Easy Lemon Chicken Marinade

This is the best lemon chicken marinade we’ve tried. Use our easy marinade for super tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken. You can use it on a variety of chicken cuts and cooking methods, including baking, grilling, or cooking in a skillet.

Lemon Chicken Marinade Recipe Video

This super versatile lemon garlic chicken marinade is perfect for all cuts of chicken. We’ve been using this marinade for a long time (originally inspired by these delicious lemon chicken thighs). While it’s perfect for chicken, it’s also delicious with pork, fish, and vegetables.

We’ve used it in many recipes, including lemon garlic chicken breasts, juicy grilled chicken, and garlic parmesan wings.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

Key Ingredients

  • Lemon: I use fresh lemon juice and zest. Lemon juice makes the base of the marinade, while the zest gives it an extra lemony punch. I like using a vegetable peeler to make strips of the zest.
  • Olive oil: I love the flavor of olive oil in this marinade. It makes the chicken more delicious. If you plan to cook your chicken over high heat, consider substituting it with avocado oil.
  • Dijon mustard: Mustard and lemon work beautifully together, so I always add a little Dijon to this marinade.
  • Garlic: Smashed whole garlic cloves add the right amount of fresh garlic flavor and balance the acidity of the lemon. Keeping them whole also prevents any garlic from burning later on.
  • Fresh herbs: These are optional, but I love adding fresh herbs to this chicken marinade. I use fresh parsley in the video, but dill, cilantro, and basil are excellent choices.

How Long to Marinate Chicken

Making your marinade is easy! Simply stir all the ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and use it within 2 hours.

Chicken Marinade Ingredients

Since this marinade contains lemon juice, don’t marinate your chicken for longer than 6 hours. The acidity of the lemon juice can break down the chicken’s proteins, resulting in a mushy texture if left in the marinade for too long. Always marinate your chicken in the refrigerator and discard any leftover marinade to ensure food safety.

  • Boneless chicken breasts: I usually marinate chicken breasts between 30 minutes and 2 hours.
  • Bone-in chicken: Chicken thighs, bone-in chicken breasts, and drumsticks can handle a bit more time. Marinate for up to 6 hours.

More Easy Marinade Recipes

Lemon Chicken Marinade

Easy Lemon Chicken Marinade

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We love this lemon garlic chicken marinade! This recipe makes enough marinade for 2 to 3 pounds of chicken. It works great for chicken, but you can also use it for turkey, pork, fish, shrimp, tofu, and vegetables.

Feel free to use the marinade for basting while cooking or grilling. Just remember to set aside a portion of the marinade before adding your ingredients if you plan to baste.

Makes 1/2 cup

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

2 lemons

2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

Directions

    1Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zest of 1 lemon, then juice the lemons so you have 1/4 cup (60ml) of juice.

    2Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper together in a small bowl until the salt has dissolved.

    3Stir in the garlic, lemon zest, and parsley (if using).

    4Place the chicken in the marinade, and then move it around a few times to ensure it’s well coated. Refrigerate for up to 6 hours or 2 hours for boneless chicken breasts.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Fresh herbs: I love parsley, but dill, cilantro, and basil are also lovely.
  • Marinating time: Due to the acidic nature of the lemon juice, we recommend marinating chicken for no longer than 6 hours. If you’re marinating fish, 30 minutes or less is adequate.
  • To turn into a salad dressing: Increase the olive oil to 1/4 cup and whisk until blended. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then discard the garlic and lemon zest. Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt. Add a sprinkle of sugar or a little honey to balance the acidity and the mustard.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
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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40 comments… Leave a Review
  • Nursek May 29, 2024, 6:32 pm

    I just used this recipe for chicken…. we marinated and then grilled…. my entire family loved it. Like wouldn’t stop talking about how good it was!!!!!!

    Reply
    • Adam May 31, 2024, 6:20 pm

      Wonderful! Thank you so much for coming back to leave such a lovely review 🙂

      Reply
  • Annette November 4, 2023, 4:12 am

    My husband is not open to trying new food so I didn’t tell him I was marinating the chicken before I served it. Straight away he asked “what did you do, this is awesome.” And I used seeded mustard as it was all I had… still good. We’ve had it 2 nights in a row and I suspect I’ll be going to buy more lemons tomorrow.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 9, 2024, 6:18 pm

      So happy you both enjoyed it Annette!

      Reply
  • Rita Wickham April 13, 2023, 3:09 am

    As a very senior fan of your recipes, I wondered if you had considered producing a hardback book of your recipes. I would be the first to buy.. I love all your recipes and it gives me new ideas for cooking. I live in uk..

    Reply
    • Joanne April 13, 2023, 1:56 pm

      Hi Rita, Thank you so much for reaching out. We do not have a cookbook yet, but it means a lot that you would be excited for one. We will keep everyone updated if this changes! Happy cooking.

      Reply
  • Jada March 5, 2023, 4:07 pm

    Hi Joanne! Could I use the marinade as a sauce and make a skillet chicken when I didn’t find time to marinate? Thanks for your help. The marinade sounds delish and very versatile! Hope I can !!

    Reply
    • Joanne March 5, 2023, 5:27 pm

      Hi Jada, Yes! This marinade can double as a sauce.

      Reply
  • @EatRightMamaRD August 21, 2022, 10:09 pm

    I’ve used lots of citrus marinades, but what makes this THE BEST lemon marinade is the lemon rind! I grated mine and also added tarragon. A big hit with my guests! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 9, 2024, 6:18 pm

      Oh, I love your addition of tarragon! Such a wonderful herb.

      Reply
  • Carol August 14, 2022, 7:18 pm

    I made skinless bone-in chicken thighs tonight using this marinade. Followed the recipe exactly, used fresh herbs of cilantro, parsley and basil. So happy with the flavor!! Absolutely delicious marinade !!!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 9, 2024, 6:18 pm

      Woohoo! We are thrilled you enjoyed it Carol!

      Reply
  • Gloria July 31, 2022, 11:42 am

    This is my first summer using this recipe, and I’ve recommended it to dozens of people! We live to grill during the summer, and this is such a lively, healthy taste!! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Joanne February 9, 2024, 6:19 pm

      Yes! This is such a fresh, zesty marinade. Thanks for coming back, Gloria.

      Reply
  • Chris David April 26, 2022, 1:05 am

    Really delicious recipe. I love it yummy!!! It’s really awesome. Will surely try this.

    Reply
  • Jean Marie Hansen March 15, 2022, 12:45 pm

    You did not mention how long to bake or cook the chicken for….can you provide some guidance on this? Thank you, Jean

    Reply
    • Joanne May 5, 2022, 12:47 pm

      We use this marinade when making these baked chicken breasts. Or you can check our all of our chicken recipes.

      Reply
      • Diane October 1, 2023, 7:25 pm

        So, would you double it for a whole chicken? Sounds delish!

        Reply
        • Joanne February 9, 2024, 4:45 pm

          Probably a good idea.

          Reply
  • Suzy July 5, 2021, 6:24 pm

    Absolutely yummy! The best marinade recipe I’ve ever tried. Chicken was flavorful and moist — can’t wait to try the other suggestions on to use this recipe. Love it! Thanks for sharing

    Reply
  • 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!

    Reply
  • Luci January 12, 2021, 3:45 pm

    I don’t eat or prepare meats often (formerly a pescatarian) but I had all ingredients on hand and really needed to use some lemons and cilantro before they went bad. WOW! This was easy and so flavorful. I cooked a chicken breast on an electric grill for lunch and it was juicy and simply delicious. 10/10 will make again ASAP and trying with fish or shrimp.

    Reply

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