Take basic chicken from boring to next level with this easy buffalo chicken marinade that can be grilled or oven-baked. This simple marinade recipe produces perfectly tender, sweet and spicy chicken in no time thanks to a short marinade time! Delicious as a quick dinner idea, on top of salads, in a wrap, or as an easy meal prep idea.

Overhead image of a wooden cutting board with sliced chicken breast and buffalo sauce.

Visual Guide: How to Make Buffalo Chicken Marinade

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Testing Notes from Robyn

If you’re tired of eating plain (and possibly dry) chicken, you need to try a marinade!

I’m a firm believer that a quick and easy sauce or dressing can completely transform a plain old meal into something special and delicious, without a lot of effort.

I know homemade marinades can seem a bit intimidating, but this buffalo chicken marinade truly is so easy because it uses ingredients you likely already have in your fridge or pantry and only needs a minimum of 30 minutes to marinade (just like my easy lemon chicken marinade and curry chicken marinade).

Plus, who doesn’t love Buffalo chicken?

This juicy chicken is bursting with a sweet, spicy flavor that will remind you of your favorite take-out buffalo wings, plus it’s packed with protein making it a fantastic quick & easy protein-packed dinner idea.

Once the chicken breasts or thighs are done marinating, cook them on the grill or oven – this is a great recipe all year round.

And if you love Buffalo chicken like I do, check out my buffalo chicken chili, slow cooker buffalo chicken sweet potatoes or my slow cooker buffalo chicken, for another delicious meal!

How to Adjust The Spice

The spice is totally customizable, so it’s a great recipe for everyone. The cooking process cooks off a lot of heat, but you can add back some heat by drizzling reserved marinade on the chicken after cooking. If you’re sensitive to heat just leave off the marinade drizzle at the end.

Closeup shot of a platter with sliced chicken, carrot and celery sticks, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing.

Ingredient Substitutions for Buffalo Chicken Marinade

Lime juice: Feel free to use lemon juice instead.

Honey: You could leave the honey out if you want a low carb option, but I do love the addition of honey because it allows the marinade to caramelize when cooked, and it doesn’t add a significant amount of sweetness.

Garlic powder: Granulated garlic powder works best in this recipe, but in a pinch you can use 3 cloves of fresh garlic for the ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.

Smoked paprika: This milk spice adds a nice smokiness even if you’re not grilling the chicken. I don’t recommend leaving it out.

Chicken: Feel free to use chicken breasts or thighs or a mix of both.

Overhead image of a wooden cutting board with sliced chicken breast.

FAQs

How long should I marinade the Buffalo chicken?

I recommend marinating at least 30 minutes and no longer than 4 hours, but you can make this even further in advance by freezing the chicken in the marinade.

Can I make Buffalo chicken marinade ahead?

Absolutely! Simply add your chicken and marinade to a 1-gallon zip-top freezer bag and stash away in the freezer. When you’re ready to use, let it defrost in the fridge and then bake or grill.

What hot sauce should I use?

I used Franks Red Hot Sauce, which I find is the most commercially available, but any similar red hot sauce would work.

How do I store and freeze?

Once cooked, the buffalo chicken keeps well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days, in a sealed container. You can also freeze the cooked chicken when stored in a sealed freezer friendly container for up to 2-3 months.

Overhead shot of a platter with sliced chicken, carrot and celery sticks, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing.

This Recipe is…

Closeup shot of a platter with sliced chicken, carrot and celery sticks, buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing.
5 stars (1 rating)

Buffalo Chicken Marinade (Quick & Easy!)

Take basic chicken to the next level with this easy buffalo chicken marinade that can be grilled or oven-baked.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup cayenne pepper sauce, such as Frank’s red hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds chicken breast, or thighs

Instructions 

  • Whisk the olive oil, red hot sauce, honey, lime juice, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt together in a medium bowl until well combined.
  • Set aside ¼ cup (half) of the marinade.
  • Add the remaining ¼ cup of marinade to a large baking dish or 1-gallon zip-top bag. Toss the chicken in the marinade to coat, then press as much air out of the bag (if using) as possible, or cover (if using a baking dish). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours, flipping halfway through. 
  • When ready to grill, heat a gas grill to high. Allow to preheat, then remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off any excess, and discard any remaining marinade from the bag or dish.
  • Grill, with the cover down, for 7-9 minutes, then flip, and grill uncovered until the internal temperature reaches 165F, about 2-7 additional minutes.
  • Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining ¼ cup of marinade. Slice against the grain into ½ inch slices and serve.

Oven Baking Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Add the chicken to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Notes

See blog post, above, for substitution suggestions, storage, and more. 
Serve with a quick & easy BBQ side for grilled chicken!

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 6), Calories: 258kcal, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.02g, Cholesterol: 97mg, Sodium: 575mg, Potassium: 577mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 129IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 9mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
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