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This lemon garlic chicken marinade is super simple to make, healthy, and full of flavor. Simply marinate your favorite chicken in lemon juice, oil, garlic, and herbs then grill it, bake it, or freeze it for later!
This chicken has a tangy lemon flavor with just the right amount of garlic and lots of tasty herbs. It tastes bright and fresh and is delicious both grilled and baked. Bonus that it takes only minutes to make and is made with kitchen-staple ingredients so you can always have a healthy and tasty chicken dinner.
MEAL PREP TIP: We often keep a bag of lemon garlic marinated chicken in the freezer. The chicken will marinate as it thaws and be ready in time for an easy weeknight dinner.
This lemon marinade for chicken uses basic kitchen staples. You won't find any fussy ingredients here. And the great thing about this recipe is that when you marinate chicken with lemon, the lemon helps to tenderize the meat and makes tender and juicy chicken.
Chicken – this marinade is delicious on chicken breast, chicken thighs (boneless and bone-in), wings, and chicken tenders.
Olive oil – use a basic cooking olive oil for this recipe. No need to pull out your best drizzling olive oil.
Herbs – we love fresh herbs, but dried ones work well, too. You can also substitute Italian seasoning.
Garlic – fresh is best and we like to mince it very small (or even grate it on a Microplane) so that the garlic flavor really comes out.
How to make lemon garlic marinated chicken
Making this lemon chicken marinade is so simple!
- Mix some lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a little bowl.
- Put the chicken into a shallow pan and pour the marinade over the top. Mix it around a little so the chicken is well-coated.
- OR … put the chicken into a reusable freezer bag (we love these large Stasher freezer bags) then pour the marinade into the bag.
- When you're ready to cook the chicken, either grill it or bake it.
How long should I marinate the chicken?
Chicken marinated for 6-8 hours will have the best flavor. But even a quick 30-minute marinade will do if you're short on time. Just don't marinate the chicken longer than 24 hours or the texture of the meat will change and start to get mushy.
Can chicken be frozen in the marinade?
Yes! We love these large Stasher freezer bags for freezing just about everything, including this chicken. Simply put the chicken into the bag, pour in the marinade, squish the bag around a little so the chicken is coated in the marinade, then put the bag into your freezer.
What cut of chicken should I use? Breast, thighs, boneless, help!
This marinade can be used to marinade all cuts of chicken. Simply choose your favorite and use that!
How do I know the chicken is done?
The best way to know that the chicken is cooked is to use an instant-read meat thermometer. It should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit when it's inserted into the middle of the chicken. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can cut open a piece of chicken; the juices should run clear. Breast meat should be white. Thigh meat is darker and can sometimes have a light pink hue even when cooked, which is why using a meat thermometer works so well.
Is lemon garlic chicken healthy?
Yes! Skinless chicken is a very healthy protein. And the sugar-free marinade is made with healthy olive oil, lemon juice, and spices.
How many calories does this dish have?
This recipe has 413 calories per serving. One serving is about 2 chicken thighs – the precise amount varies with the size of the chicken thighs.
More popular easy chicken recipes
While we could eat this lemon chicken marinade every week, we also have a number of other chicken recipes we love. Here are a few others to put into your weekly menu rotation:
What to serve with lemon garlic marinated chicken
Our favorite sides are our creamy cucumber salad (pictured below) and our creamy celery salad; both go really well with the lemon garlic chicken. Complete the meal with some smoky roast potatoes. And for something a little different, try our spicy chicken marinade. A few other sides that go well with this lemon chicken marinade are:
- ¼ cup lemon juice ((freshly squeezed for the best flavor))
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons EACH: minced fresh oregano, thyme, and rosemary ((or sub 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning))
- 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 lbs. chicken thighs or breast
- Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic into a small bowl.¼ cup lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons EACH: minced fresh oregano, thyme, and rosemary, 2 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon EACH: sea salt and pepper
- 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 lbs. chicken thighs or breast
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.
Optional: freeze the chicken
- Put the raw chicken into 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.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.