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    The Best Chicken Marinade Recipe

    Published June 14, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    You will love this easy-to-make chicken marinade recipe with soy, lemon, vinegar, garlic, and herbs for the juiciest, most flavorful chicken ever. This marinade comes together in minutes and is the perfect addition to turn your chicken from bland to brilliant.

    We eat chicken several times a week and love how lean it is and how easy it is to include it in recipes. If you love it as well, then try my Chicken Fried Rice or Chicken Francese.

    Marinated grilled chicken on a plate


     

    Chicken Marinade

    The Chicken marinade is a liquid consisting of herbs, spices, oil, and other ingredients to help create a flavorful mixture that naturally seasons and tenderizes the chicken as it’s coated in the marinade for short to long periods of time. There are many variations to a chicken marinade, and the ingredients will depend on your desired flavor profiles. My chicken marinade is savory with a hint of sugar, soy, and thyme, for well-rounded flavors.

    When making any marinade, it’s essential to have a balance of flavors so that every bite of chicken is juicy and delicious. To achieve this, it’s always good to start with acids like lemon and vinegar and then marry it with salt like soy sauce or salt by itself. You then want a binder like mustard so that the oil, which will help spread the marinade, can combine with the vinegar. After that, most of the flavors are up to you. Fresh or dry herbs, fresh or dry spices, and other liquids like wine can be used to round out the overall flavor.

    Ingredients and Substitutions

    ingredients to make a chicken marinade
    • Chicken – I always prefer to fabricate a whole chicken down into breasts, drums, thighs, and wings. However, you can use just breasts, drums, thighs, or wings, or any combination that you deem fit.
    • Soy Sauce – This will help add a lot of flavor, color, and salt to the marinade. I prefer to use tamari, which is essentially a more decadent soy sauce.
    • Wine – Any dry white wine will work. I usually use chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, or pinot grigio. If you don’t drink wine, substitute with lemon juice and chicken stock.
    • Vinegar – I used white distilled vinegar. Substitute with apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
    • Lemon – The juice of a lemon will help brighten up the marinade.
    • Herbs – I like to use fresh thyme in this recipe. You can also use rosemary, oregano, basil, chervil, or parsley.
    • Mustard – A little Dijon mustard will help emulsify the marinade and add flavor.
    • Oil – Any neutral flavored oil will work for this chicken marinade.
    • Onion – You can use a white, yellow, or sweet onion. In addition, you will need some garlic cloves.
    • Seasonings – I use coarse salt and ground black pepper.

    How to Make the Best Chicken Marinade

    1. Finely grate the onion and garlic into a large bowl.
    2. Next, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
    3. Pour in the soy sauce, vinegar, white wine, oil, thyme, sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper.
    4. Whisk the ingredients together until they are combined and emulsified.
    5. Add the chicken to the bowl with marinade and mix thoroughly until it is completely coated in it.
    6. Cover with plastic and marinate it in the refrigerator for 12 to 48 hours.
    chicken marinade process

    Cooking Methods

    Gilling – Place the chicken skin side down on a grill that has been lightly oiled on the grated on medium-high heat (375° to 425°) and cook for 10 to 12 minutes per side or until dark grill marks have formed and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°. Depending on how intense the fire on the grill is, you may need to move the chicken around to that it does not overly char.

    Pan-Seared – add two tablespoons of your preferred cooking oil to a large frying pan over medium heat and heat for 1 minute. Place in the chicken skin side down and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked throughout. Be sure to watch the chicken as it can brown very quickly and turn burning. If that is the case, turn the heat down to medium-low.

    Oven-Baked – Place the chicken skin side up on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned and cooked throughout.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can make the marinade up to 2 days before it is ready to be used to marinate chicken.

    How to Store: Store the marinade covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will not freeze well. If storing the chicken in the marinade, you can marinate it covered for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. You can marinate the chicken and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.

    How to Reheat: When reheating the marinated chicken, place the desired number of chicken on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven at 350° for 8-12 minutes or until warm.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • This marinade will also work well with pork, beef, or vegetables.
    • You can marinate up to 5 pounds of chicken with this amount.
    • Feel free to use dry thyme instead of fresh if that is all you have.
    • If you start to get nervous that your chicken is burning on the grill or in the pan, immediately transfer it to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake it in the oven at an oven preheated to 350° for 12 to 15 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°, which is according to the USDA.

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    The Best Chicken Marinade Recipe

    5 from 13 votes
    You'll love this easy-to-make chicken marinade recipe with soy, lemon, vinegar, garlic, and herbs for the most flavorful chicken ever.
    Servings: 6
    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 25 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • ½ peeled and finely grated yellow onion
    • 5 finely grated garlic cloves
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • ½ cup neutral flavored oil
    • 1/3 cup white wine
    • 1/3 cup soy sauce
    • 1/3 cup white distilled vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh thyme
    • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 4 1/2 pound chicken broken down into individual breasts, thighs, drums, and wings

    Instructions

    • Finely grate the onion and garlic into a large bowl.
    • Next, squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon.
    • Add in the mustard, sugar, oil, wine, soy sauce, vinegar, thyme, salt, and pepper.
    • Whisk the ingredients together until they are combined and emulsified.
    • Add the chicken to the bowl with marinade and mix thoroughly until it is completely coated in it.
    • Cover with plastic and marinate it in the refrigerator for 12 to 48 hours.
    • To grill: Place the chicken skin side down on a grill that has been lightly oiled on the grated on medium-high heat (375° to 425°) and cook for 10 to 12 minutes per side or until dark grill marks have formed and the chicken is reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
    • Depending on how intense the fire on the grill is, you may need to move the chicken around to that it does not overly char.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: You can make the marinade up to 2 days before it is ready to be used to marinate chicken.
    How to Store: Store the marinade covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This will not freeze well. If storing the chicken in the marinade, you can marinate it covered for up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. You can marinate the chicken and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator for 1 day or until thawed.
    How to Reheat: When reheating the marinated chicken, place the desired number of chicken on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake in the oven at 350° for 8-12 minutes or until warm.
    This marinade will also work well with pork, beef, or vegetables.
    You can marinate up to 5 pounds of chicken with this amount.
    Feel free to use dry thyme instead of fresh if that is all you have.
    If you start to get nervous that your chicken is burning on the grill or in the pan, immediately transfer it to a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and bake it in the oven at an oven preheated to 350° for 12 to 15 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°, which is according to the USDA.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 568kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 43gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 691mgPotassium: 462mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 347IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 34mgIron: 2mg
    Course: marinade, sauce
    Cuisine: American