The Best Chicken Marinade
This is the best Chicken Marinade for perfect juicy, flavorsome chicken breasts and any grilling recipe!
Plus, this marinade is ready in 10 minutes and perfect to marinade any chicken pieces for oven-roasted, BBQ chicken, and more!
There’s no secret, marinades are the single most important recipes to turn any meat into a meal.
My two favorite lemon juice-based marinades are the Greek Chicken Marinade and Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade.
The similarity between these chicken marinades is the lemon which adds a tangy flavor, sweetness, and softens the meat.
Why Is It The Best Chicken Marinade?
Today, I want to share something new, a honey balsamic chicken marinade.
This is the best Chicken Marinade recipe and it contains two sweet ingredients that glaze the chicken.
It gives a lovely shiny color to the meat and sweet flavors to the chicken pieces.
It will turn any chicken piece into delicious juicy, glazed meat that marries so well with roasted vegetables.
How To Make The Best Chicken Marinade
This is, in my opinion, the best marinade for chicken for two reasons. One, it turns any chicken into an irresistible juicy sweet piece of meat that even kids love.
Second, this marinade suits any chicken cooking mode. Whether you plan to roast, grill on the barbecue, or air fry your meat, this marinade is perfect for any occasion.
Plus, you can also use it on any chicken piece: chicken breast, whole chicken, chicken tenders, or chicken wings.
All you need to marinate the chicken are a few simple pantry basics. Like any marinade, you will need oil and an acidic ingredient that tenderizes the meat.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Or avocado oil for a healthy boost of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Soy Sauce – Or tamari sauce if gluten-free. Feel free to use low-sodium soy sauce if you watch your sodium intake.
- Balsamic Vinegar – This is the secret ingredient that glazes your chicken, adds a sweet and sour note to the meat, and brings a lovely color.
- Worcestershire Sauce – This adds some apple notes to the meat.
- Dijon Mustard – or honey mustard.
- Garlic Cloves or garlic powder.
- Honey or brown sugar. Both options work very well. I love the mix of honey and balsamic vinegar way more than brown sugar. Plus, honey has antioxidant properties, and is better for regulating blood sugar levels than brown sugar.
- Black Pepper or Spices such as red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin, or smoked paprika.
- Sea Salt
- Herbs such as cilantro, oregano, or basil
- Chicken Breast or tenderloins, or bone-in chicken drumsticks
Preparing The Chicken Marinade
To make the marinade, simply bring all the chicken marinade ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and give a quick stir to combine the olive oil and vinegar in an emulsion.
Place the marinade into a zip-lock bag, freezer bag, or in a large 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.
If your chicken breasts are thick, I highly recommend beating the meat with a meat tenderizer or a flat tool. This is crucial to tenderize the meat before marinating.
Place the chicken breast into the zip-lock bag, close it tightly, and massage the chicken with the marinade.
If you don’t have zip-lock bags, place the chicken on a single layer in the baking dish. Cover it with marinade and seal the dish with plastic wrap.
Finally, place the bag or dish in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. The perfect time is 6 hours.
Cooking The Chicken
Remove the chicken from the zip-lock bag and discard the bag with the marinade inside. Marinades are not safe to be eaten. It’s essentially as unsafe as eating raw meat.
So you can’t reuse a marinade or use it raw. Discard what’s left.
You can cook this recipe with many cooking methods, so it’s perfect for meal prep!
- Baking In The Oven – This gives the best ratio of taste to cleaning effort.
- Grilling On The BBQ – Grilling marinated chicken on the barbecue is the best for taste, but the marinade might make a bit of a mess.
- Air Frying -Air Frying is the quickest, but takes the most effort to clear afterwards.
- Cooking On A Skillet – You can cook marinated chicken in the skillet, but it won’t be as flavorsome as the other options.
Let’s see them in details below!
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Slightly oil a large baking sheet or dish with avocado oil. It has a higher smoke point than olive oil.
Therefore, avocado oil is the best choice to cook chicken in the oven.
Place the marinated chicken breasts on the baking sheet. Make sure they don’t touch each other or overlap.
Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
The best way to ensure the meat is at the right temperature is to use a meat thermometer.
