This super easy and delightfully tangy Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade combines fresh lemon juice and zest with olive oil, garlic, pepper, and salt for a vibrant and tasty chicken dinner! The marinade takes just minutes to mix and combine with your chicken but imparts so much amazing flavor that this chicken is anything but boring!
Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade Recipe
Fresh and tangy lemons and limes are two of my favorite marinade ingredients, and I just love the marinades that really let the citrus flavor shine. This lemon pepper chicken marinade is loaded with fresh lemon flavor, and made even more addictive with the addition of the lemon zest!
I’ve made this marinade so many times, and I still can’t decide if the Meyer lemons make that much of a difference. Is it better with your standard, regular lemons vs Meyer lemons? I’m still on the fence, but I know they’re both A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!
All of these ingredients combine to make a VERY tasty chicken dinner that the whole family will love! This is one of those flavors that, even when the kids were young, was heartily approved with enthusiastic thumbs up from everyone!
- Olive Oil – adds that wonderful EVOO flavor and helps to distribute your marinade and coat the chicken! Plus the oil helps to keep your chicken nice and tender, with plenty of the chicken juices retained!
- Lemon Juice – hello lemon deliciousness! You’ll need 3 tablespoons of lemon juice for this lemon pepper marinade, which should be 1 small to medium lemon. Don’t forget to zest your lemon before squeezing! If you only have bottled lemon on hand, it will work too.
- Lemon Zest – will take your lemon flavor to the next level! If you’re using bottled lemon juice because you don’t have fresh lemons, do look for another citrus to zest. Even adding some dried orange peel to help boost the citrus flavor is better than lemon juice alone.
- Garlic – has its own unique flavor that makes it such a wonderful addition to this citrus marinade! The rich, savory garlic flavor combines perfectly with lemon and pepper!
- Ground Pepper – while any pepper will work, the suggested freshly ground coarse black pepper will add more pepper flavor!
- Salt – is the spice that makes everything taste better! Salt brings out your ingredient flavors, enhancing and highlighting them for a more flavorful lemon pepper chicken!
How To Make Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade
I’m using ziploc plastic storage bags, and recommend the zip-top style bags as they will keep your marinade in contact with the chicken. This helps the marinade ‘cling’ to your marinating chicken for the best flavor!
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, add the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, coarse ground black pepper, and salt. Mix well.
- Place your chicken and the marinade into a ziploc plastic storage bag, then seal securely while squeezing out any excess air.
- Massage the marinade into the chicken by squishing the marinade throughout the bag. Continue until the chicken is thoroughly coated, about 1 – 2 minutes.
- Refrigerate and allow the chicken to marinate for at least 4 hours. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If you will be grilling or baking whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it is best to flatten the chicken breasts for quick and even cooking. Place your chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic cling film and pound with a meat mallet or tenderizer ( use the flat side ).
Start at the center of the chicken breast and work outward toward the edges. Continue until the chicken has an even thickness throughout the meat.
Marinating the Chicken
Your chicken needs to marinate for at least 15 – 20 minutes before cooking. The longer you can let the chicken marinate, the more flavorful your lemon pepper chicken will be!
I would usually recommend at least 4 hours, or overnight ( between 8 – 24 hours ) for optimal marinating. However, you can marinate the chicken for up to 2 days refrigerated. This is the maximum amount of time for marinating chicken in a citrus-based marinade.
While frozen chicken pieces usually store well in the freezer for 6 months or more, I recommend a maximum of three months. Allow the frozen marinated chicken to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
The lemon pepper chicken marinade will slowly seep into your chicken while it thaws, making it lemony and delicious!
Check out all of my tasty and incredibly easy chicken marinades in one place! The marinades are absolutely perfect for grilled, pan-fried, or oven-baked chicken breasts, thighs, wings, skewers, and more!
Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- In a small bowl add the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, freshly ground coarse black pepper, and salt. Mix until well combined.
- Place the chicken and marinade into a ziploc plastic storage bag, then squeeze out all of the air while sealing securely.
- Massage the marinade into the chicken by squishing the marinade throughout the bag. Make sure that all of the chicken is well coated.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before use. Freeze for up to 3 months.
If you will be grilling whole chicken breasts, it is best to flatten the chicken breasts for quick and even cooking. Place your chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic cling film and pound with a meat mallet or tenderizer ( the flat side ). Start at the center of the chicken breast and work your way toward the edges.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma’s kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!