For juicy and flavorful grilled chicken, try marinating it in a zesty Italian chicken marinade. You’ll be amazed at how tasty and easy this homemade marinade is.

Overhead view of grilled chicken breasts on a wooden cutting board, sprinkled with fresh parsley.

Why make your own Italian chicken marinade? Why not buy a bottle of dressing or a packet of dried dressing mix? I can hear you all thinking that. Take it from me (and you all know how much I like easy cooking), making your own marinade is seriously easy and just so much better.

Have you ever taken a close look at the ingredient list of your zesty Italian dressing packet? It’s fairly short, which is usually good, but there are a few items that you won’t find in most kitchen pantries: maltodextrin, xanthan gum, citric acid, and natural flavors. Not terrible, but not super great, either.

About natural flavors

“Natural” sounds pretty okay, right? Natural flavors are used to enhance flavor in processed food. Natural flavors, according to Healthline, are created by food chemists and have to be derived from a natural source, plant or animal. BUT, they can also contain more than 100 different chemicals like preservatives and solvents (called “incidental additives”). Still want to use that packet?

Try homemade Italian marinade! It’s easy to make and I bet you have everything you need in your pantry. For flavorful and juicy Italian grilled chicken, it cannot be beat. 

For a complete meal, serve Italian grilled chicken with panzanella salad, caprese pasta salad, or this grilled vegetable salad with zucchini and summer squash. If you like the idea of making your own seasoning mixes, try this recipe for Italian seasoning mix. Keep it in your pantry and mix it with olive oil to make a fantastic dipping sauce for warm bread. 

Three grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts on a wooden cutting board with a fork in the background.

About this Italian chicken marinade:

You don’t have to be a food chemist to make this easy marinade.

Simply mix oil (your choice), red or white wine vinegar, honey or sugar, and dried herbs and seasonings. This recipe uses oregano, basil, and parsley, along with garlic powder, salt and red pepper flakes.

The beauty of making your own marinade is that you can customize it. Use herbs and seasonings you like best. Use this recipe as a base and tweak it to make your own signature Italian marinade. 

Add the marinade to chicken in a zip lock bag, and refrigerate a couple of hours or even overnight. Remove the chicken from the marinade when you’re ready to grill (discard the marinade).

You’ll be amazed at how flavorful and delicious your grilled chicken is! 

Pssst:

If you love these flavors, make sure to check out our homemade Italian dressing!

Close up image of a grilled chicken breast marinated in Italian chicken marinade. It is sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

How to make this chicken marinade your own:

  • Prefer dark meat? This marinade will work great for chicken thighs or drumsticks, whatever you like best.
  • Make kabobs. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, marinate, and grill on skewers.
  • Vegetarian or vegan? Use Italian marinade for veggies such as zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms, or red onion, and grill on skewers or in a grill basket. Marinate and grill tofu — learn how from the Bojon Gourmet if you’re not sure how to do it.
  • Marinate pork chops or flank steak in Italian marinade for extra flavor, juiciness, and tenderness. 
  • For a lemony Italian marinade, substitute lemon juice for the vinegar. Add the zest of one lemon for even more lemon flavor.
  • If you like more spicy heat, increase red pepper flakes to half a teaspoon. 

Overhead view of three grilled chicken breasts with fresh parsley.

Storage and Meal Prep Tips

You can make this marinade a day or two in advance. Store it in a jar or covered container. 

More chicken marinade recipes:

Never eat boring chicken again! Try one of these flavorful marinades to add lots of pizzazz to grilled chicken: 

 

A marinated grilled chicken breast topped with chopped fresh parsley.

Overhead view of three grilled chicken breasts with fresh parsley.

Italian Chicken Marinade

Yield: 1/2 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

For juicy and flavorful grilled chicken, try marinating it in a zesty Italian chicken marinade. You'll be amazed at how tasty and easy this homemade marinade is.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ cup oil (olive, canola, or grapeseed oil)
  • ¼ cup white or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, or more to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in small jar or bowl, shake or whisk to combine.
  2. Place chicken in zip lock bag and pour marinade over. Seal tightly and place bag in pan to prevent leaks. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. 
  3. When ready to grill, remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off, and grill over medium heat until cooked through (165°F internal temperature). Let rest five minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Italian marinade is also perfect for chicken thighs or drumsticks, pork, or steak.
  • Use Italian marinade for veggies such as zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, mushrooms, or red onion, and grill on skewers or in a grill basket. Marinate and grill tofu -- learn how from the Bojon Gourmet if you're not sure how to do it.
  • For a lemony Italian marinade, substitute lemon juice for the vinegar. Add the zest of one lemon for even more lemon flavor.
  • If you like more spicy heat, increase red pepper flakes to half a teaspoon.
  • Nutrition information based on 8 oz. chicken breast, with 1/4 of the marinade but remember that most of the marinade is discarded.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 8 oz. chicken
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 193mgSodium: 699mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 71g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: Love this simple and easy marinade, and that I typically have all the ingredients on hand.
Husband’s take: Ben loves grilled chicken nights (he usually grills), and this chicken is one of his favorites.
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy!