Freezer Friendly Chicken Marinades: 4 Simple Recipes

Last updated: June 4th, 2024

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Stock your freezer with these 4 simple and delicious freezer friendly chicken marinades next time you buy chicken in bulk at the grocery store.

4 bags of freezer chicken marinades.

Stocked up on chicken and don’t know what to do with it all? Try these simple recipes for freezer friendly chicken marinades you can prep in just a few minutes and freeze for up to 3 months! Choose one or make all 4 of our flavorful marinades – Mexican fajita, Asian sesame garlic, lemon garlic herb, and maple barbecue chicken – to level up your freezer stash.

Why Freezer Friendly Chicken Marinades Are The Best

Imagine this: you’ve had a long day at work, you’re exhausted and hungry by the time you get home, and you open the fridge… to find absolutely nothing to eat. You find some plain chicken in the freezer and think about defrosting it, but then you have to decide how to season it, how to cook it, and what to serve it with. No thanks. So instead, you order takeout.

Sure, those days are unavoidable and sometimes all you need after a long day is a cozy bowl of noodles from your favorite Thai restaurant. But what about the days where you really do want to eat healthier, cook at home, or avoid spending money? How can you make it easier to achieve those goals?

Bingo: you can save “future you” time, effort, brain power, and money by preparing these simple freezer friendly chicken marinades.

Here’s our strategy:

  1. Buy a value pack of chicken when it’s on sale at the grocery store
  2. Trim the chicken right away, and divide into half-pound or one-pound portions
  3. Mix up whatever marinades we have the ingredients for, and divide amongst the chicken
  4. Seal in freezer-safe bags, label with the marinade type and date, and freeze for up to 3 months
  5. Defrost 24 to 36 hours ahead of time when we know we’re going to need a super easy dinner

It’s really that easy! Sure, it takes some foresight to know when you’ll need to defrost the chicken, but having the marinades already prepared can save you the mental effort of having to decide what type of meal to make and what to pair the chicken with. (Plus, you can always marinate the chicken first, then freeze it, for those of you who aren’t great at planning ahead – more on this later.)

These freezer marinades can also come in handy for meal prep. Defrost the lemon garlic herb chicken marinade over the weekend and grill it up to use in sandwiches, wraps, and salads all throughout the week!

Keep reading to learn how to make our 4 simple and delicious freezer friendly chicken marinades, and what to pair them with.

4 freezer chicken marinades: Mexican fajita, maple barbecue, Asian sesame garlic, and lemon garlic herb.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Marinades: Types, Ingredients, and Uses

All you need to make a good marinade is 4 main components – acid, oil, salt, and flavoring. Following this basic rule, we’ve created a variety of delicious and simple chicken marinades that you can freeze for use later on.

1. Mexican Fajita Chicken Marinade

Acid: Lime juice

Oil: Vegetable oil

Salt: Fine sea salt

Flavoring: Garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, ground red cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin

Use for: Fajitas, tacos, Mexican chicken and rice bowls, quesadillas, southwest salads, or any of your favorite Mexican dishes

2. Asian Sesame Garlic Chicken Marinade

Acid: Rice vinegar, lemon juice

Oil: Vegetable oil, sesame oil

Salt: Soy sauce

Flavoring: Chili garlic sauce, minced or ground ginger

Use for: Stir fries, chicken and rice bowls, lettuce wraps, or skewers

3. Lemon Garlic Herb Chicken Marinade

Acid: Lemon juice

Oil: Olive oil

Salt: Fine sea salt

Flavoring: Minced garlic, dried parsley, dried oregano, black pepper

Use for: Grilled chicken and veggie dinners, salads, sandwiches, wraps, or pasta

4. Maple Barbecue Chicken Marinade

Acid: Apple cider vinegar

Oil: Vegetable oil

Salt: Fine sea salt

Flavoring: Dark maple syrup, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, black pepper, ground mustard seed

Use for: Barbecue style dinners with cornbread and sweet potatoes, salads, sandwiches, wraps, or as a pizza topping

Freezer chicken marinades prepped in bags.

How To Marinate Chicken In The Freezer

Marinades don’t technically work in the freezer, since the frozen meat won’t absorb the marinade. However, you can mix together the marinade and chicken, seal it tightly in a freezer-safe bag (make sure to press all the air out), and freeze it to use at a later time.

Here’s where the process of marinating actually occurs: when you allow the chicken to defrost and rest in the fridge before cooking. As the chicken defrosts, it’ll become porous enough again to absorb the marinade. 

To allow enough time for the meat to properly marinate, we recommend taking your marinated chicken out of the freezer 24 to 36 hours ahead of when you want to cook it, and putting it in the fridge. Try to lay the bag flat so that all of the chicken stays submerged in the liquid as it defrosts.

