The Most Delicious Recipes for Marinated Chicken

It’s usually not a compliment when someone declares a food tastes like chicken. This commonly used phrase is essentially a gentler way of saying it was bland. America’s favorite protein doesn’t have to fall short on flavor, it’s just that so many resort to plain chicken breasts cooked in a skillet. Complex sauces will certainly add some needed taste, but no one needs to spend all night sweating over the stove. Fortunately, you don’t need that much effort to drastically improve your next chicken supper. Just toss the bird in a marinade and let time do the work for you. Try these five recipes to cook some remarkably tasty poultry.

1. Greek-Style Grilled Chicken with Oregano, Garlic, Lemon, and Olive Oil

Lemon and Herb Chicken

Grilled chicken with herbs | iStock.com

Though most of us only keep one type of oregano in the pantry, there are actually a few varieties. Mediterranean versions are a variety of mint and tend to be robust and savory. Mexican oregano is more closely related to lemon verbena and has a bit of citrus flavor. You’ll want Greek if you can get it for this recipe, though any type will deliver pretty tasty results.

Grilling is a great way to add a bit of smoky flavor to any food, and it’s particularly good when matched with the lemon and herbs in this chicken dish from Serious Eats. Cooking a whole bird is a great way to ensure juicy meat, but it can take a long time, so this recipe uses a trick. Instead of cooking the chicken as is, it uses a spatchcock technique where the backbone is removed to create a flatter chicken that grills faster. The method is pretty straightforward, though you can ask your butcher to do it for you.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole lemons
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (3½- to 4-pound) whole chicken

Directions: Grate 2 teaspoons zest from one of the lemons into a large bowl. Cut two of the lemons in half, and squeeze 3 tablespoons juice into the bowl, then add garlic and oregano. Whisking constantly, add the olive oil in a steady stream to form an emulsified dressing. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place breast-side down on a large cutting board. Using sharp kitchen shears, cut out the backbone by cutting along either side. Flip chicken over and lay flat. Press firmly on breast to flatten chicken. For added stability, thread a metal or wooden skewer horizontally through the chicken, entering through one thigh, through both breast halves, and exiting through the other thigh. Tuck wing tips behind back. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Using your hands, rub half of the vinaigrette evenly over the whole chicken, working into the crevices.

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When charcoal is covered with gray ash, pour into the grill grate and arrange to one side of the grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and let preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half of the burners on a gas grill to high, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil cooking grates.

Place chicken, skin-side up, on cooler part of the grill with legs facing the hot side. Cover grill with vents open over the chicken. Open bottom vents of grill if using a charcoal grill, and cook until and instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the breast registers 120 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 to 45 minutes. Flip chicken and place, skin-side down, on hotter side of grill with breast end pointed towards cool side of grill. If using gas, reduce heat to medium-low. Press down firmly with a spatula to ensure the chicken has full contact with the grates. Cover and cook until skin is crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the deepest apart of the breast registers 145 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 minutes longer. If needed, move chicken to cooler side to prevent burning. Try to keep the lid on as much as possible.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, split remaining lemon in half and grill on hot side of grill until well browned, about 5 minutes. Carve chicken, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette, and serve with grilled lemon.

2. Wine-Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

marinated chicken

Wine-marinated grilled chicken breasts | iStock.com

Instead of looking to a bottled marinade to add flavor to boneless, skinless chicken breasts, just pick up a bottle of decent white wine and make Midwest Living’s easy recipe. You don’t have to break the bank on the vino, but make sure it’s something you would be happy drinking. This recipe will actually leave you with half a bottle, so you can sip the rest while you cook.

This dish is great for weeknights, because it needs to marinade for quite a while. Throw everything together in the morning, then let the chicken marinate while you’re away for the day. When you get home, start the chicken, then cook up a few sides while it grills.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 6 medium chicken breast halves
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Fresh herb sprigs

Directions: Remove skin from chicken, if desired. Place in a plastic zip-top bag set inside a shallow baking dish.

In a small bowl, stir together wine, olive oil, seasoning, and garlic. Pour mixture over chicken, close bag, and marinate for 8 hours or overnight.

