Marinades for Chicken
June 19, 2014 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Recently I've been buying Trader Joe's marinaded chicken tenders, and using the bag throughout the week to prepare stir-fries, fajitas, and other simple dishes for dinner. I really like having a marinade I can pull from for a quick meal, but I'm getting tired of the flavors that Trader Joe's offers. What are your favorite chicken marinades that I could start at the beginning of the week and use throughout the week to make dinner? My taste is pretty wide, but I'd prefer stuff that uses fairly common ingredients.
posted by codacorolla to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
I buy the tandoori paste from Pataks, mix it with yogurt, works great. Many variations with their various pastes and sauces. I find them at Cost Plus as well as Indian markets, and some local groceries here in LA.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:34 AM on June 19, 2014

Gochujang, Korean pepper paste, is delicious and you can make nice marinades with it. Soy sauce and ginger also make a great marinade for chicken.

If you're open to buying another pre-made marinade, I can highly recommend Head Country.
posted by neushoorn at 8:37 AM on June 19, 2014

In Upstate NY, they love to marinate chicken (and pork) in something called Spiedie Sauce. It's really good.

In a pinch, a bottle of any grocery store "zesty italian" dressing is a pretty good marinade, too.

I've also had a lot of success lately with dry-rubbing chicken instead of marinating it, a la Serious Eats. Something like a Montreal Chicken Rub or even just salt, black pepper, lemon zest and garlic powder works really well here.
posted by gauche at 8:39 AM on June 19, 2014

Many bottled salad dressings work pretty well, believe it or not, and can be very inexpensive.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:43 AM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mix to taste: soy sauce, toasted-sesame oil, lemon juice!!, Dijon mustard, chopped onions; (optional) Worcestershire sauce, sriracha sauce, capers
posted by mmiddle at 8:46 AM on June 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil makes a really nice simple marinade.
posted by chaiminda at 8:46 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Every backyard bbq and lawn fete in the greater Buffalo area smells incredible because of chicken marinated in Chiavetta's. Here's a reverse engineered version! It's heavenly.
posted by troika at 8:52 AM on June 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

I like Brown Dog Riba Rub, which I've only found at Whole Foods. When I don't feel like paying for it, I make a facsimile from chipotle powder, cocoa, coriander, sugar, dried thyme, and dried oregano.

I also do a lot of marinading with lemon juice, olive oil, fresh thyme (like, the whole package of thyme because I am addicted to thyme), and fresh garlic.

I used to live in upstate NY and approximated bottled Spiedie sauce by combining bottled Italian dressing with great gobs of fresh oregano as a marinade. Or a crapton of dried oregano.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 8:54 AM on June 19, 2014

ASIAN DISHES: soy sauce, sesame oil, something spicy (i like the chunky huy fong chili garlic sauce but sriracha would work), something earthy/fermented (black bean chili sauce, miso, gochujang, xo sauce, hoisin, etc)

MEXICAN DISHES: canned chipotle (either buy the already pureed "chipotle salsa" in cans or rinse the seeds out of a few chipotles, chop them to mush and add a few tablespoons of the adobo sauce they're packed in), cumin, lime/lemon/bitter orange juice, dried oregano, few splashes of hot sauce, optional umami booster (worcestershire sauce, maggi seasoning, or liquid smoke)

NEUTRAL (ITALIAN, FRENCH, OR AMERICAN DISHES, OR SALADS): I usually don't bother with a marinade and just go for a spice blend: particular favorites are Old World Seasoning, this spicy-citrusy Florida Seasoned Pepper, and Sunny Paris which I am completely obsessed with and put in everything
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:56 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, and garlic. Use water or chicken stock to add more liquid, if you need to--I just kinda lay the bag as flat as I can and flip it every so often.

Lemon juice, grainy mustard, garlic, thyme. This is basically my favorite everything--it's a marinade as is or with a little oil, or a sauce if you add butter and capers, and it's delicious.

Cornell chicken marinade.
posted by MeghanC at 8:58 AM on June 19, 2014

If it needs to be a bottled marinade, we love Vermont Farms for a quick and easy honey mustard chicken recipe.
posted by yerfatma at 8:59 AM on June 19, 2014

I tend to just throw stuff together when I marinade, but many supermarkets are now selling marinade mixes and some of them aren't half bad if you're in a hurry. Also as others have said salad dressings can work too.

