Marinated Chicken Legs in a Baking Dish with Steamed Broccoli and Roasted Potatoes

Chicken is arguably one of the most versatile meats. It can be cooked in various ways and can take on a myriad of flavours. As your go-to online butcher in Auckland, we understand that while the chicken is delicious on its own, marinating it can enhance its taste and texture to a whole new level. This article will guide you through the world of marinades and provide you with the best techniques to give your fresh chicken that extra oomph!

The Science of Marinades

Understanding the basics of chicken marination is key to achieving a mouthwatering dish. The process involves soaking the chicken in a marinade—a seasoned liquid mixture—to enhance its natural flavours and add extra depth. The secret to a successful marinade lies in allowing sufficient time for it to infiltrate the meat.

One of the simplest methods involves combining flavourful ingredients with an acidic liquid like vinegar or lemon juice. The acid helps break down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in a more tender texture. Additionally, the acidity gives the chicken a tangy flavour, making it a great choice for those who enjoy a zestier taste.

If you’re pressed for time, worry not! A quick marinade can still pack a punch. Using ingredients rich in umami flavours, such as soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or fish sauce, can yield a savoury taste in less time.

Techniques for Marinating Chicken

Marinating chicken is a science, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few techniques you can try:

Acid-Based Marinades

Acid-based marinades are perfect for adding a tangy flavour. Simply mix an acid (like lemon juice or vinegar), oil, herbs, and spices. You can even add a touch of honey for sweetness. Acid-based marinades work quickly, so you can marinate your chicken for as little as 15 minutes before cooking.

Oil-Based Marinades

Oil-based marinades are great for adding moisture and flavour. They typically include oil, vinegar, herbs, and spices. To create a richer flavour, you can add soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. Oil-based marinades work best when left to marinate overnight.

Dry Rubs

Dry rubs are essentially a mixture of spices and herbs that you rub directly onto the chicken. They’re a great option for when you’re short on time or lack marinade ingredients. Dry rubs can include a mix of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.

Injection Marinades

Injection marinades involve injecting a liquid (typically a butter, oil, or broth mixture) directly into the chicken. They work best for whole chickens, but you can use them on chicken breasts or thighs as well. Injection marinades work quickly and are a great option if you want a moist and flavourful chicken without the waiting time.

Exotic Chicken Marinades

Ready for a culinary journey? These exotic chicken marinades will transport your taste buds around the world with their incredible flavours.


This Asian-inspired marinade combines soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic for a delicious twist. Add red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce for a zesty kick. Serve with steamed rice and stir-fried vegetables for a complete meal.

Mediterranean Delights

This homemade chicken marinade bursts with Mediterranean flavours thanks to the combination of lemon, oregano, and olive oil. Add some feta cheese and sliced tomatoes to your chicken for an extra touch of authenticity.

Caribbean Heat

This tangy marinade combines lime juice, honey, and jerk seasoning for a Caribbean-inspired dish. Use this marinade to spice up your grilled chicken or add heat to your oven-baked chicken. Serve with black beans and rice for a complete meal.

Quick and Easy Chicken Marinades

If you’re short on time, these quick and easy chicken marinades are the perfect solution. With just a few simple ingredients, you can elevate the flavour of your chicken without spending hours in the kitchen.

Garlic and Herb Marinade

This marinade is made with garlic, herbs, and olive oil. Mix the ingredients together, let your chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Perfect for grilling or baking, and pairs well with roasted vegetables or a side salad.

Sweet and Tangy Mustard Marinade

For a tangy and sweet flavour, try this easy marinade. Mix together Dijon mustard, honey, and apple cider vinegar, then let your chicken marinate for at least 15 minutes before cooking. This marinade is perfect for pan-seared chicken or baked chicken thighs.

Lemon and Herb Marinade

This zesty marinade is made with fresh lemon juice, herbs, and olive oil. Mix the ingredients together, then let your chicken marinate for at least 20 minutes before grilling or baking. This marinade is perfect for chicken breasts or chicken skewers.

