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Tips for Marinating Chicken

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Honey-marinated chicken
StockFood - Maja Danica Pecanic/Riser/Getty Images
Chicken, especially boneless, skinless chicken breasts, usually tastes better and has a better texture if marinated before cooking. Marinades combine an acid, like lemon juice, yogurt, or vinegar, with some oil and flavoring ingredients like salt, pepper, herbs, fruits, and mustard.
  • If marinating time is longer than one hour, place the marinating chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Reduce oil in the marinade for more flavor. The best marinade (unlike the best salad dressing) is about half oil and half acid.
  • Chicken shouldn't be marinated longer than called for in the recipe. The chicken can become mushy if marinated too long, as the acid breaks down the flesh.
  • Use fresh herbs whenever possible. If you are using dried herbs, crush them between your fingers to release aromatic oils before adding to the marinade.
  • Mix your marinade right in a heavy-duty zip-lock food storage bag. Add the chicken, squish a bit to mix, then refrigerate.
  • Place the bag containing the chicken and marinade on a pan or in a bowl to prevent leakage.
  • To cook marinated chicken, just lift out of the marinade and place on the grill or pan. Don't rinse or dry with paper towels.
  • You can brush some of the marinade on the chicken as it cooks, but be sure to stop adding uncooked marinade 3-5 minutes before cooking time ends for food safety reasons.
  • Discard any remaining marinade. You can place it in a small saucepan and boil for 2-3 minutes, then serve as a sauce for the chicken. Never serve uncooked or undercooked marinade.

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