6 Simple Chicken Marinades


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Simply put, using a chicken marinade is one of the best ways to give your favorite protein some big flavor and maximum juiciness. From a bright Greek lemon marinade, to punchy honey mustard, and everything in between – here’s what you need to know about making (and using) the best chicken marinades!

Chicken marinades in bags with a sharpie

Flavorful Chicken Marinade Recipes

While I’m all for dry rubs for a savory top coat (like my herb baked chicken or crispy baked chicken thighs), chicken marinades have their own benefits. They’re great for locking in your favorite flavors, tenderizing the meat, and keeping it ultra juicy as it cooks. That’s especially important for when you’re cooking up chicken breasts – because we all know how easily they can dry out!

In addition to chicken breasts, these marinades can be used for chicken thighs (my favorite), or even chicken drumsticks, depending on what type of meal you’re prepping for the week. So if you need some fresh dinner ideas, keep reading for examples on how to pair each chicken flavor with side dishes and other ingredients.

Raw chicken breasts on a plate for chicken marinades.

How To Marinate Chicken

Before we start the marinade process, you have a choice of marinating the chicken breasts in a large bowl or large sealable bag. I personally like to use Stasher Bags to save room in the freezer or fridge. But if you choose to use a bowl, just make sure it’s big enough so that the chicken breasts are fully immersed in the marinade.

  • Make the marinade. Choose a chicken marinade flavor and place all ingredients (minus the chicken breast) into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Prep the chicken. Place chicken breasts into a bag. Then pour all of the marinade into the bag. Seal the bag, then give it a good squish to make sure the chicken is fully coated.
  • Let the marinating process begin! Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours (though you can go up to 24 hours).

Pro Tip: You want to marinate chicken between 2 to 24 hours, and never for more than a day. The reason being is that marinades typically have an acidic ingredient to help tenderize the meat. But it can give chicken a mushy texture when exposed for too long.

6 chicken marinades in Stasher bags

6 Best Chicken Marinades

Note that these marinades are meant for 1 pound of chicken (which is about 2 to 3 chicken breasts). So if you’re marinating more than that, you can double the recipe. To get started – grab a small mixing bowl, whisk, and let’s get into it.

Ingredients for Greek lemon chicken marinade on a table

Greek Lemon Chicken Marinade

If you love bright and fresh Mediterranean flavors, you’ll fall head over heels for this one. It’s loaded with fresh lemon juice, lots of herbs, and a punch of Dijon mustard.

How to serve: Slice the chicken into strips with a side of roasted veggies from my Greek sheet pan chicken recipe.

Ingredients for cilantro lime chicken marinade

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

Taking inspiration from my cilantro lime chicken, this marinade is extra fresh and extra zesty!

How to serve: This is perfect for when you need a quick Mexican fix (i.e. burrito bowls, tacos, or salads) alongside some cilantro lime rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo.

Ingredients for honey mustard chicken marinade on a table

Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade

This classic flavor never fails when it comes to chicken. But instead of making a sauce (like in my honey mustard chicken wings), this sweet and punchy marinade is infused into the chicken, making each bite pretty darn irresistible.

How to serve: I love to eat slices of this chicken with a side of roasted veggies such as roasted Brussels sprouts or roasted broccoli. But it also makes a delicious addition (sliced or diced) to a salad tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette.

Ingredients for teriyaki chicken marinade on a table

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Think of this as a simplified version of my teriyaki sauce (because I know not everyone has sake and mirin in their fridge). It’s rich, savory, and has hints of fresh ginger and green onion.

How to serve: Slice the chicken into strips and serve over a bed of white rice. And for veggies – both garlic ginger bok choy or steamed broccoli will round out this meal!

Ingredients for fajita chicken marinade on a table

Fajita Chicken Marinade

This is essentially my fajita seasoning dry rub turned into a marinade, with all those classic Mexican flavors you love. In other words, it’s like my chicken fajitas recipe that’s ready on-the-go.

How to serve: You can sub ground beef for slices of this chicken in a taco salad. Or make it the ultimate Mexican plate served with a side of fajita veggies, guacamole, beans, or corn salad.

Ingredients for Italian chicken marinade on a table

Italian Chicken Marinade

This is everything you love about Italian seasoning, but with a kick! If you don’t like spicy heat though, you can reduce or omit the red pepper flakes.

How to serve: I love pairing this Italian chicken with fresh salads such as a caprese salad or a simple massaged kale salad. It’s also great on top of sauteed spinach and blistered tomatoes.

How To Freeze Marinated Chicken

Having marinated chicken in the freezer is one of the best ways to meal prep. You’ll seriously have the most amazing and flavorful chicken ready at your fingertips for cooking! But first, here’s a few tips on how to freeze it properly.

