Batch Grilling Chicken Breasts

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on June 16, 2010

batch-grilled-chicken

Genius.

This idea is completely and utterly genius.  Jen shared this idea with me not long ago. Therefore, Jen is a genius.

I only wish I’d thought of it myself, so I too could be a genius. Like Jen.

I’m all for batch cooking…do it all the time.  But batch grilling.

Genius. It’s just so smart. (Smart doesn’t cut it. Genius it is.  I was trying to think of an synonym for genius. But there isn’t one in this case.)

Genius.

(OK. Enough already!)

The Marinade

Since I’m not sure yet how I’ll be using up all this grilled chicken yet, I wanted to keep the marinade simple.  Something to give the chicken a touch of  neutral flavor…wouldn’t want to have teriyaki flavored chicken pieces for a Sundried Tomato and Chicken Pasta Salad now would we?!?

I’m sorry I didn’t measure this out…I’ll just give you some ratios…as the amount will depend on how many chickens you’re grilling.

  • 1 part Olive Oil
  • 1 part Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk in a bowl. Pour over chicken.

That simple.

The Process

1. Marinate for at least 30 minutes…the longer the better…the longer the juicier…the longer the…well, better!

(Genius. Better. Better. Genius. I’m on a word creativity roll today!)

2. Grill until cooked through.

3. Decide how you want to divide up your chicken…leave some whole, slice some, dice some…however you like.  For our family, 2 large chicken breasts is perfect for most meals.  I diced 6 chicken breasts and sliced 6 chicken breasts.

4. Stash the sliced chicken in the portions you need for your family and freeze.

The Time Factor

5 minutes to prep the marinade and get all the chicken out of their packages and into the marinade.

15-20 minutes to grill (although I had these on the grill with another dinner).

15 minutes to slice and dice (I did this while the pasta was cooking for said other dinner)

The whole purpose of batch cooking is to work it in while you are preparing another meal…so in theory…this only took me 20 minutes total (without the grilling time)…and it will take approximately 3 seconds to get a bag out of the freezer to thaw, come time to use for a future dinner.

The End Result


I’ve got 3 packs of juicy grilled chicken slices and 3 packs of juicy grilled chicken pieces…ready and waiting for an upcoming dinner!

I’m thinking I’ll do this again later in the summer…and one more time in the mid-late fall!  Would love to have some of that grilled chicken flavor during the winter months…without having to stand outside shivering in front of the grill!!!

See more $5 Dinners Cooking Tutorials here

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

katie thornton June 16, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I do this, but keep out a little bit of my marinade (I usually do something Italian dressing based, so it has a neutral flavor). I set it aside before marinating the chicken, and then add it into the cooked chicken just before freezing. Helps it keep from getting dried out.

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Shelly June 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I have to agree with you. Jen is a genius. This is a genius idea. I can’t imagine anything better! (I ESPECIALLY think it’s a great idea to do some late in the grilling season so you have that flavor when it’s cold out. With that thought, Erin, you too become a genius!)

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Kristia@FamilyBalanceSheet June 16, 2010 at 5:03 pm

It is so funny that you wrote about this, because I just discovered this myself last week when I scored perdue chicken breasts on clearance at 1.69/lb. Because they were about to expire, I grilled several of them at once and used them in different meals this week. I like the idea of grilling in the fall and freezing for the winter. I’m not into grilling much when it gets cold outside.

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Candi June 16, 2010 at 5:43 pm

I have a friend who does this and loves it! I really should try it soon.

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Jenn June 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

We do this on a regular basis too. Works well for steaks as well – we always throw several extras on the grill when we’re having steak for dinner. Sliced and frozen they become beef fajitas in the future. We always grill double or triple the sausages we plan to have for supper. The extras are either frozen whole for reheating later, or diced for spaghetti sauce.

It’s mostly a time and gas saving process. Weather rarely stops us from cooking outside. We throw on a parka and boots and trudge out to cook when it’s -30. Our BBQ is on the verandah under the roof so we never have to clear snow off like our neighbours. For us BBQ season never really ends, it just takes a lot longer to cook things in the cold, and you have to bring the food in to check to see if it’s cooked. It gets dark so early in the winter that you’re cooking with poor light.

Diehard Canadian BBQ fans

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Jenn P. June 16, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Could you explain the ready in 3 seconds? I always am hesitant to freeze meats. If it’s been grilled and sliced do you just add it mid cooking? And if it’s a full breast do you defrost in the microwave or plan ahead to let it sit overnight?

