If you love lemons, this recipe, with changes, is for you — grilled lemonade chicken

I was made a lemon-infused tilapia that tasted so lemony, my wife could not eat it. What can I say, I love lemons.

My grandparents all came from a section of Italy that runs from Naples south to Salerno. It’s a region where they grow lemons as big as your head — and they make limoncello, an alcoholic beverage that has become the region’s major export.

Start by lining a sheet of aluminum foil with lemon slices
I often grill fish on a bed of leons.

So anytime I see a recipe with lemons, I’m interested. That’s why Grilled Lemonade Chicken from the Food Network got my attention.

With a few changes, this can be a heart-healthy recipe as well:

The recipes uses chicken thighs. Those are the fattest part of a chicken. They taste good plain, so it’s no great cooking challenge to make them taste good. Substitute chicken breasts.

The instructions talk about skin, that’s also a fat-carrier. I normally cook all chicken skinless.

The recipe also says use Minute Maid lemonade. That’s high sugar, I only buy MinuteMaid’s reduced-sugar varieties. Availability seems to vary by market, so check where you normally shop.

Also, it specifies canola oil or vegetable oil for the grill. Never use vegetable oil, it’s got the bad fats in it. Canola is ok, but the myth about olive oil not working for grilling has been debunked, so I’d just go with that.

With all those changes noted, I also took out the part that said ‘salt liberally,’  here’s the ingredient list and recipe instructions:


8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters, preferably organic (each about 12 ounces)

4 cups store-bought lemonade, such as Minute Maid

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried minced onion

2 teaspoons cumin seed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Canola or vegetable oil, for the grill

3 large lemons

Prep instructions:

  1. Place the chicken in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the lemonade, garlic, mustard, oregano, dried onion, cumin, 1 tablespoon salt and a few good grinds of pepper in a large liquid measuring cup until combined.
  3. Pour over the chicken, making sure all the pieces are fully submerged.
  4. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, then refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably 24 hours.
  5. Prepare a grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grill grates.
  6. Remove the chicken from the marinade; reserve 2 cups of marinade and discard the rest.
  7. Place the chicken on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and pat dry.
  8. Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with pepper and arrange the pieces skin-side down on the grill, leaving some space between each.
  9. Cook until the skin is lightly charred and releases easily from the grill, about 2 minutes.
  10. Rotate the chicken pieces about 90 degrees so the skin won’t burn and cook another 2 minutes. Flip the chicken skin-side up.
  11. Cover the grill and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each thigh reads 165 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes more.
  12. If the chicken pieces are getting too dark in spots, move them around the grill to cook evenly.
  13. Transfer to a platter and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
  14. Meanwhile, transfer the reserved marinade to a small saucepan and place on the still-hot grill.
  15. Bring to a boil, then continue to cook until it has thickened slightly and reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  16. Finely grate the zest from 1 of the lemons, then sprinkle over the chicken. Squeeze the juice from half of the zested lemon (about 1 tablespoon) into the sauce and stir to combine.
  17. Transfer to a small bowl for serving. Cut the remaining 2 lemons in half crosswise.
  18. Place the lemon halves on the grill, flesh-side down, and grill until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes.
  19. Serve alongside the chicken and sauce.

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