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Meal prepping is functional: it keeps your schedule running smoother and it can also do wonders for your budget.
Some people think their food will get boring or bland, but if you checked out our list of easy chicken marinades, you know these recipes are anything but boring.
To add a bit more variety to your weeknights, here are our favorite healthy chicken marinades. Putting together the right blend of spices and rubs is essential to making the best chicken meal prep.
With spice palettes from around the world and options for every diet, there’s got to be a chicken dish perfect for you. Before you test out a new recipe, review how long to marinate chicken.
To keep things light, fresh, and filling, consider pairing any of these dishes with one of these salad meal prep ideas. Let’s dig in!
Marinated Chicken Frequently Asked Questions:
How long should you marinate chicken?
We’ve already covered this in an entire article about it. Read up on marinating chicken, here!
Generally speaking, a minimum of half an hour is enough to start adding a decent bit of flavor to your chicken, but the longer it sits the better (with limits, of course).
Is it ok to bake chicken in its marinade?
Technically, yes. There’s no reason you shouldn’t other than preference.
Do keep in mind that during baking, the chicken is in a dish inside a closed oven with little place for the excess moisture to escape. If you’re marinating with a very watery/juicy marinade, you’re going to still have a lot of that left in the dish when you pull it out of the oven at the end of cooking. Just for that soupy reason, most people like to remove the excess marinade from very liquid-y recipes for a better-finished product.
If you’re using a much more dry marinade recipe, that you’re less likely to see the excess moisture as a problem when oven-baking your chicken. In which case you might need to add some moisture before baking, so it’s not too dry when it’s finished.
Should I cut chicken before or after cooking?
The more surface area there is the more marinade you’ll have per bite when you’re done. But this also decreases the surface area to volume ratio (meaning there’s more surface area per piece exposed to the cooking heat), and you’re at risk of drying your chicken out before it’s finished cooking.
Take a peek at the full recipe instructions before you decide to just chop it up — many will advise on chopping before vs after cooking.
Is marinated chicken bad for you?
Before we dive into recipes, let’s clear the air about this question for a second first.
A lot of people seem to either swear that meat is no good without a proper marinade, or swear that it’s bad for you.
Both sides are right.
Oddly enough, marinating meats can actually help remove potentially cancer-causing components that are produced as a by-product of cooking meat at high temperatures (think grilling). That’s definitely good for you! But besides that, it just plain tastes so good. Something about a good marinade always manages to lock in the juices, flavors, and textures so it’s heaven on a fork.
As to those who say it’s bad for you, they’re not entirely wrong. If you’re going to smother a piece of chicken breast with an inch of mayonnaise and call it a marinade…well, maybe at least you’re working on going keto, perhaps, with all that extra fat?
The long and short of it is that there is nothing bad about marinating chicken, but there are less than super healthy marinades. We’ve got you covered with the list below with marinades that will have you thrilled on flavor (and even happier on calories)!
25 Healthy Chicken Marinades
There’s nothing quite like a healthy and satisfying home-cooked meal. Unless, of course, we’re talking about a home-cooked meal that’s also easy to make. These 25 healthy chicken marinades feature recipes that are about as hands-off as cooking gets.
Healthy Chicken Marinades
There’s a reason this recipe is first on our list. It fits into so many diets, including paleo and Whole 30, plus it only takes five minutes to make. Featuring coconut aminos instead of soy sauce, it’s low-glycemic and gluten free. And it’s so darn delicious.
You absolutely need to try this chili lime marinade! It’s sugar free so it’s no carb and it only takes 5 ingredients so it’s super easy to whip together. The marinade only takes a few minutes to prepare, but you’ll want to marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but ideally a bit longer!
These four ingredients will have you feeling like a kitchen wizard. Not only is this recipe super simple; you probably also already have all of the ingredients on hand. EVOO, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, and garlic make for a fantastically tender chicken dish that’s also Whole30 compliant.
This is not your average healthy chicken marinade. The flavor palette on this paprika lemon chicken dish is really unique. Just remember that there is too much of a good thing, and it’s important to note how long to marinate chicken. Another way to change up your chicken dishes is to remember that marinades like this one are great for the grill, the stovetop, and even the oven. If you don’t own a grill, they make meal prepping 100x easier! We recently bought a Weber grill which is the best gas grill you can get under $200.
Cumin, oregano, and red wine vinegar bring a classic Greek flavor to a simple weeknight dish. The light and savory recipe fits into paleo and Whole30 diet plans. Plus, it pairs well with simple sides, like a fresh salad or roasted veggies, to add a little something extra to your dinnertime.
Honey and turmeric are both renowned for their health benefits. Combine them together and you get a healthy chicken marinade that’s packed with antioxidants and flavor that the whole family will love. The sweet and spicy glaze is enough to entice even the pickiest of eaters to the table.
Unlike many Jamaican jerk recipes that call for a dry rub, this dish actually calls for a sauce-like marinade. Don’t worry, though. That doesn’t mean the recipe is any more complicated. In fact, you can have the entire meal plated in under 45 minutes. With ingredients like chicken bullion and cinnamon, you probably already have much of the recipe on hand, too.
Let’s talk fast food. No, not that kind. How about a chicken dish that is healthy and delicious and only requires 10 minutes of cook time? Those are some quick eats, and it’s so much healthier than stopping by a drive-thru.
Meal preppers, you have another reason to rejoice! The sauce in this dish keeps for about a week, so there’s no need to panic if your weeknight schedule throws your plans a curveball.
