This simple grilled chicken marinade is packed with flavor and incredibly easy to make! It’s also the best chicken marinade to adjust to your favorite flavors and use in so many easy dinner recipes!
Every household should have a few basic recipes that are classic and fool proof. A solid chocolate chip cookie recipe, a good bread recipe, a perfect meatball recipe, and YES, a grilled chicken marinade recipe!
A chicken marinade recipe might just top the list of Required Recipes for Every House, because there are so many ways you can use it!
How to use a Grilled Chicken Breast
- pasta dishes
- or just eat plain because it is that good!
Simple Grilled Chicken Marinade
The key to a good marinade is to make sure you have something that makes the meat moist, something that tenderizes it so it isn’t tough and chewy and then a good combination of salty, sweet and flavors.
For this recipe, I use olive oil to help keep the chicken breast juicy and moist.
The lemon juice and apple cider vinegar have acid so both work together to break down all the fibers in the chicken and make it nice and tender. You can also wrap your chicken in plastic wrap and give it a couple good whacks with a meat mallet to help tenderize it as well. It isn’t a necessary step, but who doesn’t like an ultra-tender chicken breast?!
The salty portion of our marinade comes from a couple different places: Worcestershire, soy sauce and the salt itself!
Now I know when I first gave my description of a good marinade, some of you cringed when I said “sweet”. I totally get that a lot of people don’t understand the purpose of sugar in a recipe like this, but I will never skip it. A little bit of brown sugar is what helps caramelize the outside of the chicken and give it that delicious coating. It’s also a great balance to the acid from the lemon juice and vinegar.
For the flavors, I went with some basic flavors for this recipe because I wanted it to be as simple as possible for you. Garlic never fails as far as I’m concerned, and honestly, because there’s no such thing as too much garlic, I added more than what I put in the recipe. The amount in the recipe is a good starter amount if you don’t like an overpowering garlic flavor.
I also add Dijon mustard for a little flavor kick.
And that’s my basic recipe, but here’s where you come in! Feel free to add any spices that work for your family: parsley, onion powder, Italian seasoning, etc.
How to Marinate Chicken
I take a fork and pierce holes on both sides of my chicken breast. This helps the marinade really penetrate and get down in there.
Then I get a large gallon, resealable bag and place it in a bowl. I add the marinade ingredients directly to the bag, seal it and then use my fingers to mash it all together and mix it up really well.
Then it’s time to add the chicken, reseal again and mix it all up again so it’s evenly coated.
Seal that bag and put it right bag in the bowl and place in your fridge. I put it back in the bowl just in case there are any leaks. I’ve had it happen before and waking up to an oily, vinegary mess in your fridge is no fun at all.
For the best, most flavorful chicken, you should really start marinating the night before you want to use it. You can also make it the morning of, but try to allow a minimum of 8 hours of marinating time.
How to Grill Chicken
Then it’s time to grill! Preheat your grill and then turn to medium to medium high heat. You know how your grill cooks the best, so adjust the temperature accordingly.
I brush a little olive oil on the grill rack to make sure my chicken doesn’t stick to it.
Then grill until cooked through! I used chicken breasts for this recipe, so I cooked for about 5-6 minutes on each side. It really does depend on the thickness of your meat, though. Just make sure you get to an internal temperature of 165 degrees using a meat thermometer.
Simple Chicken Marinade Recipe
- In a large, resealable bag, combine all ingredients except for chicken. Mix well.
- Add chicken and then reseal bag. Toss to evenly coat the chicken. Place in fridge and marinate overnight or for a minimum of 8 hours.
- When it is time to grill, preheat the grill to medium to medium high heat. Lightly brush grill rack with olive oil so chicken doesn't stick.
- Place chicken on grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. About 5-6 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of your chicken.