When it comes to cooking and grilling flavorful, juicy chicken, a good marinade is absolutely key. Whether you’re using chicken in a recipe or enjoying it as a side to your fav side dishes, get ready to try some fun new chicken marinades that are easy, healthy and full of flavor.
I have six core chicken marinades that I turn to time and time again, plus more spice rubs and even salad dressings that double as marinades (win-win!) Take a scroll, pick out your favorites and enjoy these amazing recipes!
How to make healthy chicken marinades
A great chicken marinade requires three key ingredients
- Fat from oil or even full fat yogurt or buttermilk
- Acid from vinegar or citrus fruit
- Plenty of seasonings like spices and fresh or dried herbs
With the chicken marinade recipes below, you’ll simply whisk the ingredients together and add them to a resealable bag with 1 pound of chicken (I love Stasher bags!)
Organic chicken breast tends to have more moisture and better flavor, so if you are able, I always suggest purchasing organic chicken breast. The longer you marinate your chicken the better, but be sure to let it marinade for at least 2-4 hours.
How to bake & grill different cuts of chicken
These healthy chicken marinades are great for chicken breasts, drumsticks, and thighs. You’ll marinate each cut of chicken the same way – just use 1 pound of chicken per marinade before cooking.
For boneless skinless chicken breasts:
- To grill: preheat grill to medium high (about 400 degrees F) and lightly oil the grate. Cook chicken breast 6-8 minutes per side, until juices run clear and chicken in no longer pink. Check out my full guide for how to grill chicken breast that’s perfectly juicy here!
- To bake: I typically bake my chicken breast at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, but this also depend on the thickness of your chicken breast. Be sure to check the the internal temp with a meat thermometer so that it reads 165 degrees F.
For chicken drumsticks:
- To grill: preheat your grill to medium high and lightly oil the grate. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 8 minutes, then flip, brush with the reserved marinade, and grill for an additional 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over one last time, brush again with the remaining marinade, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until no pink remains in the center of the chicken.
- To bake: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a oven-safe rack on a large baking sheet and grease with nonstick cooking spray so that the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan. Place the drumsticks on the pan with the thicker part of the drumstick to the outside. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.
For boneless skinless chicken thighs:
- To grill: preheat your grill to medium high and lightly oil the grates. Cook your chicken thighs for 6-8 minutes per side, flipping once. When the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F your chicken is done.
- To bake: preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake your chicken thighs for about 25-30 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165.
For skin-on chicken thighs:
- To grill: preheat your grill to medium high and lightly oil the grates. Place chicken skin-side down and grill for 5-6 minutes until grill marks appear. Flip your chicken and cook for another 6-8 minutes more until the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.
- To bake: preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and bake your chicken thighs for 30-40 minutes or until the internal temp reaches 165 F and juices run clear.
Ways to use these healthy chicken marinades
After marinating your chicken with one (or multiple) of these chicken marinades, grill or bake your chicken and add it to salads, pastas, grain bowls, and more! If you’re looking for tips on how to grill the perfect chicken breast, I have the ultimate guide here. You can also try adding your cooked chicken to these recipes for a delicious, complete meal:
- Use the Spicy Maple Dijon marinade and pair your chicken with: Cashew Crunch Shredded Brussels Sprouts Salad or Spicy Maple Dijon Grilled Brussels Sprouts
- The Ranch chicken marinade would be delicious with: Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Greek Yogurt Dressing or Better Than Chipotle DIY Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Moroccan Coconut marinade: One Pot Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad, in this 15-Minute Healthy Moroccan Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad, or with Curry Roasted Cauliflower Sweet Potato Salad
- Lemon Basil marinade: Everything Spring Green Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette or Healthy Summer Broccoli Salad
- Jerk Chicken marinade: use it for Jerk Chicken with Caribbean Rice & Mango Salsa or pair with Roasted Sweet Potato & Black Bean Salad with Fresh Pineapple Corn Salsa
- Spicy Taco marinade: add the chicken to these Jalapeño Sweet Potato Black Bean Taco with Avocado-Lime Crema, or this Fiesta Mango Black Bean Quinoa Salad
More easy marinades and spices to try
I absolutely love using these 6 healthy chicken marinades on all of my go-to proteins, and have even more spice rubs, sauces and marinades to try! Head to these recipes and use the spice combination or marinade on your chicken:
- Honey Mustard
- Taco Seasoned
- Sazon Seasoned
- Honey Lemon Garlic
- Sweet & Spicy Ginger
- BONUS: Healthy Salad Dressings (that double as marinades!)
I hope you love these easy chicken marinades! If you try them be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked them. Enjoy, xo!
The Best Chicken Marinades (easy + healthy!)
The best chicken marinades that are easy, healthy, and absolutely delicious. With flavors like lemon basil, spicy taco, and Moroccan coconut, these flavorful chicken marinade recipes are perfect for making delicious chicken breasts, drumsticks, thighs and tons of other proteins. Bonus spice rubs, marinades and recipes included!
- Spicy Maple Dijon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice (or can sub apple cider vinegar)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill or fresh chopped chives
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon honey
- Moroccan Coconut
- ¾ cup light coconut milk (or use full fat)
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Lemon Basil
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- 4-5 basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- Jerk Chicken
- 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons gluten free soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Spicy Taco
- 3 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For each of the marinades, place all ingredients into a Stasher bag or a large ceramic dish.
Add 1 pound chicken of choice to the bag or dish, and mix well to evenly coat.
Let the chicken marinade in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours before cooking. 30 minutes before you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove the chicken from the marinade.
For boneless skinless chicken breasts: preheat grill to medium high and lightly oil the grate. Cook chicken breast 6-8 minutes per side, until juices run clear and chicken in no longer pink.
For chicken drumsticks: place the chicken on the grill and cook for 8 minutes, then flip, brush with the reserved marinade, and grill for an additional 8 minutes. Turn the chicken over one last time, brush again with the remaining marinade, and cook for 5 more minutes, or until no pink remains in the center of the chicken.
To bake chicken breasts: I typically bake my chicken breast at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, but this also depend on the thickness of your chicken breast. Be sure to check the the internal temp with a meat thermometer so that it reads 165 degrees F.
To bake chicken drumsticks: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a oven-safe rack on a large baking sheet and grease with nonstick cooking spray so that the chicken doesn’t stick to the pan. Place the drumsticks on the pan with the thicker part of the drumstick to the outside. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.
Can you freeze the chic iij en in these marinades?
Hi, Katherine! Yes, definitely 🙂
If you bake the chicken legs, do you pre marinate them or add them onto the legs before baking?
Hi, Tali! I’d definitely marinate them beforehand to ensure the flavor really gets into the chicken 🙂
These marinade recipes are an awesome way to change up a boring chicken breast on the grill all summer long! The spicy maple dijon was in regular rotation in our house this summer. Thank you for these great ideas!
Thanks so much for leaving a review, Mariana! I’m so glad to hear you’ve been enjoying them 🙂