Greek Yogurt Chicken Marinade
This quick Greek yogurt chicken marinade is easy to prepare with a few simple ingredients and yields super tender and flavorful grilled or baked chicken every time. If you’ve never tried yogurt-marinated chicken before, then you’ve got to try this recipe!
About this Greek Yogurt Chicken Marinade Recipe
I’m always looking for new easy healthy marinade recipes to make at home and this Greek yogurt chicken marinade recipe is my family’s latest favorite!
The ingredient list is surprisingly simple but the results are absolutely AMAZING.
If you feel like you struggle to make tender, juicy chicken at home then you’ve got to try this method.
Marinating chicken in Greek yogurt is a total game changer & helps you get great results every time without a ton of extra effort on your part.
Using garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest also helps to infuse tons of delicious flavor into each bite while keeping the flavor profile versatile enough to add to almost any dish.
I put directions for you below on exactly how I use this to marinate and grill chicken. It works great for either chicken breasts or chicken thighs so you can use whichever you happen to have on hand.
Process & Tips
The good news is that making healthy sauces & marinades at home doesn’t have to be complicated or involve lots of hard-to-find ingredients.
All you have to do is add a handful of ingredients to a ziptop bag or a shallow baking dish, and mix them up.
Then add your chicken and let it soak up all those vibrant flavors for at least 30 minutes (or up to 8 hours).
And when you’re ready to cook, be sure to discard and shake off any excess marinade before adding them to a hot grill or baking them in the oven.
Before you know it you’ll have a hot dinner, plus lots of tasty leftovers to enjoy for the rest of the week!
How Long Can You Marinate Chicken in Yogurt?
While 30 minutes is the minimum amount of time required for yogurt to tenderize and flavor chicken, you can marinate chicken breasts for up to 8 hours before the protein in the chicken begins to break down.
Chicken thighs can marinate a bit longer, so they make a good option if you’d like to marinate the chicken overnight.
How to Make Greek Yogurt Chicken Kebabs
You can use this marinade to make bite sized chicken for kebabs too!
Simply chop the chicken into 2-inch pieces, then proceed with the recipe.
When ready to grill, be sure to shake off any excess marinade, then thread onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers and grill as directed!
Ways to Use this Marinade
The obvious answer is, of course, to use it to marinate chicken and grill or bake it (it’s one of my favorite ways to meal prep some protein for the week).
But you could also use the marinade itself as a simple garlicky lemon yogurt sauce to serve on top of your chicken (instead of adding it to raw chicken, you’d just mix it up as a stand alone sauce and drizzle over the top of your cooked chicken).
Ingredients & Modifications
Chicken: As you’ll see in the pictures, I used boneless skinless chicken breasts but chicken thighs also work great, and the higher fat content will add flavor when grilled.
Greek yogurt: I used whole, unsweetened Greek yogurt to make this marinade. Low fat yogurt doesn’t add as much flavor and causes the marinade to be watery, so I prefer not to use it in this recipe. For a dairy-free option you can also use an unsweetened, plant-based Greek yogurt.
Garlic: Since we’re using so few ingredients here, I like to use fresh minced or grated garlic to really infuse that garlic flavor into the marinade. But you could also use garlic powder if that’s all you have on hand.
Lemon juice: The fresh lemon juice, together with the Greek yogurt, really helps to tenderize and infuse the chicken with lots of flavor.
Lemon zest: The lemon zest really helps punch up the lemony flavor from the lemon juice and just adds a little something extra to this recipe.
Kosher salt: Look for kosher salt with the regular iodized salt at the grocery store. It has a subtler flavor. Use less iodized salt if that’s what you have on hand.
Greek Yogurt Chicken Marinade
- ⅓ cup whole unsweetened Greek yogurt
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts , or thighs
- To a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish, add the yogurt, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt, stirring to combine. Add 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts and toss to coat.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.
- Uncover and discard the marinade. Shake any excess marinade off the chicken.
- Then grill over medium heat, flipping halfway through. Cook until the chicken thighs register 185F to 190F degrees or chicken breasts register 165F.
- Remove from the grill and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, tented with foil. When ready to serve, slice against the grain and plate as desired.
- Follow steps 1-3 above to make the marinade.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and line a sheet tray with foil. Grease lightly with more olive oil and lay out chicken breasts, spacing them out so they aren’t touching.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the internal temperature reads at least 165F.