Chicken in Marinades

One of the easiest things that I pull together for freezer cooking is chicken bagged in marinades. Not only is it quick to prepare for freezing, but it’s also a quick meal on the other side of thawing. Just hand the bag of thawed, marinating chicken to my husband to cook on the grill while I make a few sides dishes. And even some side dishes, like mashed potatoes and garlic bread, can be made ahead of time and frozen.

Last night I prepped six meals for the freezer this way. You’ll be amazed at how easy this is!

1. Prepare the marinades. Many marinades contain similar ingredients. This is where you save time. You’re pulling out all these items at one time and cleaning up once instead of six times.

Here are three of our favorite marinades, enough for about 6 chicken pieces:

I mix the marinades inside gallon size ziploc freezer bags. If you place the bags inside bowls that will help prevent spillage. Don’t forget to label the bags first, though. You don’t want to try to write on a full bag.

2. Trim the chicken. Trimming meats is not a pleasant job for me, but I don’t mind doing it if I can get a lot done at one time. I also cut the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into cutlets by slicing them horizontally through the middle. The portion is still enough for one person, but seems to stretch the meat a little farther.

3. Add chicken to marinades. Squeeze out as much air as possible and massage the box to distribute the marinade evenly. Lay flat to freeze. About a day or two before serving, pull the bag from the freezer and place on a tray or dish to thaw in the refrigerator.

Preparing marinated chicken for 6 dinners took me about an hour total, demonstrating how freezer cooking maximizes on your kitchen time. If I were prepping for one of these meals on any given night, I could easily have spent thirty minutes.

What could have been three hours was reduced to one by making double batches and preparing items with like ingredients.

You can prepare any of your favorite cuts of meat or chicken this way.

What’s your favorite marinade? I bet it freezes well.

Would you rather subscribe by RSS?
Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Great idea! I am definitely going to try this!

    Oh and is that a Pampered Chef forged cutlery knife on your picture with the cut up chicken or am I just seeing things?

  2. I love a Teriyaki marinade:

    3/4 c. (6 oz.) apple juice
    2 T. sugar
    2 T. soy sauce
    1 T. vinegar
    1 t. ground ginger
    1/4 t. garlic powder
    1/8 t. pepper
    2 T. canola oil


  3. Love this one…I’m all about marinades and chicken, especially! I have one marinade that is a die-hard…great with any sauce or adding the chicken to whatever meal. It’s really versatile! I’m posting it on my blog this weekend…I’ll add it to your Thursday meme!

  4. Some of our favorites are Apricot Mustard and Honey Lemon. Yum!

  5. Thank you – I am always looking for new ways to marinate meat! We usually use the “Southwest” packet made by McCormick, I think, or I do an Asian one with soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and ginger.

  6. I bet you could throw those in the crockpot for the day too (if grilling plans change).

  7. I love this – it looks great and I think I’ll try it! Thank you for the inspiration. Happy Friday!

  8. One question – I have TONS of frozen meat. I mean, an over the fridge freezer full of it, as well as a deep freeze full of it. Can I thaw some of those items, add the marinade, and then refreeze? I can’t seem to find info on this anywhere.

    • Heidi F says:

      @Andrea, Just my thoughts on using frozen meat…I buy the giant frozen bags of Tyson chicken breasts at Costco, mix up a marinade, dump 4-6 frozen chicken breasts in the ziplock w/ the marinade, and then place back in the freezer. When I’m planning to use the meal and defrosting 1-2 days ahead of time, the marinade then has time to soak into the meat as it slowly defrosts. It’s worked great for me. enjoy!

    • Heiss Haus says:

      @Andrea, Andrea, I haven’t tried it, but I like Heidi F’s reply. I wouldn’t thaw then refreeze meat, but her approach makes sense for your already frozen meat. After you work your way through all the frozen meat, then when you buy fresh again, you can follow the original instructions, or use Heidi’s approach for frozen meat.

    • i’m a little late to the party;-) but i know i have read that you should NOT refreeze defrosted meat. that said, maybe you can add marinade to a baggie, then open your package of frozen meat and transfer it to the baggie, and then put the frozen meat/marinade baggie right back in the freezer??? just an idea…

      • Actually, the USDA says you can refreeze defrosted meat as long as the food as been kept at proper temperatures. Doing so does effect the texture.

        The reason folks are warned NOT to do so is when their freezers have suffered a power failure. They might not know how long the meat has been thawed or how high temperature it has reached. In those instances it’s not safe to refreeze.

