Summer means heading to the grill for meals

June 25, 2013

By Karista Bennett

One of the best things about summer is grilling season. Juicy flavorful burgers topped with thick slices of locally made Beecher’s cheddar, slow grilled ribs that fall off the bone and locally raised bone in chicken, grilled to perfection with just a little crisp outside and slathered in my favorite barbecue sauce.

Summer is a time of celebration and revisiting all of those beloved seasonal flavors that come but once a year.

By Karista Bennett This grilled yogurt and basil pesto marinated chicken recipe is a great way to start off your backyard grilling season.

By Karista Bennett
This grilled yogurt and basil pesto marinated chicken recipe is a great way to start off your backyard grilling season.

Although The Bennett Crew could consume grilled chicken weekly, by the middle of summer, we’re hankering for some new flavors. Marinating chicken is a great way to infuse new flavors into a chicken dish, as well as keeping your chicken moist and juicy. This marinade uses yogurt to tenderize the chicken, and the basil pesto infuses it with a lot of enticing summer flavor.

This is a simple, delicious, moist and juicy grilled chicken that will make your grilling season complete.

Yogurt and Basil Pesto Marinated Grilled Chicken

Serves 4-6

*The marinade can easily cover up to 5 pounds of chicken. This marinade also works well with chicken breasts.

I love this marinade so much, I think I could sip it! Reserve 1/2 cup or so before adding the chicken. Then, you will have a little marinade sauce for dipping or slathering on the grilled chicken.



3-4 pounds chicken pieces, bone in, with some of the skin removed so the marinade can soak in

2 cups Greek whole milk plain yogurt

1/2 cup basil pesto (I’ve listed a recipe below, but for a quick fix, Cibo Naturals has a lovely basil pesto.)

2 lemons, juiced

Splash of Sriracha or favorite hot sauce, about 1-2 tablespoons

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper



Place the chicken in a glass bowl, baking dish or nonreactive container.

Whisk together the yogurt, pesto, lemon juice, Sriracha, salt and pepper, and then pour over the chicken to coat.

Let the chicken marinade overnight for best results.


To grill

Pre-heat the grill to 400F.

Shake off the excess marinade and place the chicken on the grill. Turn down the heat if necessary so the chicken doesn’t burn.

Let the chicken cook for about 20-30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F.

Serve with your favorite grilled veggies, tossed mixed green salad or pasta salad. Or, all three! I love this chicken with grilled mini sweet peppers. Just toss the mini peppers with a little oil, salt and pepper, and grill until toasty and soft.


Basil pesto recipe

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 to 1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds (or pine nuts)

2 cloves garlic

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the basil, cheese, almonds, garlic and squeeze of lemon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times and then start adding the olive oil in a steady stream until the pesto is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Karista Bennett is a local chef/owner at Karista’s Kitchen and culinary instructor at PCC Natural Markets. Find other recipes at

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