10 Best Chicken Marinade Recipes to Grill, Smoke or Cook

If you are looking for chicken marinade recipes to cook in your favourite way, you are going to like this post.

Great chicken marinade recipes aren’t always easy to find, but when you find some good ones you really elevate those chicken dinners. Whether you like BBQ chicken marinades, Asian-inspired marinades, Mexican style marinades, Honey Mustard marinades, Indian, Italian or Greek style marinades, we have plenty of great options for you to try.

We’ve also tried our best to answer some of the most popular queries on the topic.

Best Chicken Marinade Recipes

Best Chicken Marinade Recipes to Grill, Smoke and Cook

Before we jump into the chicken marinade recipes themselves, let’s talk about how to go about marinating chicken along with some of our best tips and advice on the marinating process.

How to Marinate Chicken

Marinating chicken is a great way to add flavour and moisture to it.

The marinade can be made with a variety of ingredients, but some common ones include oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. The length of time you marinate the chicken will depend on the recipe, but generally speaking, 2-24 hours is a good range.

To marinate chicken, simply place the chicken in a shallow dish, bowl or resealable bag and pour the marinade over it, making sure the chicken is completely coated in the marinade. Then, cover the dish or bag and refrigerate for the amount of time

Once the chicken has marinated, remove it from the marinade and pat it dry with paper towels. Then, cook the chicken as desired. Marinated chicken can be grilled, baked, broiled, or pan-fried.

Here are some tips for awesome chicken marinade recipes:

  • Use a marinade that you like the flavor of. There are many different recipes available, so you can find one that suits your taste.
  • Don’t overmarinate the chicken. If you marinate the chicken for too long, the meat can become tough and dry.
  • Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Baste the chicken with the marinade while it cooks. This will help to keep the chicken moist and flavourful.
  • If you are using bone-in chicken, you may want to pound it out to an even thickness before marinating. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat more evenly.
  • If you are using a marinade that contains acidic ingredients, such as vinegar or citrus juice, don’t marinate the chicken for longer than 24 hours. The acid can start to break down the proteins in the meat, making for an unpleasant texture.
  • If you are marinating the chicken in a zip-top bag, be sure to press out as much air as possible before sealing the bag. This will help to prevent the marinade from leaking out, as well as making sure that it doesn’t take up too much space in the fridge.

How Long Should You Marinate Chicken?

You can marinade chicken for 2-24 hours to enhance flavour. Obviously the closer you get to 24 hours (ie overnight) the more flavour will be imparted to the chicken.

It’s really important not to leave chicken marinating for more than 24 hours because it can actually become too moist which can make it have a nasty, mushy kind of texture.

What are 3 Common Ingredients in a Marinade?

A marinade is a mixture of liquids, herbs, and spices used to flavour and also tenderise meat, poultry, fish, or vegetables before cooking. The 3 most common ingredients in a marinade are:

  • Oil: Oil helps to keep the meat moist and prevents it from drying out during cooking. It also helps to carry the flavours of the marinade throughout the meat.
  • Acid: Acid helps to tenderise meat by breaking down the proteins. It also adds flavour to the marinade and can include vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, and wine.
  • Seasonings: Seasonings obviously add flavour to the marinade and can include herbs and spices as well as garlic, onion or chilli.

Some additional popular choices for marinading include soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, mustard, and ketchup. Different cultures and cooking styles vary in terms of marinade ingredients, for example Asian marinades may include fish sauce, coriander, lime juice or soy souce, whereas Italian marinade ingredients might include locally sourced ingredients such as oregano, olive oil and sundried or San Marzano tomatoes.

Best Chicken Marinade Recipes
Marinade Recipes For Chicken

What are the Basics of Chicken Marinade?

A chicken marinade is a mixture of herbs, spices, oil, and other flavours that enhance chicken. You might find it useful to think of it as a sauce that infuses flavour into your meat. The three basic components of a marinade are an acid (e.g. apple cider vinegar), an oil (e.g. olive or garlic oil), and a flavouring agent, such as a herb e.g. tarragon or coriander.

The acid breaks down the proteins in the chicken, which allows the meat to absorb more flavour while retaining its natural juices. The oil helps to prevent moisture loss during cooking, and also helps to carry the flavor of the marinade throughout the chicken. The flavouring agent adds its own unique flavor to the chicken, and can be anything from herbs and spices to citrusy zest or juice and possibly some kind of vinegar.