I like to riff of of this recipe and this is an easy one to start with that is fun to play around with too. .
posted by wwax at 9:01 AM on June 19, 2014

Mojo! It's garlicky and oniony and so, so good. There are some commercial ones out there.

Badia, Publix, Goya.

Marinade, sautee with slow cooked sweet onions, serve with rice and black beans. Om Nom Nom.

Another really weird sounding one, that was prevalent in my childhood was:

1 small bottle Catalina salad dressing.
1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 small jar Apricot or Peach preserves.

Mix, pour over chicken, bake in oven. Serve over rice. You may want to put in a plastic baking bag to avoid having to throw the pan away after making this because it's a BITCH to clean up!

Jerk is delicious, especially when grilled. Serve with Rice and Peas and Plantains.

Lunch needs to get here now!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:02 AM on June 19, 2014

Honey mustard is one of my go-to chicken formats: honey, mustard, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil in roughly equal proportions (like 2 tbsp each for a small batch, or 1/4 c for a larger batch).

Cuban mojo marinade is also totally awesome on chicken or pork and is available premixed at Latino groceries and even sometimes in the regular stores in our area if they stock for a Latino clientele.

Note: using the same bag of marinade in the refrigerator for raw chicken for 5 whole days seems like not the best idea food-safety wise. I'm not sure if that's what you mean, or if you mean preparing a large batch of marinade in its own container and divvying it out into fresh bags of chicken each day.
posted by drlith at 9:03 AM on June 19, 2014

My all-purpose-teriyakiesque-marinade for grilled meats is: soy sauce, a good squeeze of honey, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, more garlic powder than you think you need, a glug of whichever vinegar is around, maybe a drop of fish sauce, and a dash of toasted sesame oil. Basically mix the soy and honey until it tastes "right," then add everything else.

(I also dilute this and add a little cornstarch for a stir-fry sauce.)
posted by uncleozzy at 9:16 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, oregano, salt and pepper. Serve with a tzatziki sauce.
posted by The Deej at 9:16 AM on June 19, 2014

Growing up, my mother always used this Oriental Steak marinade from an old Omaha Steaks cookbook. It works great on chicken as well.

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. very dry sherry
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 dashes ground ginger

Increase or decrease proportionally as needed.
posted by JerseyBear at 9:32 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Island Soyaki from...yes...Trader Joe's is amazing on chicken.
posted by heathrowga at 9:38 AM on June 19, 2014

My all-purpose-teriyakiesque-marinade for grilled meats is: soy sauce, a good squeeze of honey, ground ginger, red pepper flakes, more garlic powder than you think you need, a glug of whichever vinegar is around, maybe a drop of fish sauce, and a dash of toasted sesame oil. Basically mix the soy and honey until it tastes "right," then add everything else.

This is my go-to, though I usually use minced garlic from a jar instead of garlic powder, though the powder is good too (and for even more convenience, I've found that the Soy Vay marinades are pretty close, though sweeter than I make myself, as long as you toss in some sriracha). As mentioned above, regular Italian dressing works great also.

But also as mentioned, reusing marinade all week with various raw chicken pieces strikes me as a very poor idea. I'm all for saving money, but this probably isn't the way to do it.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:58 AM on June 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some more ideas here.
posted by sa3z at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2014

Buttermilk, Dijon mustard, and any herbs, spices, or other aromatics you care to add. The lactic acid in the buttermilk will tenderize the chicken (by breaking down proteins) and help carry the flavour into the meat. This works with all animal proteins--not so sure how it'd work with e.g. tofu.

Bonus point being you can make the basic marinade sans flavouring, and change up the flavours every day.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:52 PM on June 19, 2014

Lemon juice, little olive oil, lots of fresh chopped garlic, lots of fresh chopped dill, black pepper and sea salt. Add a dash of onion powder, and paprika, sit in fridge in Tupperware overnight.
posted by floweredfish at 1:30 PM on June 19, 2014

I posted this in another chicken thread...

Gochujang, a bit of sesame oil and a touch of vinegar (I like rice wine). Works well with tofu too.

Also so this is a recipe of mine for ginger lime chicken.
posted by kathrynm at 2:03 PM on June 19, 2014

The easiest marinade you'll never forget: 1/2 soy sauce, 1/2 Sprite -- enough to cover the chicken entirely. Soak for a few hours.

posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2014

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