It is so worth the 10 minutes of prep it takes to whip this Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade together! It is so easy and it simply transforms grilled chicken breast from boring into juicy flavorful perfection! The tangy combination of fresh lemon, garlic and herbs is the perfect way to add flavor to baked or grilled chicken.

grilled chicken with oregano sprigs

This post contains affiliate links. I originally shared this recipe on June 25th, 2015. I have updated the post by adding more helpful information and added step by step photos to share it again with you today.

Why We Love This Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade Recipe

This recipe is an easy way to add bold flavor to chicken with only 10 minutes of effort! All you need is a few simple ingredients to make the marinade, and then let the chicken soak up all the delicious flavor!

This is a great recipe for summertime grilling and cookouts. Serve it with your favorite summer side dishes like Coleslaw and Potato Salad. You can also slice it and add it to the top of a Caesar Salad or Massaged Kale Salad.

Easy and delicious!


Recipe Highlights

  • It is so versatile! The flavors of lemon and garlic pair well with a variety of cuisines, so you can add it to many different menus and the flavors pair seamlessly.
  • You can use it to enhance the flavor of boneless skinless chicken breast, but it also works for chicken thighs and even bone-in chicken!
  • What’s more, you can customize the flavorings in this recipe to make it just the way you like it by swapping in your favorite seasonings.

Ingredient Notes For This Lemon Chicken Marinade

A close up of food on a table, with Chicken and Lemon

Lemon Juice and Zest

To make this grilled chicken marinade, I used the zest of an entire lemon plus the juice. Feel free to use less zest if you like a less pronounced lemon flavor but keep the amount of juice so that the acidity of the marinade does its job.


I also added in three cloves of garlic because, well, garlic is awesome and therefore makes chicken awesome.

Pickled Jalapeños (Optional)

Then comes the secret ingredient: pickled jalapenos. Say what? I know, pickled jalapenos are not your typical marinade ingredient, but I really love them because their spiciness is not dry or harsh because they are pickled in vinegar. Feel free to leave them out or sub in fresh jalapenos, a pinch of red pepper flakes or a few dashes of Tabasco to taste if you like.


I also have masses of oregano in my garden right now, so that seemed like an excellent choice for fresh herbs.


If your chicken is frozen make sure to follow these tips how to defrost chicken safely.

This garlic lemon chicken marinade works with boneless skinless chicken breast, chicken thighs and bone-in chicken too. Just keep in mind that there is oil in the marinade, so you’ll want to be careful of flare-ups if you’re grilling the meat.

How to Make Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade

Making homemade chicken marinade is incredibly easy and takes less than 10 minutes to whip up!

zest and juice the lemon, combine the lemon, garlic and oil in the food processor
zest and juice the lemon, combine the lemon, garlic and oil in the food processor

Step 1: Zest and Juice Lemon

Zest the lemon first. Then cut it in half to juice it.

Step 2: Puree Garlic and Lemon

Combine the oil, lemon zest and juice and the garlic in a mini-prep or food processor. You can also do this with an immersion blender—whatever you have on hand! Puree to chop the garlic.

add the jalapeno, salt and pepper and oregano to the marinade and then pule to combine

Step 3: Add Pepper, Seasoning and herbs

Remove the lid and add in the pickled jalapeno (if using), oregano, salt and pepper. Pulse briefly just to combine.

the chicken in a dish with the marinade on it. Grilling the chicken

Step 4: Marinate The Chicken

Set the chicken in a glass dish or in a resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken.

As with most other marinades, the longer you let the chicken marinate, the stronger the flavor. You just want to make sure you don’t let it go too long, as it’ll denature the proteins on the exterior of the chicken meat, and will make the texture tough and dry on the outside once it’s cooked.

Marinate it anywhere from 4 to 12 hours for best results. (In a rush? For a chicken marinade that requires a shorter marinating time, I recommend this garlic herb marinade.)

