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Best Chicken Marinade Recipes

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Chicken Marinade recipes are so easy to make and take no time at all. Whether they’re sweet and sour, glazed and sticky, or have a creamy citrus tang there are so many ways to flavor and serve a chicken breast.

As healthy as they are, chicken breasts are almost tasteless without a little help on the flavor side. That is why I have put together a list of delicious marinades to not only add flavor but also create the perfect tender chicken.

You can serve these marinated recipes with a side of roasted veggies and rice, add them to a pasta dish, grill it on the barbecue, added to a sheet pan dinner, or even air fry them.

Various chicken marinades with raw chicken breast inside each bag all stacked beside each other on the counter.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Best Chicken Marinade

Marinated chicken is very easy to make! They can be added to your chicken 30 minutes before cooking, marinated in the fridge overnight, or you can add the raw chicken soaked in marinade straight to the freezer for future meals!

Why should you marinate your chicken? Because let’s face it, there is just no flavor in a chicken breast without a little help. That’s why I love marinades so much. Homemade versions are so easy to make, they use better quality ingredients (less salt, less sugar, fewer preservatives) and can be used in a variety of cooking techniques. With marinated chicken recipes, you can bake them, stir fry, air fry or grill them!

  • LOADED WITH FLAVOR – There are so many wonderful flavors in these recipes. From honey mustard, fajita (great for sheet pan fajitas), cilantro lime, barbecue, pineapple, lemon garlic, basil balsamic, and ginger garlic, you’ll be covered for lots of variety!
  • CHEAP TO MAKE – All of these ingredients are fresh and inexpensive. Making your own marinades is much more affordable!
  • HEALTHY – No unwanted preservatives, and you can control the amount of salt and sugar you want to add, these are definitely healthier than store-bought versions!

We are BIG fans of marinades around here! If you love them as much as we do then check out our salmon marinades, the quick and easy pork chop marinades, our popular and simple tofu marinades, and the latest recipe is our shrimp marinades. Marinades can also be used to make a marinated vegetable salad!

A white bowl with chopped cilantro and various yellow ingredients and a whisk. Second image is a bag with raw chicken breast covered in the yellow marinade sauce with chopped cilantro.

What Do You Put In A Chicken Marinade?

A marinade should always consist of three things, an acidic ingredient (like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar), a healthy fat (like olive oil or avocado oil), and either sweetness (think honey or sugar) or salt.

Seasonings should also be added. These will take a marinade to the next level and are an important ingredient not to be missed! This can be achieved through herbs, spices, and sauces.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

What Makes A Good Marinade?

All four components are necessary for a good marinade: something acidic, a fat, sugar and/or salt, and some seasonings.

The acidic ingredient will help to weaken the proteins in the chicken allowing for better absorption of flavor. Some examples of acidic liquids can be citrus (fresh lemon juice or orange juice), vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar), white wine, buttermilk, or pineapple juice.

A fat will help to moisten the chicken and enhance flavor. Olive oil, avocado oil, coconut milk, regular milk and yogurt can be used as a fat ingredient.

But the seasonings are what will add the flavor! Good quality salt (I prefer sea salt), fresh herbs or dried herbs, sugar (honey, cane sugar, coconut sugar etc.), soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, fresh garlic (or garlic powder), and even minced onions will all add flavor to the marinated chicken.

8 raw chicken breasts in ziploc bags with marinade in each. Flavors include honey mustard, cilantro lime, ginger garlic, pineapple, fajita, lemon garlic, basil balsamic, and barbecue.

8 Chicken Breast Marinade Recipes

Now let’s go over 8 easy marinade recipes for you to try! For each of these recipes, you can use 4-6 chicken breasts, depending on how big each boneless skinless chicken breast is.

Each marinade has an acidic ingredient, a fat ingredient, and seasonings! They will add flavor and moisture to your chicken. These easy recipes are great for freezing with your raw chicken which makes them perfect for pre-planned meals.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Here’s an overview of what you’ll need with full details in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

1. BARBECUE CHICKEN MARINADE – ¼ cup barbecue sauce, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ½ Tbsp chili powder.

2. TERIYAKI CHICKEN MARINADE – ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ honey, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp flour, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground black pepper. This has a similar flavor to our soy sauce slow cooker chicken.

3. BASIL BALSAMIC CHICKEN MARINADE – ¼ extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp dried basil, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp ground black pepper.

4. HAWAIIAN CHICKEN MARINADE – ½ cup pineapple juice, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground black pepper. This one can be served similarly to our pineapple chicken with rice.

5. CILANTRO LIME CHICKEN MARINADE – ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup lime juice, 4 Tbsp lime zest, ¼ cup minced cilantro, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground black pepper.

6. FAJITA MARINADE – ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup honey, ¼ cup lime juice, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp paprika, and ¼ tsp cumin. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.

