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This tangy, flavorful Greek marinade is perfect for grilling and roasting everything from chicken to steak to vegetables, yielding tender, juicy meat that is packed with mediterranean flavor.
The Perfect Chicken Marinade
I know that for some, chicken breasts come with a reputation for being dry/bland/boring.
The truth is that chicken breasts are a blank canvas that, cooked properly, can be tender, juicy, and super flavorful. While there are different ways to accomplish all that (try leaving the skin on and stuffing some Boursin cheese under it!), marinating is, in my opinion, one of the best.
Although sometimes I choose chicken thighs over breasts (I love this fattier cut with an acidic condiment like in these chimichurri chicken thighs for instance), chicken breasts are my go-to for everyday cooking.
This is also the marinade I use in this family favorite Greek chicken salad, and it doubles as a base for the creamy feta dressing in the recipe.
Components of a Greek Marinade
This flavorful and versatile Greek marinade is perfect for adding a touch of Greece to your favorite dishes.
I know I just went on and on about chicken breasts, but you can use it to marinate any meat, poultry, seafood, vegetables, or even tofu for a delicious and easy meal. It is also a perfect summer barbecue marinade.
Greek marinade is a blend of three essential components that work together to tenderize meat, add flavor, and keep it moist.
The acid: The acid in Greek marinade helps to break down the meat’s proteins, making it more tender.
The oil: Olive oil is the traditional oil used in Greek marinade, and it helps to coat the meat and prevent it from drying out.
The flavoring agent: Herbs such as oregano, thyme, and rosemary are commonly used in Greek marinade, as are spices such as garlic, salt, and pepper.
Red Wine Vinegar
While many Greek marinades opt for either red wine vinegar or lemon juice for the acidic base, I love the added complexity I get from combining the two. Red wine vinegar is a classic ingredient in Greek cuisine, and helps tenderize the meat along with the lemon juice.
While you can use white wine vinegar instead of red, I love the fruitier flavor of red in this marinade.
Lemon juice adds brightness and acidity to the marinade. It also helps to tenderize the meat and brighten the flavors of the other ingredients.
Garlic is a must-have in any marinade for me, and it adds a ton of flavor to this one. It will balance all the flavors, and, this also helps tenderize the meat.
Dijon mustard adds a bit of tang and richness to the Greek marinade. It also helps to emulsify the marinade, making it easier to coat the meat.
The sugar helps to balance out the acidity of the marinade and add sweetness. It also helps to caramelize the meat when it is cooked.
Oregano is a classic Greek herb that adds tons of flavor to the marinade. You can also use fresh herbs if you prefer.
Olive oil is essential in Greek and Mediterranean cooking and is loved for its health benefits.
It will add richness and moisture to the marinade. It also helps to coat the meat, preventing it from drying out.
Step by Step Instructions
1. Whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, sugar and oregano in a bowl or a measuring cup.
2. Slowly add in the olive oil while whisking it until it is well combined and emulsified. Season it with salt and pepper.
3. Now add the marinade to your chicken breasts, or whatever you are marinating, and and marinate it for 1 to 6 hours for chicken breasts, or follow the times below for other ingredients.
- Chicken: 1-6 hours
- Beef: 4 hours-overnight
- Pork: 2-4 hours
- Seafood: 15-30 mins
4. Take your chicken out and discard the marinade. Sprinkle some additional salt and pepper on the chicken and cook as you like.
Tips to Make the Best Greek Marinade
1. Use a good quality olive oil. Olive oil is a key ingredient in Greek marinade, so it’s important to use a good quality one. Extra virgin olive oil is best for marinades.
2. Use fresh ingredients. The fresher the ingredients, the better the flavor of the marinade will be.
3. Marinate the chicken for at least 60 minutes, but up to 24 hours. The longer the meat marinates, the more flavor it will absorb.
4. When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and cook as desired. Do not cook the meat in the marinade, as this can make it tough.
5. Do not reuse Greek marinade that has come into contact with raw meat. This is because the marinade will have come into contact with bacteria from the raw meat, which can make you sick.
Cooking with the Greek Marinade
You can cook your marinated chicken in the oven, air fryer, pan, or grill.
Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Now place the Greek marinade chicken in a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
Preheat air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken in air fryer basket and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.
How to Know When Chicken is Cooked Through
The best way to know when chicken is cooked is to check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Chicken is considered cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Overcooking will most certainly dry out chicken breasts, so remove them from heat as soon as the temperature reaches 165F or a little below – the meat will continue to cook as it rests.
What to Serve with Greek Marinade Chicken
- I use the Greek marinade to make this Greek Chicken Salad, and I also like to add it for extra protein in this Grilled Halloumi & Strawberry Salad, or this Ancient Grains Salad.
- You can also use this as a main and serve it with a side of Roasted Asparagus & Potatoes and Cheesy Garlic Bread.
- Use the leftovers to serve over these Mediterranean Buddha Bowls.
- Two of my favorite sides for this chicken are this curried couscous salad and these Mediterranean couscous stuffed peppers.
- This chicken is great for meal prep since its flavoring is so versatile! I like to cook a few breasts and serve them in various ways over the nexfew days.
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- In a bowl or measuring cup, combine the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, dijon mustard, sugar and oregano.
- Slowly drizzle the olive oil in while whisking until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine marinade with chicken, meat or vegetables, and refrigerate for 1 to 6 hours, depending on the protein (see notes).
- Remove food from the marinade and discard the marinade. Sprinkle food with additional salt and pepper if needed and cook as desired.