This greek chicken marinade makes THE BEST Mediterranean chicken ever! Made with fresh lemon, herbs, and garlic it is simple but absolutely bursting with flavor.
This Greek chicken marinade is simply the best! It is so lemony and bursting with flavor. You’ll want to make it all the time and will find yourself coming up with reasons to put it on the menu.
It is plump juicy and loved by everyone that tries it! The yogurt and lemon make the chicken so incredibly tender and infuse so much flavor into each piece. The herbs and garlic create complexity that lingers in your mouth, leaving you craving that next bite.
It is simple, flexible, and full of fresh, healthy ingredients. Plus, it pairs well with sooo many different sides so it will be welcome at any BBQ. I like to make a double batch and use the leftovers to top salads throughout the week to motivate me to eat healthy lunches.
Here is what you’ll need:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- Zest from one lemon
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Plain yogurt (low-fat is fine, just don’t use non-fat)
- Minced garlic
- Black pepper
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish – optional but definitely recommended
How to make Greek chicken marinade
This recipe is easy to make and you can switch it up by using different cuts of meat and/or cutting the chicken in different ways.
- First and foremost, prepare the chicken by cutting any fat off and marinade. When cooking full chicken breasts or thighs, poke them with a fork a few times to make sure the marinade penetrates the inside.
- Add marinade ingredients to a bowl or bag (I usually use a stasher bag or just let is marinate in a bowl.
- Whisk marinade ingredients together to emulsify.
- Add the chicken and let it marinade. See the marinating time section for times.
- Preheat the grill and oil the grill grates.
- Once done marinating, remove from marinade and cook the chicken on the hot grill, flipping half way through cooking time. Cook time for different cooking methods/ cuts of chicken are shared in the cook time section.
- Remove from heat, let sit for 5 minutes and then serve!
Alternatively, you can cook cook the chicken in the oven, on the stovetop, or diced up as kabobs. Check out the recipe card or the cook time section for more details on this.
How long to marinate chicken
Marinade time for this recipe is somewhat flexible. For full chicken breasts, a 4-6 hour marinade time with a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. Anything more than that and the lemon juice will start cooking the chicken and the texture will be off.
If you are starting this late and want to do a quick marinade, cut the chicken into 1″ pieces and cook it as kabobs! If you go this route, just let the chicken marinade for 1 hour (minimum 30- minutes) before cooking.
To freeze the chicken, place it in a sealed container or bag, with a little bit of room at the top to allow for expansion. Place upright in the freezer and use within 3 months. To use, defrost in the refrigerator overnight or in a bowl of cool water for about an hour.
How long to cook chicken and at what temperature
Cooking time is tricky since it varies so much based on size, heat, and even where each piece is placed on the grill. If you’re new to grilling or want to play it safe, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer. Here are some general ranges though:
- Grilled Breasts – 5-8 minutes/side at about 425°F
- Grilled Thighs – 4-5 minutes per side at about 425°F
- Grilled Kabobs with 1″ pieces – 4-6 minutes per side
- Stovetop Skillet as 1″ pieces – 10-12 minutes on medium-high heat with 1 Tbsp. oil
- Breasts in Oven – 18-22 minutes at 400°F
What to serve with Greek chicken
This chicken is pretty versatile as a main dish. Here are some of my favorite ways to eat it and sides that go with it:
- I use it to top a simple salad tossed in this lemon vinaigrette or this lemon tahini dressing and turn it into a full meal all the time.
- Pair with this this epic grilled balsamic zucchini for a fully grilled meal.
- Serve it with lemon asparagus made in the oven or air fryer.
- Whip up a Greek pasta salad that perfectly complements the flavor profile.
- It is absolutely delicious alongside this Greek quinoa salad or this Ratatouille.
- Don’t forget dessert! This piña colada “nice cream” always goes over well.
- Remove any visible fat and use a fork to poke holes in about 5 places on each chicken breast to allow the marinade to soak into the chicken .
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, yogurt, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano
- Add chicken to bowl and rub marinade over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably 4-6 hours. Don’t marinade over 24 hours.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat (to about 425°F or 218°C) and oil grill grates with a grill brush and olive oil to prevent sticking.
- Remove chicken and discard leftover marinade. Cook chicken breasts on the grill for 5-8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature of the chicken reads 160 – 165° F (71-74° C) in the thickest part with an instant read thermometer.
- Remove from grill and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing to make sure it stays juicy. Slice, garnish with fresh parsley and serve right away.
- Grilled Breasts – 5-8 minutes/side at about 425°F (218° C)
- Grilled Thighs – 4-5 minutes per side at about 425°F (218° C)
- Grilled Kabobs with 1″ pieces – 4-6 minutes per side
- Stovetop Skillet as 1″ Chunks – 10-12 minutes on medium-high heat w 1 Tbsp. oil
- Breasts in Oven – 18-22 minutes at 400°F (205° C)