7. LEMON GARLIC MARINADE – ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, 4 Tbsp lemon zest, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground black pepper.

8. HONEY MUSTARD – ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup honey, 2 Tbsp dijon mustard, 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, and ½ tsp ground black pepper.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Four images grouped together. First is bowl with various marinade ingredients and spatula. Second is a whisk and brown liquid. Third is a glass bowl with three raw chicken breasts. Four this marinade poured overtop of raw chicken breasts in bowl.

How To Make Chicken Marinade Recipes

Here’s how to make each marinade, with more details in the recipe card at the bottom.

  1. Add the chicken breast and all marinade ingredients into an airtight container or a freezer bag. Remove all excess air and seal tightly. Store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but preferably longer. I like to marinate for at least 3 hours minimum or overnight.
  2. To freeze these recipes, write the name and date on the front of the bag. These can be frozen up to 3 months with raw chicken. When you’re ready to use, let defrost overnight in the fridge. You can place in a bowl of cold water (in the fridge) to help speed up the defrosting.
  3. Discard the excess marinade and cook chicken breast. You can bake them in the oven, use an air fryer, add them to a stir fry recipe, make pan-fried chicken tenders, or grilled chicken on the barbecue.

Pro Tip: If you’re buying a bulk package of chicken, you’ll have to freeze the chicken in smaller amounts no matter what. So I like to use this time to marinate my chicken! I’ll put out multiple freezer bags to divide the chicken up, then place the marinade ingredients inside and seal. Then I just pop it into the fridge or freezer depending on when I’ll be using the chicken.

How Long To Marinate Chicken

Marinating chicken time can vary depending on how many pieces. For better chicken marinade flavor, let them soak longer. I also recommend rotating the chicken halfway through the marinating process to ensure even soaking.

  • 30 MINUTES: This is the minimum time required to add flavor to the chicken. If you’re in a hurry or forgot to do it in advance, then you can let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes.
  • 3 HOURS: I prefer to marinate my chicken for at least 3 hours for more flavor. The longer you marinate, the more flavors will absorb into the chicken.
  • 3 MONTHS: You can add the raw chicken and chicken marinade to a Ziploc freezer bag, seal tightly removing any excess air, and store in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Storing Marinated Chicken

FRIDGE: Place the marinade with raw chicken in an airtight container. Refrigerate chicken for 3 to 24 hours. The longer you let the chicken soak, the more flavor there will be. After 1-2 days, the marinade should be discarded if not already used.

Four images grouped together, First is raw chicken breast in ziploc bag with a stand holding it up. Second is looking down into the bag. Third is marinade ingredients dumped in. Fourth is side angle of chicken with marinade in plastic bag with green stand.

FREEZE MARINATED CHICKEN: You can easily freeze chicken with the marinade ingredients. Just add everything to a good-quality freezer bag (I find that Ziploc works best).

When adding ingredients to your freezer bags, I like to use these handy clips that will help your bag stand up and avoid spilling. Remove as much air as possible and seal tightly. Lay flat in the freezer and these can be stored for up to 3-4 months for the best freshness.

DEFROSTING TIPS: I always take out my chicken the night before I’m ready to cook it and place it in a bowl of shallow water in the fridge. This will help to speed up the defrost process.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

8 baked chicken breasts with various seasonings on top of each all sitting on a baking sheet.

How To Cook Chicken Marinades

You can use your marinade chicken for a variety of meals! I’ve used mine in my slow cooker, baked using the sheet pan method, Barbequed, or pan-fried.

Cooking Chicken Breast In Frying Pan

  1. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat with cooking oil. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken breast and marinade.
  2. Cook for 3-4 minutes then flip over for another 3-5 minutes, or until fully cooked.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Two images, first is four lemon garlic marinted chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Second is baked chicken on baking sheet.

Baking Chicken Breast In The Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place chicken breast on the baking sheet.
  2. Bake boneless chicken breast for 20-25 minutes, or until fully cooked. No need to flip or cover the chicken when baking.
  3. If you have a large chicken breast it will take longer, this is why I like to use the meat thermometer.

Grilled Chicken On The Barbecue

  1. Heat barbecue to medium heat, and place chicken on the grill.
  2. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, then flip.
  3. Pour extra marinade over top and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

Two images, first is looking down inside air fryer with three soy sauce chicken breasts. Second is three baked chicken breasts on white plate, one is sliced into pieces.

Air Frying Chicken Breast

I love my air fryer! In the past, I’ve shared recipes for air fryer chicken drumsticks and air fryer salt and pepper wings. Here are the instructions for cooking chicken breast in the air fryer.

  1. Lightly coat the inside of the air fryer tray or basket with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat the air fryer at 380°F for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes, then flip them over and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, or until fully cooked.

