Bring your chicken to the next level with this garlicky, lemony, herbaceous easy Greek chicken marinade! This versatile recipe works for any cut of chicken and any which way you cook it. From grilling the juiciest chicken breasts to weeknight-baked chicken thighs, this marinade will amp up the flavor with a delicious Greek twist.

Photo Credits: Andrea Gralow

I’m a bit of a last-minute cook, but sometimes a little planning is worth it and actually saves time in the long run. This Greek chicken marinade is one of those times! And this recipe could not be easier.

Just throw the chicken in a bowl along with the usual suspects—garlic for an assertive touch, a sprinkle of sweet, earthy paprika, lemon juice for brightness, olive oil for richness, and parsley and thyme for freshness. Let the chicken do the work for you, soaking up flavor like a sponge while you go about your business.

This chicken marinade takes only a couple of minutes to throw together. Once the ingredients are combined, add chicken and let marinate for as little as 30 minutes and up 8 hours.

Table of Contents
  1. Marinade Flavor Makers
  2. Ingredients for Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe
  3. How to Make this Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe
    1. Make the Marinade
    2. To Grill the Chicken
    3. To Bake the Chicken 
  4. How Long to Marinate Chicken
  5. What to Serve with Greek Chicken 
  6. You’ll Also Like: Boldly Flavored Chicken Recipes
  7. Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe

Marinade Flavor Makers

It's no secret that the Mediterranean Diet is a flavor-forward way of eating from more than 20 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. Fresh herbs and quality spices. This Greek chicken marinade is a perfect example of how a well-stocked spice drawer combined with a few fresh herbs and citrus can really increase the flavor factor!

Marinades are usually built from some kind of acid (citrus juice or even wine) and a combination flavor makers like fresh herbs, onions, garlic, and spices. Just swapping the sweet paprika in this recipe for smoked paprika will give you a completely different experience. Mixing things up never gets old.

Everyone's spice drawer is different, which is why I created a build your own spice bundle in our shop. Pick up what you need to fill in the missing spices at home and leave the rest.

Ingredients for Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe

Nothing fancy here! Just simple pantry ingredients working together for a flavorful and aromatic sauce. You’ll need:

  • Chicken: I especially love chicken thighs as they stay juicy and tender more easily, but you can use any cut you’d like with this recipe.
  • Garlic adds a sweet and savory depth of flavor. If you want something more subtle try using Roasted Garlic.
  • Dried oregano brings an aromatic quality that’s so classically Greek. You can use fresh oregano, but it’s not quite as potent. If you’re working with fresh oregano leaves, finely chop them and add about 2 tablespoons’ worth. 
  • Sweet paprika gives a subtle kick and pop of color. You can stock up at our shop, or substitute with another chili pepper like chili flakes or Aleppo pepper. You can also add a smoky layer with smoked paprika
  • Thyme and parsley leaves add freshness and enhance the aromatic qualities of the chicken. I wouldn’t substitute them. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil adds richness and helps to infuse the meat with flavor. Use a high-quality extra virgin variety, preferably Greek
  • Lemon zest and juice add acidity to lift the savory flavors. It will make the meat chewy if it’s left too long, so be sure to only marinate the meat for up to 8 hours if it’s a leaner cut like chicken breasts. 
  • Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor. 

How to Make this Greek Chicken Marinade Recipe

This is the definition of an easy chicken marinade! One tip before you get started: If you’d like to double the marinade as a serving sauce, make sure to reserve a ½ cup or so before you add the chicken. Here’s how it’s done: 

Make the Marinade

  • Make the marinade. To a large mixing bowl, add 4 minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves, and ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil. Zest in 1 lemon, then slice in half and squeeze in the juice. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper (about ½ to ¾ teaspoon each). Whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking (Remember: if you don’t plan to add salt and pepper directly to the chicken, then you want to make sure the marinade has enough flavor.)
  • Add the chicken or chicken cutlets to the marinade. Use a pair of tongs to toss the 1 ½ to 2 pounds of chicken so it is well coated, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours (or if you’re using chicken thighs, overnight is fine.) This is a very versatile recipe so you can roast, pan-sear, or grill the chicken as you’d like. 

To Grill the Chicken

  • Prep your grill. Lightly oil the grates and preheat your gas grill or an indoor griddle to medium. 
  • Grill the chicken. When the grill is nice and hot, arrange the chicken in one single layer over the heated surface. Grill for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remove from the grill and tent with foil for 5 to 10 minutes before serving (this will bring up the meat to 165°F.)

To Bake the Chicken 

  • Get ready. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  • Prep the chicken (reserve the marinade). When I bake chicken breasts, I like to make them into cutlets first so they cook faster and more evenly. To do so, slice them in half along the equator, starting at the thicker side. (You can keep the pieces and breasts whole, you’ll just need to add an additional 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time to bring them up to 160°F.)
  • Bake the chicken. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish and pour the marinade over top. Cover the baking dish with a large piece of foil and place in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
  • Finish. Remove the foil (save for later) and bake until the chicken is fully cooked and is no longer pink in the middle (or it has reached 160°F), another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover, and let rest for another 5 minutes. The chicken will come up to 165°F as it rests. 

