monterey chicken

This is my spin on the popular chicken dish we always enjoyed at Chili’s.  We haven’t been there in quite some time.  But when the kids were growing up, that was one of our go-to places.  My husband would order the burger or maybe the chicken.  The kids would most times order the fajita’s.  I always chose the Monterey chicken.  Creatures of habit, I suppose.

The prep on this one can be quite simple.  You can use jarred salsa.  On the other hand, I highly recommend making your own.  If you add some chips, you can lead into your meal with a delicious light appetizer.  And the homemade topping takes this dish over the top.  I like to grate my cheese as I need it, from a block of good-quality extra sharp cheddar.  But the pre-grated cheese will work well, too.  I love homemade barbecue sauce, but that adds some serious prep time.  I just recently discovered Guy Fieri’s Kansas City Barbecue Sauce and used it for this presentation.  It really is quite good.

The chicken breasts are grilled and topped with cheese, then set aside to keep warm until just before serving.  That’s when you add the toppings and get ready to dig in.  It’s really that easy.

And, just as a side note …I always use organic chicken breasts.  Specifically …always Whole Foods organic chicken breasts.  I will drive thirty miles to get my hands on them.  They are that good …so superior in flavor and texture.  Worth every extra penny.

monterey chicken

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 3 boneless skin-less chicken breasts (1 1/2 pounds)
  • olive oil (for brushing)
  • coarse kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar (2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup tomato salsa
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh scallion, green part
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  • lime wedges, for serving


  1. Remove chicken breasts from refrigerator.  Brush all over with olive oil.  Season both sides with salt and pepper.  Allow chicken to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat gas grill to medium high heat.  If chicken is coated with oil, there is no need to oil the grates.

  3. Using metal tongs, place chicken breasts on preheated grill; meaty side down.  Generously brush exposed side of each breast with barbecue sauce.  Close cover.  Once you have substantial grill marks, (about 4-5 minutes for thick breast; 2-3 minutes for thin cuts) flip breasts.  Generously coat cooked side with sauce.  Close cover.  After 3-4 minutes, (2-3 minutes for thinner breasts) flip chicken once again to caramelize the freshly applied sauce.  Cook for one minute.  Turn grill off.  Flip chicken; add grated cheddar.  Cover until cheese is melted.  Transfer to dish to keep warm.

  4. When ready to serve, top each breast with about 1/4 cup salsa and sprinkle with crumbled bacon and chopped scallion.  Add some fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired.  Serve with lime wedges.

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