I have the Ninja Foodi Deluxe air fryer – it’s an all-in-one that allows me to use it as an air fryer, instant pot, and slow cooker. It’s big enough that I can cook an entire meal in it all at once, which saves time and it’s basically my favorite tool in the kitchen.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

How Do You Know When Chicken Is Cooked?

Visually, you’ll be able to tell when the chicken is cooked by the color. Raw chicken is translucent and pink and cooked chicken will turn white and opaque.

According to the USDA recommended cooking temperatures, the safest internal temperature for cooking all types of poultry products is 165°F. 

This is the interior temperature that the meat will read once removed from the heat source. You can use a meat thermometer, which will be poked into the thickest part of the meat to read the temperature.

A full list of chicken marinades in ziploc bags, each with title and ingredients list written beside each one. The title "the best chicken marinade recipes" at the top.

Common Questions

Do You Marinate Chicken Before Cooking?

Yes, you must marinate the raw chicken to get the best flavor. Cooked chicken will not absorb the marinade properly.

Can I marinate frozen chicken?

Yes, you can add the frozen chicken straight to the marinade and let it defrost fully in the fridge before cooking. This can take up to 24 hours, first to allow the chicken to thaw, and then to absorb the marinade flavors.

Do I Have To Use Chicken Breast? Can I Use Different Chicken Cuts For Marinade?

Yes! These chicken marinades can be used with any chicken cut including baked chicken legs, wings, chicken thighs, chicken tenders, and bone-in chicken breast. However, different chicken cuts will require different cook times.

Is It Safe To Marinade Raw Chicken Overnight?

The USDA food safety information suggests that you can keep the raw marinating chicken in the fridge for up to 2 days. Any longer and it should be frozen instead

Can I reuse the marinade?

Since the marinade has been in contact with raw chicken, it’s not safe to reuse it – so always make a fresh marinade for the next batch.

**Get My FREE Chicken Marinade Guide: All six healthy marinades in one easy-to-print format – Sign Up Here To Get It

More Marinade Recipes

I love how marinades make dinner so much easier. They freeze well and add so much flavor to enhance your dish. Here are a few recipes I use all the time.

8 different chicken marinades with a raw chicken breast in each. All wrapped in plastic ziploc bags and stacked together.

Best Chicken Marinade Recipes

These 8 chicken marinades are very easy to make! They can be added to your chicken 30 minutes before cooking, marinated in the fridge overnight, or you can add the raw chicken soaked in marinade straight to the freezer for future meals!
4.14 from 104 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Marinating Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 chicken breasts

Ingredients

Barbecue Chicken Marinade

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Basil Balsamic Chicken Marinade

Pineapple Chicken Marinade

Cilantro and Lime Chicken Marinade

Fajita Chicken Marinade

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade

Instructions

Instructions For All Chicken Marinades

  • Mix together the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chicken to a large bowl.
    Pour the marinade on top and toss to coat. Seal with a lid, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes minimum, up to 12 hours.
    Four images grouped together. First is bowl with various marinade ingredients and spatula. Second is a whisk and brown liquid. Third is a glass bowl with three raw chicken breasts. Four this marinade poured overtop of raw chicken breasts in bowl.
  • Rotate the chicken halfway through marinating time. Remove chicken and discard the leftover marinade.
  • Proceed to cooking – these can be baked in the oven, grilled on the barbecue, stir fried or air fried.

Instructions For Freezing Chicken With Marinade

  • Add the chicken to a large freezer bag. Mix together the marinade ingredeints in a bowl, then pour into the bag.
    Remove excess air and seal the bag tightly. These can be frozen up to 3 months for best freshness.
    Four images grouped together, First is raw chicken breast in ziploc bag with a stand holding it up. Second is looking down into the bag. Third is marinade ingredients dumped in. Fourth is side angle of chicken with marinade in plastic bag with green stand.

Recipe Notes:

  • PREPACKED MEAL When I purchase chicken breasts, I like to buy them in bulk. This means that when I get home, I need to portion them out for freezing. This is a perfect time to whip up a few marinades so I can freeze them in the same bags as the portioned chicken breasts.
  • MARINATING TIME Ideally, you want to give the marinade about 12 hours to penetrate the chicken with flavor. But a quick 30-minute marinade also works. 
  • DON’T REUSE Because the marinade will come into contact with raw chicken, it can only be used once. Make another batch for future meals.
  • DEFROSTING Remove the chicken from the freezer the night before cooking and let it thaw in the fridge. In a pinch, you can put the frozen chicken into a bowl of water to speed up the thawing process.
  • STORAGE TIPS Zip-lock freezer bags work great for these types of meals. You can force out most of the air before sealing to keep it longer without freezer burn. Alternatively, if you want to store it in the fridge, you can use a sealed container and marinate it for up to two days.

The nutritional information provided is an estimate and is per serving.

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