This 4 ingredient chicken marinade works on all cuts of chicken and yields juicy and tender chicken every single time! Easy to customize and works on other meat too.
Stuck of bland and boring chicken? You will love this 4-ingredient chicken marinade.
It’s a family favorite blend that has been in the family for years. It’s so versatile and delicious and guarantees extra juicy chicken every time. Along with our favorite steak marinade and ham glaze, we use this weekly!
Using a chicken breast fillet as a test, we used this marinade on it and air fried it, grilled it, baked it, and pan-fried it. Without fail, the chicken was always flavorful and never once dried out. If it works well with chicken breasts, then it works even better with other cuts too: thighs, wings, and drumsticks.
Ready to put this marinade to the test?
- Garlic. Freshly minced or jarred garlic, NOT garlic powder.
- Lemon juice. The acidic portion of the marinade that balances out the other ingredients.
- Soy sauce. Gluten free soy sauce or tamari also work.
- Olive oil. The best oil to use for any marinade: do not sub this for another oil.
- Thyme. Optional, but fresh thyme adds that pop of flavor that works so well with chicken.
How to make 4 ingredient chicken marinade
Chicken marinade is easy to make: just remember to allow at least 30 minutes of marination time for whichever cut of chicken you choose to use. Here is the basic idea of marinating the chicken and cooking it (or see the recipe below for the full recipe):
- Make the marinade: Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.
- Marinate the chicken: Add chicken to a ziplock bag or mixing bowl and drizzle the marinade all over it, ensuring all sides are covered. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Cook the chicken: either grill, pan-fry, air fry, or bake the marinated chicken.
The beauty of this marinade is just how simple it is. You can jazz it up and sub out other ingredients for some variety:
- Add a spicy kick by adding red pepper flakes or chili sauce.
- Drizzle with honey for that lovely sweet and salty combination.
- Cut the sodium by using low sodium soy sauce or tamari.
- For an Asian twist, swap out half the olive oil for sesame oil.
- Add balsamic vinegar and sub out the lemon juice if you want extra tender and juicy chicken.
Wondering what is the best way to store chicken marinades? Here are best practices for chicken marinade storage:
- To store: Leftover marinade can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to three days.
- To freeze: Place the prepared marinade in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to one month. Let the marinade thaw completely before adding it to the chicken.
What to use this marinade on
This marinade works well on ANY cut of chicken, including bone-in and skin-on chicken pieces. Here are our favorites:
Frequently Asked Questions
The 4 main components of a marinade include an oil (olive oil), acid (lemon juice), something salty or sweet (soy sauce) and seasonings (garlic).
4 Ingredient Chicken Marinade
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme optional
- Whisk together all the marinade ingredients together.
- Use the marinade on up to two pounds of chicken. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Cook the chicken and enjoy.