  9. Tuscan Lemon Chicken from Barefoot Contessa–
    1/3 cup good olive oil
    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
    1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
    big sprig of rosemary
    Freshly ground black pepper & salt
    two large boneless chix breasts

    We’ve also used this marinade on bone-in chix breasts but the flavor is more intense with boneless.

  10. I hate trimming the chicken too but it’s got to be done. I usually portion my boneless breasts into 6 oz. portions and then I take the rest and cut it into stir fry pieces. Usually in bags with a pound and 1/2 works for our family. Great tips, thanks!

  11. Stephanie says:

    I started doing this and mixes because of you and Money saving mom. Stave sme a ton of time I started out by just doing one extra meal when I was prepping the first one I liked the convience so much I have started doing a lot more ahead of time.

  12. My favorite marinade right now is a spicy mexican marinade with shrimp (though I am sure it would be great with chicken too). I am actually making it tonight and freezing a few portions while I am at it. It is posted on my blog Coping with Frugality (Camarones a la Diabla):

  13. Such a great idea – I’ll have to try this next time.

    Can’t wait to see your recipes for the chicken & pizza subs!

  14. Yum! I have saved these to my recipes folder and will be trying them. This is the kind of freezer meal my fish and broccoli loving family will eat with happy faces! :)

  15. nanasewn says:

    Can you help me understand fully. I tried this chicken idea and when removing from freezer to cook, the chicken was just mushy and I had to throw it out. Any insight here? Thank you

    and freezer cooking means different things to different people…some cook and freeze, some prepare and freeze raw, correct.

  16. I had gotten a good deal on the Kens Balsamic dressing, ($1 off coupon on the 8oz variety, came to .22) I dumped it in the bag with my chicken and some sprigs of rosemary and it was DELISH!!!! : )

  17. That dijon marinade looks great – and I love that it has so few ingredients! So simple.

  18. Debbie Fisher says:

    This is my favorite:
    1/4 cup soy sauce
    1/4 cup canola oil
    1/4 cup water
    2 TBSP lemon juice
    2 TBSP dried onion (I like to use green onion)
    1 TBSP parsley
    1/4 tsp ground ginger
    1/4 tsp pepper
    1/4 tsp garlic powder

    2 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

  19. I’ve tried your dijon marinade a few times…delish!

    However, a few weeks ago was the first time that I prepared it for freezing. When I thawed the chicken, the texture was strange… kind of mushy like nanasewn described in her comment. We cooked it anyway, but it just wasn’t the same. Any hints?


    • Jessica Fisher says:

      @Monica, did you make it exactly like the recipe? I’m not sure what would do that. And, I guess I didn’t understand nanasewn’s question before. I can’t think that I’ve ever had that happen — except when I use lemon juice…. which is why I don’t use lemon juice for freezer chicken, usu. In those cases the lemon juice marinated chicken is tough. What was the cooked texture of this chicken?

      • I want to try and marinating some chicken breasts. Love the receipes but I also have a question about some of the comments I read. About how a few people marinade the chicken, freezes it and when its thawed, the chicken is all mushy. I don’t want that to happen. So how can I avoid that, to be on a safe side?! Do I still marinade it using lemon or lime juice or no?

        • Jessica Fisher says:

          I’ve not ever had a problem with mushy chicken. I’m honestly not sure why they are having trouble. It may depend on the chicken and if it were previously frozen.

  20. I did a mini-freezer cooking day and made the marinades. All of them were a huge hit…but my husband and I LOVED the dijon the most. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Jenn Papale says:

    Jess – This is genious! I’ll try yours and then test my favorite marinades the next month. Thanks for the great ideas…as always!

  22. I’ve been trying to remember where i got these marinade recipes from. I have tried them, and I really like the dijon one.

  23. Stephanie says:

    A little late to the party… but any meal I can hand off to hubby to cook is a winner! I got a great deal on fresh boneless skinless and will be trying these tomorrow!

  24. What would be another way to cook these up after marinating that doesn’t involve a grill?

    • Jessica Fisher says:

      You can cook them in the broiler or in a skillet. Just be sure not to overcook by either method.

  25. what kind of oil do you mean when you say oil? thanks!


  1. [...] Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled, Marinated Chicken – The chicken and marinade are in the freezer. I’ll chop veggies for the salad, boil noodles, [...]

