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This is my favorite marinade of all time; amazing on chicken, perfect for pork, and terrific with fish and seafood. The bright lemony, garlicky flavor just lifts up anything you put in it. Even 30 minutes in this marinade will turn any protein into something delicious and flavorful. Plus, you probably have all of the ingredients in your house at this very moment (if you don’t, consider adding all of the ingredients to your regular shopping list!).

If you want one boilerplate marinade for the summer, this is it. With this 5-ingredient marinade (including this olive oil!), you’ll be turning basic chicken breasts (or whatever you’re cooking!) into a meal you’d be happy to serve your family and just about anyone who might stop by on a warm summer night.

Woman holding jar of Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade.

Lemon Garlic Marinade: The best marinade for summer grilling, with only 5 ingredients. Perfect for chicken (also pork, shrimp, and fish).

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Best Marinade for Grilled Chicken

This is a vibrant mixture of lemon, garlic, shallots, and of course, Dijon mustard. Truly when you start any marinade with garlic and lemons, it’s hard to go wrong. The mustard helps emulsify the marinade, making it thicker so it really clings to the food. It will last for several days in the fridge, and if you are visiting a friend, a pretty jar of this makes a wonderful gift (especially if you then use it to make dinner).

Jar of lemon garlic marinade with basil and onion on wooden surface.

Ingredients

How to Make Lemon Garlic Marinade

  1. Combine the flavoring ingredients: Put the shallots, garlic, lemon zest, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl or a jar with a lid.
Ingredients for lemon garlic marinade in a glass bowl.
  1. Add the liquids: Add the lemon juice and the olive oil, and whisk or shake to combine well.
Woman pouring olive oil into bowl of Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade.
  1. Season and serve: Adjust seasonings as needed and use as desired.
Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade in glass bowl.

FAQs

How long should you marinate chicken in Lemon Garlic Marinade?

Marinate boneless skinless chicken breasts (or pork chops) for 4 to 8 hours, and marinate bone-in chicken for up to 12 hours.

If you are using the marinade for shrimp or fish, marinate those for 30 minutes to 1 hour, and fish for 30 minutes max (more on marinating times here).

Should you put garlic in marinades?

Yes, for sure! Garlic quickly adds a lot of flavor to marinades of all kinds and goes really well with lemon and mustard, used in this marinade recipe.

Why is lemon used for marinating?

The acidity in lemon juice helps tenderize the meat or other protein. It also adds a bright citrusy flavor to the food.

What happens if you marinate in lemon juice too long?

Over time the acids in the lemon juice can start to “cook” the chicken before it even hits the grill or the heat source, turning it white and affecting its texture. If a protein spend too long marinating in lemon juice, the texture can start to break down and become mushy. Combine your lemon juice with olive oil to dilute the acidity, and stick to the marinating guidelines in the recipe.

Tips and Variations

  • This is also a great salad dressing, especially if you substitute half the lemon juice with rice vinegar. If you do use it as a salad dressing, you’ll want to dilute it with another few glugs of olive oil, and it’s pretty potent. 
  • The marinade takes well to all kinds of add-ins, like fresh basil, or green onions or scallions subbed in for all or part of the shallots.
Jar of Lemon Garlic Marinade

Make-Ahead and Storage

This marinade will last for 5 days in the fridge, at least. If you want to use it for more than one meal, make sure to only use what you need to marinate your food. Don’t ever reuse marinades that have touched raw meat or seafood; once it’s been used for marinating raw proteins, it needs to be tossed.

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Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 10 Servings
This 5-ingredient marinade comes together in minutes and is perfect for chicken (also pork, shrimp, and any fish).

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Put the shallots, garlic, lemon zest, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl or a jar with a lid. 
  • Add the lemon juice and the olive oil, and whisk or shake to combine well. Adjust seasonings as needed and use as desired.

Video

Notes

Marinate boneless skinless chicken breasts (or pork chops) for 4 to 8 hours, marinate bone-in chicken for up to 12 hours. If you are using the marinade for shrimp, marinate those for 30 minutes to 1 hour, and fish for 30 minutes max (more on marinating times here).

Nutrition

Serving: 6g, Calories: 112kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Sodium: 53mg, Potassium: 70mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 11IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 14mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Comments

  1. Added in fresh basil and parsley and green onions – sooo good on grilled chicken thighs. Also marinated some cubed halloumi and cooked in saute pan – also amazing for my vegetarians.

  2. Hi, quick question- to use with pork tenderloin, how long should it marinate? With the lemon I’m thinking my usual overnight soak isn’t a good idea?

  3. I can’t find the actual recipe for the mustard marinade… was it omitted?

  4. Just FYI. I made this recipe and bought shallots (as listed in the ingredients), then peeped the picture and saw scallions, not shallots. Recipe was delish, but which was I supposed to use?

    1. Hi there! The recipe does call for shallots, but you can swap in green onion for all or part, and add fresh herbs (like the basil in the photo). I made it a bit clearer in the text, but suffice it to say that sometimes as we’re shooting a dish, we throw in an additionanl food item or two, which without explanation might be confusing — as it was here!

    1. It will cover up to 3 pounds worth if you really mix it around to coat them.

  5. I’ve been looking and looking for a dressing with these exact ingredients to go over a kale and brussel sprout salad.

    I still plan to keep it and use for my marinating!

    Think this would work to make a light salad dressing? Thank you!

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