How long can you marinate chicken can be pretty tricky for some people. Therefore, it’s important to know what the marinade is and all the information related. If you desire to embark on the challenge, please keep following as this article is going to widen your horizon on the topic.
And even though you only have a slight interest in the information, I still believe you should get through the post to prepare for your future needs. So sit tight! Your horizons are about to be widened!
The question may be simple but do you have any clue about it? If not, I will give you a hand. But first, you need to know what a marinade is, then continue to discover the three reasons why marinating chicken before cooking is of importance.
More than often, people marinating chicken have no idea what marinade really is. The word’s origin comes from the practice of using brine (aqua water) to store food for later uses.
Nowadays, marinade generally means a mixture of three main ingredients: oils, acids, and flavoring agents. Marinating chicken is the process of soaking your meat into a mixed liquid to flavor it. Types of marinades for chicken vary tremendously.
If marinating chicken is challenging, why should people care about it? Of course, marinating is not an easy task. But you will be finally convinced and start soaking your chicken in the marinade for the three main reasons I will provide below.
Marinade facilitates chicken to absorb moisture due to a process called osmosis. It is the movement of water from an environment of a higher water concentration to that of a lower water concentration (1).
After this process, the chicken meat will be softened and juicier. This is a great way to protect your chicken from drying out. An added bonus is that moist and marinated chicken takes less time to cook.
Of course, your chicken gets flavorful after marinating. Since marinades contain numerous types of spices and herbs, you can mix and match them to make the flavor you like.
During the osmosis process, salt, spices, and acids (like vinegar or lemon juice) in the marinade can get through the meat tissues and remain there. As a result, the chicken will be well infused with these potent flavors.
Therefore, the marinade for chicken could make or break the dish since it is as important as your main ingredient, chicken meat. No one likes a bland or ill-suited marinade.
You can always alter the marinade to suit your taste. Some people who may prefer their food to be a bit salty will add more salt to their dish, while fans of spicy food will pick up more chili and pepper.
The general belief is that marinating meat could prevent increased harmful substances produced during the cooking process. As marinades consist of several ingredients with medical or antibacterial properties, marinades could act as barriers to protecting the meat.
For example, those spices originating from herbs and vegetables like chilis, pepper, and ginger prevent bacteria from reproducing. Some ingredients, like garlic, help cure cold fever and decrease bad cholesterol in your blood.
Discover the differences between marinating and other taste-enhancing processes here.
Compared with the necessary time to marinate steak, the average duration for chicken is longer, about 30 minutes to 6 hours. Some people let the chicken be marinated for longer as they believe the longer it is marinated, the better its taste will be.
However, this is a misguided belief. The ideal amount of time for soaking your chicken in the marinade will be around 30 minutes. In case you do not need to cook the chicken right after marination, it is advisable that chicken meat should be immersed within 6 hours only.
Chicken marinated for more than that will be spoiled since the acidity could break down the protein molecules. It will make your meat soggy and mushy, which is not good news for chicken.
|Chicken Parts||Duration Time|
|Tenderloins||30 minutes – 4 hours|
|Breast||30 minutes – 6 hours|
|Wings||2 hours – 24 hours|
|Drumsticks||30 minutes – 6 hours|
|Thighs||15 minutes – 6 hours|
The tenderloin is a small part of the chicken that is located below its breast. This part tends to be more moist and tender than chicken breast. Its taste is quite similar to that of chicken breast.
Tenderloin contains lean meat and a little fatty content that makes it taste so good when baked. The average duration for marinating chicken tenderloins is around 30 minutes to 4 hours.
People often mistake chicken breasts for chicken tenderloins, but they are completely different. The former is lean cuts on the front part of the chicken and tends to be dryer and harder than chicken thighs. It also tastes more delicate and milder.
These parts are challenging to cook as they are usually either overcooked or undercooked. Marinating chicken breasts will require about 30 minutes to 6 hours.
Like breasts, chicken wings are also considered white meat. They contain a large amount of vitamins A, vitamin B, proteins, etc. In addition, chicken wings are better-tasting than many other parts of the chicken.
Also, they have significant fat content, so these chicken parts are ideal for baking or frying. Bone-in chicken wings take approximately 2 hours to 24 hours until they get thoroughly marinated.
Drumsticks are the lower meaty parts of the chicken legs. Since these pieces have lots of muscles to support running, they are an excellent source of vitamins and protein.
These pieces are said to have a more robust and juicier flavor than chicken breast. You can marinate chicken drumsticks for around 30 minutes to 6 hours.
Thighs are the meaty upper part of the chicken legs. These pieces are rich in protein and fat. Their fat content comprises up to half of the chicken thighs.
