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For simple, affordable, and nutritious meals, chicken thighs can’t be beat. This Chicken Thigh Marinade is a mouth-watering blend of sweet and savory flavors, perfect for grilling, baking or broiling your chicken.

Love chicken thighs? Be sure to try my Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs or Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken Thighs next.

Grilled chicken thighs on a white platter.
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Why You’ll Love This Marinade Recipe

  • Versatile – Use it for any cut of chicken, pork or beef!
  • All-Purpose – Marinade and grill, bake or broil your chicken!
  • Easy to Make – The marinade takes about 5 minutes to whisk together.
  • Tender and Juicy – This marinade creates the most mouth-watering grilled chicken thighs.

Why Chicken Thighs?

Chicken thighs are just as delicious as chicken breasts, and might I add easier to cook, more versatile and more forgiving!

  • Easy to Cook and Relatively Foolproof – As hard as you may try it is difficult to overcook chicken thighs thanks to a slightly higher fat content.
  • They’re Versatile – You can use just about any seasoning you like.
  • Budget Friendly – You’ll find boneless skinless chicken thighs cost less per pound than chicken breasts.

What you need

Marinade Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Brown Sugar – Light or dark, whichever you happen to have on hand. Don’t have brown sugar? Try honey as a substitute.
  • Soy Sauce – Opt for low-sodium soy sauce so you can control the salt level.
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Dijon Mustard – Not every kitchen has dijon on hand, and if you don’t have any on hand, Worcestershire sauce will do in a pinch. I recommend using about a tablespoon.
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh squeezed is best, but bottled is fine. Lime juice is also delicious.
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder – or a clove of fresh garlic.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Fresh Herbs – Like parsley or thyme (optional)
  • Chicken Thighs – I used boneless skinless thighs to create this marinade recipe, but it works with any cut of chicken.

How To Marinate Chicken Thighs

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

  • Place the chicken thighs into a resealable plastic bag.
  • Whisk the marinade together in a bowl.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken in the plastic bag. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible to ensure that all the surface area of the chicken is covered with the marinade. Gently massage to coat.

How Long Should You Marinate Chicken Thighs?

With this marinade, you have a few options:

  • Prepare the marinade, add the chicken and marinate for 20-30 minutes at room temperature while you prep other elements of the meal. Then cook as directed.
  • Place the chicken in the bag with the marinade and refrigerate for 2-24 hours. Any longer and the texture may become mushy
  • Place the chicken and marinade in a freezer bag and freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.

Cooking Instructions

This chicken marinade is versatile and can be used for baking, broiling, or grilling your chicken thighs. Here’s a quick run-down of each (assuming you are using boneless, skinless chicken thighs):

  • Grilled Chicken Thighs: Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat (about 350-400℉). Grill chicken for 4-6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Baked Chicken Thighs: Bake for 25-30 minutes at 425℉. Broil for a few minutes at the end for deeper color. Rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Broiled Chicken Thighs: Preheat the broiler and adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a broiling pan with foil or use a cast iron skillet. Broil for about 20 minutes, basting with any reserved and unused marinade. Rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken goes with anything right? You can serve this chicken marinade with pasta like Stovetop Mac and Cheese or Macaroni Salad. You can serve it over rice or with a side of sweet potato wedges.

If I’m grilling the chicken, I love to just grill the whole meal. So I’d add some yummy Grilled Zucchini and Grilled Potatoes.

Be sure to serve some lemon wedges with your chicken for a burst of freshness with every bite!

Grilled chicken thighs, potaotes and lemon on a white plate.

Storage Tips

How To Store Leftovers

Let chicken cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Add chilled to salads and sandwiches or reheat in the microwave.

To freeze fully cooked chicken, cool and store in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as desired.

Recipe Tips

  • IMPORTANT NOTE – Do not use reuse the marinade. If you would like to use some of the marinade for basting the chicken as it cooks, make sure to set some aside before you use it. Once it touches the raw chicken it may become contaminated with harmful bacteria. Any marinade that is leftover from the meat should be discarded.
  • You can prepare the marinade ahead up to 3 days. If the olive oil solidifies in the fridge, just let it sit out for about 20 minutes. It will soften and liquify and you should be good to go.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs can be baked, broiled or grilled with this marinade. However if you’d like to use bone-in chicken thighs, I recommend you start with pan roasting, to sear all sides, then finish in the oven.
  • Add some fresh herbs, like chopped parsley to the marinade for brightness.
  • Leftovers are great for meal prep – making sandwiches, tacos, wraps and salads for the week ahead! Just chop up the chicken thighs and add them to your favorite meals.

