Best Marinade for Grilled Chicken Thighs

Lemon, fresh cilantro, garlic, and spices make the best marinade for grilled chicken thighs. We enjoyed this juicy grilled chicken all summer long because it is so quick and easy to make. Serve it with your favorite side dish or as a filling for chicken tacos; it’s so so good. Let’s make it!

The post has extra tips to make sure the recipe comes out amazing on your first try. If you're in a rush, use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end! 👩‍🍳🔝
marinated chicken thighs in a white bowl

Chicken Thigh Marinade

I love quick meals. My days are busy juggling work and kids’ activities. I have to be organized, otherwise, the question ‘WHAT’S FOR DINNER, MUM?’ at 7 pm becomes a problem. Dinners don’t have to be complicated. Just a few simple ingredients, some love, and a little bit of time will take you a long way.

Marinade ingredients 

Here’s your text with bullet points and proofread:

  • Fresh cilantro leaves (coriander in Australia)
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon juice and lemon zest (use fresh unwaxed lemons)
  • Ground cumin
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Chili flakes (leave out of cooking for young kids)
ingredients needed to make chicken marinade

Full list of ingredients in the recipe card at the end of the post 👇


  • Not a fan of cilantro? No worries! You can opt for other fresh herbs like fresh parsley or thyme.
  • Try lime juice instead of lemon juice for a more tropical twist.
  • Use avocado oil instead of olive oil.

A word about chicken.

This chicken recipe calls for skin-on, boneless chicken thighs, which I find to be the most tender and juicy. I prefer leaving the skin on, as it adds extra fat and imparts a ton of flavor when cooked on a grill. That said, you can, of course, use any cut of chicken you prefer. However, if using bone-in chicken thighs, be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Check out my easy garlic chicken thigh recipe to see how I prepare them on the stove. Additionally, if you’re not a fan of dark meat, you can use chicken breast as an alternative.

How to make the marinade

Creating this chicken thigh marinade is incredibly simple.

  • Begin by combining all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Then add the chicken, ensuring every piece is thoroughly coated with the marinade.
  • Let it marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, or for best results, leave it overnight. Alternatively, you can marinate the chicken and freeze it immediately for future use. As the chicken defrosts, it will continue to absorb the flavors, resulting in perfectly seasoned meat ready to be cooked.

How to grill marinated chicken

Once the chicken is marinated, it’s time to cook. You can use an outdoor grill or a grill pan indoors.

Start by preheating your grill to medium-high heat, aiming for a temperature around 375-400°F (190-200°C). Using kitchen tongs, place the chicken thighs on the hot grill, skin side down. Be sure to allow any excess marinade to drip off to prevent flare-ups.

Grill chicken thighs for 5-6 minutes on each side. This will create beautiful grill marks, but be vigilant and rotate the chicken as needed to prevent burning. Boneless thighs cook quickly, but to ensure they’re done, use a meat thermometer. Chicken thighs are cooked through when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 165°F (75°C).

Keep in mind that grills vary, and cooking times may differ based on the size of the thighs. For reference, I’m using a gas grill.

You can find step-by-step instructions in the recipe card below 👇

two chicken thighs grilling on a hot grill plate

How to serve

The ways to serve this marinated chicken are simply endless.

  • In summer, it pairs wonderfully with your favorite salad. I particularly enjoy it with a crunchy Asian salad. Alternatively, classics like a simple garden salad, potato salad, or Greek salad are excellent choices too.
  • For colder days, serve it with mashed potatoes or freshly cooked basmati rice.
  • Slice the grilled chicken into strips and use them to make chicken tacos. Add some mango and avocado salsa, tastes so good!
  • This grilled chicken is equally amazing when served cold, making it a perfect addition to chicken salad or chicken wraps and sandwiches.

As you can see, there are numerous ways to enjoy this marinated grilled chicken. And a simple marinade like this one can take you a long way!

How to store leftover chicken thighs

  • REFRIGERATE. Once the chicken has cooled to room temperature, transfer it into an airtight container, ensuring that it’s sealed tightly to prevent any air exposure. Then, place the container in the refrigerator, where the chicken can safely be stored for 3-4 days.
  • FREEZE. If you find yourself with more chicken than you can enjoy within a few days, freezing is an excellent option. For this, opt for a freezer-safe container or a durable ziploc bag. Make sure to remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it shut, as this helps prevent freezer burn. The chicken thighs can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • REHEAT. When it’s time to reheat your stored chicken thighs, there are a few methods you can employ depending on your preference. You can gently reheat them in the microwave for a quick meal, or for a more thorough reheating without sacrificing tenderness, try warming them in the oven or on the stovetop. 

Regardless of your chosen method, with these storage and reheating tips, you can ensure that your grilled chicken thighs remain a delicious and convenient meal option for days to come.

6 marinated grilled chicken thighs on a plate

That’s it! This is how you make the best grilled chicken thighs ever. I hope you enjoy this simple recipe as much as we do!

More delicious chicken dinner recipes to try

Greek chicken marinade with yogurt

Chicken shawarma

Marinated chicken skewers

Have you tried this recipe? If so, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could leave a star rating and share your thoughts in a comment. Your feedback means a lot to me, and it can also help others who are interested in trying it out. Thank you! 🌟👩‍🍳
marinated chicken thighs in a white bowl

Marinade for grille chicken thighs

Elena Elliott
This delicious marinade is extremely easy to make and is absolutely burst with flavor. Grill the chicken, make a salad and enjoy a perfect summer dinner.
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
2 Hours Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 30 minutes
Course dinner
Cuisine European
Servings 3 people


  • 6 boneless chicken thighs, skin-on
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (coriander)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)


  • In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade.
    1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, 2-3 garlic cloves, minced, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Add the chicken to the bowl, making sure each piece is thoroughly coated with the marinade.
  • Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 2 hours, or for optimal flavor, refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, you can marinate the chicken and freeze it immediately for future use. As the chicken defrosts, it will continue to absorb the flavors, resulting in perfectly seasoned meat ready to be cooked.

Grilling Instructions:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, aiming for a temperature between 375-400°F (190-200°C).
  • Using kitchen tongs, place the chicken thighs on the hot grill, skin side down. Ensure any excess marinade drips off to prevent flare-ups.
  • Grill the chicken thighs for 5-6 minutes on each side, creating beautiful grill marks. Rotate the chicken as needed to prevent burning.
  • Serve and enjoy!


  1. Marinating Time: For maximum flavor, marinate the chicken thighs for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat fully, resulting in a more delicious outcome.
  2. Preheating the Grill: Ensure your grill is preheated to medium-high heat (375-400°F or 190-200°C) before placing the chicken thighs on it. A properly preheated grill helps to sear the chicken quickly, locking in moisture and creating those beatiful grill marks.
  3. Monitoring Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken thighs to ensure they’re cooked through. Chicken is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C). This prevents overcooking and ensures juicy, tender chicken every time.
Keyword chicken marinade
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