Easy No-Fail Lemon Chicken Marinade

If you’re on the lookout for a simple, no-fail chicken marinade recipe, you’ve found it. Use this for baked or grilled chicken. Jump to the Chicken Marinade Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how to make it.

Watch Us Make the Recipe

This easy (and healthy) chicken marinade has a tangy combination of lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes and mustard. This just might be one of the best marinades, ever.

It is perfect for roasted, baked, or grilled chicken and works well for chicken breasts or thighs. In fact, if you scroll down a little, you’ll see it’s versatile enough to work with turkey, pork, seafood, and vegetables.

This flavor combination is one of our favorites — we’re clearly big fans of the lemon-mustard combo, just take a look at our Easy Lemon Chicken Thighs. We use lots of lemon juice, some garlic, and mustard with the chicken thighs. It was this recipe that inspired us to share this marinade. One we’ve used lots of times since then.

Here’s another way we love using the marinade. Our Grilled Lemon Garlic Chicken Wings marinate for at least an hour, and then we grill them until tender and brown. They are seriously delicious.

This is the Best Chicken Marinade. Bonus: It Can Be Used for Pork, Fish, and Vegetables!

The combination of lemon, garlic and mustard is killer with chicken, but this can be used for so much more. Any hearty white fish would love it — think mahi mahi or swordfish — and don’t get me started with how amazing shrimp would be.

Chicken Marinade

Vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli would be great, too. Try tossing broccoli in the marinade then grill it. Incredible!

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

You could even turn this into a tangy salad dressing.

By reducing the mustard a little and increasing the olive oil, you would have a homemade dressing ready for salad or veggies — we really like the idea of tossing it with some roasted vegetables. Check out our recipe below for how to transform the marinade into a dressing.

You May Also Like this marinade that we used to make our Lemony Chicken Breasts paired with a Cucumber and Feta Salad. It’s very similar to this, but without the mustard. The salad is also incredibly good!

Lemon Chicken Marinade Recipe

Recipe updated, originally posted June 2015. Since posting this in 2015, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Easy No-Fail Lemon Chicken Marinade

  • PREP

This just might be the best chicken marinade, ever. It’s incredibly versatile. Use for marinating chicken, turkey, pork, fish, shrimp, tofu or vegetables. When marinating meats and poultry, marinate at least 1 hour or overnight. When marinating something more delicate like fish, you only need to marinate 1 to 2 hours. You can also use this to baste while cooking or grilling, if you plan to do this, simply set a portion of the prepared marinade aside for basting.

Makes approximately 1/2 cup

You Will Need

Zest of 1 lemon, peeled or finely grated

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 to 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like things

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

3 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a large knife or minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, parsley, cilantro, basil or a combination, optional


    Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper together until the salt has dissolved. Stir in the garlic, lemon zest and herbs (if using). Refrigerate and use within 1 to 2 hours.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • To transform into a salad dressing: To turn this into a tangy dressing, perfect for roasted or raw vegetables, increase the olive oil to 1/4 cup and whisk until blended. Refrigerate for 1 hour then discard garlic and lemon zest. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt or add a sprinkle of sugar or a little honey to balance acidity and the mustard.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/4 cup / Calories 138 / Protein 1 g / Carbohydrate 4 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 1 g / Total Fat 14 g / Saturated Fat 2 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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15 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Jan January 15, 2021, 6:55 pm

    5 star marinade! Used lemon oil too. Chicken was delicious. Can’t wait to try this as a dressing!

  • Shirley Taylor November 14, 2020, 9:43 am

    We eat a lot of chicken in this house and i had run out of ideas until i ran across this incredible marinade! I used 2 boneless skinless breasts with a little Pam in the bottom of the pan and a lid, 5-6 mins on each side and they were so moist and delicious. The marinade helped the chicken to not stick to the pan. There was no left overs so for dinner tonight i’m going to try it with chicken wings! Thank you inspiredtaste!

  • Tracy November 1, 2020, 7:29 pm

    Best marinade for chicken. Use leftover chicken in salads! I have always used fresh basil, but next time will try cilantro😋

  • Nancy June 15, 2020, 4:18 pm

    This is a very tasty marinade which I plan to use on some grilled boneless chicken breasts. It has all of my favorite ingredients and I used cilantro vs. basil in the marinade. Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Elizabeth June 9, 2020, 9:26 pm

    just made this tonight and it was amazing! Will definitely make again. Ny boyfriend said he would eat the marinade as a pasta sauce so I might play around with that! It is like francaise with a kick!

  • Cph Media March 10, 2020, 4:54 pm

    I’ve been making roast chickens for years and all other recipes have gone out the window for this one. It is my new Sunday night ritual.

  • Dan June 30, 2019, 3:24 pm

    Delicious!! A general rule for volume of marinade-to-meat is 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat. If you use a little more marinade, it will be OK. Citrus will “cook” proteins (think: ceviche), so don’t use overnight. As with any citrus marinade, marinate 1-2 hours, 3 max, lest meat texture get weird and unpleasant.

  • Charla42 May 10, 2019, 6:52 pm

    Whipped this up last PM when we decided to grill, rather than saute the lemon-chicken in a recipe I found on another site. This marinade made the chicken taste absolutely delicious, as well as ensuring that it wouldn’t dry out on the grill. In fact, it made dinner feel more like and *event* than just another Thursday night with another plate of food. TIPS: I had all the ingredients on hand already except the fresh lemons, and those were on sale for 2/$1, so it cost essentially nothing to “up” our chicken game. And yes, this really is easy – if you have a microplane to accomplish the zesting – luckily, my son bought that, plus some other kitchen gadgets – for Christmas last year. Peeling and finely grating lemon peel sounds like a pretty miserable task, but it gets the job done. I’m going to hang on to this one!!

  • Aide January 29, 2019, 3:01 pm

    Can’t wait I’m gonna make tonight ??

  • Jenni Turvey January 23, 2019, 4:50 am

    Made this marinade tonight with only 2 garlic cloves as they were huge in size and cooked in heavy pan with butterflied chicken breast after marinating for 1.5 hours. Simply divine! thankyou.

  • Sarah August 5, 2018, 1:39 pm

    This marinade is simply delicious! I live in a no-salt household, which resulted in the general consensus that this recipe uses WAY too much salt. Next time I make this I’ll be omitting the salt. I also substituted fresh dill for dried, and cut the amount in half and it worked out well. I imagine it would taste much better with fresh dill, and as a vinaigrette for salad.

  • Joanne December 28, 2017, 6:50 pm

    Hi, How many pounds of chicken or fish can I use for this marinade. I’m definitely gonna try this. Thanks.

    • Joanne July 2, 2018, 3:49 pm

      Hi there, I’d assume that you could marinate at least 2 pounds if you needed to.

  • Caitlin December 7, 2016, 8:55 pm

    Great marinade – so delicious! I am pre-diabetic so I am trying to follow a low-carb diet. Most marinades involve sugar in some form or another but this one is blissfully low-carb and sugar-free as well as just generally healthy. The whole family loves this one so it is a win-win. Thank you!

  • Brian July 31, 2016, 9:42 pm

    Light and tangy. Easy and good


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