Chicken Marinade

6 Reviews / 5 Average
This chicken marinade instantly adds so much flavor to chicken! It also helps to tenderize chicken. The chicken comes out so tasty, juicy and delicious. Great for chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and even other meats and veggies!
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This is the best chicken marinade ever!  It has all the components of the perfect marinade.  It is savory, sweet and packed with flavor.  This marinade instantly adds so much flavor to chicken!  Feel free to use it with steak, beef, pork, lamb, veggies or other meats and proteins.  It is quick, easy, and made with only pantry staple ingredients.  You will absolutely love this baked or grilled chicken marinade!

If you have extra chicken breasts, check out these easy Chicken Breast Recipes.

Chicken marinade.

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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This easy chicken marinade recipe takes only 5 minutes to make.
  • It is loaded with flavor.
  • The marinade also helps tenderize the chicken.
  • The chicken comes out juicy, tender, and so flavorful every time.
  • Great for grilling season!
  • This chicken can be cooked on the stovetop, on the grill, in the oven or in the air fryer.
  • In addition, cook this chicken in the Instant Pot or crock pot.
  • Great for family dinners, holidays, Fourth of July, Father’s Day, and weeknight meals.
  • Use the chicken in a number of different ways!  It is versatile.
  • This recipe can be made gluten-free with coconut aminos or gluten-free soy sauce.
  • Check out this Blackened Chicken Breast or this Healthy Pollo Asado recipe for another flavorful dinner.

Ingredients & Substitutes

Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom for the full chicken marinade recipe.

Balsamic vinegar adds so much flavor.  In addition, it helps to make the meat tender. Look for one that has no added sugar.

Olive oil adds flavor and helps the chicken become golden and crispy.  Feel free to use avocado oil instead.

Soy sauce adds a ton of flavor.  Substitute with gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos if needed.

Dijon mustard adds moisture and flavor.  For a spicier flavor, use spicy mustard.

Use maple sugar.  I love the slight maple flavor that it adds!

The acidity of the lime juice makes the chicken extra juicy.  Feel free to substitute with lemon juice.

Garlic powder adds a classic garlicky flavor.

Both sea salt and pepper add flavor without being overpowering.

Lastly, this marinade works well with chicken breasts and chicken thighs.  Moreover, use it for drumsticks, chicken wings, chicken kebabs, or chicken legs.

Ingredients for chicken marinade.

What is a Marinade?

Marinade is a liquid that meat is soaked in before cooking.  The purpose of a marinade is to add flavor to meats and veggies.

Marinades are oftentimes acidic.  This helps break down the meat and make it even more tender.

Typically, meat and marinades are added to a Ziplock bag or big bowl to marinate together.  This process takes 30 minutes up to 24 hours.

Taste & Texture

This chicken marinade adds a sweet, savory, and zesty flavor to the chicken.  This is the most flavorful chicken ever!

The texture is incredibly juicy and tender.

How to Make

Step 1

First, add all ingredients to a large bowl.  Stir to combine.

Step 2

Add the chicken to the bowl.  Submerge fully in the marinade.

Step 3

Place plastic wrap on top.  Marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes, up to 12 hours.

Step 4

When ready to make, preheat the grill or stovetop pan.

Step 5

Remove the chicken from the bowl.

Step 6

Grill for 5 minutes on each side.  Or, cook on the stovetop for 5 minutes on each side.

Step 7

Watch closely to prevent burning.

Step 8

Finally, serve cooked marinated chicken.

Expert Tips for Success

When possible, use high-quality, grass-fed, antibiotic-free chicken.  This can be found online, in grocery stores, and in butcher shops.

Feel free to adjust the amounts of the ingredients.  This marinade is forgiving.  Tweak to suit your taste preference.

Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes.  This is the minimum amount of time needed to get all that flavor!

Since this marinade contains maple sugar, it can burn.  Watch the chicken closely as it cooks.

Chicken thighs with sauce.

