Citrus Chicken Marinade

Looking for the BEST citrus chicken marinade recipe? This 5-ingredient citrus marinade for chicken is made with easy-to-find ingredients and yields a wonderfully juicy piece of meat, whether you pan fry, bake or grill it. Makes 1 lb. chicken, but can be doubled.

Three grilled chicken breasts on a wooden cutting before before slicing

It’s grilling season, and I’m always looking for ways to up my game.

This Citrus Chicken Marinade has become part of our routine when it comes to chicken because, well, it elevates one of my family’s favorite proteins.

I don’t want to say this is the best chicken marinade recipe, but it sure is delicious and calls for easy to find ingredients that might already be in your fridge and pantry.

Why I love this recipe:

This Citrus Chicken Marinade is uncomplicated and simple to put together. (It takes very little time, and the longest piece of this “recipe” is the marinating time… which is between 1-2 hours.)

The marinade works for any cut of the chicken, though I will say my family loves this marinade on a basic chicken breast. Also, it’s the best grilled chicken marinade we’ve ever made.

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    It’s flavorful, citrusy and light. The flavors don’t overpower the chicken, but the marinade helps keep the chicken moist as it cooks.

    The end result is just a really flavorful piece of chicken. And isn’t that what we all want as a part of our dinner?

    Other chicken recipes to try: Mustard Chicken | Italian Chicken Meatloaf | Cajun Chicken Alfredo | Chicken Pesto Pasta | Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya | Grilled Chicken Shawarma

    Hosting friends this summer? Head on over to my Outdoor Entertaining Recipe Index for some ideas!

    Orange juice and other marinade ingredients in bowls on a blue countertop

    What you’ll need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Orange juice — you can use freshly squeezed OJ or the bottled kind from the store. Personally, I love fresh orange juice.
    • Extra virgin olive oil — this is the fat in our marinade. You may replace it with another neutral oil, though I prefer EVOO for this.
    • Taco seasoning — you can use homemade taco seasoning or use a store-bough mix. (We really like this McCormick Mexican Taco Truck Seasoning FWIW.) Read the ingredients and see if there’s a lot of salt in the seasoning because if there is, you might want to skip the salt below.
    • Minced garlic — this is going to add extra flavor. If you don’t like garlic, use half of it and see how it jives with you.
    • Kosher salt — I like to use a fine kosher salt. You could use the same amount of a fine sea salt here, too.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    You can marinate chicken breasts or chicken thighs and legs in this recipe! You can use bone-in, skin-on meat OR boneless and skinless.

    If you want to use a different type of citrus in this recipe, like lime or lemon, it should work, though I have never tried it.

    I really like using orange here because it’s mellower and less acidic than both lemon and lime.

    Collage showing how to make and marinate chicken in citrus marinade for chicken

    How do you make Citrus Chicken Marinade?

    Mince the garlic cloves. Add to a large bowl (or casserole dish) where you’ll marinate the chicken.

    Measure the orange juice and olive oil into the same bowl using a liquid measuring cup.

    Add the taco seasoning and salt. Whisk to combine the ingredients.

    Nestle 1 lb. of chicken into the marinade. Cover the bowl or casserole dish with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge.

    Let the meat marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. (The longer the chicken sits in the marinade, the more the acid of the orange juice will break it down. I do not like to go over 3 hours with this marinade because the texture of the chicken will be off otherwise.)

    When ready to use, remove the chicken from the marinade. Pour the marinade down the drain and dispose of it.

    Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before seasoning with salt and pepper and cooking.

    Please note that if you want to marinate more chicken, you can double or triple the recipe below very easily.

    A chicken breast on a grill with grill marks

    How do you use Citrus Chicken Marinade?

    The beauty in this citrus marinade for chicken is that you can cook the chicken whatever way you’d like to.

    The key is using the right amount of chicken (1 lb.) for the right amount of time (1-2 hours tops) before removing the chicken from the marinade, patting it dry and cooking it.

