This Asian chicken marinade will infuse your chicken with so much flavor! You’ll find yourself coming back to this recipe time and time again.
Why you’ll love it: This marinade really boosts the flavor of chicken.
How long it takes: 15 minutes to make the marinade but allow time for the chicken to marinate, at least 4 hours or overnight.
Equipment you’ll need: measuring cup, ziptop bag
One of the things I love most about summer is firing up the grill for a quick and easy dinner. I love the smell of the food cooking on the grill, and sitting in the sunshine while the food cooks, cold beverage in hand, especially if someone else does the grilling for you! Just another reason to love summer. Give a guy some raw meat, a big metal spatula and a cold beer, and he’s happy to cook.
But if the weather isn’t just right, rest assured that this chicken doesn’t necessarily have to be grilled. Slice the raw marinated chicken into bite sized pieces and stir fry it. It’s a healthy and simple way to add lots of flavor to your favorite stir fries. Try it with our chicken stir fry with ginger and basil, or this sweet chili chicken stir fry. The marinade has plenty of flavor and you most likely won’t even need a sauce.
Marinated chicken can be baked in the oven, too. You’ll find directions for that on the recipe card.
Why not add a little excitement to plain chicken? It’s easy and you’ll be amazed by how much better chicken is with a good marinade.
About this Asian Chicken Marinade
This easy marinade is made with pantry staples and requires minimal prep, making it perfect to maximize outdoor time.
Allow enough time to marinate the chicken, at least four hours or overnight, so the flavors really soak into the meat.
Here’s a quick rundown of how to make this recipe.
As always, you’ll find the complete printable recipe at the end of this post.
What You’ll Need
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast: The recipe is written for white meat but if you prefer dark meat, the marinade works great for chicken thighs, too. You can pretty much use it for any chicken you choose, whether it’s boneless or bone-in, skinless or skin-on, breasts, thighs, drummies, or wings.
- Chicken Broth: Choose low sodium broth if you can so the marinade isn’t too salty.
- Soy Sauce: Again, reduced sodium soy sauce is best. Tamari is good, too.
- Plain White Vinegar: If you don’t have it in the house, rice vinegar is a great substitute. I switch between the two regularly when I’m making this marinade.
- Sugar: Regular granulated white sugar is all you need but if you want to fancy it up, use honey or agave, or another sweetener of your choice.
- Garlic Powder: This will lend a mild garlic flavor but if you’re a garlic fan, use a couple of cloves of fresh garlic, pressed or minced.
- Toasted Sesame Oil: This adds lots of Asian flavor but isn’t absolutely essential. My household is sesame-free because of severe allergies so I leave it out. Be sure to buy toasted sesame oil which is dark brown in color. A little goes a long way — it has loads of flavor.
- Ginger: Freshly grated ginger root is the most flavorful but in a pinch, you can substitute a teaspoon of ground ginger.
- Red Pepper Flakes: You’ll love the little zing the pepper flakes add!
How To Marinate Chicken
This recipe is enough to marinate at least one and a half pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts. There will be plenty of marinade so if you have more chicken, just go ahead and add it.
If you prefer dark meat, this Asian marinade is great for boneless skinless chicken thighs, too. I often use it for drumsticks or bone-in chicken. It’s a really versatile marinade.
Simply stir up the marinade in a large measuring cup or small bowl. Put the raw chicken pieces into a zip top bag or a shallow glass dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, turning the pieces so they are thoroughly coated.
If you’re using a bag, squeeze out any excess air, seal the top, place the bag in a bowl or pan (you don’t want to risk a leak which makes a big mess in your fridge), and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. If you’re using a dish to marinate the chicken, just cover the top with plastic wrap or a cover and refrigerate.
How To Grill Marinated Chicken
Preheat the grill to medium heat (350°F). Remove the chicken from the marinade, letting the excess drip off. Place the chicken pieces on the grates and grill, turning once with tongs, until the chicken is done, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer to test the internal temperature. It should be 165°F.
Always use a clean plate for the cooked chicken. Don’t put it back onto the plate that you used to bring the raw chicken to the grill because it could contaminate the cooked chicken.
Always discard leftover marinade. It should not be reused or used for basting.
How To Serve This Chicken
Garnish Asian chicken with sliced green onions, fresh cilantro, and/or sesame seeds. But hey, go with what you happen to have in the house! If you happen to have fresh parsley or chives, no problem, that will be just fine. Be creative.
I like to serve Asian marinated chicken with white rice or jasmine rice topped with sliced almonds. Fried rice or coconut rice and a side of Asian style slaw are good go-alongs, too. Marinated grilled chicken is also great as a protein in this cabbage salad with honey lime dressing.
I haven’t found it to be really necessary to poke holes in the chicken. If you are looking to speed up the process (i.e. you don’t have four hours), poking holes in the chicken will allow the marinade to permeate the meat more quickly. Use a skewer or fork, or score with a sharp knife.
It is possible to marinate chicken too long. The acid in the marinade (in this case, vinegar) helps tenderize the chicken but if you leave it too long, the surface of the chicken will deteriorate. Try not to marinate chicken more than twelve hours in an acidic marinade (one that contains vinegar or citrus).
However, if you are using a marinade that is less acidic, such as one with yogurt or buttermilk, you can marinate chicken for up to two days.
Rinsing the marinade off isn’t necessary at all. Allow the excess to drip off before placing the pieces on the grate. If you’re worried about flare-ups in your grill, gently pat the chicken with clean paper towels to remove excess marinade.
Yes! Place the chicken with the marinade into a leak-proof freezer-safe container or resealable bag. Label and freeze for up to one month. For best results, thaw overnight in the fridge before grilling.
Make It Your Own
Marinades are very forgiving and flexible! Here are some ideas:
- Like it a little more spicy? Increase the fresh ginger or red pepper flakes, or both.
- Really love garlic? Try using fresh garlic, minced or pressed, or increasing the amount of garlic powder.
- Try substituting honey for the granulated sugar. The flavor is great!
- If you have rice vinegar on hand, try substituting that for the white vinegar.
- Try using this marinade on other types of chicken. It’s great on drumsticks!
- Rather have BBQ chicken? Try this BBQ Rub on your chicken with homemade BBQ Sauce.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this chicken recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #31. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
More Great Marinade Recipes
- 1 cup chicken broth (low or no sodium preferred)
- ¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar or rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast (chicken thighs or drumsticks are good, too)
- In a medium bowl, combine chicken broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic powder, sesame oil, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
- Place chicken in zip top bag or a shallow glass baking dish.
- Pour marinade in bag or over chicken in dish; seal bag or cover dish.
- Place in refrigerator for at least four hours and up to 24 hours (I put my bag in a pan or bowl just in case of leakage).
- When ready to grill, remove chicken from marinade, letting the excess marinade drip off. Grill over medium direct heat until juices run clear and chicken is cooked through (165°F internal temperature).
- Nutrition calculation may not be exact, due to much of the marinade being discarded.
- Baking Directions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place in a greased baking dish. Spray lightly with olive oil spray. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Remove from oven and let set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Adjust the level of spiciness by either adding more red pepper flakes, or simply omitting them.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Note: This post was updated June, 2022. The recipe was developed before we had sesame and nut allergies in our home.