Salsa-Marinated Chicken

This quick and easy marinated chicken can be baked or grilled to brighten any of your favorite Mexican dishes.

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We absolutely love Mexican food. It has some of our favorite flavors and dishes, and it always makes for a fun night of cooking. One thing that we have learned with making so many different Mexican dishes is that a flavorful and moist chicken is essential. Our salsa-marinated chicken recipe brings together the light and fresh flavors of salsa and lime juice with some of our favorite Mexican seasonings to add a hint of heat.

We wanted to share this easy salsa chicken recipe with you to help spice up your taco Tuesdays and any other Mexican dishes you enjoy. Properly preparing and flavoring meat goes a long way to improving a final dish. 

We understand not everyone wants to spend all night in the kitchen, so we made this recipe as quick and easy as possible! That way, you get all the flavor with only a little extra work. 

Salsa-marinated shredded chicken in a serving dish

Salsa Marinated Chicken Ingredients

Although salsa is the main flavor and base for this marinade, we add a couple of our favorite seasonings, as well as lime juice, to add a little extra kick. Here are all the ingredients you’ll need to make this quick and easy chicken salsa marinade:

  • Chicken breast or tenderloins
  • Salsa
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Sea salt

If you don’t have all of the above spices or are looking for an easier solution, you can use 4 teaspoons of your favorite taco seasoning blend instead. Note that although this will change the relative amounts of each seasoning, the overall flavor and type of seasonings will be fairly similar. 

How To Marinate Chicken In Salsa

Making this chicken salsa marinade is super easy, here’s everything you need to know:

  1. Add your favorite mild, medium, or hot salsa to a bowl with raw chicken. We love using Pace picante sauce for this marinade!
  2. Season with lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne, chili powder, paprika, and sea salt.
  3. Stir to combine and fully coat the chicken, then let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking.
A serving dish of shredded salsa-marinated chicken

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you marinate chicken?

While we aim to marinate chicken for 20 to 30 minutes, chicken can be marinated for anywhere between 20 minutes and 24 hours in the refrigerator. The longer you let the chicken sit in the marinade, the more time the meat has to absorb the flavor. However, if you have a high acid content within your marinade, the texture of the chicken can become mushy as the proteins break down – which is why we opt for a shorter marinating time for this recipe.

Can you use salsa as a chicken marinade?

Yes! That is what this recipe is all about. While we add additional flavors to our marinade, you can use only salsa as a chicken marinade as long as the salsa contains salt.

What to use salsa marinated chicken for?

Whether this salsa chicken is baked in the oven or grilled, it makes the perfect base for any meal. This chicken can be used in many of our favorite Mexican dishes, such as our chicken burritos ranchero and shredded chicken tacos. Or if you’re not in a Mexican mood, it makes for a light meal served with your favorite veggies or as a base for a sandwich.

Why You’ll Want To Make This Recipe

Next time you are looking for an easy chicken marinade, or if you don’t normally marinate your chicken, give this simple chicken salsa marinade a try. We promise you’ll notice the difference! With just a few ingredients and 20 extra minutes, you can add so much extra flavor to your next taco night.

We hope that you enjoy this salsa chicken recipe as much as we do. Please comment, rate, and share below!

Love this recipe? You may also enjoy these easy chicken recipes:

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5 from 3 votes

Salsa-Marinated Chicken

This quick and easy marinated chicken can be baked or grilled to brighten any of your favorite Mexican dishes.
Servings 4 servings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 1 pound raw chicken tenders
  • 1 cup salsa*
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • Sea salt to taste


  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and stir well to combine.
  • Let the chicken marinate for about 20 minutes at room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with foil.
  • Transfer chicken tenders to the baking sheet.
  • Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.*
  • Slice or shred and use in dishes like our Chicken Burritos Ranchero or Shredded Chicken Tacos, or pair with our Cilantro Lime Rice for a delicious dinner!*


Salsa: Use your favorite salsa for this recipe! We use Pace Picante (we know, it’s not technically salsa…) and it cooks into the chicken beautifully.
Baking the chicken: Baking times will vary based on the thickness of your chicken pieces. Cut open the thickest piece to check for doneness and cook longer if necessary.
Serving suggestions: This chicken tastes great in any Mexican-inspired dish, or on its own with a side of rice and veggies! We love using it for burrito bowls with Mexican-Style Rice or Cilantro Lime Rice and as a filling for our Shredded Chicken Tacos and Chicken Burritos Ranchero!
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Author: Alex
Calories: 157kcal
Course: Dinner, Ingredients, Lunch, Main, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: cayenne, chicken, chicken tenders, cinco de mayo, cumin, garlic, kashmiri chili powder, lime juice, mexican, onion, paprika, salsa


Calories: 157kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 595mg | Potassium: 643mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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Join the Conversation

  1. Abbi Passero says:

    5 stars
    This is the best chicken marinade ever! So simple but packed with flavor. Plus we always have a jar of salsa in the fridge so no more needing to buy taco seasoning. We used this chicken for burrito bowls.

    1. So happy you liked it! This chicken is perfect for burrito bowls, we make those all the time 🙂

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