This spicy grilled chicken sandwich, a fun riff on a BLT, is made with chile-marinated chicken that’s wrapped in bacon, grilled, and piled high with arugula and tomato. It’s a great meal for a casual outdoor dinner or to take along on a camping trip.
This spicy grilled chicken sandwich is a great new spin on the old bacon, lettuce, and tomato BLT – perfect for a backyard gathering or camping dinner. You can make the chile marinade the day before and leave the chicken in it overnight to gather flavor.–Ross Dobson
Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich FAQs
What are the differences between curly, flat-leaf, and Italian parsley?
Italian and flat-leaf parsley are the same thing. The name really depends on what markets you happen to be in. Parsley is native to southern Italy, so that’s why some stores refer to it as ‘Italian’ parsley. The mildly flavored, flat-leafed version of this herb closely resembles cilantro in appearance, so be careful when shopping.
Curly parsley leaves are… wait for it… curly. Besides differing in appearance, curly parsley has a stronger flavor than flat-leaf/Italian. It’s assertive, robust, and forward.
How spicy are Fresno chiles?
The Fresno pepper is comparable to a jalapeno as far as spiciness goes. Fresno chiles can vary between 2,500-10,000 Scoville (SHU). Jalapeños are 3,500-8,000 SHU. If you’re concerned about spiciness, don’t add the seeds or membrane to your marinade. If you’re good with the heat, toss it all into your food processor.
How long can I safely marinate chicken in the fridge?
The USDA says that chicken can safely marinate in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Keep in mind that marinade recipes are generally designed for a few hours of marination, not days – so your chicken could either be overly flavored or the meat texture could degrade if left for 48 hours (dependent on the ingredients in your marinade). And always remember to keep raw chicken tightly covered while marinating in the fridge.
Can I make this grilled chicken without a grill?
Yes, but with caution. Our testers had success using a grill pan on the stovetop to cook the chicken, but be certain to run your hood fan in the event of smoke generated by the frying bacon or eye-watering vapors from the chile marinade.
What should I serve with this spicy grilled chicken sandwich?
A fresh melon and cucumber salad, a handful of potato chips, or shoestring fries would all be welcome alongside this sandwich.
Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or substitute 4 thin chicken cutlets)
- 2 large red chiles such as jalapeno or Fresno, seeded and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Table salt
- 4 strips of bacon
- 4 soft bread rolls or hamburger buns
- Mayonnaise to serve
- 2 large handfuls baby arugula
- 2 tomatoes thinly sliced
- If using full size chicken breasts, lay the chicken on a clean cutting board. Gently press the palm of your hand on the chicken and use a sharp knife to slice it horizontally into 2 thinner pieces of uniform thickness. Place the chicken in a medium bowl.
- In a small food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, and parsley. Add the olive oil and whiz until the mixture is finely chopped and flecked through the oil, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Tip the marinade into the bowl with the chicken and toss together with your hands. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
- Just before cooking, season each piece of chicken lightly with salt, and wrap in a slice of bacon.
- Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for medium-high heat.
- Lay the chicken on the grill and cook until it releases easily from the grill, about 8 minutes. Turn and cook until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the bacon has crisped, 4 to 6 minutes more.
- Top the rolls with mayonnaise, the chicken, arugula, and tomato.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I had every intention of using my outdoor grill for this spicy grilled chicken sandwich. Mother Nature thought otherwise. Sometimes you must bring the camping aromas indoors and be cheered by your smoke alarm. In this case, the alarm remained dormant and my chicken had just enough char to resemble outdoor cooking.
I set my induction cooktop to 8 and used my un-greased grill pan. I grilled each bacon-wrapped cutlet 4 minutes per side using a splatter screen. Had I used the outdoor grill, I would have also used a griddle with a draining edge to collect the bacon fat and avoid flare-ups. I drained the fat and placed the cutlets on a wire rack 6 inches under the broiler preheated to 375°F convection. Three bacon-wrapped chicken pieces were cooked in 7 minutes. The fourth piece required an additional minute to a temperature of 165°F.
My chicken pieces were lightly charred with crispy bacon and a juicy and moist interior. As for the flavour, the 6 hours marinating worked to create a chile flavoured chicken. I used bird’s eye chiles that I had frozen with seeds and membranes. The heat was just enough to flavour without tongue burning.
I tried this recipe while on a calorie budget. To shave off calories, I served my cutlet on half a toasted bun and omitted the mayo. The residual moistness of the bacon was enough of a treat. Served alongside charred asparagus with a dollop of green goddess dressing, this chicken was a tasty dinner.
I didn’t think I would like this spicy grilled chicken sandwich recipe.
I thought that the peppers I chose were much too spicy. I chose one red jalapeño and one red Chinese pepper. Before I grilled them I thought no way would I be able to tolerate the heat. As a result, I brushed a lot of the pepper mixture off before I grilled it.
Guess what? I wish I had left more of the heat in because it was delicious. It wasn’t spicy or hot. Just very balanced. An easy simple sandwich to make for any night of the week as long as you have enough time to marinate it.
This play on a BLT was really tasty. The marinade takes so little time to prep and with less than 15 minutes of cook time to eating you’re in for a treat!
I used Fresno chiles which didn’t make it overly spicy so next time I will use a different chile as we love spice. I’m going to make this for our next camping trip as you can get the chicken in the marinade at home and then you just need to BBQ when ready; it’s already prepped.
Originally published July 29, 2022