California Chicken

LAST UPDATED: Jun 12, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Jun 03, 2021 | By:

This California Chicken recipe is so easy, beginning with a savory marinade and ending with healthy and flavorful toppings. Grilled or baked, this chicken is easy, moist, and delicious!

Since chicken is such a staple dinner item, I like to vary the way I prepare it to make sure that it is always exciting and tasty. A California Chicken grill is so fresh and flavorful, provides protein and healthy fats, and is low in carbohydrates.

California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

A marinade is hands down the easiest way to flavor chicken breasts, setting the base for the rest of the entrée. It soaks into the chicken, which begins the breaking down process of the meat, ensuring tender and moist chicken.

This marinade has oil, lemon juice, garlic, and onion salt, which all work together to make savory chicken with a kick of citrus! It’s perfect for spring and summer grilling!

California chicken is a nod to the vibrant garden fresh feeling of California. With Monterrey Jack cheese, smooth avocados, and fresh tomatoes, it’s almost like the chicken is topped with a salad. It’s perfect for spring and summer barbecues!

California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

To make California Chicken customizable, serve the chicken and cheese alongside dishes of avocado and tomatoes – plus any other toppings you think would taste good on the chicken. Allow everyone to choose the way they want to dress their chicken.

For other amazing chicken entrées, try baked chicken breast, cilantro lime chicken, and chicken with garlic sauce and caramelized shallots. They all add fresh and delicious flavors to chicken.

A white baking pan filled with California chicken, topped with diced cherry tomatoes and avocado.

California Chicken Ingredients

Ingredients for California chicken on a white marble surface.
  • Chicken Breasts – Select like-sized boneless skinless chicken breasts so that they grill or bake evenly.
  • Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil creates a simple marinade.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh squeezed lemon juice or store-bought in the produce aisle of your grocer. Either way it adds bright flavor.
  • Onion Powder – Adds a hint of flavor. If you want to use fresh, I highly recommend adding a chopped shallot to the marinade instead.
  • Garlic – You can mince 3 cloves of fresh garlic or use a tablespoon of minced garlic. You won’t notice the difference in this time-saving shortcut.
  • Salt and Pepper – Fresh cracked on the highest setting for a little pop of flavor and texture.
  • Avocados – Ripe avocado adds additional protein, a lot of flavor, and color to this easy dish. Slice or cube according to your serving preference.
  • Tomatoes – Use cherry, grape, or plum tomatoes cut in half or Roma tomatoes sliced.
  • Cheese – Monterey jack melts impeccably, but havarti or fresh mozzarella are also incredible.
Ingredients for California chicken marinade on a white marble surface.
A small glass measuring cup filled with olive oil and seasonings.

Variations

  • Black Olives
  • Bacon
  • Prosciutto
  • Basil
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Mozzarella Cheese

How to Make California Chicken in Just Three Easy Steps

  1. Marinate – Combine and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld. Raw chicken breasts topped with olive oil and seasonings in a white pan.
  2. Grill or Bake – Either way, it’s quick and easy! Grill it and rotate halfway through or bake it and forget it until it’s done.
  3. Top – Add cheese, tomatoes and avocado.
A white baking pan filled with California chicken, topped with diced cherry tomatoes and avocado.

Tips

  • For the juiciest chicken, allow the chicken breasts to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. It seals the juices in.
  • The longer you can marinate the chicken, the more tender it will become.
  • Use a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken if one side of the chicken is a lot thicker than the other side. This will help it cook more evenly.

Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!

California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

Shortcuts

  • Minced Garlic
  • Use Guacamole Instead of Avocados
  • Pre-sliced Cheese

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I use frozen or thawed chicken for California Chicken?

You can use fresh or frozen chicken, but the frozen chicken should be thawed when you begin. The marinade will be absorbed better if the chicken is not frozen. Thaw chicken in the fridge for best results.

How long do I cook the chicken in the oven?

Chicken breasts come in different sizes, so there isn’t an exact time that would work for every piece of chicken, but around 25 minutes at 400 degrees would be the average.

I recommend using a meat thermometer so you can pull the chicken out right when it reaches the internal temperature of 160 degrees. The chicken will rise to 165 degrees as it rests.

California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

Make Ahead

  1. The marinade will last from 2-4 weeks in the fridge.
  2. Begin marinating the chicken up to 24 hours before grilling or baking.

How to Store

  • At Room Temperature – Chicken can be left out while serving, but not longer than 2 hours. Store in fridge or freezer after that.
  • Refrigerate – California Chicken can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. I recommend storing it without the avocado and tomatoes on top. That way you can heat up your chicken and then add the toppings.
  • Freeze – Allow chicken to cool. Freezing is recommended before adding the toppings. Place whole chicken, chopped chicken, or shredded chicken in bags or containers. Label what is inside and then freeze. Keep frozen for up to 4 months. Let thaw in refrigerator and then reheat in oven or skillet. To keep chicken moist, let simmer in a covered skillet or covered pan in the oven with a few tablespoons of chicken stock.
A white baking pan filled with California chicken, topped with diced cherry tomatoes and avocado.

What to Do with California Chicken Grill Leftovers

  • Make it into a salad
  • Chop it up and put it in a wrap
  • Serve it in a warm corn tortilla for tacos
  • Cut it in cubes and serve in a soup

Dietary Considerations

  • Gluten Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Nut Free
California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

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More Easy Chicken Recipes

California chicken grill on a white plate, topped with diced avocado and tomato.

California Chicken

Author: Julie Blanner
This light, fresh and flavorful easy chicken recipe can be made on the grill or in the oven in minutes!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 22 mins
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 522 kcal

Ingredients
  

Marinade

  • cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder substitute chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic 3 cloves, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Chicken and Topping

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 avocados sliced or cubed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes cherry plum or grape cut in half, or 2 ripe Roma tomatoes sliced or cubed
  • 6 ounces monterey jack cheese sliced

Instructions
 

  • In a sealable jar, bag or small mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Shake or stir to combine. Add chicken to bag or casserole dish and cover with marinade. Refrigerate covered for 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  • Preheat grill to medium high heat. Brush with oil. Place chicken breasts on the grill and discard marinade.
    Close lid and grill covered 6 minutes.
    Rotate chicken and grill 5-7 minutes when juices run clear and internal temperature has reached 160°F using a meat thermometer.
    Top chicken breasts with cheese and close lid for 30 seconds or until melted. Remove from grill.
  • Add tomatoes and avocado. Allow chicken to rest 5-10 minutes to seal in the juices.

Video

Notes

In the Oven
  1. Marinate chicken as described above.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  3. Place chicken breasts in a casserole dish. Bake until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from oven, top with cheese. Cover with foil and return to oven covered for 1 minute.
  4. Remove and top with avocado and tomato. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tips

  • For the juiciest chicken, allow the chicken breasts to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. It seals the juices in.
  • The longer you can marinate the chicken, the more tender it will become.
  • Use a meat tenderizer to pound the chicken if one side of the chicken is a lot thicker than the other side. This will help it cook more evenly.

Nutrition

Calories:522kcalCarbohydrates:12gProtein:37gFat:37gSaturated Fat:12gPolyunsaturated Fat:3gMonounsaturated Fat:19gTrans Fat:1gCholesterol:110mgSodium:516mgPotassium:1049mgFiber:7gSugar:2gVitamin A:692IUVitamin C:26mgCalcium:345mgIron:2mg
5 from 3 votes
Did you Make This Recipe?Mention @JulieBlanner
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