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 60 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. All the marinades give a unique flavor. I love that I can prepare them and the freeze them. Delicious.5 stars

  2. Hi Lisa, 
    Why does the marinades require liquids? If according to americas test kitchen it doesn’t soak all the way into the chicken, why not just season the outside and save a cup of oil?
    I usually prepare chicken in bulk (10 breasts or 5 lbs), which would require 1.25 cups of oil, which seems like A LOT.
    Currently, I dry brine and season the night before and bake them all at once the following day.
    Am I missing out on anything by not using a wet brine?

    1. Some people feel that wet marinades keep the moisture in the meat better. But it’s really a personal preference. :)

  3. Hi Lisa, I was wondering if I can airfry these? And on for how hot and how long? Thanks.

    p.s my absolute fave was the greek lemon!5 stars

  4. I made 3 of these 6 marinades with bone-in chicken breast I put in the freezer. This is the first one I cooked, and it was delicious. I made the frozen chicken in my Nija Foodi Smartlid Pressure cooker. I pressure cooked the chicken from frozen and then broiled it at the end. It was crispy and juicy and really easy. I also cooked the Greek Marinade and again it was delicious. I will definitely make this again. This was my first try with meal prep and worked great. Thanks for the ideas.5 stars

    1. Hi Ginger, I was wondering if you tried cooking them thawed/ fresh with the Ninja foodi? and if so, What setting did you use? Thanks!

  5. Hi Lisa, I made the cilantro lime tonight and it was another hit! We are 2 for 2 so far. I am loving these marinades! So flavorful and easy to make. Thank you so much for helping me spice up our family dinners. I was wondering if you have any suggestions regarding a marinade made with tarragon. It’s one of my favorite herbs/ flavors. You’ve definitely inspired me with your recipes, so I could maybe try making up one on my own, but I know anything you create would be ten times better.5 stars

    1. I haven’t made one yet, but I’ll be sure to keep that in mind. I’ve also got a chicken recipe in my new cookbook that uses a creamy tarragon sauce!

  6. These chicken marinades have become a weekly staple. Making a nice dinner is so easy when all you have to do is toss the chicken in the oven and make a quick salad to go along with it. 5 stars

  7. Hi! 
    I’ve just mixed up the Greek Lemon & Fajita marinades – they smell amazing!
    I am going to slice my chicken breasts, marinade & freeze then STIR FRY the fajita ones. Crossing my fingers for a delicious, easy meal!

  8. Hi Lisa, I made the Greek Lemon marinade tonight and oh my goodness, it came out perfect! So delicious and juicy and flavorful. I even bought a Stasher bag to marinate in. Fantastic! I can’t wait to try the other flavors, especially the fajita one. Thank you!5 stars

  9. I’ve tried all of these marinades and they are all winners. What a beautiful taste for grilled chicken breasts and thighs. Simple enough to do on a weeknight or meal prep for the freezer.5 stars

  10. We have tried all but the fajita one so far and love them all. Easy and really good tasting.

    These are now our go to for Chicken and usually I will cook in our air fryer and it is perfect.5 stars

  11. Hi Lisa! Have you tried these cooking other proteins with these marinades? I’m thinking about trying salmon with your cilantro-lime dressing… Thanks!

    1. Hey virlana I just wanted to let you know that I’m pretty sure fish is not to be marinated quite as long as chicken as the acids will break it down and give it a mushy texture. As far as I know it’s about an hour

  12. The acid in lemon “cooks” the chicken. If you use a different acid, say apple cider vinegar, that does not happen, regardless of how long you marinate the meat. To achieve that lemony flavor, zest lemon peel and add it to the marinade. Works great!

    PS Not sure if other citruses have the same effect, ie: lime or orange.

  13. Hello! I don’t see if you grill these or bake them in the oven, also what degree do I use when baking them in the oven?

  14. Honey mustard chicken is  fabulous and is even better as leftovers for arugula&cucumber salad the next day! Liked teriyaki chicken as well (substituted with teriyaki sauce). 

