This homemade easy Italian chicken marinade is a low effort recipe that will wow your tastebuds. Perfect for grilling or baking in the oven, it only takes 5 minutes of hands-on prep and requires just a few pantry staples. With the best herby and garlicky flavor, it’s the perfect meal prep protein or easy dinner idea with chicken breasts or chicken thighs.

Overhead shot of a white oval platter with a serving fork and sliced, grilled chicken topped with fresh parsley sprigs. Surrounding the platter are bowls of chopped parsley and black pepper, a jar of marinade, a bottle of olive oil, and a towel.

Visual Guide: How to Make Italian Chicken Marinade

Jump to Recipe Instructions

Testing Notes from Robyn

To save time and make life easier as a healthy habits expert, I like to have marinated chicken as part of my capsule meal plan because there are so many different types of marinades and so many different ways to use marinated chicken.

It keeps meal planning easy, and you never get bored!

This simple (yet so delicious) Italian chicken marinade is a pantry-friendly version of my lemon chicken marinade and features olive oil, fresh garlic, Italian seasonings, red wine vinegar, salt, sugar, and black pepper.

Both are phenomenal recipes, it just depends on what you have on hand and what flavors you’re craving.

With minimal ingredients, no chopping, 5 minutes of prep time, and 30 minutes of marinade time, this Italian marinade is perfect for when you’re low on groceries but still want to zhuzh up chicken.

Once the short marinade time is done, you can grill or bake the chicken, slice, and serve or save for meals throughout the week (this chicken is so good for protein meal prep!).

Overhead shot of the following ingredients: Olive oil, salt, garlic powder, dried herbs, minced garlic, and black pepper.

Simple Ingredient Substitutions

Olive Oil: The quintessential Italian ingredient, olive oil offers a light, buttery flavor to this marinade. You can also use any other neutral flavored oil in its place like avocado, vegetable or canola oil.

Red Wine Vinegar: Another classic Italian flavor. I wouldn’t recommend using another vinegar. If you want to use lemon, I recommend making this lemon chicken marinade.

Fresh Garlic: Fresh minced garlic definitely elevates this simple recipe, but if you’re very short on time or don’t have any on hand, 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder can be substituted. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of garlic based on your preference.

Sugar: The sugar helps tenderize the chicken, so I don’t recommend skipping it (but you can if you need to). You could substitute it with coconut sugar.

Kosher Salt: Feel free to increase or decrease the salt based on your preference.

Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts work well in this recipe. Chicken thighs have a higher fat content which adds flavor when grilled.

Close-up overhead shot of an oval white platter with a serving fork, grilled chicken breasts, and fresh sprigs of parsley. The platter is surrounded by bowls of chopped parsley and black pepper, a jar of marinade, a bottle of olive oil, and a towel.

Tips & Notes

How long to Marinate the Chicken

You only need to marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to get great flavor. I don’t recommend marinating it longer than 6 hours, however, since the acid of the vinegar can alter the texture of the chicken.

If you want to make this ahead of time, my secret meal prep tip for marinated chicken is to freeze the chicken and marinade together. It’s so easy!

All you have to do is add your chicken and marinade to a 1-gallon zip-top freezer bag and stash away in the freezer (it’s good for up to 3 months). When you’re ready to use, let it defrost in the fridge and use right away.

Making Ahead

This herby chicken is the perfect meal prep recipe! Once cooked, it 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.

Serving Ideas

What doesn’t go well with this chicken? I love pairing it with easy sides like grilled vegetables, slow cooker potatoes or slow cooker corn! It’s also a great way to add protein to red pesto pasta or sun dried tomato pasta salad.

Close up side angle shot of a white platter with sliced grilled chicken topped with sprigs of fresh parsley.

This Recipe Is…

Overhead shot of a white oval platter with a serving fork and sliced, grilled chicken topped with fresh parsley sprigs. Surrounding the platter are bowls of chopped parsley and black pepper, a jar of marinade, a bottle of olive oil, and a towel.
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Easy Italian Chicken Marinade (for Grilling or Oven)

This easy Italian chicken marinade is a low effort recipe that will wow your tastebuds. Perfect for grilling or baking in the oven, it only takes 5 minutes of hands-on prep and requires just a few pantry staples.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon no-salt added dried Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts or thighs

Equipment

Instructions 

Make the Marinade

  • Whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Pour half of the marinade along with 2 tablespoons of water into a 1-gallon zip-top bag or baking dish. Set the remaining half of the marinade aside.
  • Toss the chicken to coat, then press as much air out of the bag (if using) as possible, or cover with plastic wrap (if using a baking dish). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 60 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.

Grilling Instructions

  • When ready to grill, heat a gas grill to medium high. Allow to preheat for 15 minutes. 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, until chicken thighs register 170F or chicken breasts register 165F.
  • Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into ½ inch slices, and serve drizzled with reserved marinade.

Baking Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 425°F. Set aside half of the marinade, then add the chicken and the remaining marinade into a small baking dish. Set the remaining marinade aside for drizzling after the chicken is cooked. If you have a large baking dish or rimmed sheet pan, omit the marinade as it will spread and possibly burn. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until or until chicken thighs register 170F or chicken breasts register 165F.
  • Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into ½ inch slices, and serve, drizzled with reserved marinade.

Notes

See blog post, above, for substitution suggestions, storage, serving suggestions, and more. 

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 (of 8), Calories: 194kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 469mg, Potassium: 430mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 39IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 1mg
Nutrition disclaimer
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