This Easy Chicken Marinade brightens up grilled chicken with flavors of fresh herbs, smoky Worcestershire, paprika, and sweet brown sugar.

This marinade is made with fresh ingredients from the pantry and garden. It is so effortless and you can substitute fresh or store-bought where necessary, and it will still be just as delicious.

This marinade is perfect for my Air Fryer Chicken Breasts, too!

chicken marinade in a jar

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Easy Chicken Marinade Recipe

I love cooking, but one of the things I find most enjoyable is creating simple recipes which allow all the different flavors to shine through. Heavy sauces and complicated recipes are just too much sometimes. A light chicken marinade really enhances versatile meat such as chicken.

I think you’re going to love this easy 5-Minute Chicken Marinade!

chicken marinade steps

Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Lemon juice – for a half-cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, you will need four medium lemons
  • Worcestershire sauce – this adds a rich depth of flavor to the marinade
  • Olive oil – olive oil is a good, neutral flavor oil to use in marinades. It helps to carry flavors into the meats and also prevents foods from sticking to the grill
  • Oregano – fresh herbs are best if they are available. You’ll want to mince the leaves so the flavors will release the aromatic oil.
  • Basil – as with the oregano, tear the fresh basil leaves if you have them for the best flavor. Otherwise, dried basil is a great alternative.
  • Garlic – to easily peel garlic, use the flat side of a knife and press down on the cloves to crack their skins. The peel should easily remove by hand.
  • Brown sugar – brown sugar should be packed when measuring
  • Paprika – paprika has a warm smoky flavor that balances the tang of the lemon juice and balances well with chicken
  • Salt +black pepper
  • Chicken – the recipe here recommends grilled chicken breasts, but the mixture works equally well as a chicken thigh marinade or chicken kebob marinade


There are a few ways you can tweak this recipe to make it perfect for your taste buds. Here are some ideas you may want to try:

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes to make the marinade a little spicier.
  • Replace the Worcestershire sauce with soy sauce for an Asian style chicken marinade.
  • Use the marinade on fish instead of chicken. It goes great with salmon!

How to Make the Best Chicken Marinade

  1. Mix: Add all marinade ingredients, except chicken, to a medium bowl and whisk until completely combined.
  2. Marinate: Add chicken to a large resealable bag. Pour marinade over chicken and seal the bag well. 
  3. Chill: Place in refrigerator to chill for up to 4 hours. Submerge the chicken in the marinade by turning it occasionally.
  4. Cook: Remove from refrigerator and set at room temperature, 20-30 minutes. Cook on grill or in the oven. Chicken breast should be grilled for about 10 minutes, turned about halfway through so they cook evenly. If you choose to make thighs with this recipe, they should be grilled for about 15 minutes. 
marinaded chicken

Quick Tip

Anytime I see chicken breasts on sale, I like to make a huge batch of this marinade then divide the chicken breasts between gallon sized freezer bags, add marinade to each bag, seal them and freeze them! This is a great way to have a homemade, prepared meal ready to make in a hurry. Whenever you need a quick dinner, take a bag of marinaded chicken out of the freezer, let it thaw on the countertop for about 2-3 hours, then grill it up!

How to Store Chicken Marinade

You can store this marinade in a glass jar with a lid and keep it in the fridge for up to one week. If you want the marinade to keep for longer, use dried herbs rather than fresh. Then, the marinade will stay fresh when refrigerated for up to a month.


How long can I marinate the chicken?

Four to six hours at a minimum so the marinade has a chance to penetrate and flavor the meat fibers. Chicken doesn’t need to be tenderized. Usually, it’s not recommended to leave the meat sit in the marinate for more than 24 hours, especially if it contains an acid (in this case, the lemon juice) as the meat can break down and become mushy.

Does the chicken have to be submerged in the marinade?

Yes. The marinade should be allowed to flavor all parts of the chicken. Use a resealable plastic bag and turn it periodically during the marinating time.

Is it safe to use the marinade as a sauce?

Use caution if you want to use the remaining marinade as a sauce. The raw chicken does contain bacteria and can contaminate the marinade. Pour any remaining marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil (165 degrees F) to kill off any bacteria and make it safe to use as a sauce or dip.

More Tasty Chicken Recipes

Chicken Marinade

This Easy Chicken Marinade brightens up grilled chicken with flavors of fresh herbs, smoky Worcestershire, paprika, and sweet brown sugar.
4.19 from 11 votes
Cuisine: American
Author: Kasey Schwartz
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes


  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano minced or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley minced and lightly packed or 4 teaspoons dried parsley
  • ¼ cup fresh basil minced and lightly packed or 4 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  • Add all marinade ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until completely combined
  • Add chicken to large resealable bag
  • Pour marinade over chicken, seal
  • Place in refrigerator to chill up to 4 hours
  • Remove from refrigerator and set at room temperature, 20-30 minutes
  • Cook on grill or in oven
Did you make this recipe?Mention @kasey_allthingsmamma or tag #allthingsmamma!

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About Kasey Schwartz

For over 15 years, Kasey Schwartz, the mastermind behind All Things Mamma, has been the ultimate go-to for mouthwatering family recipes. Her work has been featured on, Buzz Feed, Better Homes and Gardens, and more, making her your go-to mom next door for all things delicious and family-friendly.


  1. Can you prep the dry and the wet ingredients of the marinate the night before and mix them? Also if they can Ivan what temperature and how long?

  2. 5 stars
    Hey I’m making this right now and was just gonna put it in the oven what would you recommend the degree and time for it ?

4.19 from 11 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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