10 Unique Ways to Dress Up Grilled Chicken
Your backyard barbecue this Memorial Day weekend is going to be great no matter how you choose to build your spread. It can feature any number of interchangeable elements in order to be a complete and total success: a refreshing salad, zesty carbs, salty corn muffins, even watermelon burgers. (Especially watermelon burgers.) But one thing your guests will not abide is a boring plate of grilled chicken. What kind of host presents unadorned poultry as the main event? We want to help you make the most of your grilling efforts, so we’ve collected some of The Takeout’s best sauces, toppings, and condiments to add to grilled chicken. Whichever one(s) you go with, it’ll make that bird sing.
Chimichurri on chicken
We often think of Chimichurri as a sauce best paired with steak. While it is, of course, a beautiful accompaniment to beef, its floral richness and citrusy zing can transform grilled chicken, too. While you can use a food processor, our recipe encourages mixing by hand, which will create the contrast of oil and herbs you’re looking for, rather than a more homogenized paste. Get the recipe for Chimichurri here.
If you haven’t heard of Honey-Fermented Garlic, you might be wondering how to use it, or whether you’d get enough mileage out of it to justify making a batch. Not only is it easy to throw together with just four ingredients, but its applications are endless: Serve it on grilled meats, vegetables, or toast. Drizzle it over cheese and charcuterie. Add the honey to vinaigrette or barbecue sauces. Spoon the garlic cloves onto pizza. Once you taste it, you’ll be brimming with ideas. Get the recipe for Honey-Fermented Garlic here.
Lemon Pickled Garlic
Lemon Pickled Garlic
In many ways, Lemon Pickled Garlic is the ideal condiment: it takes maybe five minutes to make, doesn’t require turning on the stove, dirties few dishes, and stays good in the fridge for up to four months. It ties together every item on your plate and coheres them, somehow, into a meal. Pungent and bold, this spread pairs well with grilled chicken, as well as toasted bread and hunks of cheese. That is, it makes all the good stuff even better. Get the recipe for Lemon Pickled Garlic here.
Aji Verde (Peruvian Green Sauce)
Aji Verde Sauce
This recipe for Aji Verde is all about showcasing the traits of the aji amarillo, a pepper that’s fundamental to Peruvian cooking but which is not grown commercially in the United States. Of course, if you don’t have access to fresh aji amarillos, you can substitute with some aji paste, or a few serrano peppers instead. Whatever you do, you should try making this bright, phenomenal sauce, which pairs great with any protein or vegetable. Spices, onion, mint, and cilantro flavors will all mingle with your grilled chicken in the best way. Get the recipe for Aji Verde here.
Scallions, if you didn’t already know, are delicious and versatile, and they’ll leave your palate primed for summertime. This Scallion Sauce brings a ridiculous amount of flavor to anything it touches; it’ll add a pop of brightness not only to your grilled chicken, but also tofu and burgers, either classic or plant-based patties (the latter of which is pictured above). Spicy, oniony flavor can be yours at your next barbecue. Get the recipe for Scallion Sauce here.
Sweet Potato Chutney
Sweet Potato Chutney
Stop thinking of sweet potatoes as a purely autumnal food! While this Sweet Potato Chutney does work great on the Thanksgiving table, there’s no reason for this chutney to stick to turkey, or to grace your spread only once a year. It can make the simplest dishes taste spectacular, like a piece of grilled chicken on a summer afternoon. It’s sweet and sour like a chutney should be, with a good amount of smokiness from toasted garam masala and toasted pumpkin seeds. Your cookout guests want you to make this, trust us. Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Chutney here.
Honey-Chipotle Drizzling Sauce
Honey-Chipotle Drizzling Sauce on top of fried chicken
With only four ingredients, the irresistible combination of sugar and spice can improve just about everything on your barbecue spread. The sweet heat of this Honey-Chipotle Drizzling Sauce transforms whatever it touches, from meat to poultry to pizza—and though we primarily suggest it as a topping for fried chicken, the char of a grilled chicken will play nicely against its tanginess, too. Just make sure to use a high-quality honey in order to get as much floral, amber flavors as possible. Get the recipe for Honey-Chipotle Drizzling Sauce here.
Golden Garlic Toum
Toum is just like any other condiment, except that it’s much, much better. Though it’s typically made from whipped raw garlic, this recipe calls for cooking most (or all) of the garlic in olive oil in order to mellow out the flavors a bit. Try adding a dollop of toum atop your grilled chicken, or use it in place of mayonnaise on sandwiches, or even smear it under the skin of a chicken before roasting. This creamy and so garlicky that it might just steal the show, and you’ll be glad when it does. Get the recipe for Golden Garlic Toum here.
Balsamic “Benihana” Garlic Sauce
Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic “Benihana” Garlic Sauce
This recipe makes a solid pint of “Benihana sauce,” which you can keep in your fridge or freezer for whenever you need to make something mindless absolutely magical. In other words, it’s the perfect companion to both grilled chicken and grilled vegetables. Simply toss them all in this thick, viscous sauce before grilling, and add more on top or on the side once everything’s plated. It’ll punch you in the mouth a little bit from all the garlic, but that’s exactly what it’s meant to do. Get the recipe for Balsamic “Benihana” Garlic Sauce here.
Alabama White BBQ Sauce
Alabama White BBQ Sauce with chicken, slaw, and pickles
What a delicious dynamic: Hot chicken with cool mayo-based sauce, hickory smoke with creamy tang, plus apple juice and horseradish to lend the whole thing a sweetness and bite. The versatility of this Alabama White BBQ Sauce means you’ll always want to keep a jar on hand to pair with the whole cookout spread: smoked chicken, pulled pork, brisket, salads, or shredded cabbage and carrots. Get the recipe for Alabama White BBQ Sauce here.
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