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A savory chicken thigh marinade with soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, garlic and herbs turns this affordable cut of meat into a tender, juicy and flavorful meal. Whisk together the simple ingredients in just 5 minutes, add the boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and a few hours later (or the next day) finish them on the grill or in the oven. The healthy and easy chicken thigh marinade goes well with just about any of your favorite sides — from rice to biscuits, mac and cheese to cornbread, salad and green beans!

Side shot of a platter of chicken thighs with chicken thigh marinade from the grill

How to Make a Chicken Thigh Marinade | 1-Minute Video

Grilled Chicken Thighs Marinade

When the weather is warm and you can fire up the grill, nothing beats marinated grilled chicken thighs for a quick, inexpensive, and delicious family dinner. The good news? This easy chicken thigh marinade works equally well for baked chicken in the oven, so you can enjoy the tasty supper all year round!

Boneless Chicken Thighs vs. Bone-In Chicken Thighs

Whether you use chicken thighs with or without the bones is really a matter of personal preference, and often depends on the recipe that you’re preparing. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are ideal when you’re looking for fried chicken or roasted chicken with a crispy skin, or a slowly-braised or roasted dish that derives flavor from the fat and bones (like coq au vin or one pot chicken and rice).

When marinating thighs for the grill or oven, we’re less concerned with the crispy skin, and more concerned with the moist, tender meat and the rich flavor. As a result, we prefer the ease of boneless, skinless chicken thighs here. That said, if you like the bone-in thighs, those will work as well — you just might need to increase the cooking time slightly.

Overhead shot of chicken thigh marinade recipe served with rice and green beans.

How long should you marinate chicken thighs?

For the best results, marinate the chicken thighs overnight. This particular marinade doesn’t have too much acid in it, so it won’t turn the meat mushy. Instead, the longer marinating time will develop the most flavor and will yield the most tender, juicy meat. You can also prep the marinade in the morning before you head off to work, so that when you walk in the door tired at the end of the day all of the work is done — just bake or grill and dinner is served!

Since there are days when we just don’t plan ahead enough for a long overnight marinade, it’s fine to soak the chicken for about 2-3 hours. The meat will still be delicious!

Ingredients for an Easy Chicken Thigh Marinade

This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of this easy marinade. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are provided in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Soy sauce: I prefer less-sodium soy sauce, but any variety will work. This adds great salty, umami flavor to the meat.
  • Olive oil: the fat that helps transfer fat-soluble flavors onto the meat and also helps the meat retain moisture.
  • Lemon juice: the acid that tenderizes the chicken thighs.
  • Worcestershire sauce, honey, oregano, rosemary and garlic salt: add so much rich flavor to the marinade.
  • Chicken thighs: we prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this recipe, but you can substitute with bone-in thighs if you like.
Overhead process shot showing how to make chicken thigh marinade

How to Make Chicken Thigh Marinade

This is one of our favorite marinades because it comes together quickly with just a handful of pantry staples, and yields the most incredible, rich flavor. If you don’t have fresh herbs, dried herbs will work fine! It’s best when you can plan ahead and let the meat marinate overnight, but that’s also not necessary. Just a few hours will still yield delicious chicken thighs!

  1. Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients.
  2. Place chicken thighs in a large Ziploc bag or bowl.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken and toss to coat.
  4. Refrigerate the chicken in the marinade for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight if possible.
  5. Remove the chicken from the bag and discard the marinade.
  6. Grill or roast the chicken until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165° F. This will take about 6-7 minutes per side over medium-high heat on a grill, or about 20 minutes in a 425° F oven.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs in marinade
Grilled boneless skinless chicken thighs on a white platter

What to Serve with Marinated Chicken Thighs

These versatile chicken thighs go well with almost any of your favorite sides. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Side shot of a plate of grilled chicken thighs with rice and green beans.

Storage

Store leftover chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can you freeze chicken thighs in a marinade?

Yes, you can prepare this recipe as a freezer meal by placing the raw chicken thighs in a large Ziploc freezer bag with the marinade. Squeeze out all of the air from the bag, lay the bag flat, and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use the chicken, place the bag in the refrigerator to thaw overnight before cooking according to the recipe instructions.

