Chicken in Marinades

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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,Β 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!

Chicken in Marinades

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.

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.

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Chicken in Marinades

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.

Chicken in Marinades

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.

Chicken in Marinades

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.

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

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

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

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  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!

    • Teresa says

      Can you post a link here? Those of us coming to this late have no idea how to find you!

  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. Sarah says

    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. Andrea says

    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.

    • Laurie Knodl says

      Once you thaw you meat it MUST be cooked first then you can refreeze.

      • That is not true if the meat has been thawed under refrigeration. Please see this statement from the USDA.

        If the meat thawed under less than best conditions, such as during a power failure, then it must be cooked before refreezing.

  9. karen says

    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!

    • Madeline Scrogin says

      I’ve never thought of this portioning idea. It is a great idea! I’ve been in the kitchen and loving cooking for my friends and family for so long that when I go on these blogs I usually never learn or read anything new or that I haven’t been doing for years.
      Your idea is definitely a take away idea and I love it. In fact I have several pounds of chicken breasts on my counter right now just waiting to be newly portioned! Thanks again, madeline

  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. Tracy says

    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! πŸ™‚

  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. Jenn says

    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. Monica says

    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?

      • sally says

        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.

          • Sometimes when you buy chicken at the store it has already been frozen and defrosted. So when you refreeze and then thaw/cook, it will have a strange texture. I’ve had this happen when I bought at Costco before. So maybe that is what is happening.

        • Carmon says

          Meat will get mushy in a marinade that has too much vinegar or acidic juices (lemon, lime, etc). It depends on how fast your freezer freezes the meat before the acid has time to “cook” the chicken. If you are having this issue then write on the bag (add lemon/lime/vinegar upon thawing) and that should be fine. You can open the bag while frozen, add the acid, then thaw it. This won’t allow any chemical cooking of the chicken before it’s time. Hope this helps! And I LOVE all of your recipes Ms. Jessica! Keep em coming!

        • Shelley says

          I would suggest making the marinade at the time you thaw the chicken -OR- freeze the marinade in a separate ziplock bag. Then when you take chicken out of the freezer, put it on the chicken as it thaws.

  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. Amanda says

    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!

  26. Karen Fogarty says

    Our favorite marinade is to use bottled, inexpensive Italian dressing. Quick, easy and the whole family loves it!

  27. I do this all the time too, but I tend to make make of a rub than a marinade – dried seasonings with just enough oil to moisten the spices – maybe a teaspoon or so. I also trim and slice horizontally, and use the tenders as stir fry strip like someone else mentioned. The thin chicken filets thaw in the fridge while we’re at work, I stop and get a vegetable on my way home, and I can have dinner done in literally, about 15 minutes…

  28. Cathy S. says

    I recently purchased chicken breasts in bulk at a great price. I have always been under the impression that I could not use those in freezer meals as the meat can’t really be thawed and then refrozen. I suppose that I could just half-thaw and then add marinade?? Then refreeze? Any advice? Thank you.

    • Technically, you can refreeze chicken once it’s thawed. It’s a question of it staying at safe temperatures. Folks are given the advice NOT to refreeze thawed meat in case of an accidental thawing of the freezer when you don’t know if the meat got too hot. I plan to use frozen chicken pieces in my next cooking plan. I’ll just put them in a bag, add the marinade, and take it all back to the freezer. The marinating really happens as it thaws before serving anyway.

      • Cathy S. says

        Thanks so much for the quick reply! Looking forward to using some of your recipes.

  29. Sarah says

    My husband hates cilantro. Could you do the spicy sw chick without it?

  30. Harvey Martis says

    Hi. What if I get frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts from a super market, I will have to thaw that first, then marinate it and again freeze it. On the pack of the frozen chicken it says DO NOT RE-FREEZE.

    What’s the best option in this case?

    • If you’re buying the frozen chicken in the bag where they are individually frozen, you can simply put the frozen chicken pieces in the bag of marinade and place it back in the freezer. If your chicken is in one big frozen block of pieces stuck together, you can freeze the marinade separately and just combine them once thawed or just make the marinade when you thaw the chicken and let it marinate then. You can also thaw, marinade, cook, cool, and freeze the cooked chicken. Lots of options, it just depends on how you buy your chicken.

  31. Jen Lamping says

    Just a quick observation – when I clicked on the “Print this recipe” link for the Marinates – all of the links (including the salsa verde and Dijon) bring up the Asian marinate…thought you’d want to know πŸ™‚

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