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 119 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

Hello! I’m Sara!

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Recipe Rating


  1. This was amazing, truly. Have tried so many recipes, but if you managed to grill this well, without burning the sugars, the sweetness comes through! A+

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve tried inumerable marinades for chicken thighs and this is the tops! Check the ingredients beforehand and ensure you have the herbs. I didn’t have fresh thyme and used 1/2 qty of dried and it came out delicious! Thanks for the guidelines on time for cooking on the grill. Chicken came out fully cooked and yet still juicy. So easy!

  3. 5 stars
    holy toledo! This was really awesome. Used boneless skinless thighs, splenda brown sugar, dried thyme, and less lemon zest (all I had was maybe .25 tspn). It was great!! Marinated for 4 hours. Leftovers are really good cold too. Can’t wait to make it with the full amount of zest.

    1. It’s a box of garlic and herb couscous mix made according to package directions with sauteed red bell pepper, corn, peas and also chopped fresh parsley.

  4. 5 stars
    I am not a fan of chicken thighs but this recipe made me a believer! They were so flavorful and delicious. I did follow a few of the comments though. I used lemon juice instead of zest, only because that’s what I had on hand. I also used dried thyme which is also what I had. It all still was so good! Will probably do this one again! Having the leftovers for my lunch today!

  5. 5 stars
    Have made these multiple times with boneless skinless thighs. I sub lemon zest for lemon juice, garlic powder for minced if I’m in a hurry, and add a little paprika and red pepper flakes. These never disappoint!

  6. Hi, would this work with skinnless thighs. I like the bone in as it does add flavour. But the age and belly means no chicken skin at moment 😔

    1. It’s interesting how people think the actual chicken skin is bad for you. Try cutting the carbs and sugar from your diet. You’d have better success. Just a suggestion.

  7. Hi Sarah. I made this marinade today and put my chicken thighs in it for about 5 hours. It was delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe. I usually use teriyaki marinade but I was out of it. Now that I’ve found your recipe I won’t be buying store-bought anymore! 👍

  8. 5 stars
    This was so easy that even I could do it, and I’m a guy who takes forever to cook food! And it’s delicious, especially on the grill.

  9. 5 stars
    I’m voting solely on how this is smelling in my house right this minute – I have 4 more minutes on the timer, but I’m presently telling myself to get more chicken thighs and lemons because I’m 100% making this again.

  10. 5 stars
    This was an absolute winner across the board. I used bone-in thighs but agreed with your recommendation to put them in the oven at 400 for 40 minutes.

    Juicy, flavorful, and everyone asks for seconds. Thank you for such a delightful receipt!

  11. 5 stars
    This marinade is delicious! I have made it several times and everyone loves it. I usually use boneless thighs but have also used bone in as well. I prefer boneless if I’m having friends for dinner. This recipe is a winner!

  12. 5 stars
    Thanks so much for sharing this marinade recipe! I was sifting through so many recipes but chose yours because my family loves your slow cooker beef stroganoff recipe. We recently tried this marinade and my 2 and 5 year olds love it! As do me and my husband. So flavorful, even when I’m lazy and don’t add the parsley/thyme. It’s been added to our weekly rotation 🙂

  13. This chicken is amazing! Air frying it works so nice and you get a delicious crispy skin. I air fried it at 350 for 13 minutes flipping at the 7 minute mark. My boyfriend raves about this when I make it.