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Heidi June 16, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Can you use this frozen chicken on salads?? I thought about doing this but was wondering if you need to use them in “cooked” meals once they have been frozen.

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Shannon Runnels June 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Wow! Like you said… genius! Love it!

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Lori June 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm

I marinate chicken breasts in pineapple juice then grill. The acid in the juice breaks down the fiberous tendons in the chicken making them extra tender. Those babies cut like butter! The juice does not make them sweet, only tasty!

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Kim in AZ June 17, 2010 at 12:33 am

We do this all the time in our home – even with our family of 8, it works out for great leftovers and meal makeovers. We grill up two or three full packages of chicken breast, then eat it as a main course the first night. Our leftovers go straight into the fridge and we use that chicken for the next few days of meals – chicken ceasar salads, sliced for chicken fajitas, diced in cheese quesadillas, diced in chicken salad, on top of flatbread for sandwiches, as part of a Hawaiian haystack meal and even thrown into a casserole if we have the last little bit needing to be finished up! It is the perfect way to cook once and eat (almost) all week. :)

Rather than marinate, we usually just season with Lawry’s seasoning salt and some grill spices (either by Weber or the Kroger brand). Yum! This is actually on my hubby’s to-do list for tomorrow – grilling up the 2 huge packs of chicken breast I bought at Albertson’s last night. :)

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Lisa June 17, 2010 at 6:46 am

This has become such habit with us, when DH is sparking up the grill, he always asks how much extra meat there will be so he can be sure to have enough coals (gas starter + charcoal cooking = awesome!). On Fathers’ Day, he’ll be cooking steaks and I’ll do chicken and maybe a little something else. This is a great time, energy and fuel saving tip!

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Rachel June 17, 2010 at 8:33 am

Another “neutral” marinade or rub can be done with Emiril’s essence (and there are “homemade” versions online that are great and frugal if you can’t get it cheaply) plus olive oil. I put it on everything!

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Shannon June 17, 2010 at 9:25 am

We marinate in lemon lime juice mixtures for some extra flavor and tenderness. I’ve never gotten the hang of the grill, so I use the broiler. I used to buy the precooked and frozen chicken breasts, I had not thought of making up my own. They were great for having a fast yummy meal on the table on nights that I didn’t really want to cook, but couldn’t do take out. I think I will add this to my cooking shopping list for next week! If it works I will make up a summer’s worth before it gets hot. It is hard to want to grill when you are covered in sweat the second you open the door and it started dripping in your eyes when you actualy step out in it.

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Jen@balancing Beauty and Bedlam June 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

Woo hoo!! Yep, it’s going to completely revolutionize your cooking. :) So thrilled you love the idea, but genius?? Not so much….now doing the same thing with every kind of meat, bean, rice, etc…then we start reaching $5 Dinner Genius. :)

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Texas Jen June 17, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Great idea! I will try that this week!! One more tip to throw out there… I saw a HUGE package of Tyson’s Chicken Breasts last week at Sam’s for close to $1.79/lb, but didn’t buy it because I couldn’t figure out how to use all the chicken at once. Now this will be just perfect for that chicken! Thanks!

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Tawra@Living On A Dime June 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm

We do this too!

One tip, if you are using charcoal to grill (yes, there’s a few of us left :-) when you are done grilling spritz the charcoal with water, let it dry and it can be re-used later!

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Stephanie @ Confessions of a Trophy Wife June 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Synonym for genius = brilliant, which is the first thing that popped into my head when I read this! Brilliiant!

I usually do this on a smaller scale – for example, if we are having grilled chicken early in the week and bbq chicken pizza I’ll grill extra chicken for later in the week, but grilling and freezing for later? Brilliant!

Thanks for the suggestions!

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Charlene June 17, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I’ve been doing batch grilling for years. Usually my husband does the grilling. I buy a lot of hamburger, brats, hot dogs, pork chops, chicken and once in a while steak. On a holiday weekend monday (Memorial Day or Labor Day), my husband starts up the grill and cooks everything I put out. Then as the meat cools, I put them on cookie sheets in the freezer. After they’re all frozen, I put them in plastic bags according to the type of meat. Since each piece of meat was individually frozen, I can just take out of the bags as much meat as I need for a meal.

I do a little of pre-cooking for the chicken because I read that it was quicker for the grill and more likely to completely cook the chicken w/o turning it completely black (I like my chicken with skins).

