chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

By Rachel Tiemeyer
July 2, 2020

Thanks to fresh lemon, garlic, thyme, and more, this bright and flavorful marinade completely transforms any cut of chicken.

lemon garlic marinade in mason jar and in a freezer bag with chicken

Disclaimer: We are an affiliate of ButcherBox and have included links in this post.

Ingredients in Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

Marinating chicken is THE key to infusing flavor into typically lean, bland poultry cuts. This light and citrusy marinade only requires a few ingredients and yet turns that lackluster cut into something that makes your tastebuds sing.

The star ingredients of Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade are fresh lemon juice and zest, good olive oil, fresh minced garlic, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. So simple!

lemon garlic marinade in small mason jar

How to Make and Store the Marinade

You can mix up this marinade and store it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a jar to use when ready. Or, you can freeze it in a mason jar, too, but allow at least 1 inch of headspace at the top for expansion.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

When ready to use the marinade, pour it over chicken in a zip-top bag or container with a lid. Let it marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours to infuse flavor.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

Then, grill, slow cook, pressure cook, or bake your marinated Lemon Garlic Chicken–whatever floats your boat! We’ve included instructions for how to cook chicken any of these ways in the recipe below.


Try some of other other favorite healthy chicken marinades to mix things up:

Download our Free Chicken Marinades Cheat Sheet Printable!

If you want to have these simple marinade combos on hand anytime, download our quick cheat sheet. This handy one-page printable includes all the recipes and 4 options for cooking your marinated chicken breasts. Tape it up inside a cabinet or pantry door, so you can whip up these recipes anytime.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in below are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 45 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: American


Thanks to fresh lemon, garlic, thyme, and more, this bright and citrusy marinade completely transforms any cut of chicken. This amount of marinade works for 1.5 – 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders. 


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (sub: ½ teaspoon dried thyme or ¼ tsp ground thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


Make It Now:

  1. Add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and shake. Either seal and refrigerate until ready to use, OR add 1.5-2 pounds chicken to the bag, seal, and squish around to make sure the chicken is covered in marinade. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the bag in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Cook the chicken however you’d like (grill, slow cook, pressure cook, or bake). See tips below in the Notes.

Freeze For Later: Follow step 1. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw, using one of these safe thawing methods, and follow Step 3. No additional marinating time needed once it is thawed!



How to Know If Chicken Is Done: Chicken is done when it reaches 165°F internal temperature. (A digital meat thermometer is a must to help cook chicken perfectly.)

How to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts:

  • Bake in Oven: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place chicken in a casserole dish or on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, until done.
  • Slow Cooker: Place chicken and marinade in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Really! That’s all it takes to get it done, otherwise you’ll overcook and dry it out.
  • Instant Pot: Place chicken, marinade, and 1/3 cup chicken broth in a 6 quart Instant Pot. (Note: If using an 8 quart, add an additional 1/2 cup of broth.) Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes and use a quick release of the pressure when the cook time is up. (Note: It will take 10-15 minutes to come to pressure before the cook time starts.)
  • Grill: Pound out the chicken to about 3/4 inch thick (or cut it in half lengthwise) to help with fast and even cooking. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and clean the grates well. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, maybe longer depending on the thickness, until done.


We get our meat from ButcherBox. The chicken is organic and curated from small, trusted farms. We highly recommend this service to source healthy meat–like uncured bacon, wild salmon, and grass-fed beef–and have used it for years ourselves. 

Fresh lemon, garlic, thyme, salt, and olive oil in small bowls

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