Cooking Methods

There are so many ways to cook marinated chicken.  Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is fully cooked through.  Chicken is safe to eat at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grilling is the most common way to cook chicken.  Chicken breasts, thighs, and tenderloins are great for the grill.  Grilled chicken is often charred and has a delicious smoky flavor. This grilled chicken marinade is so flavorful.

Baking or roasting chicken is also very popular.  This process involves cooking chicken in the oven.  This allows the meat to fully cook through without becoming burnt or charred.

Add chicken to a stir fry with veggies or grains.  Stir fry chicken is easy, flavorful, and healthy.

Pan-searing chicken breasts or thighs is another great cooking method.  Simply add cooking fat to the pan and place the chicken inside. This can be chicken breast marinade or chicken thigh marinade.

Sous vide cooking involves adding the chicken to a vacuum-sealed bag.  Then, this bag is submerged, and the chicken is precisely cooked.  This is more common for chefs and restaurants.

What Makes a Good Marinade

There are several key elements to a good marinade.

First, include an acid.  Acids include lime juice, lemon juice, vinegars, or yogurt.  These all help break down the meat and make it extra tender.  For this marinade, lime juice adds a zesty fresh flavor.  Feel free to substitute with lemon juice.

Secondly, include a fat.  Olive oil is my choice.  In addition to tenderizing the meat, the olive oil helps the chicken become crispy on the outside.  Avocado oil is another great option.

Add in any seasonings!  Seasonings and spices add so much flavor.  I always include sea salt and pepper.  Garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, chili powder and cumin are other great options.

Marinated meat on plate.

Ways to Eat

Marinated chicken is versatile.  Here are some ways to use marinated chicken.

Add the meat to sandwiches.

Use the chicken in tacos, nachos, burritos, and enchiladas.

Add the chicken to a salad.Make Curry Chicken Salad or a classic chicken salad.

Use the chicken in casseroles, soups, and stews.  Try this Homemade Chicken Pot Pie or Chicken Ranch Casserole!

Serve as an appetizer like this Cheesy Chicken Dip!

How to Serve & Store

Serve this easy chicken marinade recipe once the chicken is fully cooked through.

Use the meat in a variety of different dishes and different ways.

It is also great by itself, served with a side salad or roasted veggies.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Freeze leftovers for up to 1 month.  Thaw completely before eating.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What type of chicken can I use this on?

Use this marinade on chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, legs or wings.

What are 3 common ingredients in a marinade?

Most marinades have an oil, an acid and seasonings.  Marinades can be mixed and matched many different ways.

How long is it safe to marinate chicken?’

Marinate chicken for up to 24 hours.  After that, the meat breaks down too much and becomes mushy.

Can you freeze marinated chicken?

Yes, you can freeze marinated chicken.  Then, thaw completely before grilling or cooking.

What is the longest I can marinate chicken?

The longest you can marinate chicken is 24 hours.

What is the shortest I can marinate chicken?

The shortest you can marinate chicken is 30 minutes.  Anything less than that does not have much of an impact on the overall flavor and texture.

Slice of chicken on plate.

You May Also Enjoy

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Enjoy this easy and quick chicken marinade recipe!

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Due to alpha-gal syndrome, half my family is allergic to mammalian meat. That means we eat a LOT Of chicken. So when I tell you that this is the best chicken marinade, it comes from lots of experience. ;)

  2. 5 stars
    Such a keeper! Tried this chicken marinade for our fam gathering dinner and it made the chicken more tender and flavorful. Plus the texture and aroma are remarkable!

  3. 5 stars
    This chicken marinade was so delicous! It was sweet, savory, and tangy with the perfect amount of salt. This will be our go-to marinade this summer! I think it would be really good on pork too!

  4. 5 stars
    This marinade is a game changer, the simple combination of ingredients make a tasty marinade that is now my go-to when grilling chicken

  5. 5 stars
    I love this marinade! It’s so easy to make, and the flavors are amazing. I’ve used it for chicken, but it would be great on a lot of other meats too.