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Ann June 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Great Idea!!!

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Heather June 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Yum! In the winter I did this just cooking my chicken inside. I knew it would help me out to have precooked, cubed chicken in the freezer. Really I had no idea how helpful it would be. I seriously felt like there was almost no dinner prep on the nights I used this chicken from the freezer. A top tip in my book!

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Denise June 30, 2010 at 9:53 am

Yikes! It’s not hard to do several different marinades. That’s what quart freezer bags are for (gallon if you have a big family). I’ve been doing this for years with various meats, but landed here after googling around for more “later-on” meal ideas. Since we are not a big meat-eating family, an afternoon of grilling stretches our effort over the whole month. I have picked up some new ideas — I LOVE the spaghetti with sausage idea and wonder why I didn’t come up with it! I steer clear of pre-made bottled marinades because it’s cheaper, nearly as easy, and WAY less unhealthy to make them at home without all the additives. But I do have a spectacular locally-made BBQ sauce from the farmers market that I splurge on. HAS ANYONE EVER HEARD OF THIS TECHINIQUE?: The woman vending the BBQ sauce said to “massage” the sauce into the meat before tossing it into the fridge overnight. Oddly … this makes all the difference. (Obviously you put it in the bag first and THEN do your massaging.) With this sauce and this technique, I actually started buying ROUND STEAK. I have the butcher thick-cut it for me. What happens to this steak is unbelievable … almost like a sirloin. Thanks for the new tips!

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Denise June 30, 2010 at 9:56 am

p.s.: My daughter is in heaven when I do ahead a batch of sweet corn, then freeze it. I CONCUR with the method of fully cooling whatever food you have, then “individually” freezing on cookie sheets. Grab them as soon as they’re frozen for storage in bags or glass. This prevents freezer burn, assures even freezing, and makes handling the pieces easier later on. The corn, however, needs a bit of dabbing with paper towel or a clean dishcloth before freezing. When you freeze meat by this method, you also assure the juices remain IN the meat. Thanks again, all!

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JustRho July 5, 2010 at 8:41 pm

this is an awesome idea! i also love the idea of laying the cooked meat on trays to individually freeze it, then bagging it so it’s easy to use later on. i do this with fruit that i freeze to use in protein fruit smoothies, not sure why i didn’t think to do it with other food! lol oh well, like was stated before… genius! brilliant! and i add awesome!

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Jennifer July 9, 2010 at 12:19 pm

love! I can’t wait to do this. I’ve got the chicken ready for the grill now.

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Iwona August 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I’ve made this recipe four times so far since reading this post – twice to freeze for later and twice for bigger get-togethers. It’s amazing everytime, though I change the vingar everytime… the favorite is white wine and cider vinegar. Thanks, Erin.

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Deanna K September 4, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Hi!
this sounds like a great idea!
what are some recipes where you use the cubed chicken versus just the sliced or whole?

Thanks!

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Tracy September 16, 2010 at 7:28 am

My Mom bought me a Ronco rotisserie for my Bday and the chicken comes out so moist and juicy:) I’m going to use it and cook up some chicken to freeze. Thanks for the idea!

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danielle May 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

we alwaysdo this with the huge package from sam’s. sometimes i poach chicken and do the same thing. i love to shred and freeze as well. i use the round ziploc containers and freeze. they stack nicely. if i am using in a soup/stew i just pour right in frozen and it thaws as it simmers.

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Tammy July 12, 2011 at 8:53 am

I think freezing the breasts whole keeps the juices in better, too ~ when I do batch grilling, I freeze probably 50% of them whole and slice some and cube some ~ sometimes, even shred some … but, those that aren’t frozen whole get vacuum sealed so they don’t get dried out!

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kristen duke photography February 27, 2012 at 12:30 am

YUM! So excited to do this! Just found another of your recipes on pinterest, then saw this;)

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Tiffanie March 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

I am so intrigued by this. I love grilled chicken. It’s healthy and super tasty. I always have the trouble of keeping it around and freezing would be perfect!

One question…how do you re-heat it after it’s been frozen? I was thinking about keeping them for quick and healthy lunches. Could I just heat it in the microwave? Would it still taste as good or would the texture be off? Any ideas or suggestions would be wonderful. So excited! :)

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Nancy April 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Always working on cutting costs, cutting calories, increasing healthful eating!

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