More Chicken Thigh Recipes

Close up of grilled chicken

Grilled Chicken Marinade

4.79 from 32 votes
Having a great grilled chicken marinade in your back pocket is essential for summer grilling. This delicious marinade packs a flavor punch without being overpowering, and it's great with any kind of chicken!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 4 pounds Boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper
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  • Prepare the chicken: Place chicken thighs in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Prepare the Marinade: Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Cover/Seal: Pour the marinade over the chicken in the plastic bag. Seal, pressing out as much air as possible to ensure that all the surface area of the chicken is covered. Gently massage to coat. If cooking right away, set the chicken aside for 20-30 minutes then cook as desired.
  • Refrigerate: Refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Any longer and the texture of the meat may change.
  • Freeze: Place chicken and marinade in a resealable freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and cook as desired.


  • Grill: Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat (about 350-400℉). Grill chicken for 4-6 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Bake: Bake for 25-30 minutes at 425℉. If desired, broil for a few minutes at the end for deeper color. Tent with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Broil: Preheat the broiler and adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Line a broiling pan with foil or use a cast iron skillet. Broil chicken for about 20 minutes, basting with any reserved and unused marinade or juices from the pan. Tent with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • If desired, garnish with fresh chopped parsley or other fresh herbs just before serving.


This marinade works wonderfully with all cuts of chicken, pork or beef. 
Keyword grilled chicken, grilled chicken marinade


Calories: 373kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 45gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 1235mgPotassium: 603mgFiber: 1gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 54IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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  1. Susan says:

    I’ve never left a review for a recipe before (and always kind of wondered if it’s people’s friends and family members writing them lol). This recipe really is very good, though – the best marinade I’ve tried for bbq chicken and one I’ll definitely be using again. Thanks for posting it!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Susan! Love the comment! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Janetbuffaloe says:

    I can’t wait to get started…

    1. Janetbuffaloe says:

      Thank you excellent recipes..i can’t wait to get started

      1. Kristin says:

        You are so welcome Janetbuffaloe! Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Leslie says:

    This was Very Good!!

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Leslie!

  4. Nolee says:

    This has become my go-to grilled chicken recipe. It is really outstanding!

    1. Kristin says:

      Love the feedback Nolee! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Amanda Mercer says:

    Unbelievable. I was concerned that the hour would not induce enough flavor but it was absolutely amazing and so full of taste. Loved it!

    1. Kristin says:

      Love the feedback Amanda! Thank you so much for stopping by.

  6. Ellyn says:

    How differently should I prepare this recipe if I’m using skin-on thighs and drumsticks? I’m having a BBQ in 3 days.

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      If you’re using bone-in chicken, you can still use this marinade, but it will take quite a bit longer on the grill. To speed things up and avoid the chance of burning, you could par-cook the meat in the oven and then throw it on the grill. Or, start skin side down on oiled grates for 15 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 20-30 minutes or until it’s 165 degrees internally.

  7. Sharon Deon says:

    Delicious and easy….my go to for chicken on the grill.
    I serve it with roasted baby potatoes and salad.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for stopping by Sharon.

  8. Tori says:

    This is incredible! So easy & quick. No customizations needed.

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Tori! Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Pauline says:

    very good , I made thighs, going to do breast next

  10. Tcousins says:

    Sooooooo good! Everyone loved it— super savoury, but with a bit of sweetness. Tender, juicy and plenty of leftovers to freeze ❤️ . Thanks!

  11. Amy B says:

    Love this recipe! It’s so easy and my husband loves it – it’s definitely a staple in our home! I bake rather than grill and it turns out fabulous. We also cut up the leftovers and use them on salads which is wonderful too.

    1. Kristin says:

      Nice! Thanks for the awesome feedback Amy.

  12. Pam says:

    Really quick, easy and delicious. I’ll be using this often. Thanks!

    1. Kristin says:

      Awesome feedback Pam! Thanks for stopping by.

  13. Lara says:

    Fabulous!! I used a dark mushroom soy sauce, that is kinda thick, otherwise I followed the recipe. Marinated 2 hours. I did chicken tenders, so really easy to dry out on the grill. They were perfect, everyone commented that it was amazing to get grilled chicken tenders that were moist & juicy. Will be doing this again.

    1. Kristin says:

      That’s awesome Lara! Thanks for the awesome feedback.

  14. Alexandra says:

    Best marinade ever! So tasty and the chicken thighs turned out sooo juicy! Definitely adding this to my summer rotation. Thank you for this fantastic recipe!

    1. Kristin says:

      You are so welcome Alexandra! Thanks for stopping by.

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