  • Prep the chicken. Place the chicken and marinade in a freezer-safe bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can and seal the bag.
  • Store away. Label the name of the marinade and date on the bag. Then store it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Defrost. When you’re ready to cook it, thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Once the chicken is thawed, cook it using any of the below methods!

Pro tip: you don’t need to marinate the chicken in the fridge before freezing. Just toss it straight into the freezer! As the chicken freezes and then thaws in the fridge overnight (when you’re ready to enjoy it), that’s when the chicken will go through the marinating process.

Chicken marinades in bags on a table

Label Bags for Freezer Friendly Meal Prep

If you plan to double or triple any of these recipes (which I highly recommend you do) and then store them in your freezer, it’s best to label the Stasher Bags with the marinade and date – so you don’t forget what’s inside!

To label the bags, it’s as easy as using a chalk marker and then writing on the matte side of the bag. Let the marker dry completely before storing away. To remove the label, simply use soapy water and a sponge.

Chicken marinades in a stasher bag with chalk marker.

Ways To Cook With Marinated Chicken

When you’re ready to cook, you’ve got a few options. Baked chicken is my default method given how easy it is to just pop it in the oven for 20 minutes or so. But if you want that deliciously charred flavor, you can easily grill it. Either way, here’s how to cook it both ways!

  • Baked Chicken: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). Then pour the chicken breasts and the marinade into a small baking dish (Note: if you have a large baking dish or rimmed sheet pan, omit the marinade as it will spread out and get charred). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once the chicken is done, make sure to let it rest for a few minutes before slicing into it.
  • Grilled Chicken: Preheat the grill to medium-heat and grill each side of the chicken for 4 to 5 minutes, or until it’s cooked through with the perfect set of grill marks.

More Easy Chicken Recipes

If you often look to chicken for meal prep, consider these easy chicken recipes! They’re great for batch cooking and enjoying for multiple meals throughout the week.

Once you’ve marinated and cooked with these marinades, I’d love to hear what your favorite flavor is in a comment below!

6 chicken marinades in bags laid out on table

6 Simple Chicken Marinades

5 from 59 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Marinating Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Are you ready for the best chicken marinades? They're make your weeknight dinner wow-worthy. Bonus – they're great for meal prep freezer chicken as well. Watch the video below to see how I make them all!



  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (2 to 3 breasts)

Greek Lemon Chicken Marinade

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced (about ¼ cup juice)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade

Teriyaki Chicken Marinade

Fajita Chicken Marinade

Italian Chicken Marinade


  • Choose a chicken marinade flavor and place all the ingredients (minus the chicken breast) into a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
    A chicken marinade in a bowl.
  • Place the chicken breasts into a glass container or sealable bag. Pour the marinade on top of the chicken, making sure it is covered. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours. (*See notes above for cooking and serving ideas!)
    Chicken marinade in a bag.

Lisa’s Tips

  • The nutritional information is for the Greek Lemon marinade
  • Each of these chicken breast marinade recipes is enough marinade for 1 to 1.5 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast.


Calories: 351kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 971mg | Potassium: 644mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 92IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Marinades, chicken recipes
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I use these marinades so often I have them written down and taped to my refrigerator. They are all so good!5 stars

  2. This recipe was a lifesaver for busy weeknights! The marinades were easy to prepare in a batch (though it did take a few hours). I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours in the fridge, then froze 4 portions for future meals. Now I can just pull out a bag the night before, and dinner is practically ready! All the marinades were delicious, and this recipe is a great way to save time and have flavorful chicken on hand.5 stars

    1. So glad you enjoyed all of the different marinades, Ivy! It sounds like you are set with lots of delicious dinners in your future. :)

  3. Made the Greek Lemon Marinade Chicken 2 nights ago. It was absolutely delicious 🤤 Had a piece left over so I cut it up and mixed it with avocado mayo for chicken salad. The flavor was to die for.
    From now on this is how I am making the chicken for my chicken salad!!!5 stars

  4. I love chicken like this but lately the chicken I buy have a strange texture to it. Does this marinade work with pork?

  5. These recipes have been a LIFESAVER! I doubled the recipes and made a big batch of these right before having my baby to make dinners easier and wow they were so delicious and freezer-friendly which is such a win.5 stars

  6. Use boneless thighs! So much more flavorful and not dry like breasts.
    I make chicken salad from thigh meat too, but I cook it on the bone as the bone lends so much flavor to any meat.

  7. I love all these marinade recipes, but I wish you would have some that are more macro friendly. The oil throws a monkey wrench into the mix!

    1. Hi Pat – Duly noted! You can also use any of the seasonings I have on my website for a dry rub such as the fajita seasoning or cajun seasoning!

  8. Great recipes. But if we’re not suppose to marinate the chicken longer than 24 hours, doesn’t this contradict placing them in freezer bags and freezing? Thanks, Lisa, for you stunning work!

