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Pascal Motafferi

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Delicious BBQ Chicken breast marinades

Delicious BBQ Chicken breast

Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy midweek meal or you’re having people over and want something easy to pull off but with a nice twist to it, it’s hard to bet against chicken. Chicken is like the Switzerland of all proteins, everybody loves it. It’s inexpensive, easy to cook and it will even please your friend who’s on a diet. The only downside to it though is that it’s not as naturally flavorful as other meats. However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t become very tasty; all it needs is a little love.

There are dozens of ways to cook chicken and it adds up as you break it down per cut of meat. Truly, from wingtips to thighs, there are lots of delicious sections that can be cooked and the plausible recipes options multiply even more if we take into consideration the chicken’s skin (do we keep it or remove it) and the cooking method (do we roast it, slow cook it or else). One thing that never fails to impress, however, is a perfectly cooked chicken breast.

Being infamously known for its ability to dry in no time, let me start off by saying that this aspect is not the chicken’s fault, but the pitmaster’s more times than others. When cooked the right way, using indirect heat, it’s fairly easy to get a juicy breast straight from the BBQ and I’ve got just the marinade recipe that you need to accomplish that!


Chicken and marinades: a match made in heaven

When it comes to adding moisture and flavor to a chicken breast, marinades can work wonders. Indeed, the great thing about them is that they can do a bunch of different things all at once and make your life a whole lot easier. On the flipside, you have to be careful when marinating a chicken, as it may start to “chemically cook” if you leave it in the marinade for too long (this would result in a very chewy chicken breast, which is the opposite of what you want). I recommend leaving it in the marinade for a minimum of 60 minutes to a maximum of 8 hours to avoid this.

Personally, I will often go for salty or acidic marinades with chicken breast as this will help tenderize the meat and start breaking down the protein before I even throw it on the grill.


Dry rubs versus wet marinades

You might be thinking “Well, what about dry rubs?” Despite being a big dry rub consumer, I will opt for wet marinades for my chicken breast more times than others.

Why? Because dry rubs will be great for building crust and flavor, but they don’t seep in the meat as much as wet marinades would. This means they will, in turn, not be able to tenderize as much as a marinade would. 

Pro tip: If you have a vacuum sealer at home, use it to marinade your chicken breast. The pressure drop will help open up the pores in the chicken breast, allowing deeper penetration. It’s how grocery stores and butcher shops manage to get such tasty breasts.

I can often turn just about any dry rub such as the House of BBQ Experts’ Argentia or California spice mix and rub into a marinade by adding 1/3 – 1/2 cup of oil and a bit of vinegar. Not going to lie, I really enjoy the Oakridge Secret Weapon dry rub as a base for my marinades. Whenever I have time though, I will work my magic and put together my own quick marinade (see the recipe below).


Delicious homemade BBQ chicken marinade

As I mentioned before, I prefer my marinades to be on the savory side rather than the sweet side (sweet marinades will often prove to be a problem on the BBQ as commercial grade sugars tend to burn at a fairly low temperature).

So if you’re like me and want to try your hand at a delicious recipe, here’s how I make my perfect chicken breast marinade:


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped 
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale

Cooking method:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk all of the ingredients.
  2. Place your chicken in the bowl and let it marinate overnight.
  3. The next day, cook the chicken on the BBQ and enjoy it!

This marinade will give you a bright red marinade with a bold zesty flavor. Of course, you can always replace the cilantro for more parsley if you prefer, but I feel like this marinade is well balanced and has just enough sweetness to it while staying on the savory side.

Good barbecue doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, the easier the better and this marinade is sure to become one of your most requested crowd-pleasers.


Bon appétit!