I have to say that when Dad mentioned that he slathered some chicken with mayonnaise and put it on the grill I was more than a bit skeptical of this recipe. He raved about it, but I was leery. The notion of heat and mayo made me nervous. I brought it up to a coworker, Shane, who said he has done it in the past and that it was a great way to seal in the juices. And then I saw the pictures and think that my cynicism was unjustified. It sounds like the mayo is pretty magical in terms of ensuring juiciness. So maybe if you don’t have time to brine, you should consider trying Mayo Magic. I’ll hand it off to Dad now to show you how Mayo Magic Chicken works
This grilling recipe quite simply seemed nuts to me, but I had to try it. I confess I was inspired to do this after viewing Paula Dean’s son, Bobby, perform a similar recipe in the oven on one of her TV shows. I thought, “If it can be done in the oven, it can be done better on the grill.” While the ingredients below call for eight boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I actually used five breasts and four boneless skinless thighs.
Mayo Magic Chicken Ingredients:
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups of mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp ancho chile
- zest of one lemon
Ingredients are more of a guideline than a rule
The ingredients could easily be modified to your specific taste. I used Hungarian paprika but smoked paprika could add an interesting touch. Ancho chile (dried Poblano pepper) could be switched with Chipotle seasoning or Cayenne if you desire to kick it up a notch or two. I chose the Ancho because it is milder. The lemon could be doubled if you prefer more of a citrus flavor and lime or orange could be substituted. There’s a lot of flexibility here limited only by your own taste and creativity.
Prepare the Mayo
Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl and whisk together to form the wet rub:
Then slather the wet rub all over the chicken coating entirely. Get in there with your fingers and make it happen:
Why does Mayo Keep Chicken Moist?
Mayonnaise contains a ton of oil and fat. The theory here is as the meat cooks, the mayonnaise will melt away, basting the chicken as it cooks.
I prepared this about an hour prior to grilling and returned the mayo magic chicken to the icebox till the fire in the grill was ready. This is a wet rub, not a marinade so it is not necessary to marinate overnight.
I haven’t grilled with anything using mayo since chicken dipped in white BBQ sauce, and even then the white sauce didn’t go on until after the chicken was cooked. Cooking the chicken with the mayo on it is new for me.
How to Grill Mayo Magic Chicken
I fired up my old Char-Broil 940 grill for this effort. I’m indirect grilling here — coals on the left and chicken on the right. Target temp is between 275-325 degrees:
Some soaked apple chips are added for the smoke flavor:
The whole pan wasn’t added, just a couple handfuls to get the smoke going.
The mayo slathered chicken is on the grill. The wet rub appears to be a gooey mess. Don’t let the appearance discourage you:
***Editor’s Note ~ Anytime you indirect chicken or turkey breasts, try to put the skinny point of the breast away from the heat with the fatter section closest to the fire for more even cooking. Looks like Dad was hit or miss on that one above. We’re not perfect. Remember, we’re just some Grillin’ Fools. The great thing about this recipe is the mayo will give you a larger margin of error in terms of drying the meat out.***
Here’s how the mayo magic chicken looked 30 minutes in:
The foil pouch shown contains diced potatoes drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with cracked pepper and sea salt.
The thermometer indicates the temperature is a hair under 300 degrees. I’ll cut into a thick portion of one of the breasts at 45 minutes to see if juices run clear. When the juices run clear it means the meat has reached an internal temperature of at least 160F-165F degrees which is your target temperature.
I cut into the thickest portion at 45 minutes and saw clear juices so I pulled the chicken from the grill. I’ll serve dinner in 5 minutes after a rest to let the internal juices to calm down and redistribute throughout the meat. The breasts and thighs were pulled at 50 minutes and the taste test has arrived:
Here’s what the dinner looked like on the plate:
What Does Mayo do to Chicken?
Well, it makes it magical, duh! The mayo magic chicken breast and thighs were completely cooked and extremely moist — maybe the moistest boneless skinless chicken I have ever done. Remember, the chicken was not brined but the mayo did something magical to it to make it seem that way with how juicy the chicken was. I guess that’s why they call it mayo magic chicken.
The chicken was never moved or turned during the entire grilling process. I believe the oil in the mayo really preserved and protected the moisture in the chicken. The combination of the spices and lemon zest were mild and offered a delightful hint of flavor that I thoroughly enjoyed. In the future I’ll try this with lime and oranges zest for the sake of variety. I might kick up the ancho chile also for a bit more spice. The mayo magic chicken breasts were tastier to me than the thighs but the hint of citrus was very refreshing on a very hot summer evening.
If you have any questions about the mayo magic chicken, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
If you are interested in other poultry recipes done on the grill, click here.
Mayo Magic Chicken Breasts
- 2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp ancho chile
- 1 tbsp lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
- 8 boneless skinless chicken breast
- Combine everything but the chicken in a bowl and whisk together to form the wet rub
- Then slather the wet rub all over the boneless skinless chicken breasts, coating entirely
- Fire up the grill for indirect/two zone grilling: coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target temp is between 275-325 degrees
- Place the chicken on the side with no heat with the thick side of the chicken breasts closest to the fire and the points away from the heat.
- Close the lid
- Smoke until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees (about 50 minutes)
- Remove from the heat, allow to rest for three minutes to let the juices cam down and redistribute throughout the meat, and serve