Quick and easy marinaded chicken breasts are great on the grill or in the oven. Bursting with outstanding flavor, they will make a great salad topping, served in a sandwich or just on the plate.
We all know that skinless boneless chicken breast can be tasteless. Made with lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and a few other ingredients, this marinade delivers a wonderful taste that will take your chicken to the next level.
This could easily be a weeknight dinner recipe since 20-30 in the marinade works well—just enough time to heat, clean, and oil the grill.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- In a 1-gallon zip lock bag, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, crushed garlic, and lemon juice. Add salt if you didn't brine.
- Add trimmed skinless boneless chicken breasts to the bag, remove extra air, and seal.
- Refrigerate for 30-120 minutes, but as little as 20 minutes gives a lot of taste.
- Remove and cook as desired. Leave the marinade on the chicken for cooking—do not rinse or pat off.
🐓Cooking the marinaded chicken
The first tip is to try to cook chicken breasts of about the same size and thickness. If one is just thicker, you can use a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan to even them out. The maximum thickness you want is ¾ of an inch.
I prefer fresh, but frozen can be fine but it must be completely thawed. A few will come pre-brined, which is fine, but please do not brine or salt again.
A brine is always a good thing, and if you have time, you will be glad you did. A recommended quick brine of 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon salt for 30 minutes to 2 hours, but as little as 20 minutes, will have some effect.
I don’t like raw chicken at room temperature, so I always refrigerate it.
While we no longer recommend rinsing chicken, you should always rinse carefully after brining. Also, don’t add any more salt after a brine is used.
🔥How to grill marinated chicken breasts
The most important part of this recipe is not to rush the cooking. I used a grill surface temperature of 450°, a tad above medium on most grills. The total grill time of about 20-25 minutes but could be a bit longer depending on the thickness of the chicken and the exact grill temperature.
For a more detailed discussion, please see How to Grill Chicken Breast on a Gas Grill.
If you have questions about controlling your grill temperature, please check my A Beginners Guide to Grill Temperature on a Gas Grill.
♨️How to oven baking
No grill, no problem. Preheat the oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional. Place them in a shallow baking dish. That is all there is to it.
Cooking time is dependent on the thickness and size of the chicken. With an average size (about 10 oz) chicken breast and a 400° oven, about 25-30 minutes is a good estimate. The only real answer is to cook until 165° internal temperature—so check a little early.
More details at How to Bake Chicken Breasts in a Convection Oven.
Marinades are generally made up of some oil, an acid, and a variety of spices. In my house, you also must add garlic. Then, it is used to soak various meats to transfer the flavors—a wonderful and easy enhancement to many types of meat.
For safety, once used, marinades should be considered contaminated and discarded. If you want the marinade to brush the meat during cooking, reserve a small amount ahead if there is enough, or make a bit extra
Garlic Lemon Marinaded Grilled Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast
Buttermilk Grilled Skinless Boneless Chicken Breast
Garlic Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim chicken breasts of any excess fat.
Optional brine: If you have time, brine is always a good thing for skinless boneless chicken breasts. I suggest a brine of 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon table salt for 20-120 minutes. If you brine, remove the salt from the recipe and rinse the chicken under running water when removed from the brine.
In a 1-gallon zip lock bag, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, crushed garlic, and lemon juice. Add salt if you didn't brine. Add chicken to the bag, remove extra air, and seal. Refrigerate for 30-120 minutes, but as little as 20 minutes gives a lot of taste.
Clean and oil grill grates and preheat to a surface temperature of about 450°, which is about medium-high on most grills. I recommend a surface thermometer to be able to control your grill well.
Remove breasts from marinade and place over direct heat. Do not rinse off the marinade.
Flip about every 5 minutes. Remove from the grill at an internal temperature of 165°—about 25 minutes of total grill time. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Easy Chicken Marinade
- 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts - well trimmed
- ¼ cup soy sauce - low sodium preferred
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoons salt
- Trim chicken breasts of any excess fat.
