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posted February 25, 2020

Sweet Heat Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast

My Sweet Heat Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast uses the perfect blend of sweet and spicy to give you the ultimate grilled chicken breast marinade. The marinade is just the right mix of sweet and heat with a little kick from classic Tabasco sauce.

Sliced marinated and grilled chicken breast on a wooden cutting board.

Grilled Chicken Breast Marinade

The key to the best grilled chicken breast (in my opinion) is a good marinade. Chicken is such a versatile piece of meat and so mildly flavored, it really takes on all of the notes from this sweet heat grilled chicken breast marinade.

Every good marinade has to have a balance of flavors to ensure it doesn’t overwhelm the meat itself and delivers the best results when the chicken hits the grill. The tangy and spicy kick from the Tabasco sauce is the perfect compliment to the sweet brown sugar in this marinade.

Best Chicken Breast Marinade for Grilling

Marinades are also great for leaner cuts like chicken breasts because they really help impart additional moisture. Several versions of this marinade were tested with a few different marinating times to find the optimum levels of flavor and moisture.

The perfect amount of time for the chicken to stay in the marinade is between 12-18 hours. I like to start my chicken in the marinade before I go to bed and when I’m ready to cook dinner the next day, that chicken is perfectly seasoned. While this works best for me, feel free to find what works best for you and your schedule.

Chicken breasts marinating in brown liquid a gallon-sized zip top bag

Ingredients for Grilled Chicken Breast Marinade

This marinade is well-rounded with an optimal amount of fat, acid, seasoning, and sugar. Here’s what you’ll need to assemble prior to making your chicken breast marinade:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a gallon sized zip top bag. Lightly massage to evenly distribute the marinade over all the chicken. Place the marinating chicken breasts in the refrigerator and allow them to marinate for 12-18 hours. The longer you leave the chicken in the marinade, the stronger the flavor will become. 

Four marinated chicken breast on the grill grates of a gas grill.

Tips for Cooking with a Chicken Breast Marinade

I’ve assembled three handy tips to help you cook your grilled chicken breast to utter juicy perfection. Make sure to read through these suggestions prior to sticking your marinated chicken breast on the grill.

  • Use two-zone grilling. This recipe does have sugar in it, and it can caramelize quickly and burn over high heat. I recommend using two-zone heat on on your grill. This means that half of your grill has high, direct heat, and the other half has either no or very low heat. Grill the chicken on the indirect side until it is nearly finished cooking, then transfer to the direct heat side to get that nice caramelized color and flavor.
  • Use a meat thermometer to track the temperature of your meat. Don’t try to guess by cutting open your chicken while it’s still on the grill. You will lose those tasty juices and the color of your chicken isn’t always the safest indicator of doneness. Make sure your chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Let your chicken rest. After removing your cooked chicken from the grill, place it on a plate and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. This will help keep your chicken juicy.

Close up of marinated grilled chicken breast on the grill.

More Chicken Breast Recipes

Chicken breast is one of those perfect go-to dinner options that are great any day of the week. Whether you choose to marinate it like in this tasty recipe, or your grill or smoke those breasts, these recipes aim to please:

Easy Grilled Chicken Breasts
Smoked Chicken Breast
Grilled Chicken Salad with Jalapeno Lime Ranch


Best Grilled Chicken Breast Marinade Recipe

This recipe was created for you, backyard griller! Here at Hey Grill Hey, we’re in the business of helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can find more of my smoking and grilling recipes here on my website (browse the Homepage for inspiration) on InstagramYouTube or our Facebook Page.

Two marinated whole grilled chicken breasts on the grill grates of a gas grill.

Sweet Heat Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast

Susie Bulloch (
My Sweet Heat Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts are so incredibly juicy and flavorful. The marinade is just the right mix of sweet and heat with a little kick from classic Tabasco sauce.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 25 mins
Marinating Time : 12 hrs
Total Time : 12 hrs 30 mins
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 406kcal



  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Grilled Chicken Breast Marinade

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • cup soy sauce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Tabasco Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Marinate the chicken. In a large zip top bag or other container, combine all ingredients for the marinade. Submerge the chicken breasts in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 18 hours for more flavor.
  • Fire up the grill. Preheat your grill to Medium-High heat (450 degrees F) for two-zone cooking.
  • Grill the chicken breasts over indirect heat. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade and allow any excess to drip off. Grill the chicken on the indirect side of the grill, flipping over after about 5-6 minutes. Cook until the internal temperature reads 155 degrees F with an instant read meat thermometer.
  • Sear over direct heat. Move the chicken over to the direct heat side of the grill and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reads 165 degrees F.
  • Rest and serve. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let rest for 5-6 minutes before slicing and serving.


Calories: 406kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 430mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 108IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
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**This post was originally published October 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Grilled Chicken Breastgrilled chicken breast marinadeMarinated Grilled Chicken Breast Recipe

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