This Mexican Chicken Marinade is made with a blend of olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chili powder and handful of flavorful herbs and spices that result in juicy and tender marinated chicken every time! Perfect for grilling, baking, broiling and sauteeing on the stovetop. Use with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, drumsticks and any cut of chicken you have.
Liven up your dinner tonight with this delicious Mexican chicken marinade recipe!
Made with easy-to-find ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen, this marinade comes together in only 5 minutes and makes for the most flavorful chicken ever. I love using this to make easy chicken tacos, serve with authentic Mexican rice or as the filling in chicken taquitos.
It can be used with any cut of chicken you have – breasts, thighs, drumsticks, wings and quarters. It can also be used with bone-in skin-on or boneless skinless chicken. Whichever type you prefer, this marinade works to create moist and irresistable chicken the whole family will love.
Ingredients in Mexican Chicken Marinade
- olive oil
- lime juice
- chili powder + ancho chili powder (you can use all regular chili powder if you don’t have ancho)
- ground cumin
- dried oregano (Mexican oregano preferred)
- coarse kosher salt
- smoked paprika
To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag or whisk together in a large bowl. Make sure to toss everything together so that all the spices and herbs are evenly distributed and dissolve as much as possible.
Then add the chicken and mix it together to make sure it’s coated with the marinade. Cover and seal the bowl or bag and marinate in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
How long to marinate Mexican chicken
I recommend marinating the chicken for at least 2 hours. This helps to tenderize the poultry to ensure maximum juiciness as well as absorb some of those flavors in the marinade.
The maximum I recommend marinating is 8 hours. If you leave the chicken in longer than that, the acidity of the lime juice can start to mess with the texture of the meat and make it a little mealy.
If you’re super duper short on time, a short marinating time like 30 minutes is okay. In these cases, I like to use chicken pieces that aren’t very thick so that the marinade has a better chance of tenderizing and flavoring the meat. Boneless skinless chicken thighs are great for this because they’re fairly thin slices and are full of dark meat that’s naturally juicer than white meat. If you want to use white meat, smaller cuts like chicken tenders are great as well as chicken breasts that have been split in half so they aren’t so thick.
You can also prepare everything ahead of time if you like! To do so, place the chicken and marinade in a freezer-safe zip top bag and store it in the freezer until ready to use. The night before you’re ready to eat it, defrost it in the fridge overnight and cook it for lunch or dinner the following day.
More Mexican recipes to try
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 3-4 pounds chicken breasts, thighs, or any cut you prefer
- In a large resealable plastic bag (or a large mixing bowl), add all the ingredients and toss to combine.
- Add the chicken (I used 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts) and toss with marinade to coat.
- Seal bag or cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 to 8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill or cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.