A mouthwatering flavor combination comes from the brown sugar, garlic, and paprika featured in the rub. The smoky flavor comes from, you guessed it, a smoker. Don’t panic if you don’t have a smoker. The rub in this recipe is worth testing out, even if you’re only planning to grill the chicken or cook it in the oven.
After whipping up this healthy chicken marinade, you’ve got lots of options, like grilling it or baking it. If you’re watching carbs, you can even serve it up for dinner atop a salad or with a plate of kale chips. This yogurt and lemon chicken is also delicious as a sandwich or served with pita bread and hummus.
The sweetness of the coconut shines in this dish. There’s also plenty more flavor thanks to the curry, coriander, and cayenne. The fragrant and warm spices in this dish make it the perfect meal to turn to when the temperature starts to dip. It’s fast enough to serve up anytime, and it also makes a great meal for entertaining guests. As an added perk, it’s gluten-free.
Kabob & Skewer Marinated Chicken Recipes
We could debate all day — is it kabob or kebab? Capitalize the K or don’t? While not everyone agrees on how to spell these next dishes, the fact that these healthy chicken marinades are absolutely delicious is undeniable.
If you’re looking for a dish that’s bursting with color, these Hawaiian kabobs are your new go-to recipe. While you might think of summertime when you think of grilling with skewers, I’ve even brushed snow off my grill to make this dish. Fruits, veggies, and protein all come together for a meal that’s healthy and simple.
These kabobs are almost too picture-perfect to eat. Almost. Thanks to a blend of lemon, garlic, Greek yogurt, and a heaping of spices, these skewers grill up to a golden brown. The marinade tenderizes the meat and transforms into a crispy coating. Serve it up on a bed of rice pilaf or alongside some veggies. It’s not likely that you’ll have leftovers, but if you do, toss the chicken on some greens for a tasty lunch-time salad.
Rainbow-hued ingredients make this dish equal parts fun and healthy. If grilling season has passed (or you’re not willing to brave the elements), you can also make these Grilled Mediterranean Chicken Kabobs in the oven. To keep things paleo, consider serving the skewers on top of some cauliflower rice or with sweet potato crisps.
Fast, healthy, and only a handful of ingredients. What more could you ask for in a meal? If there were a contest, these chicken skewers could easily take first place as a simple summer meal. Grill them or pop them in the oven. Either way, you’re going to want to commit this marinade to memory because you’re going to get requests to make it again and again no matter the season.
Grab your blender and make a healthy chicken marinade in minutes. This protein-packed dish gets a hit of heat from the Sriracha, and that’s balanced out beautifully with ginger, lime, and cilantro. This dairy-free recipe can also easily be gluten free by replacing the soy sauce with tamari.
OK, so you’re not actually going on vacation before dinner tonight. But this jerk seasoning will take your tastebuds on a trip. The fact that the meal is served on skewers makes it that much more festive. The chicken is layered with pineapple. And the only thing better than grilled chicken is grilled chicken and grilled pineapple. Trust us!
In most of these recipes, the marinade is the standout. Here, though, there’s competition. This picante salsa is so good, you might consider making a double recipe. If you don’t have time to whip up fresh salsa, grab a jar of your grocery-store favorite. We won’t tell!
Sheet Pan Marinated Chicken Recipes
Sheet pan recipes are meal planning perfection because they make clean-up a breeze. Add one of these healthy chicken marinades to your recipe repertoire.
This healthy meal will be on your table in 30 minutes thanks to sheet pan sorcery. If you have to battle with your family (or yourself!) to eat your veggies, this recipe is a must make. There is sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, and so much more all mixed in with a delicious marinade.
Want a dish that has an elevated taste but is still easy to make? The balsamic herb blend will leave your family and other dinner guests raving. Only you need to know how simple it is to make. Unless you’re kind enough to pass along the recipe, of course.
A family friendly recipe that is equal parts healthy and tasty? Sign us up! You can customize the recipe by adding more chicken breasts or cooking up extra veggies to serve more guests. Or plan for leftovers so there’s one less meal to make later in the week. Win! Additionally, you can use chicken thighs instead of breasts.
A recipe that’s designed to include shortcuts. What’s not to love? The original chicken shawarma recipe does link to a homemade Moroccan seasoning recipe, but it also encourages you to grab a pre-mixed blend of Ras El Hanout to save yourself some steps.
Another reason to love this recipe is that fact that it freezes easily for up to six months. Keep an easy meal on hand for your own family or consider this recipe the next time you join a neighborhood meal train for someone in need.
The marinade pulls double duty as a glaze in this sheet pan recipe, and it’s absolutely scrumptious. If you’re starting to feel like every chicken dish is the same, you need this healthy chicken marinade in your life. You can prep this well in advance and serve it with a side of quinoa or rice for a fast weeknight meal.
Your weeknights are jam packed and your weekends probably don’t feel much different. If you love a tasty stir fry but want to fast forward through the prep and the clean up, this sheet pan recipe is for you. To keep it low carb, eat it as is or on a bed of cauliflower rice. To keep is gluten free, use coco aminos, tamari, or gluten-free soy sauce.
This isn’t just jerk chicken. It’s a complete meal with bell peppers, onions, and potatoes. Feel free to adjust the heat in the rub by adding a little or a lot of cayenne pepper. Chop up some fresh mango as a garnish, and watch how fast this meal gets gobbled up.
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.