isabel’s island chicken marinade

February 22, 2012  |  Main Course


I launched a year ago this week. To celebrate, I want to share one of my most prized recipes. It is not mine really. I got it from a restaurant where I worked called Isabel’s on the Waterfront. Luckily, I wrote it down, because the restaurant closed down years ago. When I worked there, I made this marinade recipe so many times, I had it memorized. I think I could have made it blindfolded. It is called Island Chicken Marinade, or more fondly by the crew at Isabel’s, Buccaneer’s Marinade.


My Best Chicken Recipe!

Even though Isabel’s is gone, the recipe lives on. Not only do I make it several times a year, but I pass it on A LOT! As soon as someone tries a bite of chicken marinated in this recipe they ask for the recipe. I serve it for parties of 100, or for dinner on a Tuesday night. I never get sick of it. Of course it is a great chicken breast marinade but it is also good with pork loin or tenderloin, flank steak, chicken thighs, scallops and even shrimp.


I make a big batch of it and freeze it in ¾ cup portions. That is enough for about two pounds of meat. So here is my happy birthday present to you so you can have it and pass it on too!


Want more easy and healthy chicken recipes? Follow my chicken board on Pinterest!


isabel's island chicken marinade

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 2 3/4 cups, enough for about 7 pounds of meat


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ cup red-wine vinegar


  1. Heat olive and canola oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cover and cook, removing lid to stir often, until the onions are softened but not browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, allspice, thyme, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cayenne and remove from the heat. Stir in soy sauce or tamari and red wine vinegar. Cool completely before marinating meat.


Marinating Times: 15 to 30 minutes for seafood or tofu. 2 to 24 hours for chicken or pork. 4 to 24 hours for steak. Discard used marinade and do not re-use.

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  1. Sounds deelish! I will try it….I get very bored with chicken but a marinade is a good idea. I enjoy your recipes very much as I am not as *healthy* a cook as you…

  2. [quote name=Debbie Moyes]Sounds deelish! I will try it….I get very bored with chicken but a marinade is a good idea. I enjoy your recipes very much as I am not as *healthy* a cook as you…[/quote]I agree Debbie, boneless skinless chicken can be a snooze! This recipe is also great with other meat too.

  3. I will definitely be bookmarking this to try. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Happy Birthday to your site! I will definitely try this out. Looks really flavorful. So sad that the restaurant closed down, ’twas nice of you to memorize the recipe and to share this recipe with us. Thanks!

  5. Thanks! I am glad to share it!

  6. I will be trying this, Thanks.

  7. Sounds fantastic! I am definitely going to give this a try with steak very soon. Thanks for including info that you can freeze it, so important for larger batches.

  8. This sounds delicious…I will definitely be trying it out!

  9. I have been looking for something to change up the plain old chicken breast and this sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

  10. I finally made this marinade and used it fro chicken tenders. It was very yummy! I am thinking the leftover chicken will make a wonderful salad. Lots of good flavor!!!

  11. Made this for dinner tonight – it actually ended up marinating for 48 hours, and it was still great. Absolutely DELICIOUS chicken! I served it with coconut rice, fried plantains, fresh pineapple, and a spinach salad. The husband said it’s a keeper! Thinking about making a large batch for my next big get together–maybe alongside some super spicy jerk pork…

  12. This sounds sooo good!

  13. Your photo perfectly captures the wonderful flavorful combinations of this recipe. Great post!

  14. I used this for grilled chicken yesterday and it was fabulous! Served with peach salsa, rice, and corn on the cob.

  15. [quote name=Barbara]I used this for grilled chicken yesterday and it was fabulous! Served with peach salsa, rice, and corn on the cob.[/quote]I am now on a mission to make peach salsa! Thanks for the menu inspiration:)

  16. Is it possible to can this in a mason jar? I don’t have much experience with canning and not sure how marinades with oils would do?


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