How Long To Marinate Chicken (And Why)?

How Long To Marinate Chicken (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 5 to 6 hours

The word ‘marination’ originated after the utilization of brine solution within the pickling process, which results in the technique of adding flavor by immersion in liquid. Marinade refers to a mixture of oils, spices, acids, and related ingredients, in which the meat is dipped for some time to add flavor and sit.

It adds flavor to food and makes it tender by causing the breakdown method of the tissues of the meat. It happens after adding acidic marinates like vinegar, juice, lime, or enzymatic marinates like papaya, ginger, and pineapple. The time required to marinate the chicken, one must check correctly, or it can go to an extremely soft texture. Also, if one does not marinate long enough, the flavor won’t seep into the meat.

How Long To Marinate Chicken

How Long To Marinate Chicken?

Types of MarinadesDuration
FatsUp to 24 Hours
Salts & SugarLess than 6 Hours
AcidicLess than or for 6 Hours
Enzymatic Less than or for 6 Hours
Seasonings & Herbs4 to 24 Hours

Marinating is the method of mopping meats in a seasoned liquid, called the marinade, before cooking. Marinades use acids or enzymes to magnify flavors and change surface texture. The acid or the enzyme in the marinade allows the meat’s tissue to relax on the surface but must be used minimally and not for elongated periods, or the chicken might become mushy, tough, and dry. A successful marinade comprises the correct balance of acid, oil, and seasonings.

Sopping the chicken in a marinade will penetrate so far into the surface of the chicken meat, some millimeters precisely. Depending on the marinade ingredients and the type of recipe used, it is kept in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight to rest. Vegetables should use up to 10 minutes or even less.

With acid, as well as enzyme marination, one should be careful not to over-marinate the chicken, as continued exposure to acid can cause it to become chewy, or specifically, in the matter of seafood, crumble down entirely. Salt, at first, draws out the fluid from the chicken by osmosis, then the brine solution is absorbed into the meat again while breaking down the muscle structures.

The brine draws the flavors that are water-soluble, farther down, into the surface through the cut made with a knife, like onions, garlic, or herbs. Oils, too, are frequently added to transfer flavors that are fat-soluble from the seasonings and other spice mixes to blends onto the surface of the meat.

Why Would It Take That Long To Marinate Chicken?

A marinade that includes sugar or salt tenderizes the chicken a little if there is an acid such as lemon, vinegar, or yogurt as the marinade. It will modify the texture of the outside layer of the chicken with time. The longer one leaves an acidic marinade to act on the chicken, the worse the surface texture will get, becoming more fibrous and dry, so do not leave the chicken soaking any longer than overnight.

Allow it to have 5 to 6 hours for the most excellent flavor and texture. In case one does not have that long, even that 10 minutes of marinating will give flavors to the outer layer of the chicken. Marinades without acid ingredients can be kept longer but won’t be any better, so better to stick to 24 hours as a maximum.

Opposite to popular belief that marinades never work their way far into a piece of chicken, they will always be surface flavors. Oil and fat won’t seep in the flesh at all, but the salt will get a little way in if used in large quantities, as it frees the muscle fibers.

Sever your chicken joints with a sharp knife, as this creates more surface area for the marinade to do its work. It also helps the chicken to cook quicker. The longer one cooks it, the drier it will become. Since marinades provide surface flavors, one must check how to cook the chicken to make the best out of them. High heat will caramelize the sugar used and, barbecuing, grilling, pan-frying or, roasting will transform a marinade into a delicious crust.


Its recommended to marinate the chicken and refrigerate it. The chicken will marinate faster and better in the refrigerator, and it’s notably safer. One would never want the chicken to become warm or maybe reach that temperature while it’s marinating, which may create a good breeding ground for bacteria.

If someone marinates the meat at room temperature, it must be only for 30 minutes or less. It is preferable to store in the fridge because it has a more favorable outcome overall for the chicken as well as the marinade. Also, counting on the chicken and the marinade itself, one can marinate within the fridge for up to 2 hours.


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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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