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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.

Overhead shot of marinated grilled chicken thighs on a white platter.
Table of Contents
  1. How to Make the Best Chicken Thigh Marinade | 1-Minute Video
  2. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  3. Ingredients
  4. Directions
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. Preparation and Storage Tips
  7. Chicken Thigh Marinade Recipe

If you’re looking for even more chicken marinade recipes, be sure to try this 5-minute Tuscan chicken marinade, this marinated Italian chicken, and a teriyaki grilled chicken marinade, too!

How to Make the Best Chicken Thigh Marinade | 1-Minute Video

Horizontal side shot of grilled marinated chicken thighs on a white wooden table.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Quick. It takes about 5 minutes to whisk together this chicken thigh marinade, and another 12-15 minutes to cook them on the grill. We always appreciate a meal that requires minimal hands-on effort.
  • Inexpensive. Chicken thighs are a relatively budget-friendly protein, and the marinade takes advantage of largely pantry staples that you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • Versatile. When the weather is warm and you can fire up the grill, nothing beats marinated grilled chicken thighs. The good news? This easy marinade works equally well for baked chicken thighs, so you can enjoy the tasty supper all year round.
Overhead shot of chicken thigh marinade in a glass measuring cup.

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the simple ingredients that you’ll need for the best chicken thigh 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. Sub with tamari or coconut aminos if you prefer.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: the fat that helps transfer fat-soluble flavors onto the meat and also helps the meat retain moisture. Use a different oil (such as vegetable oil or canola oil) if you like.
  • Lemon juice: the acid that tenderizes the chicken thighs. Lime juice, orange juice, or apple cider work as nice substitutes, too. You could even use a vinegar for the acidic component, like balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • Worcestershire sauce, honey, oregano, rosemary, and garlic salt: add so much rich flavor to the marinade. If you don’t have garlic salt, use garlic powder instead and add a dash of salt to taste. You can also feel free to switch up the herbs and just use your favorites. For instance, add parsley instead of oregano, or use thyme instead of rosemary. Swap out the honey for brown sugar. Add a dollop of Dijon mustard to the marinade for a little bit of tangy, zesty kick. If you like spice, try some cayenne. The seasoning options are endless!
  • Chicken thighs: 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 chicken thighs, those will work as well — you just likely need to increase the cooking time. You can also use this marinade with chicken breasts or chicken tenders.
Boneless skinless chicken thighs in the best chicken thigh marinade in a Ziploc bag.

Directions

We love this simple chicken thigh marinade 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 also work fine (as shown here)!

  1. Whisk or shake 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 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. 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!
  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. In general, 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. It’s important to note, though, that 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, an instant read 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.
Marinated chicken thighs on the grill.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the marinated chicken thighs with a vegetable side dish such as a house salad with candied pecans, homemade coleslaw, corn on the cob in the oven, roasted yellow squash, or Southern-style green beans. To round out the meal, you might also like to add Charleston red rice, a classic pasta salad, 3-ingredient buttermilk biscuits, or a crusty loaf of no-knead bread to the table.

Platter of grilled marinated chicken thighs served with a side of rice and a salad.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Prep Ahead: Whisk together the marinade up to 3 days in advance. Add it to the chicken in the morning before you head off to work. When you walk in the door tired at the end of the day, you just need to bake or grill the meat and dinner is served!
  • How to Store Leftovers: Store leftover marinated chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Freeze Chicken Thighs in a Marinade: you can prepare this recipe as a freezer meal or for your weekly meal prep 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 white tray full of beautiful grilled marinated chicken thighs with fresh lemons.

More Chicken Thigh Recipes to Try

Square overhead shot of grilled marinated chicken thighs on a white table.

Chicken Thigh Marinade

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Marinating Time 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 17 minutes
Servings 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
  

CHICKEN THIGH MARINADE

CHICKEN

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

MAKE THE CHICKEN THIGH MARINADE

  • In a large measuring cup or in a jar with a lid, whisk (or shake) together all of the marinade ingredients until completely combined.
    Overhead shot of chicken thigh marinade in a glass measuring cup.

MARINATE THE CHICKEN

  • 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.
    Boneless skinless chicken thighs in the best chicken thigh marinade in a Ziploc bag.

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.
    Marinated chicken thighs on the grill.

ALTERNATE OVEN-ROASTED METHOD

  • 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.
    Horizontal side shot of grilled marinated chicken thighs on a white wooden table.

Video

Notes

  • To serve a smaller family, cut the ingredients in half and only bake about 1 pound of 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. 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!
  • If you don’t have garlic salt, use garlic powder instead and add a dash of salt to taste. You can also feel free to switch up the herbs. For instance, add parsley instead of oregano, or use thyme instead of rosemary. Swap out the honey for brown sugar. Add a dollop of Dijon mustard to the marinade for a little bit of tangy, zesty kick. The seasoning options are endless!

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, best chicken thigh marinade, chicken thigh marinade, chicken thigh marinade grill, grilled chicken thighs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in June, 2021. It was updated in May, 2024.

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. Terry in Coeur d'Alene, ID says:

    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. Blair says:

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

  2. Jess says:

    Can the chicken in marinade be frozen and made at a later date? It sounds great by the way.

    1. Blair says:

      Hi, Jess! Yes, that should work well!

  3. Mary says:

    I had to bake my chicken thighs for 35-40 min. to get it to the correct temperature. My family really enjoyed it.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Thanks, Mary! I’m glad that your family liked them!

  4. Ayanna Carlson says:

    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!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Awesome. Thanks, Ayanna!

  5. Amy says:

    I am trying this today.
    I do something similar with portabella mushrooms except instead of oregano I use steak seasoning and also add balsamic vinegar.

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hope you enjoy, Amy!

  6. Goody says:

    This recipioe and directions were Very Easy to follow. I added fresh herbs and white Wine. That was the foot that kicked the can over. Absolutely amazing. O, also chopped up a half small jalapeno. Thanks for the great Head Start!

    1. The Seasoned Mom says:

      We’re so happy to hear this, Goody! Thank you for trying our recipe.

  7. Charlie H. says:

    5 stars
    This is very useful information and it will be very handy for fairly easy pre-meal prep through this Summer grilling season. Thanks a lot!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      I’m so glad, Charlie. Enjoy!