Best Grilled Chicken Marinade

This basic marinade for chicken is completely foolproof!  Its been a staple in our house since I began cooking.  Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, lime, sugar and a little Dijon is all it takes to produce some of the best chicken you will grill this summer! 

easy best grilled chicken marinadeI’m going to let you in a little secret.

I’ve been asked for my Grilled Chicken marinade recipe time and time again and have kept it very close to the vest.  This is my grilling GO TO recipe every time and always will be.  I wait all winter for summer to come just so I can fire up the barbeque and slap this chicken on the grill!

When I get really desperate, come January, I make it inside on my grill, but boy does it smoke up my house.  Plus it’s just not the same as being outside on a warm summers night, with a drink in hand, filling the skies with the intoxicating smell of honey chicken on the bbq.

I’m making a public apology to all my neighbors that are down wind.  Between my bbq and my husbands obsession with LARGE fires in the fire pit … well, maybe I should just invite them over and once they bite into this chicken they will understand perfectly why we are on such good terms with the Fire Dept.

easy grilled chicken marinade

Be sure to save some of the UNUSED marinade (like a 1/4 cup) to pour all over the chicken when it is done cooking.

It is HEAVENLY!   I’ve also saved a little marinade and drizzled it over my salad with this chicken for lunch.


UPDATE:  There have been a lot of comments left regarding the ‘leftover’ marinade.   Please do NOT use marinade that raw chicken has touched.  What I meant when I wrote this was, set ASIDE some of the marinade to pour over the chicken after it’s cooked.  It adds a lot of juice and flavor.

what to serve



Deviled Eggs
Carrot Salad
Creamy Summer Cole Slaw


Best Grilled Chicken Marinade

Simply the best basic chicken marinade out there!  Be sure to save some BEFORE marinating to pour over the cooked chicken.



  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves


  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl except the olive oil
  2. Drizzle in oil very slowly while whisking quickly
  3. Put the chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour between 1/2 ~ 3/4 of the marinade over it.
  4. Put the chicken in the fridge and marinate at least 2 hours
  5. Grill chicken over med/high heat and cook until juices run clear

Recipe Adapted from:  AllRecipes
I used all organic ingredients when making this recipe, and hope you do too!  🙂

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Missy1964 says:

    Just made this. Why do you not pour all the marinade on chicken.? It didn’t say, so I put it all in. Im assuming the left over is for brushing on while grilling. Hopefully it will be ok without doing that..

  2. This was a great marinade. Everyone at dinner commented on how delicious the chicken was!

  3. I found this recipe last year the name says it it is the best I have done chicken thin pork chops and shrimp with this it is my go to marinade love it

  4. Jennifer says:

    When you say cider vinegar, do you mean apple cider vinegar?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Whole family loved this

  6. Sandra York says:

    We made this marinade this weekend and it was GREAT!! The taste was perfect and I am looking forward to the leftovers!! Thank you for posting it.

  7. I had everything but the lime and it turned out great! My picky eater loved it as well as the rest of the family. Thanks for posting!

  8. My new go to chicken marinade. I used thighs and they were delicious.

  9. Used this marinade yesterday for my first time grilling…everyone LOVED IT!!

  10. THE BEST MARINADE IN THE WORLD !!! I didn’t even marinade it that long b/c I didn’t have time and it still came out full of flavor.

  11. Awesome marinade. I couldn’t wait the full two hours but didn’t need to. The meat was so tender and the flavor was delicious.

  12. You know if you forget to save out some marinade you can always boil some of the marinade that was on the chicken. It’ll be just as good and safe

  13. I’m going to try shrimp with this marinade and grill them….sound delicious! I loved the chicken.

  14. Is it possible to use a different vinegar than cider vinegar for this recipe? Cider vinegar is literally the only one i don’t have on hand right now. I have balsamic, red wine and white vinegars. lol

  15. Going camping, you think okay to make up the marinade in advance….no chicken. Lol. I was thinking in a mason jar. I would think flavors would onky get better.

    • absolutely beth! As a matter of fact I have done just that only I threw all the chicken and the marinade in a big Ziploc bag and just let it marinate for a day or two. Turned out fantastic! Have fun

  16. Anonymous says:

    Made this tonight…whole family loved it, definite keeer, marinade is right balance of tangy and sweet! Thinking of trying on pork chops with some fresh rosemary tossed in. Thanks for sharing recipe, looking forward to trying more.

  17. Made this tonight. Best grilled chicken we have ever had. Thank you for sharing, we absolutely loved this.

  18. Can you make this on a George Foreman grill?

    • I don’t see why not Angela! 😀

    • That’s the way I’m about to do mine. Also I’m using thighs. I’m sure it will turn out perfect. The last time I done the recipe I marinaded the chicken overnite and found it to be alittle on the strong side. Can’t wait to try this on the foreman.

