The 7 Best Chicken Marinades For Juicy Chicken



Tired of boring, bland, chewy chicken?  Adding a simple marinade to your chicken will easily enhance the flavor, juiciness, and tenderness of your chicken.  In this post, get my tips for how to marinate chicken plus grab my 7 favorite chicken marinade recipes.

Do you avoid chicken because it’s so boring, chewy, and bland?  If so, I have really good news for you.  The fix for this is to marinate your chicken.  Marinating chicken makes SUCH a difference for your tastebuds and for the texture and juiciness of the meat.  This means you won’t get tired of eating bland, boring ol’ chicken anymore, which will make it THAT much easier to stay on track with your healthy meal planning.  Woot!
While you could go and buy a pre-made marinade at the store, I highly recommend making your own homemade marinade using simple ingredients.  Sadly, many store-bought marinades are full of processed ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors.  BUT if you make your own marinade, you don’t have to worry about that.  You also can save a lot of money by making your own marinades.
In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know (and didn’t even know you needed to know!) about how to marinate chicken plus you can grab my 7 favorite chicken marinade recipes to add to your recipe box.

Tips For How To Marinate ChickenWhile making a successful marinade is a fairly simple process, here are some helpful tips on how to marinate chicken to have the best results.
Use a sealable plastic bag or large bowl with plastic wrap.  You want to seal in the juices and flavors as much as possible. As a general rule, I use a 1 quart sized bag when I’m marinating less than a pound of chicken, and it’s perfect.Marinate your food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.  This will help keep your food safe from food-borne illnesses.Keep marinating meat away from other foods in your fridge to avoid unsafe contamination of the raw meat.Use a combination of an acid, oil, and spices in your marinade.Make sure to discard the unused marinade once it’s time to cook the meat and don’t use it as a sauce unless you cook it first because it will contain raw chicken juices.For the best results, try to marinate the chicken the night before you cook it for the maximum flavor.If you can’t get to cooking your marinated chicken within two days, you can also freeze the meat in the marinade to be used later.  That’s a benefit of using the freezer ziplock bags – you can just toss them right into the freezer for later.  Then, when it’s time to cook, thaw the meat and cook.Okay, so now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s get to the chicken marinade recipes!

How Long To Marinate ChickenThe ideal amount of time to marinate chicken is approximately 4-6 hours, though it can vary depending on the size and cut of your chicken.  Since chicken is naturally a relatively tender protein, it’s not necessary to marinate long periods of time to break down tough muscle fibers, which would be the case for tougher meats, like beef.  That being said, marinating the chicken even a minimum of 30 minutes will allow for a lot of added flavor to the meat and will easily penetrate into the protein for enhanced juiciness.
Oftentimes, I marinate chicken the night before I plan to cook it, which works really well to grab and use the next day, rather than to wait an additional 30-60 minutes while preparing your meal.
Like I mentioned in the tips above, if you can’t get to cooking your marinated chicken within two days, however, you can also freeze the chicken in the marinade to be used later.  That’s a benefit of using the freezer safe bags to marinate because you can just toss them right into the freezer for later.  Then, when it’s time to cook, thaw the meat and cook.

How Long To Cook Chicken BreastA serving size of chicken is 3 ounces which is roughly the same size as the palm of your hand or a deck of playing cards.  Generally speaking, one chicken breast yields about two servings, but the size of chicken breasts can vary.  For the recipes in this post, I only have one chicken breast pictured, but the marinade is good for two chicken breasts (which is roughly equal to a half of a pound). For families looking to marinate chicken breasts (1 pound), you can easily double the recipes provided.
The cook time will vary slightly with the size of the chicken breast, but there are some basic guidelines you can follow.  The major point when cooking chicken is that it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that it is safe to eat.  We want it at 165 — no lower (eww) and, preferably, no higher so that it’s not dry and chewy. You’ll want to cook the chicken until the juices are clear when you cut into the thickest part of the breast.
On the Stovetop (Pan-Fried): Approximately 4-6 minutes per side when sautéing at medium-high.In the Oven (Baked): Approximately 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 18-20 at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.On the Grill: Approximately 4-6 minutes per side over direct heat, 10 to 12 minutes per side over indirect heat.If you don’t have a digital thermometer (LOVE), here are some tips for how to know when chicken is cooked.

Can You Marinate Chicken Too Long?Yes, it is possible to marinate chicken for too long, especially if your marinade contains an acidic ingredient, like lemon juice or vinegar.  When chicken is marinated too long, it can actually become tougher, which isn’t ideal.  Typically, you’ll want to keep your chicken marinating for no more than 2 days in the refrigerator to avoid marinating your chicken for too long.
If you can’t get to cooking your marinated chicken within those 2 days, you can freeze your chicken, in the marinade, and then thaw when you’re able to cook it right away.

How To Freeze Marinated ChickenTypically speaking, you’re going to want to cook your chicken within 2 days of marinating, preferably within 24 hours.  But, if you aren’t able to cook it within that timeframe, you can freeze your marinated chicken.  The easiest way to freeze the marinated chicken is to already have it marinating in a freezer-safe sealable bag or container.  For less than one pound of chicken, I use these quart size Ziploc bags and for anything larger, I use these gallon size Ziploc bags.  That way, I can just toss it in the freezer if I don’t get around to cooking it.
In fact, you can even freeze marinated chicken immediately upon making the marinade.  Then, allow it to thaw in the fridge for a day and it will marinate as it thaws.  Each of the recipes in this post work perfectly for freezing ahead of time.  These marinades will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If your chicken is already frozen and you plan to keep it frozen, don’t thaw it.  Instead, add the marinade to the frozen chicken and it will marinate as it thaws at a later date.

