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Having a great grilled chicken marinade in your back pocket is essential for summer grilling. This delicious chicken marinade packs a flavor punch without being overpowering, and it’s great with any kind of chicken, especially these grilled chicken thighs!
Food just tastes better when it’s been cooked outside. You can throw just about anything on the grill, from steak and potatoes to veggies and even bread. How about turning this chicken marinade into a delicious Grilled Chicken Sandwich?
GRILLED CHICKEN MARINADE RECIPE
Grilling season is in full swing and I am always looking for something new to throw on the grill. However there are some things that are just meant for the grill and just scream summer, like the perfect Grilled Chicken Marinade.
I have tried different flavor combinations for grilling chicken over the years, but this is the one that’s stuck. It’s uncomplicated and unpretentious, super simple to whip up and tastes absolutely amazing on grilled chicken thighs, chicken breast, drums…even pork!
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST GRILLED CHICKEN MARINADE
A good marinade can be what takes your chicken from ho-hum to OMG in a 30 minutes. So what is a good seasoning for grilled chicken? The key to a good chicken marinade is to have a combination of ingredients:
- Salt – salt has flavor, as we all know. Just don’t get too heavy handed with the salt as it can actually dry out the meat.
- Acid – Acids, like lemon juice, vinegar and mustard, help to tenderize the meat. Leave them on too long though, and they can break down the meats and dry them out, similar to salt.
- Fat – Fats, like olive oil and canola oil carry flavor and help to infuse the marinade into the meat.
- Flavor – This may be the most important of all! Add flavor to your grilled chicken marinade with potent, high-flavor ingredients like garlic, herbs and spices to really pack a punch to your chicken.
HOW LONG DO YOU MARINATE CHICKEN FOR?
Once the marinade is combined, place the chicken in the marinade for at least 1 hour. If you plan to marinate for longer than 2 hours, wait to add the acids (in our case, the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar) until the last hour or so.
PRO TIP: Don not reuse leftover marinade. If you’d like to baste the chicken in the marinade as it cooks (not always necessary, but can add flavor and juiciness), be sure to reserve some of the marinating liquid BEFORE adding the meat. Any marinade that is leftover from the meat should be discarded.
HOW LONG DO YOU COOK CHICKEN ON THE GRILL?
The answer to this question actually depends on the type of chicken, and the thickness. One thing to remember with any type of chicken is just like a good steak, you want to set the chicken on the grill, then leave it to cook and get those beautiful grill marks. Chicken breasts should register 165 degrees F on a meat thermometer, and chicken thighs and drumsticks should be at 180 degrees.
- Boneless grilled chicken thighs or breasts take about 4-5 minutes per side.
- Bone-in grilled chicken thighs or drumsticks take at least double the time as boneless. Watch for flare-ups, and move the chicken off of the direct heat to finish cooking if necessary.
PRO TIP: If your grill has a thermometer gauge, use it. You want your grill to be between 350-400 degrees F when closed (and you need to keep it closed when cooking!). Don’t just rely on the knobs for low-medium-high temps. My grill run pretty hot, so those settings are pretty much useless.
Looking for a great grilling utensils set? Try this grilling set that includes tongs, a spatula and a basting brush! (aff).
WHAT IS A GOOD SIDE DISH FOR CHICKEN?
The great thing about chicken is that it is complimented by so many different sides. We love a good Homemade Mac and Cheese or Macaroni Salad. But my favorites side dishes to grill with are things that actually go on the grill with the chicken! Current faves are Grilled Zucchini and Grilled Potatoes. So much flavor!
Want some more delicious Grilled Chicken recipes and more for the grill? Try these:
- Easy Grilled Jerk Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters
- Grilled Garlic & Lime Chicken Kabobs
- Sriracha Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Grilled Zucchini Recipe
- Grilled Corn
- Spice Rubbed Grilled Tri Tip
- Grilled Shrimp Pasta Salad
Grilled Chicken Thighs Recipe:
Grilled Chicken Marinade
- 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
- Combine all ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Press as much air out of the bag as possible when you seal it. *Tip – if using breasts, lightly pound them out to an even thickness for even cooking.
- Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (If marinating longer than 2 hours, wait to add the lemon juice during the last hour or so).
- To cook: Heat grill to medium heat (about 350-400 degrees). Cook chicken for 4-6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F. (Time will depend on the thickness of the chicken).
- Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Let chicken rest 5 minutes before serving.
- If desired, garnish with fresh chopped parsley before serving.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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!
You are so welcome Susan! Love the comment! Thanks for stopping by.
I can’t wait to get started…
Thank you excellent recipes..i can’t wait to get started
You are so welcome Janetbuffaloe! Thanks for stopping by.
This was Very Good!!
Thank you Leslie!
This has become my go-to grilled chicken recipe. It is really outstanding!
Love the feedback Nolee! Thanks for stopping by.
Unbelievable. I was concerned that the hour would not induce enough flavor but it was absolutely amazing and so full of taste. Loved it!
Love the feedback Amanda! Thank you so much for stopping by.
How differently should I prepare this recipe if I’m using skin-on thighs and drumsticks? I’m having a BBQ in 3 days.
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.
Delicious and easy….my go to for chicken on the grill.
I serve it with roasted baby potatoes and salad.
Nice! Thanks for stopping by Sharon.
This is incredible! So easy & quick. No customizations needed.
Awesome feedback Tori! Thanks for stopping by.
very good , I made thighs, going to do breast next
Sooooooo good! Everyone loved it— super savoury, but with a bit of sweetness. Tender, juicy and plenty of leftovers to freeze ❤️ . Thanks!
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.
Nice! Thanks for the awesome feedback Amy.
Really quick, easy and delicious. I’ll be using this often. Thanks!
Awesome feedback Pam! Thanks for stopping by.
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.
That’s awesome Lara! Thanks for the awesome feedback.
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!
You are so welcome Alexandra! Thanks for stopping by.