The Very Best Chicken Marinade Recipe

Simply the BEST Chicken Marinade recipe ever….and so easy to make. Balsamic vinegar, honey, brown sugar and spices combine to infuse your favorite grilled chicken with savory flavor with juicy, tender results.

Two sliced marinated chicken breasts on a white marble platter with lemons from

Raise your hand if you ever ruined chicken. On the grill? In the oven?  I’ve made several chicken dishes in my many years that were good for the garbage.

But we don’t just throw money away around here….so we gag it down, whether it’s blackened through and through….or dry as a cotton ball. That’s where the need to create a grilled chicken marinade recipe that would change my chicken game forever came into play….and fixed everything!

In the summer months, we do a lot of grilled chicken but in the winter, I roast it all…from boneless chicken breasts to meaty chicken thighs so I wanted a grilled Chicken Marinade recipe that could do double duty all year long.

Grilled chicken on a white platter with lemons and parsley from

And I wanted it to be able to be sticky sweet AND slightly salty, savory to really punch up the flavors of an otherwise flavorless chicken breast. So, you could say this is the BEST Chicken Breast Marinade, as well.

How do you make homemade chicken marinade?

Homemade Chicken Marinade couldn’t be easier to make. Simply whisk together olive oil (use a good one here), balsamic vinegar, lemon zest, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar (for caramelization), honey (for a different level of sweetness), Italian Seasoning (I like that it’s all the spices I would normally use in one), salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika.

Chicken Marinade ingredients in a glass measuring cup from

Add your chicken to a large zip top bag and place in an equally large bowl (in case the bag springs a leak!). Pour the marinade over the chicken and stash in the fridge for an hour or overnight to allow the chicken to marinate.

chicken marinade ingredients in a glass measuring cup with a blue whisk from

Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook on the grill, in the oven or on the stovetop. It’s a you do you situation after that.

How long do you marinade chicken?

How long you marinade chicken really depends on what type of chicken you would like to marinate. Thin sliced chicken breasts will take much less time than thicker, whole chicken breasts. And bone in chicken will take even longer to marinate than boneless chicken.

Marinade being poured over chicken in a zip top bag from

I like to marinate chicken at least 4-8 hours for boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Bone in chicken parts I like to leave in the marinade even longer….most of the time overnight. It’s great for a weeknight dinner because most of the prep work is done!


You can cook your newly marinated chicken, basically, any way you’d like. My favorite way is to make Grilled Marinated Chicken, it’s fast, easy and almost mess free!

Grilled chicken thighs on a white platter with lemon slices from

You could also cook it in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment at 425 degrees until cooked through. Boneless chicken takes less time (approximately 20 minutes) than bone in chicken (which could take up to 40 minutes depending on how thick it is.) An instant read thermometer is so helpful in determining if your chicken is cooked thoroughly

Grilled Marinated Chicken Breasts sliced on a white platter from

Can you reuse the leftover marinade?

The leftover Chicken Marinade is a one and done situation here…..because raw chicken has been sitting in it for a period of time you must discard any of the marinade that came in contact with the chicken.

Grilled Marinated Chicken Breasts on a white platter with a blue background.

If you made the marinade in advance as part of your meal prep, it can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container until you’re ready to marinade the chicken.

And if you’re looking for more GREAT grilled chicken recipes you definitely need to check out:

Be sure to follow along over on Instagram, too, for behind the scenes tips and tricks!

The Very Best Chicken Marinade Recipe

Sweet and tangy, the very BEST Chicken Marinade makes the very BEST grilled chicken, oven roasted chicken or pan seared chicken around. The most versatile marinade in your kitchen arsenal.
4.92 from 24 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 318 kcal


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 3 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast (or 4 bone in thighs and 4 bone in chicken legs)


  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper until combined.
  • Place the chicken in a large zip top bag and place the bag in a large bowl to prevent leaking. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag pressing out as much air as possible.
  • Transfer the chicken to the refrigerator and marinade for 1-24 hours. 
  • Remove the chicken from the bag. Cook, as desired.
    To Grill:
    Grill the chicken over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes (for boneless chicken) or 7-8 minutes for bone in chicken. Flip the chicken over and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
    To roast:
    Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes for boneless and 35-40 minutes for bone in chicken or until cooked through and no longer pink in the center.


Calories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 19gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 2319mgPotassium: 513mgFiber: 1gSugar: 19gVitamin A: 490IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 2.3mg
Keyword chicken marinade
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!



34 comments on “The Very Best Chicken Marinade Recipe”

  1. Always looking for different marinades to use. We are having chicken this weekend so this will be perfect!

  2. Sounds so good! I have to try this! 

  3. Wow, it does look like a delicious marinade!

  4. Why does everything have to have sugar? We aren’t insulin resistant enough? And soy has gluten and is a GMO nightmare… glad I endured that recipe article for another sugar addicts choice.

    • Hmmmmm, well….everything does seem to have a lot of sugar but since we’re not drinking the marinade, most of the sugar isn’t really ingested. You can definitely use a sugar substitute if you prefer or leave it out but your marinade will be a little less sweet than intended. You can find a gluten free soy sauce, as well as, one that is not GMO….just be sure to read the labels. It’s not rocket science….and thanks for enduring the article. I’m sorry it was not what you wanted.

  5. How long would this marinade last in the fridge without chicken? I like to make my marinades in bulk

    • Hi Ava! I have made this marinade in a large batch and stashed it in my fridge for up to a month. Be sure it’s in a jar or other airtight container so any other food smells (like cheese) don’t affect the flavor. Thanks!

  6. The glaze is just amazing on this chicken!

  7. Such a delicious marinade! Everything came our juicy and full of flavor!

  8. LOVE the flavors in this marinade! Let grilling season begin! 🙂

  9. Thanks for sharing this marinade because I am getting tired of my usual salt and pepper and lemon seasoning on chicken! And chicken is the one thing my son only eats!

  10. This really does add the best flavor to chicken! It was easy to make and everyone loved it. Thanks!

  11. Do you throw marinade out.

  12. Hi,  Thank you for sharing this recipe.  I made it last night with boneless skinless chicken thighs….about 20 of them….plenty of marinade to do the entire batch of chicken.  I made it exactly by the recipe.  It was sooooooo delicious!  It’s moving to the top of my list of marinades!

  13. Can you use this on pork? Tried it with chicken and EVERYONE loved it. Thanks

  14. Made this and EVERYONE loved it. Would like to know if you can or have tried it with pork chops? Thanks

  15. We tried it. Not a fan.

  16. I substituted gluten free , low salt soy sauce, just used the honey instead of the sugar. The chicken tasted great. 

  17. Can I marinate the chicken and freeze it before cooking? I buy chicken wings in bulk then freeze them in marinade in smaller batches. We are a senior couple and so many recipes are just too much for us. Thanks!

    • Hi Cassie!
      Yes, you can totally freeze the chicken in marinade. We do it all the time when I’m prepping meals for a longer period of time. This makes a good amount of marinade and if you press the air out of a freezer bag it stretches it even further. If you do store in a freezer bag, I like to thaw it in a container just in case I poked a hole in the bag while it was in the freezer. This way it doesn’t leak all over the place when you thaw it. Enjoy!

  18. I made this chicken and then immediately made another batch of marinade for kater- so good! Can’t wait to try it on some chicken wings too!

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