  9. Tonight I made the Greek Lemon Chicken Marinade. It was delicious!! I’ll definitely make this one again! I cooked it with a little extra marinade so I could pour it over brown rice as a quick side dish!5 stars

  10. Thank you, these marinades are great! Just made the Greek Lemon one tonight. It came out great. Looking forward to trying the others.5 stars

  11. We love all of these marinades!
    I generally purchase several chicken breasts at a time. I cut them all into bite sized pieces, add the chicken and a marinade in a freezer bag, and stack them in the freezer. We just enjoyed a fajita dinner.

  12. We especially love the Greek & Italian marinades! My husband is diabetic, so finding ways to add a lot of flavor, without adding any sugar is important. It has to be foods that everyone from our toddler to adults enjoy. These are delicious, easy, and all ingredients I keep on hand. Better than any you’ll buy at the store!5 stars

  13. I love the teriyaki marinade most, but they are all simple and delicious. I buy my chicken breasts in bulk and make up marinade bags for the freezer5 stars

  14. awesome. will be trying later. looks awesome and love that you gave 6 different marinades to try. God bless you.5 stars

  15. Great recipe. Good information and tips.
    Love the Cilantro Lime version, but good tips to do multiple versions!5 stars

  16. How about vacuum sealing the chicken breast in the marinade, freeze it… and then sous vide it at 60 Celsius for four hours? It should then thaw and marinade in one go?

  17. These are such fantastic marinades – we have made and enjoyed each of them, but the Honey Mustard, Cilantro Lime, and Greek Lemon are in regular rotation in our weekly meal preps. Thank you!5 stars

  18. Tried the Greek on chicken breast for lunch. It was delicious!
    Marinated overnight and baked it per instructions.
    Served over a steamed lentil, quinoa and brown rice mixture. Arranged cooked beets and avocado slices into a flower and used chopped chicken as the center. I love food art!5 stars

  19. It looks delicious, I’ll definitely try few of them. Can you tell me some chicken rubs with Indian spices as i am from India.5 stars

  20. your notes say to never marinate for more than a day, but chicken can be frozen in the marinade for up to 3 months. I just want to make sure I don’t ruin the chicken. thanks for any clarification

  21. My family and I did a fun experiment of making one recipe a week for six weeks. we were trying to rank them to see what chicken marinade was our favorite but they were all equally delicious! Now I’m going through all six again but making more to freeze. Thanks, I really loved these recipes :)5 stars

    1. I love that Amy! What a fun experiment to do with your family and glad you enjoyed all the chicken marinades!

  22. Every single marinade is a home run. I rotate through them for my meal prep and it keeps the chicken from being boring! Love it thank you!5 stars

    1. Yay, I’m happy you love all the different flavors, Susie! And that’s really such a great way to do it, just keep rotating through to keep dinner interesting! :)

  23. I’ve just made batches of the fajita and the Greek chicken happily marinating in the fridge. Looking forward to trying them tonight. Thanks.

  24. hi, just made this Greek Lemon marinade for the chicken drumsticks. I took a small taste of the marinade, looking Good! yum, I know we’ll enjoy it… quick and easy to make! thank you for posting different marinades ;o)5 stars

    1. You’re more than welcome, Lise! Hope you enjoy more flavors after you devour those Greek lemon chicken drumsticks. ;)

    1. Hi there, you can find the oven temperature written in the post if you’re oven-baking them. Otherwise, the recipe card is meant to just show how to make the marinades. Also, you can find baked chicken recipes across my site for specific baking instructions.

  25. I tried this prep 2 weeks ago , and we already eat the teriyaki one, the greek one and yesterday was the fajita chicken that we cook. For the fajita, we cooked that one in the instant pot with 1 cup of chicken broth for 15 minutes in manual, but chicken was overcooked, I think 8 minutes could be enough when the chicken is unfrozen.
    For the greek one, oven was perfect. And for the teriaky, I cut chicken in small pieces and I cooked those in a wok, and I let reduce the sauce until having a nice coloration. It was so gooooood :D5 stars

    1. You can find all that information written in the post. But yes, the chicken is meant to be frozen in the marinade :)

  26. Lisa, I made your Greek Lemon Chicken a couple of days ago, and it is so delicious. I made three chicken breasts to put on my salads. I could eat this every single day and not get tired of it. I love 🍋. Thanks so much. Love your YouTube channel. I have your website on “speed dial,” on the homepage of my iPhone. ❤️❤️

    Lorena Wilson5 stars

  27. I love these marinades so much!!! Ever since I found this page, I just keep rotating the marinades nonstop! Thank you so much for creating these. They are truly fantastic!!!5 stars

  28. Hi!
    I am trying the teriyaki marinade tonight on the grill.
    Is it safe to brush the leftover marinade on the chicken while it is cooking?

    1. I would set some marinade aside before you add the chicken if you would like to add some to the chicken while it’s cooking. That way, there is no cross contamination of uncooked chicken [juices] with cooked chicken.