      • I agree with you Ray. This marinade doesn’t take long. I usually only do it for an hour or 2 while I am preparing other stuff. Overnight is too much.

  19. I had to come back to let you know this was SO delicious. I’m sure I’ll be making this again and again. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Did you grill the chicken Mari or cook it inside? It’s in the 60s here and I CANNOT wait to get the cover off my grill and start making this chicken again.

  20. Making this right now. It says to pour part of the marinade over the chicken but it doesn’t say what to do with the remainder. I’m going to assume it’s for basting during grilling, is that right?

    • you are correct Mari. I save a little for basting and then I also save a little to pour over the chicken after it’s been plated. If you do want to pour some over the chicken at the end just be sure it’s not from the same marinade you’re basting from due to cross contamination.

  21. Has anyone baked this chicken? It is getting cold out and am looking to transition to baked chicken. If you think baking would work, any recommendations on temp. time, etc?

  22. This sounds like it would be great for salmon as well 🙂

  23. Hey I have everything but the lime… Do you think it will still be okay without it

  24. Just wanted to say thank you! My husband told me he was so over chicken. Haha! I made this and we have now grilled with it twice. But when I say twice, each time we have grilled about ten pounds of chicken and then shred it up into little meal size portions and freeze them. When it is dinnertime I go grab a meal size bag out of the freezer and warm it up in the microwave. Then I use it on on quesadillas, Caesar salad, bbq chicken pizza, anything you can think of. You are the best. Thanks.

  25. Maura Kelly says:

    i have made this marinade twice now. Everyone in my family loves it! Thanks for sharing!

  26. This might be a silly question but if I don’t have a grill, would it still be fabulous if I pan seared it? Would there be anything to keep in mind when preparing it that way versus grilling? Looks great and can’t wait to try it!

  27. I really like this the only thing I did different is I zested the citrus before juicing it and used both in the marinade (seems a shame to waste the zest). I also split the marinade into two bags each with 1 leg quarters (there are only two of us) and will freeze on package with the marinade…should make for a quick meal later this month!

  28. diana may says:

    excellent dish!! I will be making this all summer long. thanks for sharing.

  29. Elizabeth says:

    Found this recipe on Pinterest and tried it tonight! It’s Amazing! I will definitely be trying out your other dishes as well 🙂 thanks!

  30. Alexandra toppins says:

    Can I marinate this overnight? Im trying to get as much prep done ahead of time for a party!

    • ABSOLUTELY !!! I marinated this chicken overnight and brought it up north 5 hrs away packed in a cooler and my husband is STILL talking about it!

  31. I don’t wanna use any sugar so I was wondering if I could totally leave out any sugar or perhaps use some some liquid stivia?? I would prefer none but if you think it wouldn’t turnout with no sweetness I would be willing to try stevia.

    • I hear your concerns about the sugar Amy. I don’t know that I would omit it completely. Maybe an alternative like you suggested would work.

  32. Has anyone tried this with bone in chicken legs?

  33. Susan Chen says:

    Have you tried baking this?

  34. I made a triple batch of this chicken yesterday, and it was a hit with our extended family! I’d say that this is the best grilled chicken marinade we’ve ever tried. I pounded this chicken first — not thin, just to even up the thickness — and marinated it for about five hours. Also reserved some of the marinade to put on the finished chicken. It was great!

    • so happy you and the family enjoyed the chicken Susan. We just made a batch over the weekend ourselves and it was a hit as usual!

  35. Hi there. This recipe looks delicious, and easy! But I was wondering about the sugar – I try not to eat it if I can help it. Has anyone made it without or substituted honey? Or maybe use less?
    I appreciate any feedback.
    Thanks so much!

  36. Debi,
    You mention “the intoxicating smell of HONEY chicken on the bbq”. Is there supposed to be honey in this recipe? Thanks!

    • Tammy you are like the 3rd or 4th person to tell me this! I finally found the sentence. 😀 I think I originally put honey in it but changed it. I’m going to try it with the honey again b/c I think I really liked it. Stay tuned!

      • So what is your final verdict on this? Getting ready to make it for guests. I’ve made it twice already, and loved it! But may go the honey route today…

        • my final verdict – no honey! I receive constant compliments on this chicken so i’m keeping it as is. 😀

  37. savannah says:

    Also, is apple cider vinegar with the mother going to work for the cider vinegar?

    • that is the only kind of cider vinegar I use, and I’ve used it before on (different) marinade recipes with no problems!

  38. savannah says:

    Have you ever frozen the chicken in the marinade and then thawed to grill?

  39. Anonymous says:

    I served this to the people I cook for, and they raved. Said it was the best chicken they ever ate. I did flatten the chicken breasts first so they grilled evenly.

  40. Anonymous says:

    I want to make this for dinner tonight but I don’t have a fresh lemon, I do however have a bottle of “Real Lemon” has anyone used it a substitute?