    Also, please note that you should dispose of the chicken marinade after removing the chicken. This should not be reused or served as a sauce since raw chicken marinated in it.

    Here are a few ways to cook the marinated chicken:

    • Grill the chicken. We grill our chicken breasts at 500°F for about 3-4 minutes per side. This will get you some great grill marks!
    • Bake the chicken. Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes.
    • Pan fry the chicken. Add butter or olive oil to a nonstick skillet, and sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown!

    Just be sure to check the chicken’s internal temperature before serving it. All poultry needs to reach 165°F to be safe to eat.

    Feel free to serve this chicken on salads, tacos, rice and more! It’s so delicious!

    Two sliced marinated and grilled chicken breasts on a black plate

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How long can chicken sit in a citrus marinade?

    I don’t like to let my chicken sit in this marinade for more than 2-3 hours tops.

    Is it OK to marinate chicken in lime juice?

    Yes, you may swap the orange juice with lime juice in this marinade if you’d like that flavor more. I love how mellow the orange juice is compared to lemon and lime juice, though.

    What happens when you marinate chicken in lemon juice too long?

    The acid (meaning the juice from the citrus) can start cooking the meat, as well as breaking it down, which means the texture of the chicken will be mushy and off.

    Quick tips for cooking marinated chicken:

    • Your cook time will be dependent on the thickness of the chicken and the cut itself. You can easily grill, bake and pan fry chicken that have marinated in this recipe.
    • Check the chicken’s doneness with an instant read meat thermometer* (affiliate link) to ensure that it’s cooked all the way through. The FDA recommends cooking chicken to 165°F.
    • Make the easy chicken marinade ahead of time. It can sit in the fridge for 2-3 days without the chicken. Just put it in a jar, and let it hang out until you need to marinate.

    Other marinade recipes to try:

    Here’s how you make this one…

    Two sliced marinated and grilled chicken breasts on a black plate

    Citrus Chicken Marinade

    Erin Parker, The Speckled Palate
    Looking for the BEST citrus chicken marinade recipe? This 5-ingredient citrus marinade for chicken is made with easy-to-find ingredients and yields a wonderfully juicy piece of meat, whether you pan fry, bake or grill it.
    5 from 3 votes
    Servings 1 lb. chicken
    Calories 391 kcal
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 1 hour
    Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

    Ingredients
      

    • ½ cup orange juice
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
    • 2 teaspoons taco seasoning
    • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, thighs, etc.

    As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    Instructions
     

    • Measure the orange juice and olive oil into a large bowl or casserole dish using a liquid measuring cup. (You could also do this in a gallon-sized plastic bag with a zipper top.)
    • Add the minced garlic, taco seasoning and salt to the marinade. Whisk to combine the ingredients.
    • Place the chicken into the marinade. Make sure the chicken is immersed in the marinade.
    • Cover the bowl or casserole dish with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge.
    • Let the meat marinate for 1-2 hours. (Do not let it marinate for more than 3 hours. Otherwise, the texture of the chicken will become mushy.)
    • When ready to use, remove the chicken from the marinade. Dispose of the marinade.
    • Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before seasoning with salt and pepper and cooking.

    Notes

    You can double or triple this recipe to marinate more chicken. You can do that in the same bowl if it is large enough. The key is making sure all the chicken has been immersed in the marinade for maximum flavor.
    How to store Citrus Chicken Marinade: Make it in advance! Make and mix it in a mason jar, and let it hang out in the fridge for up to a week before marinating the chicken.
    Also, please note that you should dispose of the chicken marinade after removing the chicken from it. It should not be reused or served as a sauce since raw chicken marinated in it.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1 servingCalories: 391kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 28gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 341mgSugar: 3g
    Keyword best chicken marinade, chicken marinade, chicken recipe, chicken recipes, citrus chicken marinade, citrus marinade, easy marinade recipe, main dishes, meat marinade, orange marinade recipe
    Course Entrees
    Cuisine American
    Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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