This chicken thigh marinade recipe is made for those loving the concept of tender chicken soaked in flavorful condiments, spices, and fragrant herbs.
We bathe the chicken thighs in our fool-proof homemade soy-garlic marinade, then bake them in the oven until the outside is slightly charred and the inside remains juicy and moist. Serve with some air-fried sweet potatoes and green peas on the side, and there you have a delectable meat-and-veg dinner.
Ingredients You'll Need
For the Chicken
Dark meat cuts (such as chicken thighs or drumsticks) contain fat pockets in their muscular structure. When exposed to heat, these marblings help keep the meat moist and prevent natural juices from evaporating, thus affecting overall flavors, juiciness, and tenderness of our dish. The extra fat will add a few calories to your meals; however, the final result will be all the more worthwhile.
We go with skinless, bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe. You can debone them if you like, but we keep them on for more flavor.
For the Marinade
Inspired by traditional Chinese marinade, ours include reduced-sodium soy sauce, lemon juice and zest, brown sugar, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. In each bite, you will experience layers upon layers of flavors, from saltiness and tanginess to sweetness and spiciness.
For the Vegetables
Sweet potato fingers give you the exact crunchy mouthfeel you get from French fries, and yield significantly fewer calories. Taste-wise, they become sweeter with a smoky undertone when baked.
We also pair this luscious chicken dish with some snappy green peas, but you can replace them with your favorite greens like asparagus, broccoli, or cauliflower.
Is Our Chicken Thigh Marinade Healthy?
This chicken thigh marinade promises to be your next staple as it’s jam-packed with flavors and nutrients.
Let’s go into detail, shall we?
For this recipe, we opt for skinless, bone-in chicken thighs as opposed to chicken breasts. Though the breast is a leaner choice, chicken thighs are still a great source of complete protein while being much more forgiving to cook. With the excess fat and skin removed, each serving has 482 calories and only 3.3 g of saturated fat, aligning perfectly with our nutrition guidelines.
Reduced-sodium soy sauce is mixed with other spices to enhance the flavor of the chicken without over-salting the dish. As a result, we managed to keep a reasonable amount of 594 mg sodium per serving.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of complex carbohydrates and vitamin A, which are associated with many health benefits, while green peas are low-calorie and provide a fair amount of heart-healthy minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Variations for Chicken Thigh Marinade Flavor
The marinade not only improves flavor but also provides the chicken thighs a glossy exterior after caramelization in the oven, making them a feast for the eyes. Whether it’s creamy, savory, spicy, or sweet, you will find one that suits your taste buds. Here are some of our favorites:
Soy-garlic marinade: On the top of our list, this savory and sweet blend combines pantry-ready condiments and spices to give you a fail-proof marinade. You can easily make an Asian twist by substituting olive oil with sesame oil and adding some oyster sauce to the mixture.
Honey Dijon marinade: If you want your chicken thighs rich and creamy with a hint of tanginess, you’ll love this honey Dijon marinade. The dairies and traditional Dijon mustard make up most of the marinade’ flavor, while honey adds an elegant touch to it.
Balsamic marinade: Balsamic vinegar is the secret ingredient to the flavor depth of this marinade. When combined with herbs, its signature zinginess and fruitiness take the natural taste of chicken thighs to the next level.
Chipotle marinade: Your chicken thighs will be all the more robust, smoky, and spicy with this Mexican-style marinade, as it includes ground cumin, smoked paprika, garlic, and onion powder blended with olive oil.
1. Do You Wash Chicken Before Marinating?
The answer is no.
The USDA guidelines specify not to rinse raw meat, seafood, and poultry as the bacteria from perishable food will spread onto other surfaces and lead to cross-contamination.
If you’re working with frozen chicken thighs, thaw them in the fridge, then pat them dry is good enough to help the marinade absorb better.
2. How Long Should You Marinate?
For the best-tasting result, we recommend making the marinade the night before and letting the chicken thighs sit in it overnight, from 8 to 12 hours.
Once it passes 12 hours, the flesh will start to break down and turn mushy, especially with those bathed in an acidic marinade, so keep an eye on the timer.
Even if you are in a hurry, you should marinate the thighs for at least 5-10 minutes.
What to Serve With
What may be missing from this hearty meal is some fresh leafy veggies, and there is no better way to enjoy greens than making a salad. Here are some easy and tasty inspirations for you:
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Today's chicken thigh and marinade recipe show you an easy yet super tasty approach to the traditional baked dish. Chicken thighs are bathed in a savory and sweet soy-garlic sauce and cooked in the oven for a crispy outer layer and juice interior. Let's learn how to cook it!
Place the chicken thigh on a cutting board. Peel away and discard the skin. Use a sharpened knife to trim off any excess fat and make a few cuts into the flesh so the marinade can absorb better.
Slice off two ends and peel away the skin of the sweet potatoes. Halve them lengthwise. Place those halves cut-side down on a chopping board then cut them lengthwise into 1-inch thick slices. Cut those slices into 1-inch thick fingers.
Finely mince the peeled garlic.
Finely chop the fresh parsley.
Season the sweet potatoes: In a large bowl, add 24 oz sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Mix well.
Bake the sweet potatoes: Arrange the well-seasoned sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Place the baking tray in the middle rack of a preheated oven and bake it at 450°F for 20 minutes.
Make the marinade: In another large bowl, add 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 1 tsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Whisk well to combine.
Marinate the chicken thighs: Add 22 oz skinless, bone-in chicken thighs to the bowl of pre-mixed sauce and mix well to coat.
Bake the marinated chicken thighs: Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, then place the marinated chicken thighs on the baking tray. Bake them at 400°F for 30 minutes.
Garnish and serve: Take the baking tray out of the oven and scatter 2 tbsp parsley onto the baked chicken thighs. Serve the dish with baked sweet potatoes and green peas on the side.
Chicken Thigh Marinade
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 481Calories from Fat 157
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.7g
Monounsaturated Fat 9.8g
Vitamin A 25783.4IU
Vitamin C 18.7mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
A great way to add flavor to your favorite protein. This marinade has a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that will make your chicken taste amazing!
Tasty marinade for succulent chicken thighs! Delicious!