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Chicken Marinade

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posted: 07/11/21

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

Chicken Marinade is easy to throw together with simple ingredients already in your pantry. This chicken breast marinade is going to become a go to recipe.

a chicken breast that has been marinated and then grilled on a cutting board garnished with parsley

One of my favorite meals in the summer is grilled chicken over salad. But a plain grilled chicken breast is a no go for me. Today I have the best chicken marinade recipe for you! It works perfectly as a grilled chicken marinade.

This is the same marinade that I use when I make my Chicken Kabobs, and those are always a huge hit!

The Reason to Marinate Chicken

There is nothing worse than dry chicken. Marinating chicken is a great way to prevent this. A simple chicken marinade made with a little acid breaks down the exterior of the chicken. This lets in the other ingredients in the marinade making for a moist and delicious chicken breast

chicken marinade being poured over raw breasts in a bowl

Chicken Mariande Ingredients

I love this combination of ingredients so much and find that it leads to moist delicious chicken every time. For the full measurements of ingredients scroll to the bottom of the post or click that helpful “jump to the recipe” button above the first photo.

  • Olive Oil is the foundation of this recipe, you want to use a quality olive oil and definitely not vegetable oil. There is a remarkable difference in taste.
  • Lemon Juice is one of two acids that we are going to use. It brings flavor and helps break down the surface of the chicken.
  • Brown Sugar boosts the flavor of the marinade and also helps brown the chicken when it is cooking.
  • Soy Sauce acts as the salt and a part of the liquid base of the marinade. Though most often a marinade only penetrates the outer layers of a piece of meat, salt is able to go much deeper and help keep meat from drying out during cooking.
  • Balsamic Vinegar is the other acid in this recipe. This vinegar starts out with grapes, and it brings such a deep and delicious flavor to this party.
  • Minced Garlic adds another layer of flavor.
  • Black Pepper is our last ingredient and another flavor enhancer.

Adding Herbs to Chicken Marinade Recipes

A lot of chicken marinade recipes contain herbs like Rosemary or Thyme. Those would be great additions here. I purposefully left them out to keep this recipe as simple as possible, and I have to tell you that the end result is a delicious piece of chicken.

overhead of chicken in marinade

How Long to Marinate Chicken

There are different schools of thought on how long you should marinate chicken. One thing is agreed upon: It is possible to marinate chicken for too long.

When we marinate, the marinade is only able to penetrate the outer surface of the meat. Realistically, you only need about a half hour to make that happen with this recipe. Conversely, once the chicken has sat in the marinade past 24 hours, the salt in the marinade can break down the proteins in the meat and that will result in a gummy piece of chicken.

How to Grill Marinated Chicken

This is just the best grilled chicken breast marinade. And grilling chicken couldn’t be easier.

  1. Preheat your grill. Turn all the burners on high and let the grill heat up for 15 minutes with the cover closed. After 15 minutes, leave one burner on high and turn off the others.
  2. Oil the grates.
  3. Put the chicken over the burners that are off. Grill for 6 to 9 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill for 6 to 9 more minutes or until it reaches 140 degrees on the thickest part of the chicken.
  4. Place the chicken over the burners that are on. Continue grilling for 2 to 6 more minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
grilled chicken that has been marinated cut up on a cutting board

Baking After Using Chicken Marinade

This works great as a baked chicken marinade too!

  1. Remove chicken from the marinade and discard the excess marinade. (See below for ideas on how to serve this using the marinade as a sauce.)
  2. Place the chicken in lightly greased baking dish.
  3. Cover the baking dish with foil.
  4. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

FAQ

Can I leave out the sugar?

You can leave out the sugar, but I would encourage you not to. It adds such great flavor to the marinade and balances the acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice.

It’s only 2 tablespoons for the whole marinade, and keep in mind that the amount of sugar that gets absorbed into the chicken is relatively small.

How do you make more than a pound of chicken?

If you want to make more than one pound of chicken, I recommend doubling the marinade. You want to make sure that the chicken is fully submerged in the marinade.

How do you use chicken marinade as a sauce?

If you would like to use the marinade as a sauce, you need to put it in a sauce pan and then over medium heat bring it to a roaring boil. Once boiling it needs to continue to boil for 2 minutes before it is safe to use.

Alternatively, you can double this recipe, and reserve half of it to use as a sauce after cooking the chicken. The reserved portion won’t ever touch the raw chicken and will be safe to eat.

Is this gluten free?

No. Most soy sauces contain gluten. You would need to find a soy sauce that is gluten free.

cut up marinated chicken on a plate

What to Serve with Chicken

As mentioned above, I love this chicken cut up and served with a simple salad of Romain, tomatoes, and cucumbers. But if you are grilling and want to round out your table, here are a few suggestions:

If you make this easy chicken marinade or any of my other recipes, leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

a chicken breast that has been marinated and then grilled on a cutting board garnished with parsley
0 from 0 votes

Chicken Marinade

Serves: 4 people
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Chicken Marinade is easy to throw together with simple ingredients already in your pantry. This chicken breast marinade is going to become a go to recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts

Marinade

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  • In a reusable container, whisk together the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Add the chicken and toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
  • When ready to grill the chicken, preheat your grill. (See instructions in the post for baking.) Turn all the burners on high and let the grill heat up for 15 minutes with the cover closed. After 15 minutes, leave one burner on high and turn off the others.
  • Oil the grates. Put the chicken over the burners that are off. Grill for 6 to 9 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill for 6 to 9 more minutes or until it reaches 140 degrees on the thickest part of the chicken.
  • Place the chicken over the burners that are on. Continue grilling for 2 to 6 more minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
a chicken breast that has been marinated and then grilled on a cutting board garnished with parsley

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Chicken Marinade

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Norma Pearson says

    Looks to be a great recipe as all your recipes have been but can I bake the chicken breasts instead & then maybe broil them for a few minutes or not? Since I do all the cooking & hubby does all the eating it would be easier for me. Thanks again.

    • Lisa Longley says

      It can be baked! If you look at the recipe, you should be able to click a link within step 2 that will take you to baking instructions.

  2. Catherine Dickey says

    Is this Marinade only for grilling purposes or can be use for Oven cooking also?

  3. Cheryl Gentry says

    Would this be a good dish to cook in my air fryer? If so, what temp and time?

    Thanks!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I haven’t tried it with this recipe, but chicken breasts in general are 380 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

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