It tastes as good as it sounds. Quick and easy, this lemon garlic chicken marinade has butter, lemon, garlic, and spices. Use it with grilled or baked chicken breasts or thighs.
Let's all agree that chicken can be relatively tasteless, and a marinade is a perfect solution to this lack of flavor and some tenderizing. And marinating, if you plan right, will not add much time.
This was our standard grilled chicken breast recipe when the kids were young. The components are always in the house, so there is little thinking ahead.
We have used this recipe for about 45 years, and it remains one of our favorites.
Just an FYI, marinate is a verb meaning the action, while marinade is the noun referring to the liquid.
A solid 5 for us.
🍋Ingredients for the Marinade
The ingredients are not fancy. Yes, you could use freshly squeezed lemon and crushed garlic, but that makes for too much work for this summer laid-back summer recipe for use.
- Lemon Juice- 6 tablespoons of juice or the juice of 3 medium lemons.
- Butter - use real butter with or without salt.
- Garlic - 6-8 garlic cloves curshed or 2 tablespoons of crushed or minced garlic.
- Seasoning Salt and Pepper - Loweys or other seasoning salt and a little pepper with it.
👨🍳Cooking Chicken Breasts with Lemon Chicken Marinade
Once your chicken is marinated, it is time to cook it—generally, that will be on a grill. It is not that hard, but see the recipe list below if you need more details on specific details.
- Prepare the marinade per instructions and reserve a small amount to brush on during grilling. Be sure to let it cool some before adding the chicken.
- Choose skinless boneless chicken breasts of about the same size. Do not brine due to the salt in the marinade.
- If the chicken is over ¾ inch thick, they need to be thinned some with a meat mallet or heavy pan. This will even out the cooking times.
- Marinade for 20-30 minutes—maximum of 3 hours.
- Preheat the grill to a grill surface temperature of about 450°. Clean and oil well.
- Place the chicken over direct heat. Flip every 5 minutes, the last flip, brush with the reserved marinade. Grill to 165° internal temperature—20-25 minutes usually.
- Instead of the grill, you can bake in an oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional for about 25 minutes to 165°.
- Chicken... To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
- A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill
- How to Grill Chicken Breasts
- Grilled Chicken Thighs
- How to Bake Chicken Breasts in a Convection Oven
Yes, but you need to be very careful about surface temperature. And, of course, times will vary. On most charcoal grills, you will need to adjust the venting.
Yes. Then refrigerate for up to 3 days.
No. Once it is used, the marinade should be considered contaminated and discarded. If you want to brush on some of the marinade during cooking, you must reserve a small amount before marinating the chicken.
Up to 2-3 hours in the fridge because the acid in the lemon juice may damage the chicken. You should not marinate overnight.
Sure, other chicken marinade recipes use things like thyme, rosemary, other herbs, and spices for various flavors. If you use fresh lemons, adding some lemon zest is always good.
📖Grilled Chicken Recipes
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
In a medium-size saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons (about 6-8 cloves) minced or crushed garlic and bloom for 1 minute. Add 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Lowrey's (or other) seasoning salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper. Whisk together and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Remove 2-3 tablespoons and reserve for later brushing during grilling.
Trim the chicken; usually, skinless boneless breasts or thighs will be fine. If the chicken is over ¾ inches thick, flatten some with a meat mallet.
Add chicken breast smooth side down, stir well, and ensure the breasts are covered with liquid. Marinade for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the grill for 10 minutes on medium-high heat for a surface temperature of about 450°. Clean well and oil.
Place the marinated chicken over direct heat with lid closed for 5 minutes per side. Continue to cook until the internal temp of 165° is measured with a meat thermometer. About 20-25 minutes.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Lemon Chicken Marinade
- 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
- 6 tablespoons butter - ¾ stick
- 6 tablespoons ReaLemon juice - juice of 3 medium lemons
- 2 tablespoons garlic - or 6-8 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon seasoning salt - Lowrey’s
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a medium-size saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons (about 6-8 cloves) minced or crushed garlic and bloom for 1 minute. Add 6 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon Lowrey's (or other) seasoning salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper. Simmer over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes
- Remove 2-3 tablespoons and reserve for later brushing during grilling.
- Trim the chicken; usually, skinless boneless breasts or thighs will be fine. If the chicken is over ¾ inches thick, flatten some with a meat mallet.
- Add chicken breast smooth side down, stir well, and ensure the breasts are covered with liquid. Marinade for 10-15 minutes.
- Preheat the grill for 10 minutes on medium-high heat for a surface temperature of about 450°. Clean well and oil.
- Place the marinated chicken over direct heat with lid closed for 5 minutes per side. Continue to cook until the internal temp of 165° is measured with a meat thermometer. About 20-25 minutes.
- Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
My Private Notes
- Use boneless chicken breasts or thighs. For breasts, cook to 165°, and for thighs, cook to 180° for texture.
- Let the marinade cool before adding the chicken.
- You can use the marinade for basting the chicken while cooking but to do this you must reserve some before adding the chicken to the marinade for safety.
- I occasionally lightly score the smooth surface of the raw chicken to allow the marinade to penetrate better.
- No brining is allowed here. There is lots of salt in the marinade.
- Cooking on the grill or baking in the oven.
- Leftovers are wonderful on salad.
- Nutrition is calculated for chicken breasts and some absorption of the marinaded.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published May 20, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation. Some photos may be from other recipes to illustrate the discussion.