This essential recipe for balsamic chicken marinade is our go-to for quick and healthy dinners. Grill it, bake it, or freeze it for busy weeknights. With just a few ingredients, it's super flavorful chicken and is easy to make, too!

If you love the taste of balsamic, also try our creamy balsamic vinaigrette and balsamic cherry vinaigrette for salads.

a plate of balsamic vinegar marinated chicken on a plate

This balsamic marinade for chicken is on high rotation around here in the summer, and all year long. It's an easy recipe that results in tender, juicy, and flavorful cooked chicken every time!

With balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, and our homemade Italian seasoning, you need only a few ingredients. The marinade does all the work to infuse the chicken with amazing flavor. Cook it over the grill for a wonderful light char and crispy caramelized pieces. Or pop it into the oven for an easy meal all year long!

Serve it with a salad, potatoes, pasta, or anything really. It's a versatile chicken recipe and makes dinner time easy!

Ingredients you'll need for this balsamic chicken recipe

  • Balsamic vinegar – there are many varieties of balsamic vinegar on the market that range in quality and price. The one you use can make a huge difference in the taste of the recipe. Scroll down to see our tips on choosing the right balsamic vinegar for you!
  • Olive oil
  • Brown sugar – for added sweetness and to help the chicken caramelize while it cooks.
  • Italian seasoning – we use our homemade Italian seasoning, but a store-bought blend or mix of a few Italian herbs works great, too. (Try using dried basil or dried oregano). Even fresh thyme is lovely!
  • Salt + pepper – for seasoning and to enhance the other flavors.
  • Garlic – for lots of garlic flavor and a subtle kick.
  • Chicken thighs or breasts – boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs both work equally well with this marinade so use what you prefer, or what you have on hand.
4 pictures showing how to make this Balsamic Chicken Marinade recipe

How to make this marinade for balsamic chicken

It's easy to make this essential balsamic marinade for chicken in a few simple steps:

  1. Make the marinade. Start by mixing the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic together.
  2. Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken thighs or breasts in a shallow bowl or baking dish, pour the marinade over the top, and mix it around to coat. Cover the bowl or dish, and marinate in your fridge for 30 minutes – 24 hours.
  3. Now, all that you have to do is decide whether you want to grill or bake the chicken for dinner tonight or freeze it for later!

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

Tips for choosing a balsamic vinegar

Similar to wine, there's a lot to know about balsamic vinegar. There's a wide range of types, quality, and price points to consider and the highest quality varieties are not meant for marinades.

Here's a quick breakdown of the differences to help guide you in choosing the right one for you:

  • Traditional balsamic vinegar is the purest, highest quality aged vinegar made in Reggio Emilia and Modena, Italy. If you're looking for traditional balsamic vinegar, look for ‘aceto balsamico tradizionale' on the label. It's often sweet and thick, and shouldn't really be used in cooking. It's best reserved for drizzling on meats, cheeses, desserts, or for enjoying with bread.
  • Condimento balsamico is made with high-quality ingredients but not necessarily made in Reggio Emilia or aged for the same amount of time as traditional balsamic. It's a great purchase and tends to be less expensive. It's still a higher quality so you don't need to feel as guilty using it, but is best used as a finishing vinegar rather than in marinades or dressings.
  • Balsamic vinegar of modena I.G.P. is an everyday quality balsamic vinegar. It uses good ingredients but tends to be less aged and skips the fermentation process. It's not as sweet as other high-quality balsamic varieties and is perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and cooking.

Other types include non I.G.P balsamic which are not made in Italy and imitation balsamic which uses other kinds of vinegar and additives.

balsamic chicken on a plate with cucumber salad.

FAQS

How long can I freeze the marinated chicken?

You can freeze marinated chicken for at least 3 months in a freezer bag. If you use good-quality freezer bags (like these Stasher freezer bags), then you can freeze the chicken for much longer without risking freezer burn.

What's better: chicken thighs or breasts?

We prefer chicken thighs because the dark meat tends to be more tender and juicy, but that's a personal preference. Both work equally well in this recipe.

Can I use honey instead of sugar?

Yep! We like honey as a sweetener and you can swap them in equal amounts.

Can I make the marinade ahead of time?

Definitely! Prepare the marinade ahead of time or store extras in a sealed jar or container in the fridge for up to a week. It will solidify but leave it on the counter for 15 minutes and it will liquefy again.

chicken marinated in Balsamic Chicken Marinade cooked on a plate with cucumber salad.

What to serve with balsamic marinated chicken

This versatile marinade for chicken with balsamic vinegar tastes great with basically anything, but pairs especially well with Italian flavors and grilled dishes. Here's a roundup of recipes that we love serving with this savory sweet chicken dish:

Salads that go well with this chicken:

Vegetable sides for chicken:

Starchy sides we love with balsamic chicken:

a close up of chicken marinated in balsamic chicken marinade on a plate.

More chicken marinade recipes

balsamic chicken on a plate with cucumber salad.

Balsamic Chicken Marinade

This essential recipe for balsamic chicken marinade is our go-to for quick and healthy dinners. Grill it, bake it, or freeze it for busy weeknights. With just a few ingredients, it's super flavorful chicken and is easy to make too!

If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

4.89 stars (9 ratings)
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Ingredients

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb chicken thighs or breast

Instructions 

  • Mix the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl.
    ½ cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper, 2 cloves garlic
    image for recipe instruction
  • Place the chicken in a shallow bowl or baking dish and pour the marinade over the top. Mix it around a little so that all the pieces are coated in the marinade. Cover the bowl then put it into your fridge to marinate for 30 minutes – 24 hours.
    2 lb chicken thighs or breast
    image for recipe instruction

Cook the chicken

  • Bake: Put the chicken and all of the marinade into a shallow baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit, uncovered, for 15 minutes for boneless thighs, 20-25 minutes for breast, and 35-40 minutes for bone-in thighs.
    Grill: Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes for boneless thighs, 18-22 minutes for breast, and 30-35 minutes (over indirect heat) for bone-in thighs.
    image for recipe instruction

Optional: freeze the chicken

  • Put the raw chicken into freezer bags (we love these Stasher freezer bags!) then pour the marinade over the top. Squish the bag around a little so that the chicken is coated in the marinade then seal the bag and put it into your freezer.
    image for recipe instruction
Serving: 1 ¼ of recipe, Calories: 434kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 12g, Trans Fat: 0.03g, Cholesterol: 145mg, Sodium: 854mg, Potassium: 905mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 89IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg
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