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This simple grilled chicken marinade is an easy, flavorful, and healthy dinner! With only 5 minutes of prep, the lemon, garlic, and herb marinade yields tender and juicy meat that the whole family will love.

Close up front shot of grilled chicken that was treated with a simple grilled chicken marinade with garlic and herbs.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. Directions
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Simple Grilled Chicken Marinade Recipe

If you’re looking for even more grilling recipes, be sure to try this honey garlic dijon pork tenderloin marinade, marinated grilled shrimp, our favorite grilled burger recipe, the perfect 15-minute grilled salmon, and these juicy grilled pork chops, too!

I made this last night for my very picky husband. We are low sodium, so I used salt alternative and no sodium mustard. For herbs, I took your advice and plucked oregano, chives, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro from the garden; just to mix it up a bit. Sealed it in my food saver for 2 hours and grilled it. My husband literally licked his plate and asked for seconds. That NEVER happens. Its nice to have some low sodium chicken marinade options for us and this one I will definitely keep on hand!

– Wendy
Horizontal side shot of sliced marinated grilled chicken breast on a blue and white plate.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy. With simple ingredients like garlic, lemon, olive oil, and fresh herbs, this grilled chicken marinade comes together in just minutes.
  • Nourishing. This meal is a light and fresh addition to your summer meals. Pair the grilled chicken with veggies, rice, or a loaf of crusty bread and you’ve got a high-protein, flavorful, and satisfying supper with minimal effort.
  • Versatile. If you’re into meal prep, these marinated grilled chicken breasts are the perfect way to cook a lot of healthy protein over the weekend, which you can use in a variety of meals throughout the week. Salads! Pasta! Sandwiches! Wraps! Quesadillas! You name it, the options are endless…
Process shot showing how to make a simple grilled chicken marinade with garlic, herbs, and lemon.

Ingredients

This is an overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a simple grilled chicken marinade. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Lemon juice and lemon zest: the acid that tenderizes the chicken. 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. The lemon zest just gives the marinade a stronger lemon flavor, since that’s where all of the essential oils are found.
  • 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.
  • Dijon mustard: adds a little bit of zesty kick and also helps to emulsify the marinade.
  • Fresh herbs: take advantage of whatever you’ve got available in the summer grilling season. I tend to snip any herbs that we have in the garden, such as rosemary, thyme, and parsley; however, other good options include basil, chives, oregano, and cilantro.
  • Garlic, kosher salt, and ground black pepper: for even more flavor.
  • Chicken: I’ve shown boneless skinless chicken breasts here, but boneless skinless chicken thighs work equally well. Pick your favorite!
Process shot showing how to marinate chicken for grilling.

Directions

This is truly the best chicken marinade for grilling! If you don’t have access to an outdoor grill, no problem — an indoor grill pan on the stovetop or roasting in the oven will also work. You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the overview:

  • Place the chicken in a large Ziploc bag, in a bowl, or in a shallow dish.
  • Whisk together the marinade.
  • Pour the marinade into the bag with the chicken; toss to coat.
  • Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  • Grill the marinated chicken. The length of time that it takes to cook your chicken will depend on the size and thickness of your meat. When grilled over medium-high heat (on the outdoor grill or indoor on the stovetop), a thin, small chicken breast will require about 5 minutes per side. Larger, thicker chicken breasts will need up to 10-12 minutes per side. Boneless, skinless thighs typically need 6-7 minutes per side. I always recommend using an instant-read thermometer to know when your chicken is perfectly done. The meat should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  • Let the meat rest for at least 5-10 minutes so that the juices can redistribute before slicing. This will keep the chicken especially juicy!
Square side shot of simple grilled chicken marinade on chicken breasts on a grill pan.

Serving Suggestions

Pair the marinated grilled chicken with just about any of your favorite summer sides, such as cucumber tomato onion salad, roasted yellow squash, succotash, corn on the cob in the oven, or a Southern tomato pie. It’s also great with a Caesar salad, rice, flaky biscuits, and pesto pasta!

Sliced marinated grilled chicken breast on a blue and white plate.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Prep Ahead: prep the chicken and marinade in advance. Let the chicken sit and marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours, or freeze the uncooked meat in the marinade in a large Ziploc freezer bag for up to 3 months before thawing and cooking.
  • How to Store: Wrapped tightly or packaged in an airtight container, cooked chicken will keep in the fridge for at least 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • How to Reheat: Place the grilled chicken in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until warm.
Horizontal side shot of grilled chicken with a garlic and herb marinade on a grill.

Recipe Variations

  • For a hint of sweetness in the marinade, add 2 tablespoons of honey.
  • If you prefer a less-acidic marinade, use just 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • To bake the chicken in the oven, remove the chicken from the marinade and bake in a 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes for thin, small chicken breasts, about 30-45 minutes for thick, large chicken breasts, or about 20 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Prepare this grilled chicken breast on the stove by using a nonstick skillet or griddle, or an indoor grill pan. Heat the pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook the chicken according to the instructions below.

Thanks, Blair. I made this recipe last night with parsley, rosemary and thyme from my herb garden and put it on a Cranberry Spinach Salad. It was amazing. Thanks.

