5 Best Chicken Marinades made with simple ingredients and without a food processor. Say hello to juicy, tender and flavorful chicken recipes!

Five containers with chicken breasts marinated in various chicken marinades.

Let me present you 5 best chicken marinades you will use over and over again. So, bookmark the page! Whether for quick dinner, meal prep or a Saturday night party, one of these delicious marinades for chicken is guaranteed to work for you.

All these tasty chicken marinade recipes are made with simple ingredients. Then you can grill, bake, pan fry or even air fry the chicken.

I also include tips on how long to marinate, what cuts of chicken to use, best dish to marinate in and how to freeze marinated chicken.

Now please enjoy this collection of the best chicken marinades on the web!

How to Marinate Chicken

Here is a quick overview how to marinate chicken.

You can marinate any chicken pieces like boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Also bone-in pieces like chicken wings, chicken drumsticks and even cut up whole chicken.

Lemon rosemary chicken breast marinated in a bowl.
  • Pick the best dish to marinate in: Pick large baking dish, bowl, container with a lid or reusable silicone bags, so chicken is submerged in a marinade and lays flat. It ensures the most flavor in every bite.
  • Prepare the chicken marinade: To make marinade, just whisk all ingredients in a small bowl or right in the dish you will be marinating chicken in.
  • Prepare the chicken: Pierce chicken pieces, especially with the skin on, with a knife or fork before marinating for deeper infusion with the flavor. This step is optional but I find it helps.
  • Marinate chicken for up to a day: Ideal chicken marinating time is anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours, depending on your schedule.

Recipe Tip

You do not want to marinate chicken longer than 24 hours. It is because a chicken marinade usually contains some type of ingredient that has acid. Which breaks down the fibers in the meat resulting in a mushy chicken.

5 Best Chicken Marinades

Please note that each of these chicken marinades is enough for 2 pounds of chicken, which is about 4-5 large chicken breasts. You can double or triple the recipe, if needed. Also full recipe card is located below.

Fajita Chicken Marinade

Fajita Chicken Marinade is a Tex Mex marinade made with simple pantry staples. It’s perfect for when your fridge is empty. Everyone loves it and you can control amount of heat.

Serve with other traditional fajita ingredients like sauteed white onions or yellow onions, green and colourful bell peppers, pico de gallo and tortillas.

Chicken breasts on a plate, olive oil, maple syrup, lime, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
Chicken breasts in fajita chicken marinade in black container.

Greek Chicken Marinade

Greek Chicken Marinade brings pricey Greek restaurant into your kitchen – absolutely delicious and easy! All you need is lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and pantry dried herbs.

Serve with a side of Instant Pot quinoa or Instant Pot brown rice and traditional Greek salad.

Chicken breasts on a plate, olive oil, lemon, oregano, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes.
Chicken breasts in greek chicken marinade in black container.

Lemon Chicken Marinade

Lemon Chicken Marinade is universal and versatile king of all marinades. Basic, lemon-y and extra easy.

I use it to make grilled chicken breast that goes with everything! I like to serve it with wilted spinach salad or use in chicken salad recipe.

Chicken breasts on a plate, lemon, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
Chicken breasts in lemon chicken marinade in black container.

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade is inspired by my teriyaki chicken and cauliflower made with fridge and pantry staples. It’s flavorful, pungent and rich with a hint of fresh ginger and garlic.

Slice chicken breast and serve with rice and a simple broccoli side dish like sauteed broccoli or air fryer broccoli.

Chicken breasts on a plate, maple syrup, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar.
Chicken breasts in teriyaki chicken marinade in black container.

Ranch Chicken Marinade

Ranch Chicken Marinade made with healthy ranch dressing and without a packet of dry ranch mix but rather we are marinating chicken in yogurt or buttermilk. Unlike vinegar and citrus juice, yogurt has fat to help prevent chicken from dehydrating. Making it a good “for tomorrow” marinade.

Serve with a simple salad like spring mix salad or oven roasted asparagus.

Chicken breasts, yogurt, garlic, olive oil, onion powder, salt and pepper.
Chicken breasts in ranch chicken marinade in black container.

How Long Can You Marinate Chicken?

How long can you marinate chicken is a very valid question. There is such thing as marinating chicken for too little or too long. I recommend to marinate chicken in any of these chicken marinades anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours.

It is not recommended to marinate chicken for longer than 24 hours. And the reason is because chicken marinade active ingredient is acid which starts to break meat submerged into marinade immediately. Your marinated chicken for 2 days will end up with unpleasant texture and flavor.

How to Cook Marinated Chicken

You can bake, grill, pressure cook, slow cook or fry marinated chicken. Here are basic chicken recipes with instructions how to cook boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs using most popular cooking methods:

More FAQs

How much marinade do I need per 1 pound of chicken?

