How Long Should Chicken Marinate?

There is no set answer to the question, “how long should chicken marinate?” However, there are several general guidelines. You should remove the marinade before cooking to avoid flare-ups on the grill. Removing the marinade before cooking will ensure that the meat is fully browned and offers the most flavor. Also, poking holes in the chicken will increase the surface area and allow the marinade to penetrate the meat more thoroughly.

While you should avoid acidic sauces when marinating meat, yogurt is an excellent option. This acidic compound reacts with the protein and collagen in meat, making the chicken tender. This method is beneficial for chicken breasts, as it is not as tender as other parts. Likewise, soaking the chicken in saltwater will tenderize the meat and make it easier to slice. You can then cook the chicken on a stovetop or in the oven.

Marinate CHICKEN

The general rule is that a whole chicken should marinate overnight, but even 30 minutes is fine for delicate meats. The time to marinate a chicken depends on the ingredients of the marinade. The acidity, salt, and spices concentration will affect the marinating time. The type of meat you are cooking will influence the time required. Here is a list of expected marinating times for chicken.

You can use a mild marinade if you want a less spicy and bold flavor. You can use an herb or spice-rich marinade for a more pronounced chicken flavor. This will ensure that the herbs and juices are evenly distributed across the meat. Depending on how you’re preparing your dish, you’ll want to marinate the chicken for a more extended period. If the chicken is too thick, the herbs or juices will not have time to penetrate, and the marinating process won’t be as effective as it would be if you were preparing a thinner cut.

What Is a Marinade, and Why Do We Use It?

To state the obvious, a marinade is a liquid into which a cut of meat is immersed to tenderize it and add taste and moisture.

There are many different marinades to choose from, some simple and some complex, but the majority of them fall into two categories: acidic and enzymatic. Each species uniquely reacts to the meat.

  • Mild acids like vinegar, apple juice, or wine are used in acidic marinades. Acids attack and denature proteins, causing a small net to form in the meat, trapping moisture.
  • Pineapple, guava, and ginger are all used in enzyme marinades. Enzymatic fluids break down connective tissue and muscle fiber while tenderizing the meat.

A third alternative is marinades made with dairy. Yogurt is frequently used as a marinade base, particularly in Middle Eastern cuisine. Although yogurt marinades are acidic, the lactic acid is so mild that it interacts with non-dairy acidic marinades far more gently.

The early marinades were simple brines used to preserve fish. It doesn’t take much imagination to determine that the words “marinade” and “maritime” have an origin. People still brine meats, but it’s now acknowledged as a separate process from marinating.

How Long Should Chicken Marinate?

The chicken should not be marinated for more than a day. However, the time your chicken should marinate varies depending on the meal. “I believe the marinade should always be timed correctly, else you risk denatured proteins and a bad textural effect,” When it comes to cooking chicken, Danila recommends air drying it by hanging it in the fridge for five to six days before using it.

In addition, the chicken is brined for at least six hours in 10% lemon juice, which aids in the penetration of the marinade and spices. At Queensland, he stuffs the breast with curry and seaweed stuffing, adding flavor to the skin. He delicately uses a whipped, salty truffle butter to cover the chicken. When the chicken is cooked in the oven, the whipping prevents the meat from splitting.

You would assume that the most flavorful marinades are those that rest on the meat for the longest time, but this isn’t necessarily the case. “I now do 15-30 minutes of strong, concentrated marinades before cooking at room temperature in a metal bowl. When your protein isn’t ice cold when you start cooking it, it cooks more evenly.” Even one hour will be enough for a less intense marinate. “When I make chicken, I normally marinate it for about an hour before cooking it. However, you could cut the time in half if you’re using a thicker, more intense marinade.”

Tips for Marinating

  • When working with raw meat, food safety is critical. Handle your chicken with care, and wash your hands after each handling.
  • Because the marinade is constantly in contact with raw meat, microorganisms from the meat will contaminate the marinade. That’s fine since you’ll cook it and kill all bacteria. However, you must be cautious with the leftover marinade.
  • Unless you boil it for an extended period first, any unused marinade that has come into touch with chicken should be thrown away.
  • It’s also crucial to choose the correct container. Reusable plastic containers, glass containers, and plastic resealable bags are all acceptable as long as they close tightly. Aluminum should not be used since acids may react with it, affecting the flavor and color of the chicken.
  • Instead of marinating on the counter, always marinate in the refrigerator. Because marinades do not protect you from bacteria-borne sickness, it’s critical to keep the meat at a continuously low temperature until it’s time to cook.

Should You Marinate the Chicken in a Plastic Bag?

Many self-proclaimed chefs at home use the plastic bag method of marinating. It appears to be straightforward, yet it has the potential to detract from the flavor of your cuisine. “If you’re going to marinate in a bag for a long period, it should be more diluted, as a salad dressing—for example, an Italian dressing with a higher oil concentration and less salt,” Coombs advises.

“I believe it is a waste of time for me because I enjoy the flavor of chicken and would simply want to accept it rather than take it over.” The most significant advantage of cooking chicken in a bag is that the total moisture of the chicken is preserved.

How Do the Marinade’s Ingredients Factor in?

It all depends on the ingredients you’re using to marinate. “The exact concentration of salt, acidity, and spices is always a role.” However, while the marinade is vital, the product is more significant. Before cooking, you should combine the marinade ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. You can refrigerate the chicken marinate for a day or prepare it a few hours before cooking. Make sure to leave half a cup of the marinade for basting. For the best results, marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes. If you can’t get this amount of time, you can marinate it overnight.

“Bay leaf, thyme, parsley, and leeks should all be used in an excellent marinade,” Danila suggests. “A marinade for fried chicken should include buttermilk, cilantro, lime, lemon, salt and pepper, parsley, garlic powder, and onion powder, and the chicken should be immersed for 24 hours.” The ingredients in a marinade play a role in what happens if you let the chicken marinate for too long. “Anything acidic will effectively fry the meat and break down the proteins within,” Danila warns. “This gives it a mushy flavor, and it will spoil the meat before you cook it!”

Is Boneless Chicken Easier to Marinate?

Yes, marinating takes less time since it doesn’t have to damage the bone,” Danila explains. “This should only take a few hours.” However, because the bone, which captures and repurposes tastes throughout the flesh, is removed when you cook the chicken in this manner, it may not have the same flavor composition.

Looking for a little more oomph? Keep the flesh on the bone if possible. You’ll be able to try out a new dish without fear of destroying the flavor now that you know how to prepare your chicken and what to marinate it with.


You can cook chicken breasts or thighs with the marinade. Depending on thickness, you should marinate the chicken for 8 hours or 24 hours. After that, place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. You can also cook chicken thighs using the grill method, which takes about fifteen minutes per side. For bone-in chicken, the cooking time is 40 minutes. You can use Greek yogurt instead of plain. When choosing a suitable marinade, choosing one safe for your cooking method is essential. Fresh pineapple juice contains bromelain, which can turn your chicken mushy. But if you choose to use canned pineapple, bromelain is removed. Using canned pineapple will give the chicken great flavor, and you can refrigerate it overnight without worrying about bacteria growth.

While marinating your chicken, keep in mind that raw meat may contain bacteria. Ideally, your marinade should kill off any bacteria that may have been living on the meat. To prevent bacteria from entering the marinade, baste your chicken early in the cooking process with a clean spoon or basting brush. However, it’s still important to remember that bacteria can get into the marinade, even if it’s not on the meat itself. Moreover, the chicken should be cooked properly to prevent foodborne illnesses.