7 Easy Chicken Marinade RecipesOkay, now I hope to have you excited to marinate you chicken to have moist, flavorful, and super tender chicken!  To get you started, I’ve got 7 great chicken marinade recipes that i use all the time and absolutely love.  Below, you’ll find:
Jerk Chicken MarinadeCilantro Lime Chicken MarinadeLemon Pepper Chicken MarinadeChipotle Chicken MarinadeHoney Mustard Chicken MarinadeFajita Chicken MarinadeHoney Garlic Chicken MarinadeYou can either click on the recipe that sounds best to jump right to it or scroll through to get an idea of all the recipes.  Happy marinating!!
7 Best Chicken Marinades1. Jerk Chicken Marinade
This easy Jerk Chicken Marinade is Caribbean-inspired and full of spice and flavor.  A great side for this chicken would be these Baked Zucchini Fries.

Jerk Chicken Marinade

This easy jerk chicken marinade is Caribbean-inspired and full of spice and flavor.
1 tsp. dried thyme1/2 tsp. ground allspice1 1/2 tbsp. coconut sugar1/2 tsp. sea salt1/2 tsp. ground black pepper1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon1/4 tsp. cayenne2 tbsp. olive oil2 tbsp. lime juiceAdd the thyme, allspice, coconut sugar, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon, cayenne, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lime juice in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken to a 1 quart freezer-safe sealable bag, followed by the jerk spice marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the chicken to coat.
Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.Recipe makes enough marinade for 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 1/2 pound).  For 1 pound (approx. 4 breasts), you can double the recipe).
 
Nutrition facts are for marinade only and do not include chicken breast.

2. Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade
Make this Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade for an easy and flavorful marinade  Click here for the recipe.  This recipe would pair well with these Roasted Sweet Potatoes.
3. Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade
This easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade is made healthier without breading or butter, and has lemon zest for a delicious lemon flavor.  Pair this marinated chicken with this Lemon Snap Peas recipe for a light and refreshing dinner.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade

This easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade is made healthier without breading or butter, and has lemon zest for a delicious lemon flavor.
1 tbsp. lemon zest3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice2 garlic cloves, (minced)1 tbsp. black peppercorns (crushed)1/2 tsp. sea salt2 tbsp. olive oilAdd the lemon zest, freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, crushed black peppercorns, sea salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.Add the chicken to a freezer-safe ziplock bag, followed by the lemon pepper marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the chicken to coat.Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.Recipe makes enough marinade for 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 1/2 pound).  For 1 pound (approx. 4 breasts), you can double the recipe).
 
Nutrition facts are for marinade only and do not include chicken breast.

4. Chipotle Chicken Marinade
This Chipotle Chicken Marinade is perfectly spicy with lots of flavor.  Serve this recipe with these Sweet Potato Fries.

Chipotle Chicken Marinade

This Chipotle Chicken Marinade is perfectly spicy with lots of flavor.
2 tsp. adobo sauce ((from canned chipotle peppers))1/2 tsp. ground cumin1/2 tsp. onion powder1/2 tsp. garlic powder1/2 tsp. sea salt1/4 tsp. black pepper1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice2 tbsp. olive oilAdd the adobo sauce, ground cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, freshly squeezed lime juice, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.Add the chicken to a freezer-safe ziplock bag, followed by the chipotle marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the chicken to coat.Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.Recipe makes enough marinade for 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 1/2 pound). For 1 pound (approx. 4 breasts), you can double the recipe). Nutrition facts are for marinade only and do not include chicken breast.

5. Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade
Make this Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade for an easy and flavorful marinade  Click here for the recipe.  This marinated chicken goes great with these Parmesan Roasted Green Beans.
6. Fajita Chicken Marinade
This easy Fajita Chicken Marinade has tons of flavor and is perfect to make homemade fajita chicken.  This marinated chicken goes great with this Cilantro Lime Rice recipe.

Fajita Chicken Marinade

This easy Fajita Chicken Marinade has tons of flavor and is perfect to make homemade fajita chicken.
1/3 cup lime juice ((approx. 2-3 limes))1/4 cup pineapple juice ((no sugar added))2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce1 clove garlic, (minced)1 tsp. ground cumin1 tsp. paprika1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, (or more to taste)1 tsp. sea salt1/2 tsp. ground black pepper1/4 cup cilantro, (chopped)2 tbsp. olive oilAdd the freshly squeezed lime juice, pineapple juice, low sodium soy sauce, minced garlic, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, black pepper, chopped cilantro, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Add the chicken to a freezer-safe ziplock bag, followed by the fajita spice marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the chicken to coat.Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.Recipe makes enough marinade for 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 1/2 pound).  For 1 pound (approx. 4 breasts), you can double the recipe).
 
Nutrition facts are for marinade only and do not include chicken breast.

7. Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade
This super easy Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade requires only 4 ingredients for amazing honey garlic flavored chicken.  Make this chicken recipe with this Roasted Broccoli recipe for an easy, healthy, and delicious meal.

Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade

This super easy Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade requires only 4 ingredients for amazing honey garlic flavored chicken.
2 cloves garlic, (minced)1/4 cup raw honey2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce2 tbsp. olive oilAdd the minced garlic, raw honey, low sodium soy sauce, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.Add the chicken to a freezer-safe ziplock bag, followed by the honey garlic marinade. Press the air out of the bag and seal tightly, making sure to press the marinade around the chicken to coat.Place in the fridge to marinate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.Recipe makes enough marinade for 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. 1/2 pound). For 1 pound (approx. 4 breasts), you can double the recipe).
Nutrition facts are for marinade only and do not include chicken breast.

This post contains affiliate links for products I use regularly and highly recommend.
The post The 7 Best Chicken Marinades For Juicy Chicken appeared first on A Sweet Pea Chef.


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