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Lemon, Garlic, Herb Chicken Marinade

Grilled chicken is probably one of the things we eat the most during the summer. Lemon, garlic, and herb marinated grilled chicken has become one of our favorite chicken recipes. The marinade makes this a moist, softly citrusy, and herbal chicken. The chicken is easy to prepare, doesn’t need to be marinated overnight and everyone loves it!

Chicken thighs and drumsticks on the grill have become golden and are ready to be removed.

This marinade is unbelievably fragrant and the flavors in the chicken are fresh, a little tangy and garlicky! You will notice the garlic in this dish, but it is tamed down by the freshness of the herbs and lemon. Cooking it on the grill adds a little char from the fire that just makes this over the top good! You will find that this recipe is a real crowd pleaser because none of the flavors are overpowering. They just meld together perfectly and bring out the best of the chicken.

Grilled chicken on a plate with asparagus and lemon

How long should you marinade using this recipe?

I wrote this recipe for chicken, but I have used this on pork and fish as well and it is just as good, so feel free to experiment. When I am cooking poultry or pork, I will let the meat sit in the marinade for 2-3 hours. Fish does not need to marinade as long. Because of the amount of lemon in the marinade if you leave the fish in it too long it will start to breakdown and can become mushy. I would recommend no more then 30 minutes for fish or seafood.

Making the lemon, garlic and herb marinade

Lemon garlic and herb marinade in a glass bowl

The zest of one lemon and the juice of two lemons make up the base of this marinade. Then lots of garlic is added along with fresh rosemary, parsley, and thyme. I know it sounds like lyrics to a song. I am just missing the sage, but you can feel free to add it if you like. Lastly, add olive oil, salt, and pepper.

How to make this recipe

Raw chicken pieces in a glass casserole dish.

I like to use chicken leg quarters and I separate the thigh from the drumstick. I think it is easier to grill this way rather then leaving the legs whole. It also makes it easier to eat!
Place the chicken in a sided dish large enough so that it can all fit in one layer. Pour the marinade over the chicken and use your hands to massage the marinade all over it.

A glass casserole dish with raw chicken pieces in a  lemon garlic and erb marinade

How to grill the chicken

Prepare your grill to a medium to low heat. You want the chicken to cook without too many flareups. I have had plenty when cooking chicken with the skin on, but I can’t help it…I love the skin when it gets a little charred and crunchy! Cook about 10 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

A plate of grilled chicken with asparagus, tomatoes and half a lemon


Should you wash chicken before cooking?

According to the USDA, “Rinsing or soaking chicken does not destroy bacteria. Only cooking will destroy any bacteria that might be present on fresh chicken.” Furthermore, a recent study found that rinsing or washing chicken very easily spreads the bacteria from chicken to other foods and surfaces. It is recommended that you pat the chicken down with a paper towel and immediately wash your hands and any surfaces the chicken may have touched.

How long can you marinade chicken in lemon juice?

Lemon juice is acidic and is a great agent for tenderizing and flavoring chicken and other foods. When using a lemon based marinade you can marinade the chicken for 12 hours and never more then 24 hours. Over long periods of time lemon juice will start to breakdown the chicken and it will ruin the texture of the meat. The chicken can become mushy and soft and your dish will not be what you had hoped for.

Should you marinate chicken in the refrigerator?

Yes. It is not safe to leave the chicken on the counter to marinate. Leaving it out can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the chicken that can cause food borne illnesses. Always place the chicken in the refrigerator to marinade and then cook it to 165 degrees.

Several pieces of grilled chicken on a white plate with a lemon half.

If you like Lemon garlic and herb grilled chicken you might also want to try some of my other chicken recipes:

Quick Chicken with Spinach and Tomatoes

Easy Chicken Marsala

Easy Herb Roasted Chicken

Hearty Italian Chicken Rosa Marina Soup with Spinach and Tomatoes

Marinated Stuffed Grilled Chicken Breasts

Stuffed Italian Chicken Rolls

Or a delicious side dish?

Simple Italian Scalloped Potatoes

Zesty Italian Pasta Salad

How about a simple dessert to go with this chicken?

Nonna’s Simple Orange Cookies

Homemade Peach Cobbler

Need a summer cocktail for your barbecue?

Tequila and Grapefruit Cocktail – “The Professor”

John’s Long Island Iced Tea

Several pieces of grilled chicken on a white plate with a lemon half.

Lemon Garlic Herb Chicken Marinade

Lemon, garlic and herbs bring bright summer flavors to this grilled chicken. The chicken only needs to marinade for a couple of hours to take on the essence of fresh herbs and citrus.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinade 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 593 kcal


  • 4 Chicken leg quarters split
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • 3 Lemons juice
  • 2 Lemon zest
  • 6 cloves Garlic large, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp Thyme fresh, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Rosemary fresh, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp Parsley fresh, chopped
  • tsp Salt Kosher
  • ¼ tsp Black pepper ground


  • Place chicken pieces in a glass dish with sides, that will allow the chicken to lay in one layer, such as a casserole or baking dish.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken and massage it into all sides of the chicken pieces so that they are all completely coated. Place chicken in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 hours.
  • Prepare your grill. If using a gas or electric grill, once it is hot reduce the temperature to medium. Place the chicken on the gill over direct heat. Cook for about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and grill about 10 minutes longer or until the chicken reaches 165° when a thermometer is inserted in the thickest part of the meat. Make sure the thermometer is not touching the bone. Brush the marinade on the chicken as it cooks to give it a more robust flavor.


Serving: 4gCalories: 593kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 25gFat: 51gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 30gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 142mgSodium: 989mgPotassium: 470mgFiber: 3gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 500IUVitamin C: 56mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Grilled Chicken, Lemon and Garlic grilled chicken, Lemon, garlic and herb marinade, Chicken dishes, easy chicken recipe
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