Go-To Weeknight Dinner Chicken Marinade

Go-To Weeknight Dinner Chicken Marinade

This is my go-to, super simple, goes-with-everything chicken marinade that I use on a weekly basis.

It’s the building block to so many of my weeknight dinners. Tangy, smoky, juicy, and simple. Here, I grill thin cut chicken breast for a fast topper to a salad or even sliced for tacos. I’ve made this with chicken thighs on the BBQ as well. Chicken wings, whole roast chicken, skewers, and even an instant pot recipe, this marinade is exceptionally versatile.

Go To Chicken Marinade
Go To Chicken Marinade

I generally have all of the ingredients on hand. But if I don’t, it very simple to substitute with what you have on hand. For example, if I don’t have limes that day, lemons are perfect. No cilantro? That’s ok, parsley is great. In a pinch I will even use dried oregano. The rest are basic pantry staples like garlic, olive oil, and spices. If you can’t find Urfa, which is a dark smoky mild pepper flake, you can use regular pepper flakes or just omit!

The key here is not to leave your chicken to marinate for too long. Surely you’ve had some tough, stringy, over marinated chicken in your life. I sure have! And I will not make that mistake again! This kind of acidic chicken marinade really only needs a good 10-20 minutes to soak in those flavors. Because of this, it is my go to weeknight chicken! By the time I’m done with my other prep, the chicken is ready to be grilled or seared!

Go To Chicken Marinade
Go To Chicken Marinade


Go To Chicken Marinade

Go To Chicken Marinade

This Go To Chicken Marinade is a weeknight dinner lifesaver! Super tangy, smoky, and juicy chicken every time! Here I make thin it with thinly slice breast for a simple but flavorful chicken dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, dinner, easy, kid friendly, quick, weeknight
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Inactive Marinate Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Danielle Oron



  • 3 cloves garlic , smashed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 pinch urfa biber , optional, this is a smoky mild pepper flake
  • 2 tsp kosher salt , I use Diamond Brand
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • fresh black pepper


  • 1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast , sliced thin and pounded to 1/2"-1/4" thick
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil , for grilling
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro leaves



  • Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Add chicken to zip top bag and add marinade.
  • Close bag and mix around until chicken is coated.
  • Marinate for 10-20 minutes but no longer! No need to put this in the fridge. You can also go straight to grilling or searing the chicken.


  • Heat a grill pan or fry pan with 1 tbsp of canola oil over medium heat.
  • Add the chicken to the pan, leaving the large pieces of garlic behind. Don't crowd the pan so do this in batches adding more canola oil if needed.
  • Grill or sear for 2 minutes on the first side and 1 minute on the second side.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lime and cilantro leaves. Place this chicken on top of your salad, grain bowl, taco, pita… the possibilities are endless.