chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

By Rachel Tiemeyer
January 31, 2022

Thanks to fresh lemon, garlic, thyme, and more, this bright and flavorful marinade completely transforms any cut of chicken. Use this Lemon Chicken Marinade recipe the next time you need a zesty, healthy protein!

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

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Ingredients in Lemon 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:

How to Make and Store the Marinade

If you find that you are using this chicken marinade frequently, you could make a large batch of it (scale it up 2-3x) and store it for future use. There are two main ways to store the marinade: The refrigerator or the freezer.

lemon garlic marinade in small mason jar

STORE IT IN THE REFRIGERATOR

The marinade will store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in a jar to use when ready.

STORE IT IN THE FREEZER

Here is an out of the box idea: make a big batch of marinade and freeze it in small portions! If you freeze it in a mason jar, be sure to allow at least 1 inch of headspace at the top because the contents will expand. Scaling up the recipe is a great use of time and resources too. Just one of the many reasons we love freezer meals!

chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

When ready to use the marinade, let it thaw (if necessary) and 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.

Use Lemon Chicken Marinade as a Freezer Meal

Another great use of your time is prep a few freezer meals out of this marinade. Like most of our chicken freezer meals, simply combine the ingredients (the marinade & the chicken) and freeze for later. No need to let the chicken marinate before freezing either. When you want to use it, let the chicken thaw one of these safe ways.

Then, grill, slow cookpressure cook, or bake your marinated Chicken. You choose your method! We’ve included instructions for how to cook boneless chicken breasts any of these ways in the recipe below.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with lemon garlic marinade

Ways to Cook Chicken Breast

There are so many ways to cook your marinated chicken. Here are some basic guidelines.

Bake Chicken Breast in the 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.

Cook Chicken Breast in the 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. Here is a whole post about how long to cook chicken in the Crockpot if you’re interested!

Cook Chicken Breast in the 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.)

How to Grill Chicken Breast

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.

MORE CHICKEN MARINADES YOU MUST TRY

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

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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

Description

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. 


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (sub: 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or 1/4 tsp ground thyme)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/22 pounds boneless chicken breasts, thighs, or tenders

Instructions

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!

 

COOKING NOTES:

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.


Notes

Where We Get Our Chicken: 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. A woman standing on her front porch holding a box from Butcher Box meats.

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

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