Step 5: Grill The Marinated Chicken

Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the used marinade. Grill the chicken over high heat, turning occasionally until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F when inserted into the center of the chicken.

If grilling bone-in chicken, make sure to take the temperature of the meat closest to the bone without touching the bone.

grilled chicken on a black surface, sliced with sprigs of oregano

Expert Tips and FAQs For Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade

Can I use this recipe for other meats and proteins?

Yes absolutely! It works for tofu, pork, turkey breast and even seafood. Marinate tofu and seafood for 30 minutes only. Turkey and pork can be marinated for 4 to 12 hours. This is also a great marinade to use for vegetables. I love it on peppers and eggplant.

Can I marinate for longer than 12 hours?

We do not recommend it. The lemon in the marinade will start to denature the chicken and make it tough. Instead, you can remove the chicken from the marinade and keep it refrigerated until you are ready to grill it.

Can I cook the chicken on the stove or in the oven instead?

If you want to cook this chicken indoors you can use a grill pan, a skillet or cook it in the oven. Make sure to take the internal temperature to ensure it is cooked to a safe temperature of 165 before resting and serving. We love our Thermapen for checking if our meat is cooked through.

How long does the marinade last?

You can store this chicken marinade in the fridge for up to a week in a tightly sealed container.

How to Store Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade

If you prefer to prep your meals well in advance to make the work week a little easier, feel free to prep this easy chicken marinade ahead of time (just don’t marinate the chicken too far in advance!). You can store this chicken marinade in the fridge for up to a week in a tightly sealed container or jar.

This marinade can also be stored in the freezer for up to three months. If you choose to store this in the freezer, I recommend first freezing the marinade in an ice cube tray or in 1 ounce or 4 ounce cup souper cubes. Once frozen, pop the marinade cubes into a freezer bag. This way, you can thaw out the exact amount of marinade you need without wasting the rest!

Serving Suggestions

Variations To Try

  • Add a spoonful of Dijon mustard or a little honey
  • Add a few dashes of soy sauce for an umami boost
  • Sub in another herb for the Oregano. Keep in mind that woody herbs like thyme, sage and summer savory are better suited to high heat cooking than tender herbs like tarragon, dill and basil. So we recomend that you choose an herb from the former category.
  • Instead of Pickled Jalapenos you can either leave them out completely or use a pinch of crushed red pepper flake. Alternatively, you can add 20 dashes of Tabasco sauce or a generous pinch of cayenne to the marinade instead.

More Easy Marinade Recipes:

If you love grilling, This Cajun flank steak is another grilling winner. And don’t miss our favorite healthy burger recipe line-up.

Thanks so much for reading! If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my email newsletter to get a free weekly menu plan and the latest recipes right to your inbox. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. I would love to hear what you thought!

Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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grilled chicken with pickled jalapenos, lemon wedges and oregano sprigs

Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


With only 10 minutes of prep, this recipe for Garlic Lemon Chicken Marinade transforms grilled chicken breast from boring to juicy and flavorful.


Units Scale
  • 1 lemon, preferably organic
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast


  1. Zest the lemon. Cut in half and juice it.
  2. Combine lemon zest and juice, garlic and olive oil in a mini prep, blender or in the blending jar for an immersion blender. Puree until the garlic is finely chopped.
  3. Add jalapeno, oregano, salt and pepper and pulse just to combine. Store in the refrigerator up to one week, or freeze up to 3 months.
  4. Place chicken in a shallow dish or in a resealable bag. Pour the marinade over it. Let chicken marinate for 4 to 12 hours.
  5. Preheat grill to high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the used marinade. Grill, turning occasionally until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken reads 165 degrees F, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Rest the chicken 5 minutes before slicing and serving.


This recipe makes enough marinade for 1 to 2 pounds chicken. You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs or bone in chicken. For bone-in chicken, use indirect cooking heat to prevent flare-ups.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Mixed
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 4 ounces chicken
  • Calories: 223
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 223 mg
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 37 g