Marinating chicken is a great way to infuse flavor and moisture into the meat. Once the chicken has been marinated to perfection, the next step is to cook it perfectly. Whether you plan to grill, bake, or pan-fry the chicken, there are a few key steps you can follow to ensure delicious and juicy results.

1. Preheat the Cooking Surface: Before you start cooking the marinated chicken, make sure to preheat the cooking surface. This will help to sear the chicken and lock in the juices. For grilling, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. For baking or pan-frying, preheat the oven or pan over medium heat.

2. Drain the Chicken: Take the marinated chicken out of the marinade and allow any excess marinade to drip off. This will prevent the chicken from becoming too watery and help it brown evenly.

3. Cook Thoroughly: The key to cooking chicken after marinating is to ensure it is cooked thoroughly without drying it out. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

“Remember to let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful chicken.”

4. Garnish and Serve: Once the chicken is cooked to perfection, garnish it with fresh herbs or a squeeze of lemon for an extra burst of flavor. Serve it with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables or a salad, and enjoy!

Preparing the Chicken

Before cooking the marinated chicken, it’s important to take a few steps to prepare it properly. This will help ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and is safe to eat.

Here are some steps to follow:

Step Description
1 Remove the chicken from the marinade
2 Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture
3 Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and any other desired spices or herbs
4 Allow the chicken to come to room temperature before cooking
5 Preheat the grill, oven, or stovetop to the desired cooking temperature
6 Make sure the cooking surface is clean and well-oiled to prevent sticking

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to cooking delicious marinated chicken. Remember to always follow safe food handling practices and cook the chicken to the proper internal temperature to ensure it is fully cooked and safe to eat.

Choosing the right chicken

When it comes to cooking chicken after marinating, selecting the right chicken is an essential first step. Follow these tips to ensure you choose the best chicken for your recipe:

1. Freshness: It is crucial to choose fresh chicken for the best taste and texture. Look for chicken that has a pinkish color and firm texture. Avoid chicken that is slimy, has an unpleasant odor, or feels sticky to the touch.

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2. Cuts: Decide which cut of chicken you want to use based on your recipe. Common cuts of chicken include breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings. Each cut has its own unique texture and flavor, so choose accordingly.

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3. Skin-on or skinless: Consider whether you want to cook chicken with the skin on or remove the skin. Keep in mind that cooking chicken with the skin on can add extra flavor and moisture, while cooking chicken without the skin may result in a healthier dish.

4. Organic or conventional: Consider choosing organic chicken if you prefer meat that has been raised without antibiotics or hormones. Organic chicken may also be more flavorful and tender compared to conventional chicken.

5. Free-range or cage-free: If animal welfare is important to you, opt for free-range or cage-free chicken. These chickens are allowed to roam and have more space to move around, which can result in happier and healthier birds.

By considering these factors, you can ensure that you choose the right chicken for your marinated chicken recipe, resulting in a delicious and satisfying meal.

Thawing the chicken

Before you cook the chicken, you need to make sure it is properly thawed. Thawing the chicken ensures that it cooks evenly and reduces the risk of foodborne illnesses.

There are three safe ways to thaw chicken:

1. Refrigerator thawing

The best and safest way to thaw chicken is to do it in the refrigerator. Place the chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag or airtight container and allow it to thaw slowly in the refrigerator. This method takes some time, so make sure to plan ahead. As a general rule, it takes about 24 hours for every 2.3 kg (5 pounds) of chicken to thaw in the refrigerator.

2. Cold water thawing

If you’re short on time, you can thaw the chicken using the cold water method. Fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the chicken in its original packaging. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. It typically takes about 1 hour to thaw 0.9 kg (2 pounds) of chicken using this method.

3. Microwave thawing

If you’re in a hurry, you can use the microwave to thaw the chicken. Follow the microwave’s defrosting instructions and make sure to cook the chicken immediately after thawing, as some parts may start to cook during the defrosting process.

Important note: Never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of food poisoning.

By following these thawing methods, you can ensure that your chicken is properly thawed and ready to be cooked after marinating.