These dark meat parts are juicier and tastier than chicken breasts. The average time spent marinating chicken thighs ranges from 15 minutes to 6 hours.
You can keep marinated chicken for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. The cool environment inside can slow down the proliferation rate of bacteria and germs. After 3 days, your chicken is no longer usable. So, remember to cook the chicken before your meat becomes a waste.
It is advisable that your marinated chicken is kept outside for only 4 hours. At room temperature, the bacteria become most active and reproduce quickly. However, if you want to have a mouth-watering dish, your best option should be 2 hours.
The average amount of time to marinate your chicken is 6 to 24 hours. If the marinating process takes more time than needed, the acidity in the marinade will gradually break down the meat fibers. This results in mushy-tasting chicken meat.
While brines can save chicken meat for later uses, marinating can not store your chicken for longer than two days. When marinated chicken goes terrible, there will be tell-tale signs.
Firstly, you should check out its appearance. If chicken has strange colors such as green or gray, you had better discard it immediately. These colors indicate your chicken is no longer usable.
Secondly, if the marinated chicken is spoiled, it will release a nasty smell that is distinctive from the chicken’s natural odor. Finally, when the chicken is rotten, its meat gets mushy. So, you can touch it to know if it is still edible.
Marinating chicken may not be an easy game for some people. You will consider many things, such as which chicken you should choose, how to cut your chicken, etc. But do not worry! I have already given you a detailed guide below to get you through this. So, keep following!
There are several hints that you should check out to buy high-quality chicken meat.
First of all, fresh chickens have a firm and nice yellow skin attached to their flesh. The firmer it gets, the more delicious it is.
Secondly, the color of chicken flesh is also a clear sign of its freshness. If the meat has a pinkish hue, the chicken is surely fresh and safe to eat.
Thirdly, thoroughly check out for bruises on the chicken. You should stay away from chicken meat with those unusual marks since they may be the breeding ground of bacteria. Or else, there is a high chance that you will get really sick.
Fourthly, you can check out the fat portion. Some chickens with high-fat content are still edible. However, a high-rated chicken will only contain an adequate amount of fat. Too much fat makes the chicken less healthy and flavorful to consume.
Finally, check out for its smell. Second-standardized chicken often has a weird odor or potent smell. This is distinguishable since the fresh chicken often has a very slight smell or none at all.
Sometimes, you will smell an egg-like odor from your chicken. There are plenty of reasons for this, but it does not necessarily mean that the chicken is spoiled.
Want to buy the best chicken meat? Check out useful facts you should know here.
If you buy chopped chicken pieces at the supermarket, skip this stage. However, if you buy a whole chicken, please follow the instructions below as I will show you how to cut the chicken into small parts.
Firstly, you need to pull out the chicken legs. To do this, you will find a space between the chicken legs and the breast, then make a little cut. Until you see the leg bone, use your hands to pop the legs out. The same technique goes for chicken wings.
Secondly, you will cut into the backbone by using chicken shears. The secret for chopping this part is to find and cut the fat lines. Since these lines connect chicken bones, removing them is more accessible than cutting right into the chicken bones.
Finally, chop them all into small pieces. I hope you will enjoy the process.
You will want to know for which types of marinade you are opting. There are three main types of marinades that you can choose. They are acidic, enzymatic, and oil-based marinades.
The acidic marinade includes vinegar, citrus juice, or tomatoes. Marinating your chicken in an acidic marinade would help tenderize your chicken and flavor your meat.
Furthermore, if you marinate chicken in lemon-lime juice, the chicken meat will be juicier and tastier. However, you should not soak chicken meat for too long. Otherwise, it will get mushy and mealy.
The enzymatic marinade usually comprises mango, kiwi fruit, papayas, etc. These fruits are full of enzymes that are pretty active in marinating chicken meat.
They will affect chicken meat by breaking down the collagen and penetrating through the surface. Like any acidic marinade, the enzymatic marinades make your chicken softer and more delicious to eat.
More commonly, papain and bromelain are the main substances that help tenderize your chicken (2). One reminder is that over-soaking your chicken in the enzymatic marinades is not recommended as the chicken meat will become harder to chew.
Oil-based marinades are preferable in most recipes. The principal ingredient for this type of marinade is oil (usually olive oil). Other components are herbs, spices, aromatics, and, sometimes, acidic ingredients.
Though the oil will remain on the chicken surface, it helps transfer water-soluble flavors to the meat. This softens chicken meat and retains as much moisture as possible.
Finally, after your chicken is soaked in the marinade, it’s time to store it in the refrigerator. You will place it in a glass container instead of a plastic or metal one. This makes your chicken meat safe to eat.
Then, moderate the temperature to 40ºF or lower. The chicken meat should be used up within two days of storing as chicken meat kept for more than 48 hours is inedible.
