colour, Chimichurri is best served the day you make it. That said, it will keep fine in the fridge for up to two weeks. I like to store it in a glass container then pour a little olive oil over before covering. This will help it stay fresh longer and retain a bit more colour.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU MARINATE THE CHICKEN?
This chimichurri sauce has a lot of vinegar so I don’t recommend marinating the chicken for too long. Highly acidic marinades can change the texture of chicken meat making it almost mushy. For this recipe the chicken can marinate for as little as 20 minutes on the counter, and no longer than a few hours in the fridge.
If you don’t have time to marinate the chicken, that’s totally fine. It will still benefit from sitting in the marinade for a few minutes while you heat up the grill.
WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE A GRILL?
This chimichurri chicken can easily be made on a grill pan or skillet. Simply heat 1 tablespoon olive in a skillet over medium-heat. Cook the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes a side or until golden brown and juices run clear.
You can serve this delicious grilled chimichurri chicken with just about anything. Here’s a few of my favourite:
- Fluffy white rice, or coconut rice
- Summer Pasta
- Ensalada Verde (this simple green salad with beautiful in-season tomatoes would be fantastic with the chicken)
- Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad (omit the prosciutto)
- Grilled Vegetables and Halloumi with Orzo (amazing side with this chicken!!)
- Pineapple Slaw with Yogurt Dressing
Any leftovers can be chopped up and thrown into salads, quesadillas, tacos, wraps, sandwiches, grain bowls, or pasta (omg, so good!)
If you give this Grilled Chimichurri Chicken recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Grilled Chimichurri Chicken
- 4 chunky garlic cloves peeled and smashed
- 1 small shallot quartered
- 2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves (some thin stems are okay)
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (some thin stems are okay)
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
FOR THE CHICKEN:
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (see notes to use breasts)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make the Sauce
- Place the garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor, or mini chopper, and process until it is finely minced. Add the shallot and process until it's in smaller chunks. Add the parsley, cilantro, oregano, and salt and pulse until everything is chopped small, but not completely smooth.
- Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the red-pepper flakes, black pepper, vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to meld.
Make the Chicken
- Trim any excess fat on the chicken (if necessary) and pat it dry. Pour half the chimichurri saucce all over the chicken and toss well to coat. Let chicken marinate for 20 to 30 minutes, or if pressed for time, just until the grill heats up. (Can also refrigerate for up to 2 hours).
- Preheat the grill to high and oil the grates. Grill the chicken thighs for 8 to 10 minutes per side, depending on their thickness, or until they're nicely charred and juices run clear.
- Transfer to a platter and allow the grilled chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining chimichurri spooned over top.