- Optional brine: If you have time, brine is always a good thing for skinless boneless chicken breasts. I suggest a brine of 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon table salt for 20-120 minutes. If you brine, remove the salt from the recipe, and rinse the chicken under running water when removed from the brine.
- In a 1-gallon zip lock bag, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, crushed garlic, and lemon juice. Add salt if you didn't brine. Add chicken to the bag, remove extra air, and seal. Refrigerate for 30-120 minutes, but as little as 20 minutes gives a lot of taste.
- Clean and oil grill grates and preheat to a surface temperature of 450°, which is about medium-high on most grills. I recommend a surface thermometer to be able to control your grill well.
- Remove breasts from marinade and place over direct heat. Do not rinse off marinade.
- Flip about every 5 minutes. Remove from the grill at an internal temperature of 165°. About 25 minutes total grill time. Allow to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
Your Own Private Notes
- Like most chicken recipes, cooking temperature and final temperature are critical.
- Try to use chicken breasts of about the same size and thickness. Even them out some with a meat mallet if needed. Maximum thickness of ¾ of an inch.
- Brining is optional but will give more moist results. As little as 20 minutes will give good results, but 30-120 minutes refrigerated is suggested. Longer can start to affect the texture.
- Once used, the marinade should be discarded. If you want to brush some on during cooking, reserve a small amount or make more.
- Both the grill time and oven time can vary some by the thickness of the chicken and the exact cooking temperature. So check the internal temperature a bit earlier than you think.
- An internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken of 165° is the minimum safe temperature.
- Nutrition is calculated without brine and with 10% of marinade absorbed.
Optional Oven Baking
- Preheat the oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional. Place them in a shallow baking dish.
- Baking time will be about 25-30 minutes.
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.
© 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.
Originally published April 17, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
At the end you said you might try to thicken what juice is left and gave ingredients. What are you using that for? Placing in the Instapot to cook the chicken for the 8 minutes or for a gravy for the chicken?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Just a fast note to other readers. Dave is referring to a previous comment and not the recipe or the post above.
I am going to try using this recipe using a instapot (electric pressure cooker) & a 10lb bag of leg quarters after I removed the skin and de-bone it all. I am making 3 cups of rice in the pot first and setting it aside. Then after letting the chicken marinade in the refrigerator for at least and hour, maybe two, I will put it all in to the pot and cook it 8 minutes on high. While doing all of that I will whip up some sriracha green beans in the skillet. I might try to thicken what juice is left in the pot after cooking with a tablespoon or two of corn starch and equal parts cold water slowly stirred in to the juices and brought to a boil to thicken.
Welcome to the blog.
Sounds like a well thought out plan that should work great. I don't use my instapot much. My mother had a few "accidents" with her pressure cooker and I'm not in a hurry.
Thanks for the note.
I broke down a whole chicken last night, 2 wings, 2 drumsticks, two thighs, then I left both breasts on the bone. I doubled the recipe, brined the whole thing for 30 minutes, then marinade for 30. I had to grill everything for 10 -15 min longer, but my god did this turn out amazing. I fed a family of 5 ( 3 kids - 8,6,3) and we ran out of chicken. EVERYONE at the table asked to have more. This recipe was a keeper and goes into the family recipe book. Luckily my wife keeps all of the ingredients in the house (we had to make our own brown sugar, but that wasn't that hard) Truly AMAZING.
Awesome looking marinade recipe...excited to try it, thought I was going to be doing so tonight, but wifey just informed of a change in plans...lol.
Dr. Dan, are you closing the lid when grilling the chicken?
Closed. General rule: Less than 1/2 inch (fish) is open. 1/2-1 inch can be open but it is much harder control and over 1 inch is always closed. So always assume closed unless otherwise stated. It is open in the photos just to get the photos.
Thank you, Dr. Dan...this sounds amazing! If I'm grilling 4 Breasts, was wondering if I should double all of the ingredients, both for Brine and Marinade?
The brine is fine for 4 breasts. The marinade will need to increase by 50-100%