    The only feedback I have based on cooking  in the oven is to use lower temp (400 F) for a bit longer. Using  the temperature  and time stated in the recipe the sauce burns and chicken breasts are undercooked inside. Otherwise great marinades. Look forward to trying all of them!5 stars

  15. Made the Honey Mustard marinade.
    It was so delicious it’s amazing the chicken got any! We couldn’t stop “sampling” it. It was as delicious on the chicken as it was on our fingers, crackers and anything else we could find for the taste test.5 stars

    1. The honey mustard chicken marinade is one of my personal favorites as well! So happy you loved it Suzanne. :)

  16. I love your YouTube channel and recipes! The cilantro lime and Greek lemon were so delicious on the grill. Thank you! 5 stars

  17. I am so hooked on these marinades! Greek lemon is my favorite. Your simple meal preps have made it possible for me to have so many options for lunch and dinner. I’m so ready for my cookbook.5 stars

      1. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa! These are delicious. I just made the cilantro lime chicken with homemade wheat tortilla chips and fresh homemade pico. Turned it into a veggie loaded chicken taco salad. It was AMAZING. Thank you!!! My husband laughs at me because I reference your recipes so often that he says I think I’m on a first-name basis with you. After trying this chicken, he now loves you just as much as I do. Haha! Can’t wait for the cook book! 

      2. We’re a tight knit community here I’d say 😉 But, that chicken taco salad sounds delicious! Glad you’re both enjoying this recipe and can’t wait to see what you make from the cookbook.

  18. Such a great idea, over the last few weeks I’ve purchased the larger packs of chicken, doubled up different recipes and cooked half of the chicken for the week and froze the other half, now I have a few pre-prepped bags ready to go!5 stars

  19. Hello! I tried the honey mustard marinade and it tasted amazing! Very nice and clear presentations of the recipes I have to say.

    I have one question. I was wondering if 220C in the oven is not too high for the olive oil, due to its low smoke point. I usually don’t go that high when I use olive oil in the oven and stick to around 180C. This time I followed your indications and everything turned out ok. Is it safe though?5 stars

  20. Used the Greek Lemon Marinade two days ago for chicken.  It was amazing.  Saved the left over marinade.  Grilled Mahi fillets and used the reheated marinade and again, amazing result.  Thanks for your awesome recipes.5 stars

  21. Tried the Cilantro Lime and Chicken Terriyaki and both were amazing! I’m a fan of stir fry recipes so I sliced the chicken into pieces before marinating.  Then I stir fried it! Thank you!5 stars

  22. Quick question. I’ve already prepped and put marinated chicken in freezer. I plan on cooking at 7pm after pulling out from freezer. Do I still take out of freezer to fridge the night before or in the morning of cooking? Can’t wait to start cooking these marinades!

  23. I have tried two of the marinades–the cilantro lime and the honey mustard. Both were delicious! Now, I buy 8 chicken breasts and double the marinade. I cook four of the marinated breasts in the oven that day, and I put the other four marinated breasts in the freezer for later. It’s easy to roast whatever veggies we have on hand–cauliflower, bell peppers, onions, carrots, asparagus, mushrooms (not sure if mushrooms are veggies) in the oven while the chicken is cooking. Then, we use the cooked chicken and vegetables in a protein bowl. We have put the sliced chicken on top of farro, brown rice, mashed potatoes, and quinoa. I usually drizzle in a little of the cooked marinade on top of the bowl to serve as a dressing.

    And…your video encouraged me to buy my first stasher bags to be more environmentally responsible and to use fewer ziploc bags. Thank you for your terrific recipes!5 stars

  24. Damn, girl! Can you do no wrong? Honestly, everything I try from your site is fantastic. I made the greek marinated chicken last night because I was too tired for anything extensive, and it was addictive. We inhaled it. I couldn’t believe how much flavor was absorbed, and how easy it was to make. Since I had a 2-pack of organic chicken from BJs, I used the second pack to make the Italian marinade at the same time, and I threw that in the freezer. Since I am on a strict anti-inflammatory diet for UC, and inflammatory arthritis, your recipes have been so helpful. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Happy to hear you enjoyed this Greek chicken Marissa, along with many other Downshiftology recipes :) Hope you continue to enjoy them as I’ve got tons of exciting recipes planned. Also, be sure to follow me on social for any updates on my upcoming cookbook!

