By Christie Vanover | Published September 19, 2015 | Last Updated February 15, 2023
This is the best summer chicken recipe I’ve ever created. It’s bursting with fresh citrus flavor and is super juicy thanks to the thin pancetta.
What is pancetta
For this easy recipe, each chicken nugget is wrapped in pancetta – an Italian bacon. It has that bacon-like smokiness we all love and just the right pork belly mix of fat and meat.
Because pancetta is sliced much thinner, it cooks up fast and crispy on the grill. The crispy smokiness punched with the citrus and a hint of rosemary just screams summer.
Substitutions: You could also use thin-sliced bacon or prosciutto in place of the pancetta. And you can use chicken tenders instead of breasts. However, the tenders won’t be as thick and juicy.
How to grill lemon chicken
You can use any type of indoor or outdoor grill for this recipe. Heat your grill to medium heat (350F degrees) with a direct heat zone. Make sure your grill grates are nice and clean.
You can also cook these on a grill pan on the stove over medium heat.
- STEP ONE: Cut the chicken into 2-inch cubes and place it in a large bowl. Make the grilled lemon chicken marinade by combining the zest and juice of a lemon, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary. Mix it with the chicken and toss to coat.
PRO TIP: You don’t want to let the chicken marinate for more than 30 minutes because the acidity in lemon juice will begin to cook the chicken. Just toss it in the lemon marinade and begin wrapping.
- STEP TWO: As you remove the marinated chicken from the bowl, tear each pancetta slice in half and wrap the piece around a cube of chicken.
- STEP THREE: Slide the wrapped chicken onto a kabob stick. If you use wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes, so they don’t burn on the grill. At this point, you could refrigerate the skewers and grill them a little later.
- STEP FOUR: Grill chicken in a single layer over medium heat for about 14 minutes, turning half way through the cook. The pancetta should be crispy and start to get grill marks. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F degrees when measured with a digital meat thermometer.
PRO TIP: The key to cooking juicy chicken breasts is to remove them from the grill once they reach an internal temperature of 165F degrees. If you cook them longer, they will start to dry out.
How to serve grilled lemon chicken
This is one of those simple chicken recipes that is quickly going to become a family favorite. It’s so good, you’re going to want to eat the kabobs right off of the grill, which makes these great for parties or an easy weeknight dinner.
For a quick, easy side dish, make a little extra marinade for eggplant, zucchini or asparagus. Toss the marinated veggies on the grill while you prepare the chicken. Super summery and delicious.
Leftover grilled lemon chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can also freeze it for 2-3 months.
For best results, reheat the chicken in an air fryer for just a couple of minutes to crisp up the pancetta. Leftovers can also be enjoyed cold.
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Frequently Asked Questions
This easy grilled lemon chicken recipe only takes 15 minutes to grill. You start by marinating chicken cubes in fresh lemon juice and spices. Then, for added moisture and texture, wrap those cubes in pancetta.
These grilled lemon chicken skewers go great with grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini or grilled asparagus. You can also serve them with garlicy Grilled Mini Hasselback Potatoes
You can use bottled lemon juice, but it won’t be nearly as good. Fresh lemon juice is the best option for grilled lemon chicken, because it’s more pungent and flavorful.
Grilled Lemon Chicken Wrapped in Pancetta
- 3 chicken breasts
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp course ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 4 ozs sliced pancetta
- Heat Grill: Heat your grill to medium heat (350F degrees) with a direct heat zone.
- Prep: Cut the chicken into about 2-inch cubes. Place in a bowl.
- Marinate: Zest and juice the lemon. Add the zest and juice to the chicken with the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and rosemary. Toss to coat.
- Wrap: Tear each pancetta slice in half and wrap around a chicken cube. Skewer the wrapped chicken onto kabob sticks.
- Grill: Grill on medium heat for 14 minutes (7 minutes per side). Serve.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
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