  41. I, many times, will use left over marinates my raw meats have marinated in by boiling it slowly in a pot. It will usually thicken up a bit and make for a tasty sauce to serve with the cooked meat and is safe to eat.

  42. This was the most amazing chicken recipe we have ever made. My husband and I devoured it! We will be making this recipe for the rest of our lives! This will definitely be our “go to” grilled chicken recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it with the world! ♥

  43. Kierstien says:

    Made this last night but used white sugar instead of brown (because I was out) and it was SO GOOD! I also used boneless chicken thighs instead (again, what I had on hand!) It was probably the best chicken I have had! And my whole family loved it!!!! My 10yr old and 5yr old both had seconds! Will make again for sure 🙂

  44. Love this recipe! Trying it for the second time. Can I marinate this overnight?

  45. I found this on Pinterest and made it for my family tonight. They are not picky eaters, but will definitely tell me if they don’t like something. My son being the more vocal of the family. Well, just wanted to let you know that he told me that it was the best chicken he has ever eaten. After he told me that I had to take a bite for myself. I actually patted myself on the back for making it, therefore patting you on the back for posting it. Thank you so much. I will save this recipe and make it over and over again!

    • Thank you so much Julia! I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a lovely comment! Wait until you make it on the grill! 😀

  46. We made this tonight & it was awesome. I was honestly impressed, I’ve tried so many chicken marinades & I have disappointed more often than not. I also used the reserved marinade as a dipping sauce (strained of the garlic), it really upped the flavor. This will definitely be used again. Thank you so much for sharing!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Okay I am trying this tonight have the chicken marinating in the fridge now but I did not put it in a ziplock bag ( too messy) but I have it poured over the chicken in a ceramic pan, cant wait to taste it I know it will be delish!!

  48. Hi Debi-
    This looks awesome and I love your focus on organic foods.
    One question – you wrote about the smell of “the honey chicken on the bbq”….but I didn’t see honey in the recipe. Hoping to make tonight, pls share update if needed. Thanks again!

  49. Yummmmmmmm! Made this tonight, LOVED it! Thank you so much.

  50. Hi Debi , Your Best Grilled Chicken recipe looks delicious and moist I cant wait to try it. Just one question when you are describing it above the recipe you call it Honey Chicken. Is it supposed to have honey or just the brown sugar. Thank you

  51. Cindy Hall Scruggs says:

    Marinade that raw chicken has been marinated in should be boiled prior to pouring it over the chicken that has been taken off the grill. Some people may not be aware of this and could make themselves, and other diners sick. this sounds like a great marinade, and I am looking forward to trying it, and making my neighbors hungry, lol. Thanks for sharing

    • Anonymous says:

      The directions say to save some of the marinade and not add it all to the bag. The unused marinade that did not touch raw chicken that was left over is to be drizzled over after grilling. She did not say to use the marinade from the ziploc bag.

      • Thank you for mentioning that because I was about to advise NOT to use the same marinade that the raw chicken sat in – for when the chicken is cooked and you pour over top when done. Whew, glad it came up!

      • I would second what Cindy said. I understand exactly what is meant in the directions (and I think Cindy did also), but I think it could easily be misinterpreted. Not trying to diss the recipe at all, it looks great! I just feel that inexperienced cooks could misinterpret “leftover marinade” to mean what is leftover after the chicken is removed. Please understand this is not meant as criticism but instead as useful feedback.

        Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely be trying it!

        • thanks everyone for your feedback. I’ll go ahead and change the wording. I wouldn’t want anyone to actually use ‘leftover’ marinade that raw chicken has been in. 😀

  52. Hi!

    I found you on topmommyblogs in the forums. I love your website. It is so clean, and organized and so easy to navigate! I have added you to my “mommyblogs” bookmark and am signing up for email updates as soon as I finish typing this message. Thanks for sharing such great recipes for moms and not buying processed foods!

    Have a great day!


  53. Thanks so much for the rave review!!


  1. […] – Grilled chicken with the Best Grilled Chicken Marinade from a simple tomato salad with grilled potatoes in foil.  Trust me when I tell you it literally is […]

  2. […] Best Grilled Chicken , Roasted Veggies […]

  3. […] Grilled chicken may sound too plain, and too simple to make, but honestly this must be the best way of grilling the chicken! If you’re wondering how to make the perfect, succulent and soft chicken, extremely yummy and appealing one, this is exactly what you need! Using this recipe you’re doomed to amaze the dinner guests with an awesome chicken entrée, full of wonderful flavours and incredible taste. This is truly the best grilled chicken recipe, and you’re going to be ensured in this soon! […]

  4. 16 Best Grill Recipes says:

    […] 3. BBQ Chicken – please everyone with bbq chicken. […]

  5. […] See full instructions : […]

Speak Your Mind