How Long to Marinate Chicken

Marinating chicken doesn’t need to be perfect–just let the chicken soak for a few hours and it’ll be just fine. For the best texture, though, there are few good rules of thumb when it comes to the age-old question of how long to marinate chicken: 

  • Chicken breasts: Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes and no longer than 2 hours. Chicken breasts are a lean meat so they may become chewy from the lemon juice’s acidity if they’re left to marinate for too long.
  • Chicken thighs and legs: These cuts can be marinated longer due to their higher fat content. Marinate for at least 1 hour, but ideally for 4 to 6 hours for deeper flavor. 

What to Serve with Greek Chicken 

My go-to with this Greek chicken is to add protein to traditional Greek salad, but the bright and savory Greek chicken marinade goes with just about any Mediterranean side, salad, or bread we have. You really can’t go wrong! But here are some favorite ways to build out a full meal:

You’ll Also Like: Boldly Flavored Chicken Recipes

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5 from 6 votes

Greek Chicken Marinade

Suzy Karadsheh
Overhead shot of three grilled chicken breasts that have been marinated in Greek chicken marinade and are on a platter with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.
From grilling the juiciest chicken thighs to weeknight baked chicken breasts, this simple but boldly flavored marinade will amp up the flavor with a delicious Greek twist! Feel free to use whatever cut of chicken you have on hand. A couple hours in your fridge will infuse the meat with the most vibrant flavor, but if you're short on time even 30 minutes on your counter will make a big difference.
Prep – 5 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total – 5 minutes
Cuisine:
Greek
Serves – 6
Course:
Entree/Poultry

Ingredients
  

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds chicken (thighs, legs, breast, or any cut you’d like)

Instructions
 

  • Make the marinade. In a large mixing bowl, combine the garlic, oregano, paprika, thyme, parsley, olive oil, lemon zest, juice, and a big pinch of salt and pepper (about ½ to ¾ teaspoon each). Whisk until well combined. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking (Remember: if you don’t plan to add salt and pepper directly to the chicken, then you want to make sure the marinade has enough flavor.)
  • Add the chicken or chicken cutlets to the marinade. Use a pair of tongs to toss the chicken so it is well coated, then cover and refrigerate for 2 to 8 hours (or if you’re using chicken thighs, overnight is fine.) Cook the chicken as you’d like–see below for grilled or baked Greek chicken.

For Grilled Chicken:

  • Prep your grill. Lightly oil the grates and preheat your gas grill or an indoor griddle to medium.
  • Grill the chicken. When the grill is nice and hot, arrange the chicken in one single layer over the heated surface. Grill for about 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remove from the grill and tent with foil for 5 yo 10 minutes before serving (this will bring up the meat to 1605°F as recommended.)

For Baked Chicken:

  • Get ready. Preheat the oven to 400°F. If you’re working with chicken breasts, I like to make them into cutlets first so they cook faster and more evenly. To do so, slice them in half along the equator, starting at the thicker side. You can keep the pieces and breasts whole, you’ll just need to add an additional 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time to bring them up to 160°F.
  • Bake the chicken. Place the chicken in a single layer in a 9x13 baking dish and pour the marinade over top. Cover the baking dish with a large piece of foil and place in the hot oven for 10 minutes.
  • Finish. Remove the foil (save for later) and bake for until the chicken is fully cooked and is no longer pink in the middle (or it’s reached 160°F), another 10 to 15 minutes (or longer for whole chicken breasts).
  • Rest and serve. Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for another 5 minutes. The chicken will come up to 165°F as it rests.

Notes

  • If you’re short on time allow the chicken to marinate on your counter for 30 minutes. It won’t be as vibrant as a longer soak in your fridge, but even 30 minutes will add a lot of flavor. 
  • Lemon juice can make the meat chewy over time, so 8 hours is the max I recommend marinating a leaner cut like chicken breasts. Chicken thighs, however, can handle an overnight marinade here. 
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 247.1kcalCarbohydrates: 3.1gProtein: 24.6gFat: 15.1gSaturated Fat: 2.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 9.6gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 72.6mgSodium: 133.7mgPotassium: 478mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.5gVitamin A: 341.8IUVitamin C: 13.8mgCalcium: 28.7mgIron: 1.1mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    So excellent! I baked the chicken. It was perfect. The herbs and lemon just pop. I added a few sliced grape tomatoes at the end. Looked lovely, tasted amazing. This is now my go to for baked chicken. I served this with broccoli and mashed potatoes the first time, rice and buttered cabbage the second. So good 👍

    1. Hi, Linda. It sure can! I could reduce the marinade time quite a bit though (only up to an hour) as acidy marinades can really affect the texture of the fish if it's left to sit too long.

  2. 5 stars
    Looks so good!!! I will be making this tonight-mmm mmmm. I love the fresh, healthy ingredients you use in all your recipes.

  3. Suzy, love the way you cook, not too complicated but delicious! Have your cookbook and use it weekly. Hope you publish another one, because, many of your tasty recipes are not included in your cookbook. Also, your shop sells some great EVO’s, herbs and spices. Thank you for changing how many American families cook!