A significant number of grilled food aficionados pay attention to the flavor and taste of grilled meats. One of the best ways to enhance the taste and flavor of the meat is by marinating. Marinating is the process of soaking meat into a seasoned liquid known as a marinade to enhance its flavor and change surface texture. 

Should you marinate chicken before grilling? It’s good to marinate your chicken before grilling to add flavor, enhance taste, and tenderize it. Marinating chicken also introduces extra moisture; thus, your meat doesn’t get too dry after grilling. However, some people like it simple and don’t find it necessary to marinate their chicken before grilling. This post addresses how long you should marinate chicken before grilling

 

Electric indoor grill griddle combo

 

What are the Different Types of Marinades for Chicken? 

 

Before we discuss how long you should marinate chicken, let’s briefly look into various forms of marinades for chicken. They are as follows: 

 

Wet marinades 

 

Wet marinades are what most people think about when they hear about marinating chicken. They are liquid marinades where chicken is immersed for a certain period. 

Wet marinades are of different types, i.e. acidic, enzyme, and dairy marinades.

 

Dry rubs 

 

A dry rub is a mixture of dried herbs, spices, and salt. Dry rubs are used for dry marinating, whereby they are rubbed onto the surface of the meat.

 

Wet rubs 

 

These are dry rubs mixed with oil or other liquids to make a paste. They are applied to the exterior surface of the meat to marinate. 

 

How Long Should You Marinate Chicken before Grilling? 

 

How long you marinate chicken before grilling depends on several things such as: 

  • Size 
  • With bone or boneless 
  • Skin-on or skinless
  • Nature of the marinade 

The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service highlights that a chicken could be left in marinade in a fridge for two full days. 

 

Whole chicken 


Marinating a whole chicken will require at least 4 hours to allow the marinades to penetrate the meat. However, you can marinate a whole chicken for a maximum of 12 hours.

 

Boneless chicken breast 

 

Boneless chicken pieces soak up marinades pretty more quickly than a whole chicken. It takes at least 30 minutes up to 2 hours. However, poking some holes on the meat can speed up the process. 

 

Bone-in pieces, skin-on breast 


To marinate pieces with bones and skin-on breast will take no less than an hour and a maximum of 4 hours. 

 

Bone-in & skinless thighs


Marinating a bone-in skinless chicken thigh takes a minimum of an hour and at most 4 hours. If the same piece has bones and skin on them, it takes at least 2 hours and a maximum of 6 hours to marinate.

 

Skin-on wings 

 

It takes at least 2 hours and at most 6 hours to marinate chicken wings with skin on. 

 

Summary Table of How Long you should Marinate Chicken 

 

Chicken Cuts

Minimum Time (Min./ Hrs.)

Maximum Time (Min./ Hrs.)

Whole chicken

4 hours

12 hours

Boneless chicken breast

30 minutes

2 hours

Bone-in pieces, skin-on breast

1 hour

4 hours

Bone-in & skinless thighs

1 hour

4 hours

Bone-in, Skin-on thighs

2 hours

6 hours

Skin-on wings

2 hours

6 hours

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep marinated chicken in a fridge for a week?

It’s safe to keep/leave a marinated chicken in a fridge for a maximum of 2 days. If you want to store the chicken for more than a week, you can safely store it in a deep freezer that is not opened frequently to maintain its quality.

Should you poke holes in a chicken breast to marinate?

Poking holes in a chicken using a fork before marinating allows the marinades to seep in/ penetrate into a chicken more quickly. Therefore, it reduces the time for marinating.

How long should you let seasoning sit on chicken?

It’s best to season chicken with a rub a few minutes before grilling to maintain a sturdy flavor. However, you can leave a rub on a chicken for approximately 4 hours, but you’ll lose some flavor and dryness if you take too long.

How long can chicken marinate in lemon?

Marinating chicken in lemon should take at least 30 minutes and not more than 2 hours. Marinating chicken for too long in lemon breaks down proteins and makes the meat tough.

Sources
foodfirefriends.com
frugalinsa.com
eatbydate.com