Note: If you’re not good at planning ahead (no judgment!), you can always marinate the chicken in the fridge before putting it in the freezer. Let it marinate for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Then, if you’re in a pinch and want to speed-defrost the chicken to eat that night, you can thaw it in the microwave or run it under cold water.

Frozen Marinated Chicken Shelf Life

For the best results, we recommend freezing chicken in a marinade for no more than 3 months. Make sure that when you freeze the chicken in one of these marinades, it’s as fresh as possible.

Grilled Mexican fajita chicken.

Freezer Friendly Chicken Marinades: FAQs

Can I marinate chicken in the freezer?

Yes and no. You can store chicken in a marinade in the freezer, but it won’t actually marinate while it’s frozen. You should either marinate the chicken first, then freeze it in the marinade, or freeze the chicken and marinade together and allow it to marinate as it defrosts over a period of 24 to 36 hours in the fridge.

Do marinades work while frozen?

No, marinades do not work while frozen. The meat cannot absorb the marinade ingredients while frozen. So, you need to allow time for the meat to marinate before or after freezing.

Should you marinate before or after freezing?

It’s up to you! We prefer to marinate after freezing, since the meat can marinate in the fridge as it defrosts. But you can also marinate the chicken first for about 2 to 6 hours, then freeze it.

How do you season chicken before freezing?

The best way to season chicken before freezing is by using one of our freezer friendly marinades! These simple recipes yield juicy, flavorful chicken that can be used for a variety of meals.

How to cook frozen marinated chicken?

We recommend letting the marinated chicken fully defrost in the fridge over 24 to 36 hours so that it has time to marinate as it defrosts. Then, cook as you normally would depending on the recipe you are making. You can add the marinated chicken to a slow cooker, cook it in a frying pan on the stove, or grill it.

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Freezer Friendly Chicken Marinades: 4 Simple Recipes

Stock your freezer with these 4 simple and delicious freezer friendly chicken marinades next time you buy chicken in bulk at the grocery store.
Servings 4 pounds
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Freezer-safe bags

Ingredients

Mexican Fajita Chicken Marinade

  • 1 pound chicken breast trimmed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Asian Sesame Garlic Chicken Marinade

  • 1 pound chicken breast trimmed
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ground ginger

Lemon Garlic Herb Chicken Marinade

  • 1 pound chicken breast trimmed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Maple Barbecue Chicken Marinade

  • 1 pound chicken breast trimmed
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup dark maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder

Instructions

  • Whisk together marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Add chicken to a freezer-safe bag, then add the marinade. Seal tightly, making sure to press all the air out of the bag.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours before cooking.

Notes

Notes on freezing & marinating chicken: The chicken won’t marinate while it’s frozen, since it can’t absorb the ingredients. To allow enough time for the meat to properly marinate, we recommend taking your marinated chicken out of the freezer 24 to 36 hours ahead of when you want to cook it, and putting it in the fridge. Try to lay the bag flat so that all of the chicken stays submerged in the liquid as it defrosts.
If you’re not good at planning ahead (no judgment!), you can always marinate the chicken in the fridge before putting it in the freezer. Let it marinate for anywhere from 2 to 6 hours. Then, if you’re in a pinch and want to speed-defrost the chicken to eat that night, you can thaw it in the microwave or run it under cold water.
Serving suggestions: Here’s what we love to use these different chicken marinades for:
  • Mexican fajita chicken: Fajitas, tacos, Mexican chicken and rice bowls, quesadillas, and southwest salads
  • Asian sesame garlic chicken: Stir fries, chicken and rice bowls, lettuce wraps, or skewers
  • Lemon garlic herb chicken: Grilled chicken and veggie dinners, salads, sandwiches, wraps, or pasta
  • Maple barbecue chicken: Barbecue style dinners with cornbread and sweet potatoes, salads, sandwiches, wraps, or as a pizza topping
Recipe variations: All you need to make a good marinade is 4 main components – acid, oil, salt, and flavoring. Use this template and our recipes as a guide for adjusting these marinades to fit your tastes, or work with the ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
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Author: Nicole
Calories: 1530kcal
Course: Dinner, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Mexican
Keyword: apple cider vinegar, barbecue, black pepper, cayenne, chili garlic sauce, chili powder, cumin, fine sea salt, freezer prep, garlic, garlic powder, ginger, lemon juice, lime juice, maple syrup, meal prep, mustard powder, olive oil, onion powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, vegetable oil

Nutrition

Calories: 1530kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 99g | Fat: 114g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 47g | Monounsaturated Fat: 42g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 290mg | Sodium: 2991mg | Potassium: 1959mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 629IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 3mg

If you have any questions regarding the information presented in this post, please refer to our Nutrition Disclaimer here.

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