  2. [...] 1 dinner Stuffed Chicken Breasts* 2 dinners Chicken and Bacon Subs* 2 dinners Pizza Subs* 6 dinners Marinated Chicken 3 dinners Pizza Kits 24 Burritos/Chimichangas 10 cups Red Sauce 2 dinners Shredded [...]

  3. [...] here. You can freeze it raw to cook in a dish or grill later. You can add a marinade (here are some great chicken ones) and then freeze. You can cook the meat (see 4 and 5) and then freeze it in meal sized [...]

  4. [...] Ziptop Bags are great for marinating meats, baked goods, and other items that hold their own shape. You can put soups, stews, or beans in [...]

  5. [...] Use Easy Chicken Marinades for flavorful dishes. [...]

  6. [...] Grilled Dijon Chicken, Couscous Salad, Green Salad, and Pita Bread – The chicken and marinade are [...]

  7. [...] Grilled, Marinated Chicken* Salsa Verde Beef* Chihuahua [...]

  8. [...] Marinated Chicken – a must have for grilling season [...]

  9. [...] Batch Grilling at 5 Dollar Dinners:: This is a concept that I heartily buy into. In fact, I’ll often have My Sweetie pick up a big pack of chicken breasts at BJs and then grill them all on the weekend. Sometimes I’ll use my favorite marinade. Other times I’ll just salt and pepper them. FishMama has some yummy looking marinades too. [...]

  10. [...] Dishes: Chili Burritos Hamburgers Taco Meat Marinated Chicken Breast/Tenders Pizza [...]

  11. [...] Spicy Southwest Fish, Rice, Sauteed [...]

  12. [...] tortillas, preferably homemade 1 batch grilled Spicy Southwest Chicken shredded lettuce pico de [...]

  13. [...] Grilled Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf, Grilled Veggies, Squash [...]

  14. [...] a great sale on chicken breast. Stock up! Once you get home, mix up a few marinades, divide chicken into meal size ziptop bags, add the marinades. Seal, label, and freeze. The chicken [...]

  15. [...] Marinated Chicken Breast Stuffed Chicken Breast Meatballs Meatloaf Taco Meat Cranberry Pork Chops Stuffing and [...]

  16. [...] week we had a very simple dinner of marinated chicken tenders. The marinade featured Asian flavors, so while my husband grilled the chicken, I steamed brown rice [...]

  17. [...] Grilled Chicken, Rice Pilaf, Vegetables – Chicken is marinated and frozen; Rice Pilaf is easy. Veggies will depend on what’s available. [...]

  18. [...] chicken fajitas chicken parmesan crunchy tacos fried chicken salad grilled cheese sandwiches grilled chicken grilled chicken caesar salad grilled sausage/hotdogs ground beef burritos hamburgers lasagna lemon [...]

  19. [...] Make the marinades, but don’t thaw the chicken. Simply place the frozen chicken in the bags of marinades and return it immediately to the freezer. The chicken will marinate as it thaws. [...]

  20. [...] Making my own marinades has been something I’ve been doing for years. I get to customize them with my own ingredients and save money since spices, vinegars, and oils cost so much less than the bottled marinades and sauces. Sure, you can get some of those items inexpensively by combining sales and coupons, but quite honestly, homemade tastes so much better! [...]

  21. [...] Grilled chicken ($1.88/pound on sale) [...]

  22. [...] I like to keep a bag or two of Asian Chicken in the freezer, it’s pretty easy to pull together some rendition of this salad. Mixing up a [...]

  23. [...] up with. Sauteed quickly with oil and some soy sauce, seasoned with pepper, and served with grilled Mustard Chicken, this was a fabulous, nutritious dinner. The spicy chicken was a perfect [...]

  24. [...] Asian Chicken*, Potstickers and Sauce, Rice, Stirfry [...]

  25. [...] Grilled Asian Chicken, Rice, Sauteed [...]

  26. [...] Grilled Asian Chicken, Rice, Sauteed [...]

  27. [...] Grilled Mustard Chicken, Lemon Roasted Potatoes, [...]

  28. [...] Grilled Chicken, Rice Pilaf, [...]

  29. [...] Grilled Chicken, Quinoa Pilaf, Salad, Homemade [...]

  30. [...] 19. Grilled Chicken, Cheesy Potatoes, Salad [...]

  31. [...] whole chickens (or turkey!) to shred and freeze for later meals. Having this pre-cooked, frozen chicken is important because makes it easier to toss into tacos, onto homemade nachos, or in any pasta [...]

  32. [...] Grilled Chicken, Salad, Rice for the Fam [...]

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts