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7 BEST Chicken Marinades (+ Printable Recipe Cheat Sheet)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These 7 easy marinades for chicken breasts will transform this boring cut into several tasty and healthy meals! Learn how to prep and freeze for later OR how to make them for dinner tonight. Plus, snag our FREE one-page cheat sheet of all the recipes.

7 chicken marinades

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Why We Love Marinating Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts are the go-to cut of poultry in our houses. They are lean, easy to find, and versatile. But, without some serious culinary help, this cut can be flat-out boring and lackluster.

chicken marinade in freezer bags

That’s where our 7 marinades for chicken breasts come in! Marinating chicken helps to infuse flavor throughout and adds moisture to a cut of chicken that can be notoriously dry. We’ve developed 7 delicious combos of marinade ingredients so you never get bored again!

marinades in small mason jars

In this article, you’ll find:

  • Video Tutorial: How to Make 7 Chicken Marinades
  • FREE Printable Cheat Sheet
  • 7 Amazing Chicken Marinades
  • FAQ: Can you freeze chicken marinades?
  • FAQ: How long should I marinate chicken breasts?
  • FAQ: Can you use these marinades for other cuts of chicken?
  • FAQ: Where do you buy your chicken from?

1 Minute Video: How to Make All 7 Marinades for Chicken Breasts

Check out just how quickly these marinades come together using mostly pantry staples…

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.

7 Chicken Marinade Recipes

There is a marinade for everyone in our collection! Each recipe works for 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of chicken breasts. Which flavor profile looks tastiest to you?

chicken breasts in marinades in freezer bags

1. Asian Sesame Chicken Marinade

With just a few key Asian-inspired ingredients, you can create some seriously tasty marinated chicken. Serve it in wraps, on salads, or over rice. A perfect side dish is our Asian Slaw…yum!

marinade in a small mason jar and two chicken breasts in a freezer bag with marinade

2. Honey Dijon Chicken Marinade

You had me at 5 ingredients! That’s right. This recipe only requires 5 pantry staple ingredients for a perfect sweet and tangy result. Delicious on top of salad with our Honey Dijon Dressing or serve on a bun with your favorite chicken sandwich toppings.

Honey Dijon Chicken Marinade

3. Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

Thanks to fresh lemon, garlic, thyme, and more, this bright and flavorful marinade completely transforms any cut of chicken. Pairs perfectly with our Crispy Smashed Potatoes and Strawberry Fields Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.

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

4. Balsamic Herb Chicken Marinade

Fresh herbs and pantry staples combine to create this complex marinade. Grill or bake the chicken, then enjoy on its own or atop a salad. Side dish ideas include our Simple Boiled Baby Potatoes or No Boil Corn on the Cob.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with balsamic marinade and marinade in a mason jar

5. Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade

Cilantro, lime, garlic and more marry together to create this fresh, citrusy marinade. Serve on tacos, in quesadillas, or shredded on top of nachos, like these Instant Pot Chicken Nachos.

marinade in a mason jar and marinade and chicken in freezer bag

6. The BEST Savory Chicken Marinade

This marinade packs a flavor punch! In fact, I think it’s the BEST savory one you’ll find. With just a few pantry staple ingredients, boring chicken is taken to a whole new flavor level! Enjoy a la carte, on top of our Favorite Cobb Salad, on a sandwich, or in a wrap.

savory chicken marinade in a mason jar and in a freezer bag with chicken breasts

7. Southwest Chicken Marinade

Of all the marinades in the world, THIS Southwest Chicken Marinade is the one I make the most. Hands down. My kids love it. All adults love it. And it can be served any way you dream up–a la carte, in tacos or quesadillas, in Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowls, or in our Southwest Chicken and Bacon Wraps.

chicken marinade in a small mason jar and in a freezer bag with chicken

FAQ: Can you freeze these chicken marinades?

Absolutely! As freezer cookbook authors, we especially love how easy it is to prep these chicken breast marinades ahead of time and freeze them to have on hand for another night. Every recipe includes freezing instructions, so you can double and freeze a batch anytime.

frozen chicken in marinades in freezer bags

To Freeze: Simply add all the marinade ingredients to a BPA-free gallon-sized freezer bag or one of our favorite freezer meal dishes, toss or whisk to combine, and add in 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of chicken breasts per marinade batch. Then, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal, and freeze for up to 3 months for best results.

To Thaw: Thaw, using one of these safe thawing methods and then cook the chicken according to our recipe instructions. No additional marinating time needed once it is thawed!

We encourage you to stock up on all the ingredients for these marinades and prep them in bulk for an hour or so over the weekend. You’ll love having them on hand in the freezer!

FAQ: How long should I marinate chicken breasts?

In our tests, we found that it’s best to marinate your chicken in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Less than 1 hour didn’t seem to infuse enough flavor into the chicken breasts and more than 24 hours can cause them to become a bit mealy and mushy, especially if the marinade has a high acid content.

marinades for chicken breasts in freezer bags

If you’re freezing your chicken in the marinade, skip the time in the refrigerator and throw it immediately into the freezer. It will not over marinate in the freezer, but the chicken will begin to absorb some of the flavor during its stay. Then, while it thaws using one of these safe methods, it will marinate even more.

FAQ: Can you use these marinades for other cuts of chicken?

Absolutely! All cuts of chicken can benefit from a dip in a marinade. So, these marinades work just as well for chicken thighs and bone-in chicken. Cooking time will vary from our recipes, however, since we direct you how to cook chicken breasts.

chicken marinades in freezer bags

FAQ: Where do you get your chicken breasts from?

We are HUGE fans of Butcherbox and have been getting our chicken (and beef, seafood, and pork) from them for years now. We love that their chicken is 100% organic and all their meat is healthy and sourced responsibly. It’s so convenient to have it delivered to our doorsteps whenever we choose!

You should definitely check it out and see if Butcherbox would be a good fit for your family. Our readers and we just love it!

We hope you find these recipes helpful in your home and helpful for stocking your freezer with healthy and delicious meals!

Don’t forget your Free Chicken Marinades Cheat Sheet

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 Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

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marinades for chicken breasts in freezer bags

7 BEST Marinades for Chicken Breasts

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 45 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Any cooking method
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

These 7 easy marinades for chicken breasts will transform this boring cut into an amazing meal! Prep and freeze for later OR make them for dinner tonight.

All of these marinades work best for 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of chicken breasts but feel free to double or triple the recipe.


Ingredients

Asian Sesame Chicken Marinade:

  • ⅓ cup oil (recommended: peanut or avocado)
  • ⅓ cup rice vinegar (make sure it’s not “seasoned” rice vinegar)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (Gluten-Free option: coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Honey Dijon Chicken Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade:

  • 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

Balsamic Herb Chicken Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup oil (recommend: avocado or olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (sub: 2 tsp dried parsley, crushed in hand)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed in hand
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in hand
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cilantro Lime Chicken Marinade:

  • ½ cup oil (recommended: avocado or olive oil) 
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

The BEST Savory Chicken Marinade:

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Southwest Chicken Marinade:

  • 1/3 cup oil (recommend: avocado or olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Add the marinade ingredients to a gallon-sized freezer bag or a freezer container with lid, 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 1-2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Cook the chicken breasts 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

These marinades work best for 1 1/2 – 2 pounds of chicken breasts, but feel free to double for triple the batch for a larger portion.

You can use other cuts of chicken with this marinade, but our cooking directions are specifically for chicken breasts.

The nutrition info below is for the Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade, but they are all fairly similar. Check each recipe in the post above for specific nutritional information. 

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos is a delicious meal that the whole family will love! Be sure to make a double batch for the freezer. Then, you can pull out however many you want and throw them directly in the oven for a quick weeknight dinner.

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos

Affiliate links may be included.

There is a short list of meals in my house that pleases all five of us. It seems like everyone has their own aversions and favorites, which can be exhausting sometimes. Can any moms out there relate??

Now, there is an added bonus when you can find a recipe that is easy, made in the slow cooker, AND freezer friendly. This is why I love Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos! Or, you can make them in the Instant Pot using our Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos recipe.

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos

Watch How This Meal Comes Together

How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

You are going to LOVE how simple this is. Start by seasoning your chicken with some taco seasoning. Toss it in the slow cooker and add some broth. Water works fine too.

Now here’s the key: Do not overcook your chicken! We wrote a whole post about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker if you want a bit more information but for now, just follow the recipe, got it? Yeah, you got this! 🙂

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos

Once that chicken has cooked, grab two forks and give it a good shred.

Shredded chicken on a cutting board


After this, rolling up the taquitos and baking them just takes minutes. I also love that I can make these in advance and pop them in the oven right before dinner (fresh or frozen).

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos

How to Freeze Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

As I mentioned above, another beauty of this recipe is that Chicken and Cheese Taquitos are freezer-friendly. Because of this, I almost always double the recipe. Simply follow the cooking instructions right up until baking and then freeze them in a single layer in a freezer bag.

Chicken and cheese taquitos in a freezer bag

Then, you can pull out however many you need on a busy week night and bake them directly from frozen using our freezer meal instructions below.

Side Dish Idea

Looking for something to serve this with? Try our Avocado Lime Salsa!

Avocado Lime Salsa

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag

Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Printable Recipe

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Cheese Taquitos

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours and 20 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This is a delicious meal that the whole family will love! Be sure to make a double batch for the freezer. Then, you can pull out however many you want and throw them directly in the oven for a quick weeknight dinner.


Ingredients


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Place the chicken breasts in your slow cooker. Rub both sides of the chicken with all of the taco seasoning. Add water or broth.
  2. Cover and cook on LOW for about 2.5 – 3.5 hours, until it shreds easily. (Note: Chicken should be 165°F internally when done.) Shred the chicken with two forks and stir, so the seasoning is evenly distributed.
  3. Add cream cheese and salsa to the shredded chicken and stir until cream cheese is melted.
  4. Arrange tortillas on a flat surface. Top each tortilla with an equal amount of chicken mixture, leaving a little room at the edges so the filling doesn’t spill out. Top chicken mixture with 2-3 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Roll up tortillas tightly. (Freezing instructions begin here.) 
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  6. Place the taquitos on a baking sheet, seam side down. Spray the tops with cooking spray and bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese melts and they are golden brown on top. (Note: If you have leftover cheese, you can sprinkle it over the top of the taquitos before they bake.)
  7. Serving suggestion: Top with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, salsa, Guacamole, or our Avocado Lime Salsa.

Freeze It For Later: Complete the recipe through Step 4. Then, place rolled up tortillas side-by-side in a single later in a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal tightly and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: When ready to bake, you have two options:

Method 1 (Thawed): Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave using the defrost setting. Bake as directed, beginning with Step 5.

Method 2 (From Frozen): Follow Steps 5-7, but cover the frozen taquitos with foil after spraying them with cooking spray. Then, bake for about 25 minutes or until warmed through. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.


Notes

For Instant Pot instructions, try our Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos.

Slow cooker chicken and cheese taquitos

Be sure to try our Instant Pot Chicken and Cheese Taquitos for a faster cooking method.


Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

On-the-Go Chicken Burritos {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These simple, individual chicken burritos make for a filling, healthy, and satisfying lunch or dinner anywhere and anytime. Be sure to double the batch and freeze some for later.

These simple, individual chicken burritos make for a filling, healthy, and satisfying lunch or dinner anywhere and anytime. #freezermeal #realfood

Why We Love On-the-Go Chicken Burritos

Our family is kind of obsessed with these make-ahead chicken burritos. I regularly pull them straight from the freezer to either warm in the oven or microwave for a quick and healthy lunch or dinner. Keep them in the freezer at work, send in a child’s lunch box (simply heat and wrap in foil), or grab-and-go on busy nights.I have a feeling we are going to depend strongly on these once the school chaos starts up again!

These simple, individual chicken burritos make for a filling, healthy, and satisfying lunch or dinner anywhere and anytime. #freezermeal #realfood

Similar Recipes to On-the-Go Chicken Burritos

If you want an even simpler, meatless burrito version, try our Make Ahead Lunch Wraps. It doesn’t get much easier to make healthy food in bulk!

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

Or try our delicious Beef and Bean Burritos from our popular cookbook, From Freezer to Table. We include all the freezer instructions, too.

What Sides Should I Serve with On-the-Go Chicken Burritos?

We have several delicious Mexican-inspired and other side dishes that would go well with these burritos. Give one of of these healthy and delicious options a try…

Homemade Guacamole

Guacamole

Texas Caviar Dip

Avocado Lime Salsa

Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

On-the-Go Chicken Burritos are perfect for those crazy evenings when you’re in and out or for a slower sit-down meal around the table. Either way they are great!

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On-the-Go Chicken Burritos

On-the-Go Chicken Burritos {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 burritos 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

These simple, individual chicken burritos make for a filling, healthy, and satisfying lunch or dinner anywhere and anytime. 


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 (about 1 lb) chicken breasts, diced and patted very dry
  • 1 packet store-bought mild taco seasoning (or use this homemade taco seasoning)
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans (or half of 15 ounce can of black beans, drained)
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • ½1 cup mild salsa (adjust to taste)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 (8-inch) whole wheat tortillas
  • Optional toppings: Guacamole or Creamy Avocado Dip, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, pico de gallo

Instructions

Make It Now: 

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. When the oil is shimmery, add the chicken and sauté until cooked through (no longer pink), about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add water, taco seasoning, black beans, corn, brown rice, and salsa. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low. Let mixture simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Assemble burritos. To each tortilla, add a generous 1/3 cup chicken and bean mixture and 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese . Pull in each end of tortilla and roll up tightly. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  5. Warming options:
    1. Wrap tortilla in foil and heat through in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes. (from frozen, 20-30 minutes)
    2. Wrap tortilla in a moist paper towel and warm in the microwave in 30 second increments until heated through.
  6. Serve with optional toppings.

Freeze for Later: Complete recipe through Step 4. Wrap each individual burrito in foil and place in gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare from Frozen: Options for reheating:

Option 1: Thawed: Thaw burritos in the refrigerator overnight and then place in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through. Another thaw option is to remove foil, wrap burrito in moist paper towel, and microwave in 30 second increments until heated through (about 2 minutes depending on microwave). Open up the burrito halfway through reheating, to allow the inside ingredients to get warmed.

Option #1: Frozen: Preheat oven to 350°F. Keep burrito(s) wrapped in the foil. Heat in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until heated through. Another thaw option is to remove foil, wrap burrito in moist paper towel, and microwave in 30 second increments until heated through (about 4 minutes depending on microwave). Open up the burrito halfway through reheating, to allow the inside ingredients to get warmed.

 

COOKING NOTES:

How to Make in the Slow Cooker:

1. Place whole chicken breasts (note: do not dice!) in the slow cooker and top with the water and taco seasoning. Cook on LOW for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, just until cooked through (no more pink in the center and shreds easily).

2. Shred the chicken. Stir in the beans, corn, cooked rice, and salsa.

3. Following directions from above starting with Step 4.

Cheesy Chicken Casserole: Real Food Meets Reality {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

This casserole won my husband’s heart over when we were dating. Well, I think our relationship was a little more complicated than that…but he did love Cheesy Chicken Casserole then and still asks for it today 14 happily-married years later!

Cheesy Chicken Casserole is just one of those simple, comfort food casseroles that delivers every time. The question I had, though, is could I make this traditionally processed food-laden dish a bit healthier without sacrificing taste or convenience? Can “real food meet reality”, as our Recipe Index tagline says?

Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Well, yes, I think so! In this Cheesy Chicken Casserole recipe, I simply made a few swaps to clean up the junk in the original recipe I made 14 years ago. Read more