These 5 easy chicken marinade recipes are freezer-friendly, simple to prepare, and totally dependable and delicious! Perfect for grilling, roasting, sautéing, slow cooking, Instant Pot, meal prep, and more.
Due to popular request, I’ve finally created a collection of marinade recipes to share with you this week!
Like, 15different marinade recipes, to be exact. 🙌
And the good news is that each recipe will pair actually well with any of the four main proteins that I like to marinate (chicken, steak, pork or tofu). Also, each recipe is freezer-friendly (perfect for meal prep), adaptable for various cooking methods (oven, grill, stovetop, slow cooker, etc.), quick and easy to prepare (about 5 minutes for one marinade), naturally gluten-free, and sure to kick that plain protein up a delicious notch.
Truly. It’s amazing what a difference a simple marinade can make.
So today, I thought I’d kick off our week celebrating the protein you all request the most. Behold…5 of my favorite easy chicken marinade recipes!
5 Easy Chicken Marinade Recipes | 1-Minute Video
5 Favorite Chicken Marinade Recipes:
When it comes specifically to chicken, these are 5 of the marinades I use most often:
Teriyaki Chicken Marinade: a simple sesame-ginger marinade
Chicken Enchilada Marinade: a no-cook version of my favorite enchilada sauce
Tandoori Chicken Marinade: a simple curry marinade that is big on flavor
Honey Mustard Marinade: always a classic for you mustard-lovers
Pesto Chicken Marinade: pesto sauce works just as well as a marinade!
How To Make A Chicken Marinade:
To make each marinade, simply whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl until combined. Then combine the marinade and chicken together in a freezer ziplock bag, seal, and refrigerate or freeze according to the directions below until ready to use. So simple!
That said, here are a few tips to keep in mind with marinating chicken…
Best Chicken Marinade Tips:
Marinade to Chicken Ratio:
You’re welcome to use however much marinade you would like per pound of chicken, but in general, I recommend 1/2 cup marinade per 1 pound of chicken.
Fridge marinade time: I recommend marinating your chicken packs in the refrigerator for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 1 day (24 hours).
Freezer marinade time: I recommend marinating your chicken packs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Never freeze chicken twice: If you plan to freeze your marinated chicken, be sure to use fresh (not frozen) chicken when making these packs. It’s not safe to mix frozen chicken with a room-temperature liquid and then freeze it again. That said, you can combine frozen chicken and the marinade together, and refrigerate the pack until the chicken is completely thawed, then cooked within 1 day, if you’d like. (<– Again, just don’t freeze those packs afterwards.)
Always thaw chicken properly: As tempting as it may be to try and “quick-thaw” frozen chicken, food safety guidelines recommend that you always thaw chicken slowly in the refrigerator. Ideally, you can plan ahead and pop your frozen chicken pack in the fridge and let it rest for 24 hours or so, or until it has completely thawed. But to speed the process up, you can place the chicken pack in a bowl of cold water, then refrigerate until the chicken pack has completely thawed.
Don’t try to cook partially-frozen chicken: Probably goes without saying, but if you jump the gun, the chicken will cook unevenly. So thaw completely.
Basting with marinades: There are a variety of opinions in the food safety world about how safe/unsafe it is to baste your chicken with its marinade. Some say it’s ok to use the marinade as a baste in the beginning stages of cooking, but many strongly disagree. To err on the side of caution, if you would like to use the marinade as a baste while cooking, I recommend using extra marinade that you have reserved. (Basically, marinade that hasn’t touched the raw chicken.)
Freezer bags: I recommend using the designated freezer ziplock bags (vs. the thinner/cheaper sandwich plastic bags) for these chicken packs. They are stronger and (obvs) freezer friendly, and will help prevent leaks. And I also love using freezer bags because you can note the expiration date on the front. Here is an eco-friendly reusable freezer bag option too!
Meal prep containers: We also regularly use meal prep containers for quick marinades in our house. I don’t recommend them for freezing, since there’s no way to eliminate all of the excess air inside. But for a quick (1 to 24 hour) marinade, they work well.
Everyday bowls: Another simple option for quick (1 to 24 hour) marinade would be to use any small mixing or serving bowls that fit your amount of chicken. Just mix, cover with a sheet of foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Instant-Read Thermometer: However you choose to cook your chicken, I always recommend having an instant-read thermometer on hand to ensure that your chicken is cooked through…and not overcooked. (The FDA recommends cooking your chicken to 165°F.) I love and recommend this $10 thermometer from Amazon. (<– affiliate link)
Baking/Grilling/Sautéing/Slow Cooking: I’ve included general instructions for each of these methods below. They will each vary (especially with cook time) according to the cut and size of your chicken, so again, I recommend using a thermometer to guarantee accurate doneness.
Alright, I think that about covers things. But lemme know in the comments below if you have any more questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them. :)
Whisk together the ingredients for (one) marinade in a small bowl until combined.
Combine marinade with chicken in a ziplock freezer bag, and toss until the chicken is evenly coated in the marinade. Carefully press out any extra air that might be in the bag, then seal. (You will need 1/2 cup marinade per 1 pound of chicken.)
If Using Immediately: Refrigerate the chicken pack(s) for anywhere from 30 minutes to up to 1 day.
If Freezing: Immediately transfer the chicken pack(s) to the freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months. Then when you’re ready to cook the chicken, transfer the chicken pack back to the refrigerator for 24 hours, or until it has thawed completely. Or to speed up the process, you can submerge the sealed chicken pack in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator until it has thawed completely.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade, discard the remaining marinade, and cook however you prefer. (See recommendations below.)
Cooking times will vary depending on the cut of chicken that you use. I always recommend using an instant-read cooking thermometer to test your chicken as it cooks, to be sure that it reaches a safe (and not overcooked) 165°F. For 8-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts, here are some general recommendations.
Baked: Heat oven to 425°F. Place chicken on a baking sheet or baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through, until it is cooked through (165°F) and the juices run clear. Remove from the oven, and loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
Grilled: Heat grill to medium-high. Grill for 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through, until it is cooked through (165°F) and the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
Sauté: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast and cook for 6 minutes per side, until the chicken is cooked through (165°F) and the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate, and loosely cover with aluminum foil. Let the chicken rest for at least 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
Slow Cooker: Add chicken and marinade to the bowl of a slow cooker. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low, until the chicken is cooked through (165°F). Serve warm. (I recommend a batch size of at least 1 pound of chicken in the slow cooker.)
Instant Pot: Add chicken and marinade to the bowl of Instant Pot. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”. Press “Manual”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the +/- buttons until time reads 6 minutes. Cook. Then let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Then very carefully, turn the vent to “Venting” for quick release, and wait until all of the steam has released and the valve has dropped. Remove the lid, and check to be sure that the chicken is cooked through. (If not, repeat this process and cook the chicken for 2 more minutes on high pressure.) Shred the chicken if you’d like. Serve immediately.
*As always, if making these recipes gluten-free, be sure to use certified gluten-free ingredients.