You can easily whip up your own chicken marinade at home with this guide.
The way you marinate your chicken will affect your chicken taste overall. If you marinate in the wrong way, your chicken will turn out dreadful. So please remember the ideas below when you soak your chicken meat into the marinade.
If you want your chicken to become moist and flavorful, poking chicken may be a great idea. Poking sounds a bit funny, but it is a rather effective method to tenderize your meat.
The marinating process will be easier when there are some holes in your chicken meat. Seasonings or water-soluble flavors can penetrate faster.
Too much salt or less salt than needed can affect your chicken’s flavors overall. This is because salt is the chief factor that ensures chicken meat absorbs the sauce.
The more salt you put in, the more intensive its taste gets. And you do not want your meat to be too salty or bland, do you?
3. Try Various Ingredients
Don’t stick to just a few popular options. You can try to use a wide range of ingredients in the marinade to make your chicken flavorful. If you only use lemon, salt, or oil, the chicken will be a bit bland.
Some ideas for marinating your meat are some herbs and other spices. You can add thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, onions, etc. These ingredients will make your dish stunning!
4. Never Reuse A Marinade
Using a marinade more than once is a really bad idea since your marinade may already get in contact with raw meat, which contains more germs and bacteria than you can imagine.
Reusing the marinade could lead to a higher proliferation rate of these germs and finally spoil both the chicken and the marinade quickly. In this case, reusing does more harm than good.
5. You Should Refrigerate Marinated Chicken
Refrigerating your chicken is a must. Raw chicken that is left at room temperature becomes ruined faster as the outside temperature will be a breeding ground for bacteria. Consequently, your meat can get spoiled within only 3 to 4 hours.
The refrigerator’s temperature will slow down certain activities of these organisms and keep your food fresh and healthy to eat for up to 48 hours.
Marinating your chicken evenly is the key to achieving the best flavor. One suggestion to accomplish this is to fully cover your chicken meat in the marinade so that every spot of chicken receives the same amount of marinade.
If your chicken gets marinated on a flat plate, you can flip the chicken several times to ensure both sides of the meat have a similar taste.
Marinade involves various ingredients in one process. But do you know what type of marinades best suit your chicken? If not, why don’t you choose some of the options below that I’m sure will complement your chicken nicely?
This is maybe one of the most simple marinades. All you will do is prepare a cup of oil, garlic, some slices of lemon, and minced pepper.
You can choose which type of oil you prefer, but I will recommend olive oil as always. The mixture would go really well with your chicken as it makes your chicken a lot savory.
Another perfect couple for your chicken is the mixture of coconut and curry. For this marinade, you would mix the two main ingredients, which are coconut milk and curry, with other spices like chilis, lemongrass, cumin, etc.
It takes a while before chicken meat gets marinated thoroughly. Your chicken pieces will taste kinda sweet and creamy once fully cooked.
This type of marinade is used in many foods, and of course, it is perfectly matched with your chicken. All you need to do is to boil dark soy sauce, honey, vinegar, and some other ingredients together for around 6 minutes.
Then you take it out and let it cover your chicken evenly. After the meat is cooked, it will have a savory and umami flavor.
Want to make a soy glaze marinade for your chicken? Check out here.
This kind of marinade is ubiquitous in Mexican recipes. Fajita is a good combination of onions, bell peppers, cumin, fresh tortilla, etc.
This marinade provides your chicken meat with spiciness and savoriness. I believe fajita is one of the favorite choices for people who want to refresh their taste.
The article has provided many details on the topic. But I am sure there will be lots of questions that you want to ask. So please continue to read and find out your answers in these sections below.
Marinating can be a challenge for some people since this process needs your attention as well as patience. How tasty your chicken is will depend on the way you use the marinade. Therefore, you should spend time practicing marinating to make your chicken more flavorful.
Also, remember the 6 important factors that heavily impact your chicken. Furthermore, marinating could be a more exciting experience if you try to mix and match the four best marinades I sent here. Good luck with that!
Finally, if you think the information on the topic is helpful. Please send the article to your friends and family who may deal with the challenge. They’d love to hear from you. And feel free to leave any comment behind to share your tips or, perhaps, your marinating experiences.
- futurelearn.com. 2019. What Is Osmosis?.
- tandonline.com. 2016. Plant And Bacteria Proteases: A Key Towards Improving Meat Tenderization, A Mini Review.
Table of Contents
- Why Should I Marinate Chicken?
- How Long Does It Take To Marinate Chicken?
- Follow Those Step-By-Step Instructions To Make Chicken Flavorful
- 6 Deciding Factors That Make Or Break Your Marinated Chicken
- 4 Best Marinades That Will Make Your Chicken Fantastic
- Go Wild With Marinated Chicken