Did you know September is National Chicken Month? Chicken is one of the most commonly prepared foods in U.S. households. And we can’t say we’re surprised. This favorite protein option can easily be transformed into endless possible dishes, and through numerous different methods. Think: fried chicken sandwiches. Or pulled chicken tacos. Or Caesar salad topped with grilled chicken slices. And the list goes on…
What’s one thing all craveable chicken dishes have in common? Great texture and plenty of flavor. Let’s face it—chicken all on its own can be a bit bland…and sometimes just plain boring. But with the right seasoning and preparation, it can easily become a flavorful masterpiece.
One simple tip to perfect chicken? Marinades.
Read on for some chicken marinade quick facts plus three great chicken marinades with accompanying recipe ideas.
Chicken Marinade FAQs
- What is a marinade? A marinade is a liquid solution used to soak foods, especially meats, prior to cooking in order to add extra flavor, tenderize foods, and lock in moisture. Basic marinades consist of the following ingredients: oil (fat), vinegar (acid), sugar, salt, and additional seasonings.
- What are the benefits of marinating chicken? Firstly, marinades help to season meats and add extra flavoring. The possibilities are endless and can be a fun and creative way to change up your meal routine and bring variation to your menu—e.g., Mexican-inspired one night, Italian the next. Another common benefit of marinades is that they can help to tenderize meats which makes them more tender and juicy once cooked. Many marinades contain acids such as vinegar, lemon juice, or dairy-based ingredients, all of which help to break down tough proteins. Additionally, the oil in a marinade can help to protect the outer layer of delicate proteins such as poultry and “lock in” the moisture to prevent it from drying out.
- How much marinade do I need for my recipe? Use enough marinade to completely cover the meat. A general rule of thumb is ½ cup marinade to 1 pound of chicken.
- How long should I marinate chicken? We recommend marinating chicken in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours to allow the flavors to fully develop, up to a maximum of one day (any longer and the chicken may become mushy). You can also transfer marinated chicken directly to the freezer and keep frozen for up to 3 months. This is a great technique for large batch meal planning—set aside one day, such as a weekend, and prep a bunch of different marinade + protein combinations in zip-top freezer bags, label the bags with the recipe details, then freeze ahead of time for future meals.
- How do I prepare frozen marinated chicken? Thaw frozen chicken overnight in the refrigerator in its sealed zip-top bag until completely thawed. Do not attempt to cook partially frozen chicken as this can lead to uneven cooking and potentially non-food-safe internal temperatures.
- How long should I cook chicken? Cooking time depends on your method of preparation, but it is recommended to cook chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit using a meat thermometer. At this temperature, the chicken should be tender and juicy, as well as safe to consume.
3 Easy Chicken Marinades
Chipotle Lime Marinade:
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
- 1/2 Cup Lime Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Lime Zest
- 1/4 Cup Honey
- 2 Teaspoons Chipotle Chili Powder
- 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Fresh Pesto, prepared*
- 3 cups lightly-packed fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 Cup Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
Balsamic & Rosemary Marinade:
- 1/3 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Freshly-Cracked Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
To prepare these marinades:
Combine marinade ingredients in a zip-top freezer bag; add chicken breasts and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
If Using Immediately: Keep refrigerated until ready to use, up to one day.
If Freezing: Transfer bag to freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, transfer to refrigerator for 24 hours or until fully thawed.
Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to make these three chicken marinades!
Shredded Chipotle-Lime Chicken Sliders
Use the Mexican-inspired chipotle-lime marinade above to make these pulled chicken sliders using a multi-pot or pressure cooker! Simply add the chicken and marinade to the multi-cooker, seal the lid, and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Carefully release the pressure and allow the steam to vent, then shred the chicken with two forks and combine back into the juices. (Alternately, you can cook the chicken in a slow cooker on high for 6-8 hours.)
Serve the chipotle-lime shredded chicken atop Martin’s 12-Sliced Potato Rolls topped with chopped white onion, cilantro, and a lime wedge or hot sauce, if desired!
Grilled Pesto Chicken Sandwich
Use the above pesto sauce marinade to make juicy, flavorful grilled chicken breast! Cook the marinated chicken over medium-high heat using a grill or grill pan, until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F (about 20-25 minutes). Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into bun-sized pieces.
Serve your pesto chicken on Martin’s “Big Marty’s” Rolls along with spinach, tomato, onion, and some tangy lemon-mayo.
Try this recipe: https://potatorolls.com/recipes/grilled-pesto-chicken-sandwich/
Rosemary Balsamic Chicken Bacon Panini
The rosemary & balsamic marinade is a classic flavor combo great for all sorts of dishes, from pastas and salads to sandwiches like this deluxe Chicken Bacon Panini. To prepare, bake the marinated chicken breasts in a 425°F oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting into ½-inch thick slices. Meanwhile, fry up a few strips of bacon until nice and crispy.
Build your sandwich by layering the sliced chicken, bacon, and blue cheese crumbles between two slices of Martin’s Potato Bread. Butter the outsides of the sandwich and grill in a preheated panini press (or grill pan with weight on top) for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and delicious!
What is your favorite way to cook chicken? Comment on our YouTube video and let us know!
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