Sail through the grilling season with a no-fail marinade


Summer is all about grilling, which means everyone should have a go-to marinade up their sleeve for soaking and basting their favorite grillables. This no-fail marinade is tangy and sweet, with a kick of garlicky Sriracha for heat. It’s also amenable to almost anything you would like to grill, including meat, chicken, fish and vegetables.

One protein that always loves a good marinade is chicken breast, which is essentially a blank slate when it comes to cooking. The white meat is mild and can easily dry out, so a juicy marinade does double duty in terms of boosting flavor and tenderizing the meat. There are a couple of tricks to drive the marinade flavor into the chicken. One is to score the whole breasts crosswise on the diagonal, about 1/4-inch deep, which allows the marinade to seep into the meat. Another option is to cut the chicken breasts into large chunks and thread them onto skewers. Not only are skewers fun to eat, but the chunks provide more surfaces and edges that can char and crisp on the grill — because who doesn’t like all those crispy bits?

Sriracha is the ubiquitous Thai red chile sauce with a rooster on the label, which explains why it’s often referred to as Rooster Sauce. While it’s a handy squeeze bottle for seasoning Asian-inspired dishes, it’s also an essential condiment for, well, almost anything. It’s wonderfully balanced with salty, sweet and spicy heat, and a little dab enhances dressings, dips, vinaigrettes and, of course, marinades.

When preparing the skewers, make sure to cut the chicken and vegetables in similar-sized pieces to ensure even cooking.

Grilled Sriracha Chicken Skewers

Active time: 20 minutes, plus marinating time

Total time: 8 to 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6


1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. Sriracha

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note: If using bamboo skewers, pre-soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes.

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

Thread the chicken pieces on skewers, alternating with the pepper and onion pieces. Brush the skewers with some of the marinade, then discard the remaining marinade. Season the skewers with salt and pepper.

Grill the skewers over direct medium heat until well-marked and thoroughly cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, turning as needed.


Lynda Balslev is the co-author of “Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture” (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at TasteFood, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106; or send email to tastefood@tastefoodblog.com; or visit the TasteFood blog at tastefoodblog.com.


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