– Robert
Square side shot of a simple grilled chicken marinade on a chicken breast.

More Grilled Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of a simple grilled chicken marinade on a chicken breast.

Simple Grilled Chicken Marinade

5 from 8 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 264 kcal
Lemon, garlic, and herbs make this easy marinade the perfect companion for grilled chicken!

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the Marinade

Instructions

  • Place the chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag or bowl. Set aside. In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together all of the marinade ingredients until completely combined.
    Process shot showing how to make a simple grilled chicken marinade with garlic, herbs, and lemon.
  • Pour marinade into the bag with the chicken. Seal the bag and gently toss to make sure that the chicken is completely coated in marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight.
    Process shot showing how to marinate chicken for grilling.
  • When ready to cook, remove chicken from the bag and discard the marinade. Heat a nonstick pan, grill pan, or outdoor grill over medium-high heat. Coat the grill grates or pan with about a teaspoon of oil so that the chicken doesn’t stick. Sear or grill the chicken on each side until golden, crispy, and cooked through (about 5 minutes per side for small, thin chicken breasts, up to 10-12 minutes per side for larger, thick chicken breasts, or about 6-7 minutes for chicken thighs). The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow the meat to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
    Horizontal side shot of grilled chicken with a garlic and herb marinade on a grill.

Notes

    • For a hint of sweetness in the marinade, add 2 tablespoons of honey.
    • If you prefer a less-acidic marinade, use just 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
    • When zesting the lemon, be careful that you only scrape off the outer layer of the peel. Do not scrape off any of the bitter white pith.
    • To bake the chicken in the oven, remove the chicken from the marinade and bake in a 425°F oven for 20-30 minutes for thin, small chicken breasts, about 30-45 minutes for thick, large chicken breasts, or about 20 minutes for boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
    • Prepare this grilled chicken breast on the stove by using a nonstick skillet or griddle, or an indoor grill pan. Heat the pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat and cook the chicken according to the instructions below.
  •  

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the chicken and marinadeCalories: 264kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 32gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 682mgPotassium: 598mgVitamin A: 255IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 19mgIron: 0.9mg
Keyword: grilled chicken breast, grilled chicken marinade, grilled chicken recipe, simple grilled chicken marinade
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in April, 2019. It was updated in June, 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!

Read More

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Comments

  1. Linda M. Thomas says:

    5 stars
    Grilled chicken! Can’t wait to cook this recipe. Thank you so much. This is one of my favorites to cook and to eat. I probably cook this for our dinner. I hope it will be perfect.

    1. Blair says:

      Wonderful! Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Linda says:

    This is really a great chicken recipe. I’m not the biggest fan of chicken. But I eat it in our weekly rotations . But let me tell you I will makes this anytime, it’s great! Maybe the best I have ever eaten. This is probably about the seventh time my husband and I have eaten it so far. My husband will say, let’s have that really good grilled chicken . It’s a winner here.

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you, Linda! I’m so glad to know that this recipe appeals even to those folks who don’t necessarily love chicken! 🙂

  3. Cindy Brain says:

    5 stars
    We loved this recipe! Because it was raining, we chose to bake it instead of grilling. I put the marinaded breasts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Besides the wonderful marinade flavors, which included fresh rosemary, basil, parsley and cilantro, the chicken had a crispness on the outside, which sealed in the juiciness of the breasts.

    1. Blair says:

      Thanks, Cindy! I appreciate you taking the time to leave a note. I’m so glad that it was a hit!

  4. Helena says:

    5 stars
    I eye-balled it for all the measurements (I’m not even sure how much chicken I had) and it came out GREAT! I’d definitely make this again.

    1. Blair says:

      That’s great, Helena! Yes, this is definitely a recipe that you can eyeball — it should still taste great. 🙂 Thanks for your note!

  5. Robert Lieberman says:

    5 stars
    I love your website. What tool did you use to build it?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Robert! It’s a WordPress hosted site, and Grits Design does the maintenance and design. 🙂

      1. Robert Lieberman says:

        5 stars
        Thanks, Blair. I made this recipe last night with parsley, rosemary and thyme from my herb garden and put it on a Cranberry Spinach Salad. It was amazing. Thanks.

        1. Blair Lonergan says:

          That sounds perfect, Robert! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂

  6. Claire says:

    If I froze the prepared chicken, how would I thaw it so that it wasn’t soggy?

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Claire! I would thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight, and then reheat it in a dry skillet so that any surface moisture can evaporate. Hope that helps, and enjoy!

  7. Wendy Finney says:

    5 stars
    I made this last night for my very picky husband. We are low sodium, so I used salt alternative and no sodium mustard. For herbs, I took your advice and plucked oregano, chives, basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro from the garden; just to mix it up a bit. Sealed it in my food saver for 2 hours and grilled it. My husband literally licked his plate and asked for seconds. That NEVER happens. Its nice to have some low sodium chicken marinade options for us and this one I will definitely keep on hand!

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      I’m so happy to hear that, Wendy! Glad that you could make it work for your needs, and that your husband approved! Thanks for your note. 🙂