This simple chicken marinade infuses the classic Greek flavors of lemon, garlic and oregano plus marinating chicken in yogurt for a more tender bite.
The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
Hey, ho, whaddya know?!!! You ready for the best? Because I’m giving you the best!
It may be a bold statement to make, but unlike fake politicians, sorcerers, and that guy in Nigeria who says he’ll double your money if you’ll just wire it to him, I’m standing behind my claim that this super easy, extremely delicious Greek Chicken marinade very well could be:
- the ying to your yang.
- the butter to your nutter.
- the pop to your lock.
That’s what make this little diddy of a recipe the best lemony, best garlicky, best Greek-y oregano-ish chicken marinade for chicken in yogurt to create the yummiest tender bite you just might ever eat.
Greek Chicken Marinade Ingredients
Technically, this Greek chicken marinade is only 5 ingredients, if you don’t count the salt and pepper.
- Greek yogurt: This is a new addition to my regular Greek marinade. I added the yogurt after making my easy chicken gyros where the yogurt tenderizes the chicken for a very nice, juicy bite.
- Lemon juice + zest: The acid from the lemon also helps break down the tough fibers of the chicken as it adds a flavorful zip to each bite. Adding the zest of one lemon to the marinade amps the flavor up even that much more.
- Garlic: Because hello, garlic.
- Olive oil: Olive oil adds a bit of fat and helps create a barrier while the chicken is on the grill. However, you’ll still want prepare your grill with additional oil and rotate your skewers so the chicken doesn’t become too charred or burn.
- Oregano: Because dried herbs are stronger in flavor than fresh, I’ve found that dried oregano works best for this marinade, and a healthy dose of it is definitely required.
How to Make Chicken Marinade Greek Style
Flavoring and tenderizing chicken in a marinade is a no-brainer, but there are a few tricks to doing it right.
This chicken marinade works equally well with skin-on or skinless chicken. Trim the chicken breasts of any extra tendrills or pieces of fat and pat dry before adding to the marinade.
Mix the marinade ingredients together, then immerse the chicken in a shallow bowl with the marinade, or in a zippered freezer bag.
This chicken doesn’t take long at all to marinade! The chicken is adequately flavored in just 15 minutes. Or, let it soak in all that Greek flavor for up to three hours. I don’t marinate the chicken longer than the 3 hour mark so the chicken doesn’t becoming mealy.
Make this for grilled chicken breasts, or use half of this marinade for the breasts and reserve the other half for Greek chicken kebab skewers if that fits your fancy too. Doubling up duty as a dressing for salads too, this greek marinade is my favorite go-to recipe for anything and everything chicken.
1. Never, ever, ever reuse marinade used on raw poultry or meat unless you boil it first.
It might sound like a good idea to baste your chicken or meat with the same marinade, but there’s a trick to keeping it healthy if you do. Boil any used marinade first to destroy any harmful bacteria. Or set aside a portion of the marinade to use later before putting raw meat and poultry into it.
2. Use acid in your marinade to tenderize the meat.
Whether it’s vinegar, wine, or a citrus juice like lemon or lime juice, acid helps break down the connective tissue in meats, and creates a more tender bite.
3. Choose a complimentary oil for more flavor in your marinade.
Depending on the flavor profile of your marinade, choose an oil that compliments it and boosts the flavor even more, like:
- Olive oil for Greek, Italian, or Mediterranean-style dishes
- Sesame oil for Asian-style dishes
- Canola or vegetable oil for Mexican or American-style dishes to keep things neutral
4. The best tenderizer—What does marinating chicken in yogurt do?
The real secret to tenderizing any cut of meat or chicken is adding yogurt or buttermilk to the mix.
Marinating proteins in ingredients with an edge of acid like yogurt and buttermilk has been done in many types of ethnic cooking for centuries. More mild than some other raw enzyme acids from ingredients like pineapple or papaya, yogurt and buttermilk are a perfect tenderizer for chicken because they won’t make the protein mushy.
How Long Should You Marinate Chicken
Marinate your chicken for as little as 15 minutes, 3 hours, or overnight. If you go too long, your chicken or meat will turn to mush.
How Long Do you Cook Marinated Chicken
Cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 160-165°F, and allow to rest for the juices to set. Here’s some basic cooking times to do so, but always defer to a meat thermometer to be sure:
- Bake skinless, boneless chicken breasts at 400°F for 18-22 minutes
- Grill over medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
- Pan fry (depending on thickness) over medium heat for 18-22 minutes.
What to Serve With Greek Chicken to Make a Meal
Do you have a favorite side to serve with Greek chicken? Leave your recipe idea in the comments below, or here are a few to think about making too.
- Greek Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts and Cucumbers
- Easy Lemon Rice Recipe
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Baba Ganoush
- Greek Salad With Avocado
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
THE BEST Greek Chicken Marinade
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts)
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 lemons
- 4-5 cloves garlic pressed or minced
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place the chicken pieces in a freezer bag or a bowl and set aside.
Add the Greek yogurt and olive oil to a medium size bowl. Zest one of the lemons and add to the bowl. Juice that lemon into the bowl with the zest. Slice the other three lemons and set aside. Add the minced garlic, oregano, kosher salt and black pepper to the lemon juice and zest and stir. Pour half of the marinade into the freezer bag or the bowl with the chicken pieces and reserve the other half of the marinade for basting. Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator.
When ready to grill, prepare the grill by lightly oiling the grate with vegetable oil or cooking spray and set to medium high heat.
Grill the chicken, basting with the reserved marinade and turning often so each side browns and has light grill marks, until cooked through, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken juices run clear. During the last 5 minutes of cooking add the 3 sliced lemons to the grill, turning once or twice. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serve with the grilled lemons. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
More Greek Recipes You’ll Love Too
- Easy Greek Chicken Kebabs
- Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
- Greek Salad with Avocado
- Easy Chicken Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce
- Pork Souvlaki with Lemon Rice
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