Marinating Chicken Thighs: Tips and Tricks

Chicken thighs are a great option for marinating as they are full of flavour and remain juicy when cooked. Here are some tips and tricks to help you achieve the best results:

  • Choose the right marinade: Consider marinades with bold flavours that can stand up to the richness of the meat. Tangy marinades with citrus or vinegar work well, as do savoury and spicy marinades. To balance the flavours, consider sweet marinades that use honey or brown sugar.
  • Marinate for the right amount of time: Chicken thighs only need to marinate for a few hours to overnight. Over-marinating can make the meat mushy, so be sure to follow the recommended marinating time in the recipe.
  • Score the chicken: To allow the marinade to penetrate the meat more easily, score the chicken thighs on both sides in a crosshatch pattern before marinating.
  • Don’t overcrowd the marinade: When marinating chicken, use a dish or container that is just the right size for the amount of chicken you are using. Overcrowding can prevent the marinade from properly coating the meat.
  • Grill to perfection: To grill marinated chicken thighs, preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard any excess marinade. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 80°C.
  • Bake for a juicy result: To bake marinated chicken thighs, preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the chicken in a baking dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 80°C.

By following these tips and tricks, you can create delicious and tender chicken thighs that are perfect for any recipe. Try a grilled chicken marinade for a smoky and charred flavour, or experiment with a tangy marinade for Vietnamese-inspired chicken thighs. The possibilities are endless!

Tenderising Chicken: The Key to Juicy Meat

Tenderising chicken can be a game-changer when it comes to achieving the perfect texture. By breaking down the muscle fibres in the meat, your chicken will be more tender and juicy. Here are a few common ingredients and techniques that can help you tenderise your chicken:

  • Acidic Marinade: Acidic ingredients such as lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk can help break down the muscle fibres and make your chicken more tender. Try marinating your chicken in a mixture of yoghurt, lemon juice, and spices such as paprika, cumin, and coriander for a flavourful chicken marinade recipe that also tenderises your poultry.
  • Saltwater Brine: This involves soaking your chicken in a mixture of saltwater before marinating it. The salt causes the chicken to absorb more water, making it more juicy and tender. An easy chicken marinade that incorporates this technique is to marinate your chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, and garlic. The salt in the soy sauce will help tenderise the chicken while the honey and garlic add flavour.
  • Low and Slow Cooking: Slow-cooking your chicken at a low temperature can help break down the muscle fibres and make it more tender. A flavourful chicken marinade that works well with slow-cooking is a mixture of BBQ sauce, apple cider vinegar, and brown sugar.

Maximising Flavour: Marinating Tips and Tricks

To truly elevate the flavour of your chicken, pay attention to the finer details. Here are some expert tips and tricks to help you create the best chicken marinade:

  • Optimal Marinating Time: For the most flavourful results, marinate your chicken for at least 30 minutes, up to 24 hours. However, be careful not to over-marinate, as this can lead to tough, chewy chicken.
  • Marinade Penetration: For maximum flavour, ensure that the marinade penetrates deep into the chicken. To do this, score the chicken with a knife before marinating. Alternatively, use a meat mallet to tenderise the chicken and allow the marinade to penetrate deeper into the meat.
  • Incorporating Acid: Acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar can enhance the flavour by adding brightness and tanginess. However, too much acid can overpower the flavour and break down the protein, so use it sparingly.
  • Experiment with Flavours: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your marinades! Try adding unexpected ingredients like honey, soy sauce, or even beer to give your chicken a unique flavour profile.

Pairing Chicken Marinades with Side Dishes

Pairing the right side dishes with your marinated chicken can take your meal to the next level. Here are some ideas to help you create a balanced and flavourful meal:

Chicken MarinadeIdeal Side Dish
Flavourful Chicken Marinade with Asian-inspired flavoursSteamed rice and stir-fried vegetables
Tangy Chicken Marinade with Mediterranean flavoursRoasted vegetables and quinoa salad
Grilled Chicken Marinade with smoky flavoursCorn on the cob and coleslaw
Quick Chicken Marinade with Mexican-inspired flavoursGuacamole and tortilla chips
Homemade Chicken Marinade with classic flavoursBaked potatoes and green beans

Remember, the side dish should complement the flavours of the marinade, not overpower them. Look for fresh and colourful options that add both flavour and texture to the meal.

Conclusion: The Art of Marinating

Congratulations! You’ve now mastered the art of marinating chicken. With these tips, techniques, and recipes, you can create delicious and flavourful meals for any occasion. As you become more comfortable with marinating chicken, don’t be afraid to get creative and try new marinade ingredients. You may discover a new favourite flavour combination that sets your dishes apart. When it comes to serving your marinated chicken, pairing it with the right side dish can make all the difference. Be it a tangy chicken marinade with a refreshing cucumber salad or a smoky chicken with grilled vegetables, the right pairing can elevate your meal experience.

At Chicken n Things, we take pride in providing the best chicken cuts for your marinades. Our fresh chicken, available also for meat box delivery, is guaranteed to elevate your marinating game. So go ahead, explore the world of marinades and impress your loved ones with your culinary skills!


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