Fire Day Friday: Airline Chicken Breast

Fire Day Fridays are about cooking something with live fire that anyone else can make on any other type of grill. No Big Green Egg required. No special equipment. Fire Day Fridays are about inspiring and getting people to use their own grills.Does grilling chicken breasts scare you because you sometimes end up with a dry result? How would you like a succulent, tasty chicken breast from the grill that only has 5 ingredients?

This is one of my favorites from Chris Lilly’s book Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue Book. He uses an “airline” or “hotel” cut of chicken breast that I have never found in a store, so I just use a skin on chicken breast.

Airline Chicken Breast with Basil Butter
3 ea chicken breast, skin on, boneless
1 1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup basil, chopped

I know everyone uses boneless, skinless breasts for 99% of the time but the skin is important on this one. If you can’t find boneless, skin ON breasts or your butcher won’t do it for you, you can just get a split breast skin on and debone it with a sharp knife starting at the small end.

Season the breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat your grill to 400-450f on one side and leave the other side off so you have a hot “direct heat” zone and an “indirect heat” zone.

Once your grill grates are hot, lightly oil them and place the breasts in SKIN SIDE DOWN over the DIRECT heat zone (over the coals/burnter). Cook them for 5 minutes or until they start to brown. The one in the middle was done at 3 minutes but the other two took the full 5 minutes. At the same time, put the butter and basil in a small sauce pan near the edge of the coals as pictured.

Transfer them to a shallow lipped pan SKIN SIDE UP in the INDIRECT heat zone as shown. See how the coals are to the left but there are none directly under the dish.
TIP: If you are using stoneware like me, put it in the grill as soon as you start it so it can slowly heat up. If you put cold ceramics on a hot grill, it can break the dish.

Top the chicken with the now melted basil butter. Close the grill lid and let cook for 35 minutes. Occasionally baste with the butter in the pan. I also turned my pan about 1/3 turn every ten minutes so that all sides are evenly exposed to the heat (since all the heat is coming from the left side of the grill in my set up).

While that is cooking on the indirect side, you can grill some veggies over the direct heat. Yes, that is okra I’m grilling. First time and I loved them.

Remove when the chicken hits an internal temp of 160f and let rest for 5 minutes. I don’t cook by times often, but this is almost always 35 minutes as noted. Then slice into medallions with a very sharp knife and serve.

I know this is a simple dish but something about that basil butter and the grill/roasting combination makes this chicken luscious and tender as can be. It’s more like a juicy roast turkey breast than plain old dry grilled chicken!

Get out there and fire up those grills…May is National BBQ Month!


The chicken breasts look great this way. I use stoneware all the time, I have all shapes, styles and sizes. I wouldn’t have thought to put it on the griil. My grill is so small though I might have to warm it up somewhere else.

You used to be able to find boneless chicken breasts with skin on, but not so much anymore.


Sounds wonderful Chris! That basil butter sound like the perfect touch. Love the grilled okra too.

Have a great weekend! 🙂