The amount of time you marinate the chicken will depend on the thickness of the chicken and the intensity of flavour you desire. For thin chicken breasts, 30 minutes to an hour is usually enough time. For thicker cuts of chicken (e.g. a whole chicken), or if you want a more intense flavour, you can marinate for up to 24 hours.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, be sure to remove it from the marinade and pat it dry. This will help to prevent the marinade from burning when the chicken is cooked.

Here are some tips for making a great chicken marinade:

  • Use a variety of herbs and spices to create a complex taste.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavours.
  • Use a good quality oil, as in extra virgin olive oil or a decent rapeseed oil.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better – as in up to 24 hours
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat it dry before cooking

What are the 4 Things for a Marinade?

A marinade is a mixture of ingredients that is used to flavour and tenderise meat, poultry, or seafood. The four essential components of a marinade are:

  • An acid: Acids such as vinegar, citrus juice, or wine help to break down the proteins in meat, making it more tender. They also add flavour.
  • An oil: Oil helps to carry the flavours of the marinade into the meat. It also helps to keep the meat moist during cooking.
  • Seasonings: Seasonings such as garlic, herbs, and spices add extra flavour to the marinade. They can also help to tenderize the meat.
  • Time: The amount of time that meat marinates will affect the flavour and tenderness of the finished dish. Most marinades should be used within 24 hours, especially chicken which has a tendency to take on a mushy texture if in a marinade too long.

In addition to the four essential components, there are many other ingredients that can be added to a marinade. Some popular additions include:

  • Yogurt: Yogurt adds a tangy flavor to marinades and can also help to tenderise meat (it is often used in Greek or Indian style marinades).
  • Honey: Honey adds sweetness and depth of flavour to marinades.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce adds saltiness and umami flavor to marinades.
  • Worcestershire sauce: Worcestershire sauce adds a tangy, salty complex flavour to marinades.

The best way to choose ingredients for a marinade is to consider the type of meat, poultry, or seafood that you are using and the flavours that you enjoy. There are no hard and fast rules, so feel free to experiment until you find a marinade that you like.

Here are some additional tips for making marinades:

  • Use fresh ingredients whenever possible.
  • Don’t overcrowd the marinade.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator.
  • Turn the meat, poultry, or seafood occasionally while it is marinating.
  • Discard any leftover marinade after cooking.

The 4 main components of a marinade include an oil (e.g. olive oil), acid (e.g. vinegar or lemon juice), something salty or sweet (soy sauce) and seasonings (e.g. garlic or paprika).

Is it Better to Marinate Chicken in a Bag or Bowl?

The main advantages of marinating chicken in a resealable bag are that it’s one less thing to clean up (unlike a bowl you need to wash) and a bag allows for the chicken to be completely submerged. You can even fold the bag over to ensure more even coating of the chicken.

It’s absolutely fine to marinate chicken in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl, just makes sure you don’t marinate in cast iron or aluminium because reactive materials in these containers can produce unpleasant tastes in the chicken when they are combined with acid (a common ingredient in marinades).

Is it Better to Marinate or Season Chicken?

In general it’s best to marinate and season chicken for maximum flavour and impact. A good marinade usually involves seasonings to enhance flavour as well as tenderising the meat and helping to produce a moist and delicious final result.

Should you Marinate Chicken in the Fridge or on the Counter?

If you’re planning on a short marinade (2 hours or less) it’s fine to marinate on the counter instead of the fridge. If you want to marinade your chicken for up to 24 hours definitely put it in the fridge to stop it spoiling.

If it’s a hot day or your kitchen is particularly warm you will need to consider short marinading times if you are doing it on the counter. Usually it’s best to marinate chicken in the fridge and then take it out around 30 minutes before you plan to cook it.

Best Chicken Marinade Recipes Worth Trying

1 Chicken Tikka Kebab Marinade

This is one of our absolute favourite chicken marinade recipes. Grill it on the BBQ or cook it in the oven but expect awesome results!

  • 2 tbsps yoghurt
  • 1 clove grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 green finger chilli
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon for at least an hour – overnight if possible.
  • Optional – 1 tbsp Red Food Colouring – doesn’t affect taste but has become expected.

