This chicken thigh marinade is a savory blend of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon and seasonings. The marinade can be used for grilled, broiled or baked chicken thighs with perfect results every time!

I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to prepare chicken thighs. Some of my family’s favorite recipes include chicken adobo, Moroccan chicken, chicken shawarma and chicken that’s been coated in this simple and flavorful marinade.

This chicken thigh marinade is a savory blend of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon and seasonings. This chicken thigh marinade is a savory blend of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon and seasonings.

Chicken thigh marinade that's grilled onto chicken pieces.

I happen to love chicken thighs – they’re inexpensive, flavorful and are much more tender and juicy than chicken breasts. This chicken thigh marinade brings out the best in this cut of meat, and best of all it takes just minutes to put together.

How do you make chicken thigh marinade?

Whisk together a mixture of olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon zest, garlic and herbs in a large bowl. Add the chicken thighs and spoon the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate. When you’re ready to eat, remove the chicken from the marinade, then grill, broil or bake it.

Bowls of ingredients including garlic, herbs, olive oil and soy sauce.

How long can you marinate chicken thighs?

You should marinate your chicken for a minimum of 1 hour, and a maximum of 24 hours. If you go over 24 hours, the texture of the meat may change and become softer.

Raw chicken thighs in a bowl of marinade.

Tips for the perfect marinade

  • This marinade can be made up to 3 days before you plan to use it. The olive oil in the marinade may solidify if stored in the fridge for an extended period of time. Simply let the marinade sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and the olive oil will liquefy again.
  • If you’re using boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you really can use any cooking method including grilling, sauteeing or baking in the oven. For bone-in chicken thighs, I recommend cooking in the oven for more even heating and air circulation since this cut of meat takes longer to cook.
  • No chicken thighs on hand? You can use another cut of chicken for this marinade such as boneless skinless breasts, chicken tenders, or even chicken drumsticks.
  • This marinade contains sugar which adds great flavor, but can easily burn if you’re grilling your chicken. Be sure to grill your chicken over medium heat or use an indirect heat grilling method.

Chicken on a grill pan.

How long does it take to cook chicken thighs?

Boneless skinless chicken thighs will cook in about 6-7 minutes per side on the grill or in a pan on the stove. You can bake boneless skinless thighs at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs will bake at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes. You can also use a meat thermometer to gauge when your chicken is done. The chicken should register at least 165 degrees F to be safe to eat.

Chicken Thigh Marinade Flavor Variations

  • Spice Lover’s: Like a little heat? Add crushed red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste.
  • Herb Lover’s: Add additional tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs such as chives, rosemary, sage, basil or dill.
  • Asian Style: Use a blend of olive oil, toasted sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fresh ginger, green onions and garlic.
  • Mexican: Use the chicken marinade from my burrito bowl recipe.

Marinated chicken thighs served with couscous and asparagus.

Once you try this marinade, you’ll find yourself using it on a regular basis! It’s a great way to turn plain old chicken into something extraordinary.

More chicken recipes to try

Chicken Thigh Marinade Video

5 from 97 votes

Chicken Thigh Marinade

AuthorSara Welch
Chicken thigh marinade that's grilled onto chicken pieces.
This chicken thigh marinade is a savory blend of fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lemon and seasonings. The marinade can be used for grilled, broiled or baked chicken thighs with perfect results every time!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time1 minute
Marinating Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 11 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic


  • Place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  • Add 2 pounds of chicken thighs to the bowl and spoon the marinade over the top.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook as desired.


Calories: 183kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 893mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 112IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating


  1. This looks amazing! I’m also wondering about the couscous salad in the photo. What did you do for that? Would love to serve it as pictured. Thanks!

  2. 5 stars
    Literally eating it as I type this review. So delicious! I used only one tbsp of brown sugar, lemon juice instead of lemon zest. Marinated for 3 hours before cooking. Just amazing thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious! I came across this when looking for a new yummy marinade. I added extra garlic also some fresh rosemary and a shake of onion powder. ( Loved that it was my pantry ingredients)
    Marinated overnight. Perfection. My hubs said best chicken I have ever made…

  4. 5 stars
    Super awesome marinade – LOVE IT! Easy to throw together with ingredients I usually have on hand. Just a word of caution if grilling…keep a close eye on the chicken so it doesn’t burn (due to the addition of the brown sugar in the marinade). I cooked my thighs for about 4 minutes on high, then flipped over, lowered the temp and placed on indirect for about another 10 minutes or so.

  5. 5 stars
    Fantastic marinade. I was short on time so only left it sitting for around an hour, but was still so full of flavour after cooking on the outdoor grill. I would highly recommend!

    I did leave out the extra salt however as it seemed salty enough from the soy sauce!

  6. Hello, thank you for posting, will be trying this for Saturday Supper! Can I use the marinade to make a sauce?

    1. You would need to boil the marinade first to make sure it’s completely cooked through to avoid food safety risks.

  7. 5 stars
    Excellent marinade! For those interested, I baked the chicken on rack on a baking sheet at 425° for about 35-40 minutes. Turned out great!

  8. 5 stars
    I love this marinade!!!! The first time I made it a month ago, I held back tears because there weren’t any leftovers for me to have the next day (just to clarify, I’m 8 months pregnant). Now I make sure to really make a ton so I can have leftovers 😂

  9. 5 stars
    This was sooooo good. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours. I’ll be adding this to the rotation. Thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    I made this for a friend to thank her for her hospitality. It was awesome! We only cooked up half the meat and left the other half marinade an extra day. It was even better the next day with our green salads.

  11. 5 stars
    This is the BEST marinade and I only had it sitting in it for about 30 mins!!
    This is a keeper Thank you 🙂

  12. 5 stars
    This marinade was the best!!! Tasty and Tender! I used boneless and skinless, will definitely be using it again! Thank you for sharing ❤️