Air Frying Chicken
Cover the air fryer basket with foil or parchment paper so the chicken doesn’t stick to the basket.
Slightly oil the paper or foil, and place the marinated chicken breasts or thighs in the air fryer, leaving some space between each.
Air fry at 350°F (180°C) for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165°F (74°C).
You can use this easy chicken marinade for BBQ chicken thighs. It makes the best juicy glazed chicken.
Warm the BBQ to the highest temperature and clean and oil the grates with avocado oil.
Place the meat on the grates, cover it with foil or close the lid of the BBQ, and cook for 5 minutes.
Check the internal meat temperature on the thickest part using a meat thermometer. When the grilled chicken reaches 165°F (74°C), it’s cooked through.
Place the meat on a serving dish and cover it with foil for a few minutes to give it time to release its juice and tenderize.
Below are some allergy substitutions to use in this recipe if needed.
- Balsamic Vinegar – You can replace the balsamic vinegar with lemon juice, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar to keep the sweet and sour flavors.
- Honey – Maple syrup or brown sugar also works.
- Sugar-Free – Swap the sugar for your favorite natural sugar-free sweeteners like brown erythritol or sugar-free maple syrup. Replace the balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar to avoid the sugar of the balsamic.
You can store the marinated chicken in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
Cooked chicken breast leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
This chicken marinade is perfect for grilling, roasting, or air-frying chicken.
Therefore, this chicken recipe goes well with a side dish that contains sauce like some of the vegetable casseroles below.
Or, you can use this chicken on top of salads.
- Cobb Salad
- Spinach Bacon Salad
- Cottage Cheese Salad for a high-protein meal
- Deviled Egg Salad
- Cucumber Yogurt Salad
- Asian Cucumber Salad
- Smoked Cauliflower
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Oven-Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Serve this chicken with sauce or on top of creamy pasta sauce dishes like:
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are your most common questions answered.
To make your chicken breast ultra-tender, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda around the breast.
Place the chicken breast on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before marinating it.
After that, rinse the meat under cold water, pat dry with absorbent paper, and marinade the chicken.
Chicken can stay for up to 24 hours in the marinade.
After that, the marinade breaks the meat’s texture, making the chicken pulpy and squishy. So don’t marinade the chicken for too long, or the meat won’t taste good.
The ideal time is 6 hours.
Yes, you can freeze the chicken in its marinade. To do so, squeeze out all the air from the bag before freezing. Thaw it in the fridge the day before.
The chicken will stay in the freezer for up to one month, making it perfect for meal-prepping healthy dinners on busy weeks.
This is an all-purpose chicken marinade, meaning you can use it as a grilled, oven-baked, fried, air-fried, or pan-fried chicken marinade.
A marinade must contain three base ingredients: an acidic ingredient, an oil, and flavors.
The acidic ingredient in this Chicken Marinade is the balsamic vinegar, the oil comes from the olive oil, and the flavors come from all the other ingredients.
More Chicken Recipes
Below are some more easy chicken recipes for you to try:
More Marinade Recipes
If you love marinating meat, vegetables, or plant-based proteins, try some of these other marinade recipes.
Have you tried this chicken marinade recipe? Share a comment or review below.
Want My Kitchen Equipment?
- ⅓ cup Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
- 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar or sugar-free brown erythritol
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 4 Fresh Garlic Cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 2 pounds Chicken Breast equivalent 6 large chicken breast fillet
- Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl until well combined.
- Place the chicken breast fillets on a chopping board and use a meat tenderizer to pound the meat. Set it aside.
- Place the chicken breast fillet in a large zip-lock bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag tightly, and massage the meat to cover it with the marinade.
- Refrigerate for 6 hours. You must marinade for at least 30 minutes and no more than 24 hours.
- Remove the chicken breast from the marinade and remove excess marinade on the breast. I like to pat mine with a piece of absorbent paper. Discard the marinade.
- Warm avocado oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken breast on both sides until the internal meat temperature reaches 160°F-165°F (72°C – 74°C).
- Remove the meat from the skillet, place it on a plate, and cover it with foil. Wait for 2 minutes to let the meat soften. This makes the breast ultra-tender and juicy.
- Use the chicken on top of a salad or as a side to grilled vegetables.
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