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Make moist and flavorful chicken with this simple marinade recipe! Whether you’re grilling chicken breasts, thighs or tenders, this Chicken Marinade is a great, all-purpose recipe. A little more savory than my steak marinade, but just as easy!
Why Bother Marinating Chicken?
While a little salt and pepper on a grilled piece of chicken is great and fine, a piece of chicken that has been marinated first will add moisture, flavor and a little extra insurance that it won’t completely dry out on the grill. I keep my chicken marinade flavors simple to really enhance the flavor of the chicken without adding too many competing flavors (similar to the flavors on my baked chicken legs). It’s a simple method, but one that works beautifully.
A Little Science Behind Marinades
Marinating meat works because the cuts of meat have semi-permeable membranes. Liquids containing salt and sugar (and other flavoring agents) can cross through that membrane and quite literally flavor the meat from the inside out. While my steak marinade is sweeter, this chicken marinade is more on the savory side.
Favorite Spices to Use
I didn’t go too crazy with my flavorings here and prefer the dried to the fresh because I didn’t want huge punches of flavor. Most of the time, dried spices are more mellow in flavor. Of course feel free to substitute fresh garlic or onion for the dried variety or dijon mustard for the dried.
How to Make Chicken Marinade
Place all dried seasoning and spices into the bottom of a large bowl or plastic container meant for marinating. Whisk in olive oil to create a paste, then whisk in water.
Add in up to two pounds of chicken to marinate. Stir to coat well and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before cooking.
Cook chicken as desired until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
How Long to Marinate Chicken
The longer you can let your chicken marinate, the better! The more time the meat has to absorb all that flavor, the more flavorful it will become. I would recommend marinating all meat for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 48 hours. It does start to break down after two days. 12-24 hours is the sweet spot for sure.
Best Cuts of Chicken for Marinating
While you can technically marinate any cut of meat, there are some that will handle it better and get the maximum benefits. Generally, cuts that could use extra moisture, extra flavor or a little tenderizing will work well in a marinade. Also, cuts that don’t have skin or bones work best. The more surface area on the muscle to soak up the marinade, the better. When it comes to chicken, here is what will work best:
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- chicken tenders
- skinless chicken thighs (boneless or bone in are fine)
- chicken legs or wings – would recommend marinating at least 24 hours for the marinade to really work its way through the skin to the meat beneath.
Favorite Cooking Methods
With summer still upon us, I would suggest grilling is the best way to cook a good marinated piece of chicken. But searing the chicken in a skillet on the stovetop is your next best bet. Get the pan really hot to sear in the juices and then cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
What to Serve with Chicken
So many options here! While I have a huge list of side dishes in my recipe archive, here are a few of our family favorites:
- Baked Potatoes
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Creamy Potato Salad
- Caprese Salad
- Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
- Homemade Kettle Chips
- Wedge Salad
So there you have it! A delicious and simple Chicken Marinade that keeps your chicken moist and tender! Hope you love it as much and my family did. Have a great day, friends!
Best All Purpose Chicken Marinade
- 1 large, airtight container
- Place all dried seasoning and spices into the bottom of a large bowl or plastic container meant for marinating. Whisk in olive oil to create a paste, then whisk in water.
- Add in up to two pounds of chicken to marinate. Stir to coat well and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before cooking.
- Cook chicken as desired until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.