Level up your grilled chicken sandwiches. If you're anything like us, you'll come back to this easy recipe with savory grilled halloumi and a creamy, herb-forward sauce again and again.
Why we love this recipe
Grilling should be nice and easy, don’t you think? It’s great to be able to keep it simple while also keeping it interesting and delicious and not just 100% burgers and dogs 100% of the time.
And let's be honest: any sandwich with a marinade AND a sauce has my heart.
These grilled chicken sandwiches are:
- Bursting with Greek-inspired flavors: savory halloumi cheese, red bell peppers, arugula, and a creamy, herb-flecked sauce
- Accessible, but also kinda special in a low-key way
- Make-ahead friendly: You can marinate the chicken well in advance. After that, everything comes together in a matter of minutes.
What you'll need
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe.
To marinate the chicken
The marinade is simple and flavorful. You can marinate the chicken at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for anywhere between two and 24 hours.
- You can use boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenders. If using breasts, you may want to pound them until they're an even thickness. If using tenders, see the FAQ section to learn how to remove the tough tendon.
For the sauce
Here's what you'll need to make the creamy, dreamy herb sauce. Leftovers make a great salad dressing.
- You can use shallot or red onion interchangeably here
- For the herbs, fresh, flat-leaf parsley is the way to go. Dill can be fresh or dried. I prefer fresh tarragon, but you can use dried in a pinch, as I've done in the video.
To assemble the sandwiches
To make the sandwiches, here's what you'll use.
- Halloumi is a magical, grillable cheese that's well-worth tracking down. If you can't find it, you can substitute feta, but don't grill it.
- Arugula adds a pleasant bitterness to these sandwiches, but you can use any favorite leafy green.
- I like to use brioche buns for a little richness and sweetness, but potato rolls work too. Or make this recipe gluten-free with a GF roll.
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How to make it
Here's what you'll do. It's easy! And once the chicken is marinated, the sandwiches come together quickly.
- Whisk up the marinade in a wide, shallow dish. Add the chicken and make sure it's well-coated. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for two to 24 hours.
- Stir together all the sauce ingredients until well-combined.
- Slice the halloumi and the peppers. Make sure the cheese is thick enough to hold its shape on the grill. You can use a quarter or half of a pepper for each sandwich. Either way, cut little slits at the top and bottom to encourage it to flatten while cooking.
- Grill (or pan-cook or bake!) the chicken, cheese, and peppers. Assemble the sandwiches, or let people assemble their own. That's it!
Expert tips and FAQs
You guys. Halloumi is a dream come true, that’s what it is — and there’s nothing quite like it.
Halloumi cheese originates in Cyprus. It’s made from a combination of sheep’s milk and goat’s or sometimes cow’s milk. When grilled or sautéed, it gets crisp on the outside and tender and dreamy on the inside. The taste is briny and herb-flecked and satisfying.
You can get it here, if not in your local market, and I’d really recommend doing so. But if worse comes to worst, feta would make a tasty substitute. Just don’t grill it.
You could slide a chef’s knife along the tendon like an actual pro. OR you could embrace the viral tip shared by a woman on TikTok, which really works.
Slip the tendon between two tines of a fork. Using a paper towel, grab the tip of the tendon firmly with the other hand. Push down with the fork, and the tendon will strip away from the tender in one piece.
Traditionally prepared halloumi is a rennet-free, vegetarian cheese. That got me thinking about a great vegetarian alternative to the chicken in this sandwich: portobello caps.
Simply substitute one portobello cap per sandwich for the chicken breasts. For each cap, remove the stem and scrape out the gills with a teaspoon, then proceed with the recipe exactly as directed. No further changes needed!
If you’re serving some meat-eaters and some vegetarians, just separate the marinade into two dishes before using.
You can marinate the chicken well in advance, even the day before if you like. After that, everything about these grilled chicken sandwiches comes together in a matter of minutes.
How to serve it
These grilled chicken sandwiches make a great weeknight dinner, and they're also good for a crowd if you double or even triple the recipe. You can assemble the sandwiches for everyone or grill up a platter of each ingredient and let people assemble on their own.
- For a casual backyard BBQ, add a big salad, a bowl of esquites, some salt and vinegar potatoes or potato salad, and a low-key cocktail like this one.
- For a vegetarian version, substitute portobello caps for the chicken breasts.
- For a low-carb meal with the same flavor profile, skip the bun and serve it as a salad with extra arugula or mixed leafy greens underneath.
For the marinade
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- A few good grinds black pepper
For the sandwiches
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 ½ pounds total // OR 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders
- 2 medium red bell peppers
- 8 ounces halloumi cheese
- 4 brioche hamburger buns
- 4 small handfuls baby arugula leaves
For the sauce
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Prep the ingredients
- In a 9x13-inch baking dish or other large, shallow dish, whisk together the marinade ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, dill, oregano, and pepper.
- Cut each chicken breast in half across the middle and pound with a mallet if necessary to make each piece about an inch thick and a little bigger than a hamburger bun. Or, if using chicken tenders, see prep note below.
- Place chicken pieces into the dish with the marinade and coat well., Leave to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for anywhere between 2 and 24 hours.
- Cut bell peppers in half from stem end to tip and remove stems, ribs and seeds. Cut a slit of about an inch at both the top and bottom of each pepper half to help it relax into a flatter shape as it grills.
- Cut halloumi into four slices, not super-thin or they might get too floppy on the grill.
- Prepare grill for direct heat.
- Arrange chicken on grill with some marinade still clinging to it. Dredge pepper pieces through marinade and place on grill.
- Grill for 5 minutes on the first side, then flip everything and grill chicken about 3 to 4 minutes more, until just cooked through. (Chicken tenders will cook much faster.)
- Set chicken on a clean plate.
- If peppers are soft enough for your liking, remove them too, otherwise leave them on while you grill the halloumi.
- Dredge halloumi through marinade and place on grill. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on first side, until chewy and lightly grill-marked. Flip and cook one minute more.
Sauce & Serve
- In a small bowl, stir together the sauce ingredients: sour cream, olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, parsley, dill, tarragon, salt, and pepper.
- Assemble each sandwich by layering chicken, pepper, halloumi and arugula onto each bottom bun and spreading some sauce onto each top bun. Serve right away.
- To prep chicken tenders, you could slide a chef’s knife along the tendon like an actual pro. OR you could embrace the viral tip shared by a woman on TikTok, which really works. Slip the tendon between two tines of a fork. Using a paper towel, grab the tip of the tendon firmly with the other hand. Push down with the fork, and the tendon will strip away from the tender in one piece.
- If you can't get your hands on halloumi, feta would make a good substitute, but don't grill it. Just lay a slice onto each sandwich when assembling.
- If you prefer to cook indoors, you have two options. (1) Cook everything in batches in a hot cast iron pan or grill pan. Or (2) Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Arrange chicken, peppers, and halloumi on baking sheet and bake for 15+ minutes until cooked through. Remove halloumi when it's golden and tender.
- We love this dish as a sandwich, but for a low-carb or lighter version, you can skip the bun, serve extra arugula on the bottom, and make it a fabulous salad.
- You can marinate the chicken up to 24 hours in advance.
- Store any leftovers separately in tightly sealed containers in the fridge for up to a week.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 580Total Fat: 24gCarbohydrates: 35.4gFiber: 3.7gProtein: 48.2g