Drain chicken, reserving marinade. In a covered grill, arrange coals around a drip pan set up for indirect grilling. Place chicken on grill rack, bone-side up, over the drip pan. Cover the chicken and grill 50 to 60 minutes, or until meat is fully cooked, turning once. Brush chicken halfway through with reserved marinade.

Discard remaining marinade, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve.

3. Thai Coconut Chicken

coconut milk

Coconut milk | iStock.com

Bring the flavors of Thailand to your dinner table with Cooking Light’s speedy coconut milk-marinated chicken. It’s loaded with the bold flavors of ginger, fish sauce, lime juice, and chile paste. Ginger can be a little tough to handle since it has so many nooks and crannies. Instead of wrestling with your peeler, try removing the skin with a spoon instead. It’s easier and you’ll end up with less waste. Round out this meal with some simply cooked veggies and rice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Thai chile paste
  • ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2 thinly sliced shallots
  • 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions: Combine coconut milk, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, chile paste, sugar, and shallots in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Reserve half of marinade, and pour remaining in a zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag, seal, and let marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove chicken from bag, and discard marinade in bag. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Cook chicken 7 minutes per side or until done. Serve with reserved sauce.

4. Baked Chicken with Chile-Yogurt Marinade

yogurt sauce

Chile-yogurt marinade | iStock.com

Yogurt marinades are a great way to keep meat moist while providing loads of flavor. Though they’re most common in Indian cuisine, the technique works just as well for a different cast of characters. Epicurious uses the dairy to create a southwestern-inspired marinade for this baked chicken dish. Don’t feel limited by the recipe, though, because you can change the marinade in tons of different ways. Try lemon zest and juice plus some chopped basil and mint to give it more of a Mediterranean feel. It’s also a great way to use up any spices you have sitting around in your pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro, basil, or parsley leaves
  • 1 (16-ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt
  • Grated zest from 2 limes
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 (8- to 9-ounce) chicken breast halves, cut in half to make 8 pieces
  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 6 chicken thighs

Directions: With motor running, drop garlic and jalapeño through feed tube of a food processor. Add onion and cilantro. Pulse until onion is finely chopped. Add yogurt, lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, and salt. Process until smooth.

Divide chicken pieces between two 1-gallon zip-top plastic bags. Pour marinade into bags. Refrigerate at least 2 and up to 8 hours.

Position two racks in the top third and center of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease with oil.

Remove chicken from marinade. Arrange on baking sheets. Bake chicken 20 minutes, turn chicken, and switch positions of baking sheets. Continue to bake until fully cooked, about 25 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving dish. Serve.

5. Beer-Marinated Citrus Grilled Chicken

marmalada

Marmalade | iStock.com

Impressive dinners often involve lots of preparation and a long list of ingredients. The next time you want to entertain your friends, keep things easier on yourself by making this grilled chicken soaked in beer and citrus marmalade from Whole Foods. It has just six ingredients, but still looks and tastes phenomenal. The sugar from the preserves will help give the finished chicken a nicely browned exterior that will make your friends ooh and aah.

You don’t have to use lager for this dish, but you still want to stick to a beer that falls on the lighter side. Anything too malty or hoppy will overpower the rest of the flavors. Save those double IPAs for drinking instead.

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces beer, preferably lager
  • ⅔ cup marmalade
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (3½- to 4-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 lemons

Directions: In a small bowl, whisk together beer, marmalade, salt, and pepper. Transfer 3 tablespoons of beer mixture to a small bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Pour remaining mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag with chicken pieces. Cut each lemon into quarters, remove seeds, and add to the bag. Press out air, and seal bag. Place on a plate, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for medium heat. Make a cooler area by pushing coals to one side or turning one of gas grill units off.

Remove chicken and lemons from the bag, and discard marinade in bag. Grill, turning frequently, moving to cooler area if needed to prevent burning. Grill until chicken is well browned and juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 minutes for smaller pieces and 20 minutes for larger ones. Grill lemons until browned and soft. Transfer lemons and chicken to a platter. Drizzle with reserved beer mixture, and serve.

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