Grilled Chicken Breasts with Molasses-Coffee Glaze

July 31, 2013

I already had boneless, skinless chicken breasts in my refrigerator, when I noticed this brand new (September/October 2013) recipe for my grill; perfect for a mid-summer weeknight. The base-recipe has 5 glazes to choose from, but I settled on the Molassas-Coffee glaze, mostly because I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. I will definitely also try the Spicy Hoisin glaze. This recipe uses a few new tricks. First, the chicken is sprinkled with powdered milk. The milk’s sugar (lactose) will allow the chicken to brown in just 2-1/2 minutes per side, which allows plenty of time for a few coats of glaze to build up lots of flavor. The second trick is to hold off on the glaze for the first 5 minutes, so that the glaze doesn’t burn. Other than that, the recipe is pretty straight-forward; brine and grill. 4-stars and ready in under 1-1/2 hours.

Perfectly grilled chicken in about 1-1/2 hours

Perfectly grilled chicken in about 1-1/2 hours


  1. If you are using a gas grill, You should pre-heat the grill with all burners on high for 15 minutes. Then to cook, leave the primary burner on high, and reduce the other burners to medium/high.
  2. There are a number of other grazes to choose from: Coconut Curry, Honey Mustard, Spicy Hoisin or Miso Sesame.

Rating: 4-star.
Cost: $6.
How much work? Medium/Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time: 4:30 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Grilled Glazed Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts is here, and the original recipe for the Molassas-Coffee glaze is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today is as follows:

Molasses-Coffee Glaze Ingredients:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Chicken Ingredients:
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick vegetable oil spray

  1. Trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat or skin. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup table salt and 1/4-cup sugar with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water. Add chicken to brine, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour.
  2. After chicken has been brining for 30 minutes, prepare your charcoal grill by completely opening both the top and bottom vents. Fill a chimney starter so that it is slightly overflowing (mounded) with briquettes and light, which will take about 25 minutes to fully ignite.
  3. While the charcoal ignites, prepare the glaze by whisking together the balsamic vinegar and cornstarch in small saucepan. After the cornstarch has dissolved, continue whisking in the molasses, corn syrup, brewed coffee, minced garlic, and allspice. Place over a high burner and bring to boil; about 2 minutes. Continue boiling for 1 minute until the glaze has thickened. Empty sauce into a small bowl or cup.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine, and use paper towels to pat it dry. Combine 2 teaspoons milk powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle each side with half the milk powder, spraying each side with nonstick cooking spray to moisten the powdered milk.
  5. When the coals are ready, create a two level fire by emptying 2/3rds on half the grill, and the remaining 1/3rd over the other half of the grill. Pre-heat grate for 5 minutes then clean a rub with paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  6. Put chicken with the skin-side down directly over the hottest side of the grill. Grill for 2-1/2 minutes, then flip chicken (leaving on the hot side). Brush with glaze while the second side is cooking for another 2-1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken again (skin-side down) but over the cool-side of the grill. Brush with glaze while the skin-side is cooking for 2 minutes. Flip and brush with glaze twice more, and remove when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees.
  7. Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving.

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