Marinades for Grilling Chicken Breasts

by Shelley Frost

Boneless, skinless chicken breast is a healthy grilling option, but poultry can be bland. Marinating the meat before grilling adds flavor and helps the chicken stay moist as it grills. The marinade works best if you soak the chicken for at least one hour before grilling so it has enough time to impart flavor to the meat. Discard any leftover marinade to prevent foodbourne illnesses.

Salad Dressing

Salad dressing is a simple solution for marinating chicken. Italian dressing is a popular option that pairs well with chicken. Other vinaigrette-style salad dressings also work well. The oil in the dressing helps prevent sticking as the chicken grills. You can also stir in other seasonings with the salad dressing for more flavor depth.

Bottled Sauces

Many bottled sauces work well as a chicken marinade. Barbecue sauce complements the smokiness of the grill. Brush on more barbecue sauce as the chicken grills for additional flavor. Bottled marinade is another fast option for adding flavor to chicken. You will find the marinades in a variety of flavors, from sweet to spicy. Other bottled sauce ideas include stir-fry sauces or soy sauce. Consider your personal flavor preferences or the way you will use the grilled chicken when choose a sauce a marinade. For example, choose a stir-fry sauce if you plan to use the chicken in an Asian-flavored salad.

Citrus Juice

Citrus is another flavor that blends well with chicken. Squeeze the juice from fresh lemons, limes or oranges. Add equal parts of white wine and olive oil to the citrus juice to enhance the flavor and substance. Season the citrus juice marinade with your choice of herbs and spices. Try garlic, thyme and rosemary, or use other favorite herbs and spices. Pour the citrus mixture over the chicken breasts to marinate.


Plain yogurt serves as the carrier for the flavor in this marinade option. Add 2 tbsp. of olive or canola oil to the yogurt to make it runny. You can also add other sauces or juices, such as lemon juice or soy sauce. Stir in your choice of dry and fresh herbs and spices. Place the yogurt marinade and chicken in a large plastic bag so you can easily turn it to coat the chicken evenly.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has a mildly sweet flavor. Add one part honey to two parts balsamic vinegar for an even sweeter marinade. Olive oil helps extend the balsamic vinegar and honey mixture to prevent it from becoming too sweet. You can also make a balsamic reduction sauce to top the chicken when it is finished. Heat the balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat until it reduces by half or more. As it reduces, the vinegar becomes thicker and sweeter.

Photo Credits

  • Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

About the Author

Shelley Frost writes professionally on a full-time basis, specializing in lifestyle, family, parenting and relationship topics. She holds an education degree and has extensive experience working with kids and parents.