Marinating the Chicken

Marinating chicken is a great way to infuse it with flavor and tenderize the meat. Here are some steps to marinate chicken before cooking:

  1. Choose a marinade: You can use pre-made marinades or make your own using a combination of ingredients like herbs, spices, oils, acids (such as lemon juice or vinegar), and other flavorings.
  2. Prepare the chicken: Trim any excess fat or skin from the chicken, and ensure it is clean and dry before marinating.
  3. Place the chicken in a container: Use a sealable bag, a shallow dish, or a plastic container with a lid to hold the chicken and marinade.
  4. Add the marinade: Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring that it is completely covered. If using a shallow dish, you may need to turn the chicken occasionally to ensure even coating.
  5. Marinate in the refrigerator: Place the container with the chicken and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight. The longer you marinate, the more flavor the chicken will absorb.
  6. Flip the chicken: If marinating for more than 30 minutes, flip the chicken halfway through to ensure even distribution of the flavors.
  7. Remove the chicken from the marinade: Take the chicken out of the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels before cooking.
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Marinated chicken is ready to be grilled, baked, or cooked in any preferred method. Make sure to follow the cooking instructions and enjoy your flavorful and tender chicken!

Preparing the marinade

Marinating the chicken before cooking is essential for adding flavor and making it tender. Here’s how to prepare a delicious marinade for your chicken:


1/4 cup olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as thyme, rosemary, or oregano) 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce, dried herbs, salt, black pepper, and paprika.
  2. Place the chicken in a ziplock bag or a container with a lid.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure it is fully coated.
  4. Seal the bag or cover the container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for best results. The longer you marinate, the more flavors will be absorbed.
  5. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, remove it from the marinade and discard any excess marinade.

Now you’re ready to cook the chicken according to your preferred method. Whether you’re grilling, baking, or pan-frying, the marinated chicken will be flavorful and juicy. Enjoy!

Marinade Time Recommendations

Marinating poultry is a great way to infuse it with flavor and tenderness. The marinade helps to break down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a more juicy and flavorful chicken. However, it’s important to find the right balance when it comes to marinating time. While a longer marinating time can enhance the flavors, excessive marinating can result in a mushy texture.

Different Factors to Consider

The recommended marinating time for chicken depends on several factors, including the type of marinade, the size of the chicken pieces, and personal preference. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Type of Marinade: Different marinades have different levels of acidity and enzymatic properties. Acidic marinades, like those containing citrus juice or vinegar, can break down the meat more quickly. On the other hand, marinades with enzymes from ingredients like pineapple or papaya can tenderize the meat. Consider the ingredients in your marinade to determine the appropriate marinating time.
  • Size of Chicken Pieces: The size of the chicken pieces will also impact the marinating time. Smaller pieces will marinate more quickly than larger ones. For example, chicken wings or thinly sliced chicken breasts may only need 15-30 minutes, while larger chicken pieces like drumsticks or bone-in thighs may require 2-4 hours.
  • Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best marinating time will depend on your personal preference. Some people enjoy a strong, intense flavor and may prefer a longer marinating time. Others prefer a milder flavor and will marinate for a shorter period. Experiment with different marinating times to find what works best for you.
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General Marinating Times

Here are some general marinating time recommendations based on the factors mentioned above:

  • For small, thinly cut chicken pieces: 15-30 minutes.
  • For medium-sized boneless chicken pieces: 1-2 hours.
  • For larger bone-in chicken pieces: 2-4 hours.
  • For whole chickens or chicken parts with skin: 4-6 hours.

It’s important to note that marinating chicken for longer periods, such as overnight, can result in the chicken becoming too tender and mushy. Therefore, it’s recommended to stick to the suggested marinating times and adjust based on personal preference.

Remember to always marinate chicken in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Allow the chicken to come to room temperature for 15-30 minutes before cooking to ensure even cooking.

By following these guidelines, you can achieve a perfectly marinated chicken with just the right balance of flavor and tenderness.


How long does chicken need to marinate before cooking?

Chicken should marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking. However, if you want a stronger flavor, you can marinate it for up to 24 hours.

What ingredients can I use for marinating chicken?

You can use a variety of ingredients for marinating chicken, such as lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, herbs, and spices. It depends on the flavor profile you want to achieve.

Can I use the leftover marinade as a sauce for chicken?

No, it is not recommended to use the leftover marinade as a sauce for chicken because it may contain bacteria from the raw chicken. It is better to discard the marinade and make a fresh sauce.

What is the best way to cook marinated chicken?

The best way to cook marinated chicken is to grill it. Grilling gives the chicken a smoky flavor and helps to lock in the moisture. However, you can also bake, broil, or pan-fry marinated chicken.

Is it safe to eat chicken if it has been marinated for too long?

No, it is not safe to eat chicken if it has been marinated for too long, especially if it was marinated at room temperature. Bacteria can start to grow on the chicken after a certain amount of time, so it is important to follow the recommended marinating times and storage guidelines.

How long should I marinate chicken before cooking?

You should marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes, but it’s best to marinate it for at least 2 hours or overnight to allow the flavors to fully penetrate the meat.