    2. Hi Lisa I made the teriyaki marinade for some bone in thighs, and the fajita for tofu.  These are so tasty, and will be trying the others. I have made your cilantro lime  thighs several times and it is great. Thanks for all you do. I already pre-ordered your cook , can’t wait to get it on December 6.5 stars

  25. Thank you for these! I’ve made your cilantro lime one many times already and the Greek lemon is a new favorite. They are so easy and fresh and make eating healthy actually taste good. Can I put my marinated chicken in the freezer? (I portion out our meats for the week/2 weeks and have lots of chicken to freeze.) 5 stars

  26. Tried the Greek lemon and the Cilantro lime and boy were they both delicious! Family absolutely loved it. Thanks for the inspiration :)5 stars

  27. These marinades were so easy to put together! My FIL is on an SCD diet and these are perfect for him to just defrost and pop into the oven. I wrote the instructions on the container and put them in the freezer.  All he has to do is steam some veggies, cook some lentil pasta and, voilà, dinner. TY5 stars

  28. Very helpful and they all sound delicious. I appreciate the tip on what to use each marinade with. Thank you for sharing this.

  29. Just tried the Italian marinade and it will definitely be repeated again soon! So easy and convenient, I already had all the ingredients in my cupboard. The chili peppers add such a great little kick. Can’t wait to try the rest!5 stars

  30. Is it possible to marinate frozen chicken? I purchase the large packs from costco and would love to prep a large quantity. Thank you!

    1. Yes, you can marinate frozen chicken! It will start marinating once you thaw it in the fridge overnight.

  31. I tried the honey mustard marinade this week (with drumsticks), and it was delicious! My family enjoyed it (including my 5 kids), so that’s a win. Quick and easy to do, as well. I’m eager to try out the other marinades soon!5 stars

      1. Hi Lisa, I am a big fan of your work, thank you! Could you use the marinates with vegetables/sweet potatoes instead of meat? Would that work with the lemon in there? Thanks

      2. You can use these marinades on some veggies, just don’t let it marinate too long.

  32. These sound really good! could I use chicken tenders or thighs? Where can I find the nutrition information for each recipe?

    1. Yes, you can use chicken tenders or thighs! The nutritional information is listed for the Greek Lemon marinade, but let me know if you need them for others.

      1. That’s good to know. My family enjoys both. I would appreciate the nutrition information for the other marinades too. Thank you!

      2. Hi Erika – you can email us for the nutritional information on the other marinades :)

      3. Hi Lisa, would you mind sharing the nutritional information for the cilantro marinades? My wife is on a keto diet so I would like to make some of these for her. I think they are safe for keto since it is only a marinade but just want to be safe and confirm. I want to try em all they look delicious!

      4. Hi Victor – here’s the nutritional information for the cilantro lime marinade:

        Saturated Fat:3g

    2. The nutrition info for the other marinades would be great. What is the portion size per serving? Thank you.

      1. Hi Erika – if you need further information on the other marinades, please email us! As for the serving size, it will be per chicken breast. I’ve noted down 3 servings if you have 3 chicken breasts per marinade.

      2. Sorry for the double post! I really appreciate the information. I’m looking forward to trying the marinades soon. Have a great day.

  33. Fantastic marinades, just having our kitchen refurbished so will definitely try these out. Can you please tell me what size stash bags fit 2 chicken breasts / 1lb as they seem to come in lots of different
    Loving your site thanks for all the wonderful inspiration.

  34. These marinades sound wonderful. I can’t wait to try them! What size Stasher bags did you use for the photoshoot?

    1. One of the things I love about any of Lisa’s recipes that I have tried is how truly easy they are.
      I’ve made 2/6 of the marinades so far, the honey-dijon and the fajita and loved both.
      Although not a huge fan of dijon mustard, I loved the sweetness of the honey contrasted with the sharpness of the mustard.
      And the fajita had a bit of a kick to it but not too much of a kick, which was great for someone who doesn’t really do spicy either.
      Think I’ll try the teriyaki next…😉5 stars

  35. Thanks Lisa. For me, the golden age of 70 is around the corner. I do work with a wellness coach… of sorts. Your work here assists me in keeping a fresh and healthy perspective as I gain new skills.
    This set of are so easy and delicious I am going to share them with coach next Friday!
    Sincerely grateful!
    Sam Hatman5 stars

  36. Perfect timing!  Going away for a couple of weeks and marinating chicken to bring with us.  Thank you so much!

  37. Hi Lisa, do you think these marinades will work with tofu?  They look amazing and looking forward to prepping! Thanks!

    1. These recipes call for one pound of chicken, so you can just use the sandwich size Stasher (the same one I’m using in the photos).