Cook on your BBQ grills at high heat until internal temperature reaches 165F (74C). Serve with salad, pitta bread, pilau rice or on fries!

Tandoori Chicken Mix Powder Recipe

A lot of Indian restaurants use a general mix powder which goes in many of the dishes they serve. You can keep the rest of the mix powder in a sealed container to use again and again.

– 1 tbsp curry powder (we used East End’s Madras powder)

– 1 tbsp smoked paprika

– 1 tbsp ground cumin

– 1 tbsp ground coriander

– 1 tsp Garam Masala

– 1 tbsp turmeric

Optional but tasty – 1 tbsp East End’s BBQ Tandoori Masala

You only need 1 tbsp for this recipe so keep in the cupboard for later awesome curries!

Below is a video from our Instagram account showcasing this delicious chicken tikka kebab marinade.

2 Chicken Shish Kebab Marinade

This Turkish style shish kebab is another great chicken marinade recipe and designed for barbecueing. Again you can cook it however you like.

Simply place the following ingredients in a bag or bowl and mariande for 2 hours up to maximum of 24 hours.

  • 200 ml natural yoghurt 
  • 6 boneless chicken thighs or 4 medium sized chicken breasts (thigh meat will be juicier and cost less, but it’s up to you)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of Extra Hot Chilli Powder (more or less depending on your chilli tolerance!)

3 BBQ Chicken Marinade

This delicious and easy BBQ chicken marinade comes from Delish.com, and it allows you to put your favourite BBQ sauce to good use.

Place the following ingredients in a bag or bowl and add your chicken.

  • 1 Cup of your favourite BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup of neutral oil e.g. canola or avocado oil
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 lbs of bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces

4 Italian Style Chicken Marinade

This Italian chicken marinade recipe comes from thewholecook.com and it’s really delicious, light and summery.

  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup or red (or white) wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of lemon juice

Simply place the ingredients and your chicken in a ziplock bag and marinate in the fridge.

5 Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe

This is another easy but delicious marinade that only has 6 ingredients and it comes from kalejunkie.com.

This makes for a zesty, tangy, garlicky chicken dish with a lovely, herby fragrance from the fresh thyme and a hint of heat from the mustard.

  • 1/4 Cup of Good Quality Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 2 Teaspoons of Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Teaspoon of Salt (or to taste)

6 Korean BBQ Chicken Wings Marinade

This deceptively delicious and simple Korean BBQ Sauce & Marinade is great fun and highly effective at flavouring chicken wings. It makes a great appetiser or side dish.

All the ingredients and measurements are in the video.

7 Mexican Style Chicken Marinade

This easy and effective Mexican style chicken marinade recipe comes from neighborfoodblog.com and it brings a delicious balance of flavours to a Mexican chicken dinner.

Use it for tacos, burritos, fajitas or in a delicious (burrito) bowl with rice.

You simply blend all the ingredients first and then marinade 2 lbs of chicken thighs in it.

  • 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice (about 2-3 squeezed limes)
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro (coriander)
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (Mexican oregano if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder

8 Honey Mustard Marinade for Chicken

Honey and mustard are a fantastic combination for sweet tanginess and these flavours are perfect for a marinade recipe. This a really classic and delicious marinade recipe from Kristineskitchenblog.com.

You simply whisk the ingredients together and then add them to 2 lbs of chicken thighs. Grill them, bake them, smoke them it’s entirely up to you!

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, or thighs

9 Chicken Souvlaki Marinade

This Greek street food dish has become very popular recently and it isn’t difficult to see why. It’s garlicky, herby and downright delicious. It really illustrates the best flavours of Mediterranean food.

  • 10 peeled garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp each Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup good quality (Greek) extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves

With the exception of the bay leaves, all the ingredients are blended first and then added to 2 lbs chicken pieces of your choice. The bay leaves are then placed into the marinade whole.

This delicious chicken dinner is then served with pitta bread and tzatziki.

10 4 Ingredient Japanese Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Teriyaki sauce might only have 4 ingredients but it is still unmistakably flavoursome. The balance of sweet, salty and umami flavours is a delight for the tastebuds.

This is another great example of best chicken marinade recipes and it comes from petersfoodadventures.com.

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup sake
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

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