Amount of any chicken marinade listed in this post is enough to marinate up to 2 pounds of chicken well. Roughly, you need about 3 tablespoons of marinade per 1 pound of chicken without wasting extra.

Is marinating for 2 hours enough?

Yes. Marinating your chicken with any of these chicken marinades is enough for 2 hours because they are very flavorful and pungent. To speed up marinating process, punch your meat randomly with a fork before submerging into a marinade.

What happens if we marinate chicken too long?

If you marinate chicken too long, it starts to break down and results in mushy chicken. If “oops” happened and you didn’t have time to cook chicken after 24 hours, remove meat from its marinade, wipe excess, transfer to another container and refrigerate for up to another 24 hours.

Can you reuse chicken marinade?

No. It is not recommended to reuse chicken marinade for marinating next batch of chicken for food safety reasons. Used marinade contains harmful bacteria and should be discarded. If you are basting with marinade during cooking, stop doing so well before chicken is ready to allow marinade to cook fully.

Can I marinate frozen chicken?

Yes. Just combine frozen chicken pieces with chicken marinade and refrigerate. No need to thaw your chicken first.

How to freeze marinated chicken?

Place your pieces of chicken into a freezer bag or glass container with a tight lid, add marinade and swoosh chicken around (with excess air removed if necessary). You can freeze marinated chicken right away for up to 3 months. And no need to let your chicken marinate before freezing.
When ready to cook, thaw chicken in the fridge overnight or for 24 hours and cook as per recipe.

More Easy Chicken Recipes

You may also enjoy browsing all my grilling recipes or chicken recipes!

Five containers with chicken breasts marinated in various chicken marinades.

5 Best Chicken Marinades

5 Best Chicken Marinades made with simple ingredients and without a food processor. Say hello to juicy and flavorful chicken recipes!
4.97 from 31 votes
Servings 4
Calories 402
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 5 minutes
Marinating Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

Fajita Chicken Marinade

Greek Chicken Marinade

Lemon Chicken Marinade

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Ranch Chicken Marinade

Instructions 

  • Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir.
  • Pick flat container, baking dish or reusable silicone bag so chicken can lay flat for maximum flavor penetration.
  • Place chicken in a container, pour marinade over and mix to coat well.
  • Marinating time is anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. Longer marinating time means more flavor but I wouldn't marinate past 24 hours because acid will cause flesh to break down.
  • When ready to cook, remove chicken from marinade and cook as per recipes.

Video

Notes

  • How much chicken? Amount of any marinade is enough to marinade up to 2 lbs of chicken well.
  • Past 24 hours: If meat is done marianting but you are not ready to cook, remove it from marinade, wipe off any excess and refrigerate in a container for another 24 hours.
  • Freezing: You can freeze marinated chicken with excess air removed from the container for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, thaw in the fridge for 24 hours and cook as per recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup (nutritional info for Fajita chicken marinade | Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 1260mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 25g
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: North American
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

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About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have done both the teriyaki and the fajita marinade. I love both of them, and they are so simple. I personally like to double the recipe for the amount of chicken I use though. Otherwise I follow the recipes exactly.πŸ˜‹

  2. Hi Olena, thank you for all these trustworthy recipes! I have mixed the ranch marinade in a bag with chicken but I’m not sure how to cook it? If I put it in the pressure cooker I will lose much of the yogurt dressing. Is this one better dropped into a frying pan? Thank you!

    1. Thank you again for the kind words! You should remove the chicken from the marinade before cooking (no matter the method). If you are worried the the Instant Pot might steam it too much, frying or even using oven baked chicken breast method would work. Definitely keep us updated!

      1. 5 stars
        Olena thanks for your quick reply. I didn’t realise meat should be removed from marinade before cooking- that makes sense! So I did the ranch chicken pressure cooked in the ninja. It didn’t look beautiful but it tasted SO GOOD! Even my fussy 3 year old asked for seconds! It will be going on the regular rotation. Looking forward to trying the other marinades. Much love to you and thanks again.

  3. 5 stars
    Love the Ranch & Lemon Chicken Marinades!! Making the Greek Marinade today for lunch/dinner… chicken breasts are in the fridge marinating now!
    Thanks for some of the most delicious & healthy recipes I’ve tried thus far! Love your site – STILL!!

      1. 5 stars
        Love the Greek Marinade I made yesterday… flavor in the chicken was really good. I made a Greek Pasta Salad to go along with it. Hubby enjoyed it very much – as did I. Thank you for all you do to make such healthy & wonderful recipes!
        I can’t tell you enough just how much I love your recipes which I’ve tried more than once I might add!! And, the funny thing is I never get tired of using the same ones over… they’re that good.
        May God continue to bless you & your family!

        1. Thank you so much for your kind words and amazing feedback Tricia! I love that you are enjoying my recipes. Made my day πŸ™‚

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