Sail through grilling season with a flawless marinade


Summer is all about grilling, which means everyone should have a marinade up their sleeve to dip and baste their favorite grills. This no-fail marinade is tangy and sweet, with a touch of garlicky Sriracha for warmth. It is also suitable for 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 basically a blank slate when it comes to cooking. White meat is soft and can easily dry out, so a juicy marinade does double duty in terms of flavor and tenderness of the meat. There are a few tricks to introduce the flavor of the marinade into the chicken. One is to score the whole breasts across the diagonal, about 1/4 inch deep, allowing 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 the skewers fun to eat, but the pieces provide more surfaces and edges that can char and crisp on the grill – because who doesn’t love all those crispy bits?

Sriracha sauce is the ubiquitous Thai red chili sauce with a rooster on the label, which is why it’s often called 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 a salty, sweet and spicy heat, and a little nuttiness enhances salad dressings, dips, dressings and, of course, marinades.

When preparing skewers, be sure to cut the chicken and vegetables into 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: For 4 to 6 people


1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 garlic cloves, 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, soak them 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. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.

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

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

Lynda Balslev is 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 email [email protected]; or visit the TasteFood blog at

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