This grilled chicken marinade with lemon is incredibly fast to make and produces the most delicious grilled chicken thighs you have ever tasted. A blend of fresh lemon, tangy soy sauce, brown sugar and herbs will take your grilled chicken to the next level.
We have chosen bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for this chicken marinade recipe, but you can also grill chicken legs or small chicken breasts if you prefer. The marinade is ready to use in only five minutes. You can even marinate your chicken overnight in the fridge for a quick meal prep the next day.
If you don't feel like heating up the grill, we have also included instructions on how to cook this fabulous chicken meal in the air fryer, Instant Pot or oven.
❤️ WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS GRILLED CHICKEN MARINADE RECIPE
✔️ This marinade has the perfect blend of sweet and savory making these chicken thighs addictive!
✔️ The marinade only takes 5 minutes to make.
✔️ Marinade chicken for 30 minutes and up to 24 hours ahead to make dinner prep easier.
✔️ Finally, grilled chicken that isn't dry!
GRILLED CHICKEN MARINADE WITH LEMON INGREDIENTS
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for lemon soy chicken marinade, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You may have all of these lemon soy chicken marinade ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry and not need to make a trip to the grocery store. See recipe card below for ingredient amounts.
- Olive Oil
- Lemon juice: For best flavor use fresh lemon juice.
- Brown Sugar: Light brown or dark brown sugar work well in this recipe. You can substitute honey for the brown sugar if you'd like.
- Soy Sauce: If you're cooking gluten free, make sure you use gluten free soy sauce.
- Lemon Zest: For best results use fresh and bright yellow lemons. Make sure you only use the yellow part of the lemon peel and not the white one. The white part, also called pith, tastes bitter and might ruin the flavor of your lemon chicken. See more recipes with lemon.
- Fresh Parsley
- Dried Thyme
- Chicken Thighs: We use bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs for this recipe. However, you can also use chicken legs or small chicken breasts with skin if you prefer.
Enjoy this great lemon soy marinade recipe as a great addition to a Grilled Baked Potato, Garlic Knots and some fresh fruit. If you're cooking this inside, consider some Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Air Fryer Broccoli.
This section shows how to marinate chicken thighs and how to grill chicken thighs with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
MAKE THE MARINADE: Place all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large bowl. Whisk until everything is well combined. Add chicken thighs to the bowl, rotating to cover completely in the marinade. Cover the bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes on the counter or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
🔴 TIP: If you don't own a lemon zester, you can also use the fine side of a box grater to rub off the lemon zest or a vegetable peeler. First, peel off very thin slices of lemon peel (avoid the white part) and then chop the lemon peel finely on a cutting board with a knife.
GRILL: Heat your grill to medium high. Place marinated chicken thighs on the preheated grill. Turn every 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165ºF at the thickest part. It should take about 20-25 minutes to cook.
The length of time it takes to cook it depends on the temperature of the chicken when it's put on the grill, the size of the chicken and the exact temperature of the grill.
GARNISH AND SERVE: Arrange chicken thighs on a platter, garnish with parsley and lemon slices and serve.
You might want to put some lemon slices on the grill for the last 5 minutes of the chicken cooking for a grilled lemon garnish. Serve with grilled baked potatoes and fresh fruit.
Grill – This recipe requires a grill. You can use an outdoor grill or an electric grill intended for indoor use. Do not use a gas or charcoal grill inside. This is the indoor grill we use and love.
OTHER WAYS TO COOK LEMON SOY CHICKEN
AIR FRYER: To cook in an air fryer, cook at 380ºF for about 10-25 minutes, flipping once in the middle.
OVEN: To cook in the oven, cook at 400ºF in a baking dish or on a sheet pan for 30-40 minutes.
INSTANT POT: To cook in an Instant Pot, add ⅓ cup of chicken stock to the pot. Add chicken. Close the lid, lock and seal vent. Cook for 7 minutes. Allow 5 minutes of natural release time. Manually release then unlock the lid.
⚠️ TIPS FOR THE BEST GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS
Follow these tips to make the best tender grilled chicken.
✔️ Pat the chicken skin dry. Drying the chicken with a paper towel before seasoning ensures the marinade will penetrate the chicken more.
✔️ Season under the skin. For more flavorful chicken meat, rub some of the marinade under the chicken skin as well. Then pull the skin back over the chicken and cover the outside with marinade.
✔️ Don’t crowd together while grilling. Leave a little space between your thighs on the grill.
✔️ Rotate every 5-10 minutes. Rotating and flipping the chicken on the grill will help prevent areas from becoming too charred before the chicken is cooked through.
Storing your food properly is important to prevent spoiling or food poisoning.
Refrigerate: Store grilled lemon soy chicken thighs in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freeze: Grilled chicken marinade with lemon is best eaten fresh. However, you can freeze the chicken thighs in an airtight and freezer safe container or ziploc freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. We do recommend freezing uncooked chicken thighs rather than cooked ones.
Defrosting: A great way to defrost frozen chicken thighs is in the fridge overnight.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH GRILLED CHICKEN
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
It's not a problem if you don’t own a lemon zester. You can also use the fine side of a box grater to rub off the lemon zest. Another way to zest a lemon is using a vegetable peeler. First, peel off very thin slices of lemon peel (avoid the white part) and then chop the lemon peel finely on a cutting board with a knife.
Yes, you can also cook the chicken in the air fryer at 380ºF for about 10-25 minutes flipping it once, in the oven at 400ºF for 30-40 minutes or in the Instant Pot. For the Instant Pot, add ⅓ cup of chicken stock in the pot. Add chicken, close the lid, lock, and seal the vent. Cook for 7 minutes. Allow 5 minutes of natural release time. Manually release then unlock the lid.
Yes, you can marinate the chicken overnight in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. Do not leave the meat on the counter for more than 30 minutes of marinating time, as it is not food safe.
Yes, you can also use boneless or skinless chicken thighs, drumsticks as well as skinless or skin-on chicken breasts. Cooking times may vary though. Make sure to test that the internal temperature of your meat has reached 165ºF.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley leaves - chopped
- 1½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 6 cloves of garlic - minced
- 6 chicken thighs - bone-in with skin
- fresh chopped parsley
- lemon slices
- Place all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a large bowl.
- Whisk until well combined.
- Add chicken to the bowl, rotating to cover completely in the marinade.
- Cover the bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes on the counter or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat the grill to medium heat. Place chicken on the grill.
- Turn every 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165ºF at the thickest part. The length of time it takes to cook it depends on the temperature of the chicken when it's put on the grill, the size of the chicken and the exact temperature of the grill. It should take about 20-25 minutes to cook.
- Arrange chicken thighs on a platter, garnish with parsley and lemon slices and Serve.