Overhead image of a tray of grilled chicken thigh marinade

Recipe Variations

  • To serve a smaller family, cut the ingredients in half and only bake about 1 pound of chicken thighs.
  • Switch up the herbs and just use your favorites. For instance, add parsley instead of oregano, or use thyme instead of rosemary.
  • Instead of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, try bone-in thighs. The bone-in meat tends to require a little bit longer cooking time.
  • Don’t have any garlic salt? Use garlic powder instead and add a dash of salt.
  • Swap out the honey for brown sugar.
Overhead shot of marinated chicken thighs with rice and green beans.

Tips for the Best Chicken Thigh Marinade Recipe

  • Make Ahead: if possible, marinate the chicken thighs overnight. This will yield the most tender, juicy meat. At a minimum, let the chicken sit in the marinade for 2-3 hours.
  • Use fresh herbs for the best flavor. If you don’t have access to fresh rosemary or oregano, it’s fine to use a smaller amount of the dried herbs instead.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken and on the temperature of the meat when it goes into the oven or onto the grill. As a result, a meat thermometer is always the best way to know when your chicken is done. It will be perfectly tender and juicy when it reaches 165° F.
Overhead image of a platter of grilled chicken thighs marinade on a wooden table

More Chicken Thigh Recipes To Try

Side shot of a platter of chicken thighs with chicken thigh marinade from the grill

Chicken Thigh Marinade

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Marinating Time 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 17 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 283 kcal
A savory chicken thigh marinade with soy sauce, honey, lemon juice, garlic and herbs turns this affordable cut of meat into a tender, juicy and flavorful meal!

Ingredients
  

  • ¼ cup less-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried oregano)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

Instructions

  • In a large measuring cup or in a jar with a lid, whisk (or shake) together all of the marinade ingredients until completely combined.
  • Place chicken thighs in a large Ziploc bag or bowl. Pour the marinade in the bag with the chicken. Seal the top of the bag and place chicken in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2-3 hours (or overnight is even better).
  • Remove chicken from the bag or bowl and discard the marinade.

TO GRILL THE CHICKEN THIGHS:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (about 400-450° F). Place the chicken thighs directly on grill grates and grill for approximately 6-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° F.

TO BAKE THE CHICKEN THIGHS:

  • Preheat the oven to 425° F. Place the chicken thighs on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil or in a greased baking dish. Bake until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165° F, about 20 minutes.

Video

Notes

  • To serve a smaller family, cut the ingredients in half and only bake about 1 pound of chicken thighs.
  • Switch up the herbs and just use your favorites. For instance, add parsley instead of oregano, or use thyme instead of rosemary.
  • Instead of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, try bone-in thighs. The bone-in meat tends to require a little bit longer cooking time.
  • Swap out the honey for brown sugar.
  • Don’t have any garlic salt? Use garlic powder instead and add a dash of salt.
  • Make Ahead: if possible, marinate the chicken thighs overnight. This will yield the most tender, juicy meat. At a minimum, let the chicken sit in the marinade for 2-3 hours.
  • Use fresh herbs for the best flavor. If you don’t have access to fresh rosemary or oregano, it’s fine to use a smaller amount of the dried herbs instead.
  • The total cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken and on the temperature of the meat when it goes into the oven or onto the grill. As a result, a meat thermometer is always the best way to know when your chicken is done. It will be perfectly tender and juicy when it reaches 165° F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 283kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 33gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 914mgPotassium: 426mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 108IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 44mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: baked chicken thighs, boneless chicken thighs, chicken thigh marinade, grilled chicken thighs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I tried your Chicken Thigh Marinade yesterday, but skipped the rosemary, as I didn’t have any. We marinated the thighs for 3 hrs. and cooked them on the grill. They were absolutely delicious–thank you! They are great left-over , as well.

    1. That’s awesome, Terry! We actually had them for dinner last night, too. 🙂 Great minds think alike! Thanks for your note!

  2. 5 stars
    I had to add extra garlic powder, salt and honey. I marinated the chicken thighs for 4 hours, dumped into a glass baking dish and served with broccoli and rice. I would make again. Thank you Blair!