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It’s one thing to know how to cook a meal quickly, and it’s something else entirely to know how to prepare a fast meal that you and your family will love.
These easy chicken marinades will help you take meal time to the next level. You’ll be whipping up meals that have everyone requesting seconds without adding any extra stress to your busy weeknights.
Knowing how long to marinate chicken can help you meal prep the perfect recipe. Using one of the best chicken marinades below allows you to experiment with spices and seasoning to make every chicken dish stand out. When you meal plan for next week, make sure you bookmark a recipe or two to try. Here are my 50 favorite healthy chicken meal prep ideas!
If these ideas aren’t healthy enough, feel free to check out my list of healthy chicken marinades
- 25 Easy Chicken Marinades to Save Time in the Kitchen
- Chicken Marinades
- 1. Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade
- 2. Quick and Easy Cilantro Lime Marinade
- 3. Mexican Chicken Marinade
- 4. Spicy Southwest Chicken Marinade
- 5. Asian Chicken Marinade
- 6. Asian Ginger Marinade
- 7. Sesame Marinade
- 8. Smoky Mesquite Marinade
- 9. Barbeque Grilled Chicken Marinade
- 10. Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade
- 11. Balsamic Chicken Marinade
- 12. Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade
- 13. Garlic and Herb Chicken Marinade
- 14. Greek Marinade for Grilled Chicken
- 15. Easy Italian Chicken Marinade
- Chicken Rubs
25 Easy Chicken Marinades to Save Time in the Kitchen
Though I typically think of easy chicken marinades as sauces, dry rubs can also pack a ton of taste. Make one of these simple chicken marinades the star of your next meal.
The recipes below all feature liquid marinades. They come together quickly and can be prepared well in advance. Just remember that once the marinades touch raw meat, you shouldn’t reuse them.
If a recipe sounds delicious enough that you’ll want to layer it on a salad with leftovers later, make sure to make some extra.
1. Honey Mustard Chicken Marinade
If you think chicken dishes are dull, you need this easy chicken marinade in your life. The stone-ground mustard and cayenne are balanced out with honey to create a finish that’s full of flavor. This marinade is so good, you’ll want to put it on everything. Just make sure that you keep it separate from the raw meat if you plan to use it as a garnish for this dish or future meals.
My favorite type of honey for marinades is buckwheat honey! It has a much stronger taste — giving you more honey flavor for less added sugar.
2. Quick and Easy Cilantro Lime Marinade
The best part of marinating chicken is how simple it is. So who wants to spend extra time creating the marinade itself? Not me! This lively and fresh cilantro lime marinade comes together in five minutes flat. Plus, it fits with most special diets, including dairy-free, gluten-free, and keto diets.
3. Mexican Chicken Marinade
Your family will ask for this dish year round. Thanks to the burst of flavor from the fresh limes and the hint of sweetness from the sugar, this easy Mexican chicken marinade isn’t one you’ll forget anytime soon. If you want the grill marks featured in the original recipe even when it isn’t grilling season, make friends with a panini pan.
4. Spicy Southwest Chicken Marinade
There’s a good chance you’ve had a southwestern-inspired chicken dish before. (I’ve even mentioned a few on this very list already!) This recipe stands out not only for its simple ingredient list, but also for the fact that it brings together unique in items like soy sauce and cilantro. This marinade works great on chicken on the grill or in a broiler.
5. Asian Chicken Marinade
A little bit salty, a little bit sour. This sweet and savory Asian-inspired marinade is perfect for even the pickiest of eaters. The recipe is also customizable with ingredients you have on hand. Maybe you’re missing Chinese cooking wine. No problem. Swap in some sherry, sake, marsala, or even chicken stock.
6. Asian Ginger Marinade
There’s not a single recipe in your meal plan rotation that matches this flavor palate — I guarantee it! This Asian ginger marinade can be prepped in advance and used when you’re ready to cook up your chicken. You can also use ground ginger if fresh is too difficult to track down or doesn’t fit in this week’s grocery budget.
7. Sesame Marinade
This sesame marinade makes for a simple chicken marinade because it clocks in at only five ingredients. The sesame flavor complements any dish, so try it with chicken and then file this away for future recipe inspiration. Remember, though, that marinade times are different depending on what meat you’re preparing.
8. Smoky Mesquite Marinade
To really give the chicken a smoky flavor, you can cook it over mesquite on the grill. Don’t have the set up? No worries. The combination of rice wine vinegar, lemon, red wine, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper lend this dish a savory flavor reminiscent of your favorite BBQ restaurant.
9. Barbeque Grilled Chicken Marinade
You want something quick and easy, right? Maybe you’re juggling your kids’ soccer practice and ballet. Or perhaps you’re going back to school in the evenings. Whatever you’re spending your time on, this barbeque grilled chicken marinade is fast enough for even the busiest of cooks. As an added benefit, you probably already have each of the ingredients tucked away in your cabinets or pantry.
10. Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade
This easy garlic chicken marinade only has five ingredients. Plus, you can prep it in advance, layer it on your chicken, and pop it in the freezer. Then, you’ve got an easy weeknight meal planned well in advance. If you want to add some extra punch to your plate, sprinkle on some cayenne or crushed red pepper.
11. Balsamic Chicken Marinade
Maybe you’re following Whole 30 or simply looking to cut back on sugar and dairy. This balsamic marinade is so delicious, you’ll forget how healthy it is. As a note, any balsamic vinegar works for this dish, but reach for white balsamic vinegar if you want to keep the chicken color on the light side.
12. Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade
Mealtime can get a little bit boring. Wake up your tastebuds with this lemon garlic chicken marinade that’s quick enough to serve up any night of the week. Since this marinade features fresh lemon juice, make sure to limit the time to 2 hours to keep your chicken from getting tough.
13. Garlic and Herb Chicken Marinade
Dust off your spice rack — it’s about to get a workout! This garlic and herb chicken marinade pulls together a variety of spices for a flavor combination you won’t forget. As an added bonus, there aren’t any usual ingredients, so you can whip up this recipe without another trip to the grocery store.
14. Greek Marinade for Grilled Chicken
Whether you don’t have time to take everyone out for dinner or you’re simply trying to scale back on eating out, this marinade for grilled chicken will remind you of your favorite Greek restaurant. With special help from red wine vinegar, salt, and lemon juice that act as tenderizers, you’ll get a dish that stays tender and juicy.
15. Easy Italian Chicken Marinade
A list of easy Italian chicken marinades wouldn’t be complete without a marinade that is exactly one ingredient long. It doesn’t get much easier than that! Grab your favorite Italian dressing (and a few pinches of salt and pepper if you’d like!) and go to town. The original recipe recommends zesty, but any Italian dressing that you have on hand will do.
For something a little bit unusual but just as simple as the other easy chicken marinades above, check out these chicken dry rubs.
16. Texas Style Dry BBQ Rub
If you want your meal to be sweet and pack some heat, look no further than this Texas-style dry rub. To keep things really convenient, you can whip up a batch of the rub, store it in a spice container, and sprinkle it on any chicken dish whenever the mood strikes.
17. The Ultimate Dry Rub
The purpose of a dry rub is to coat and flavor the meat, and this recipe does its job perfectly. If you don’t have any cayenne powder on hand, you can swap in chili powder. Given the choice, reach for a smoked paprika instead of sweet. But know that the ingredients are flexible and never short on flavor no matter what you choose.
18. BBQ Chicken Rub
This BBQ chicken rub is delicious, and there’s no meat smoker required (you can use one though!). Consider doubling or tripling the recipe. It stores so well in Mason jars that you’ll be happy to always have some on hand. Should the ingredients clump, shaking vigorously or mixing with a fork will solve the problem.
19. Moroccan Spice Rub
Though it’s recommended for chicken thighs, the Moroccan spice rub recipe also works on any other parts of the chicken. Just remember to adjust your marinating time. Master this recipe once, and your monthly meal plan will thank you. It’s delicious on chicken, and you can also sprinkle it on steak or lamb.
20. Grilled Cajun Chicken Dry Rub
Keeping chicken breasts in your freezer makes for an easy meal-planning hack, but no one is going to beg for seconds when it comes to plain chicken. Enter this cajun dry rub. Cajun food has a kick to it. There’s no denying that. However, this rub packs a mild heat that also lets you savor other spices in the dish.
21. Jamaican Jerk Seasoning Mix
There’s nothing wrong with premade seasoning mixes. But if you want a Jamaican Jerk chicken dish that tastes restaurant quality, this homemade mix can’t be beat. It whips together in under ten minutes, and like any seasoning mix, it stores well. Plus, you have an excuse to raid your spice cabinet. You’ll be surprised how many ingredients are already in your kitchen.
22. Spicy Brown Sugar Dry Rub Recipe
You’re busy, I’m busy, I’m busy. That means that I appreciate time-saving recipes. When I found a recipe like spicy brown sugar dry rub that was this tasty and this easy, I had to feature it. It takes your typical Montreal steak seasoning that you can snag at any store and elevates it with added ingredients like brown sugar and chili powder.
23. Mexican Chicken Rub
This Mexican chicken rub is is one of the best chicken marinades simply because it can be used in so many dishes. Plus, it only calls for 8 easy ingredients. Plate grilled chicken breasts with a side of rice tonight, and then use this rub again to make tacos, fajitas, or a Mexican-inspired salad.
24. Tandoori Rub for Chicken
The original recipe is intended for chicken, but it’ll work with any kind of dish–from pork to seafood. Seven different spices come together, and then you can customize it further based on your taste preferences and what you already have on hand! Use the rub as is or mix it with plain yogurt and lime juice.
25. Curry in a Hurry Rub
The aroma packed in this Curry in a Hurry rub will have you wanting to use this seasoning on everything. A blend of cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, and more, this rub creates a chicken dish that is tender and unique. Store extra in an airtight container to cut down on your meal prep time in the future.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.