How Do You Make Your Own Marinade?

Have you ever had chicken that is extra chewy? We’re talking cut it with a steak knife and then chew it about 20 times before giving up and swallowing the darn piece whole. It’s the absolute worst! That why I cannot emphasize enough the marinade for the perfect chicken! The perfect marinade is probably one of the most important steps in making tender chicken. Stay tuned!

Chicken is one of those item’s that I only purchase if it is on sale.  I love shopping sales–shoe sales, grocery sales, clothing sales; you name it. In fact, I usually plan my recipes around what’s on sale. Since I don’t have much kitchen space to stock up on things when they are on sale, I usually just purchase what is needed.

There’s two things in life that I will stock up on if a sale comes around, however:

#1 : Beauty Brands LITER sale (it’s like Christmas in June!)

#2: Cheap chicken breast

I hit the jackpot on chicken breast the other weekend.  It went on sale for $1.78! That’s CHEAP! I couldn’t resist. 15 pounds of chicken later and I had a full freezer!

So, How do you make your own marinade?

If you are looking for the secret to a tender piece of chicken, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve actually created a perfect formula of ingredients (Don’t worry, it doesn’t require any math!)  First things first though, we must talk about storage of chicken. This is especially important if you buy chicken in bulk and plan to freeze it prior to using. Chicken can sometimes be difficult to store, because if frozen, since it must be defrosted.

Here’s a no-fail method of storing chicken:

  1. Cut chicken into even size pieces.
  2. Pound chicken with meat tenderizer to an even thickness.
  3. Place 3 -4 small sized pieces of chicken in gallon-freezer zip lock bag (it’s important not to over pack the bag, as this will increase the time it takes to defrost).
  4.  Fill the bag with marinade. Squeeze out all air and Ziplock shut.
  5. Place inside another ziplock bag to prevent any freezer burn.
  6. Store for up to 6 months.
  7. Defrost by placing in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

Storing chicken in this method will prevent freezer burn and quality loss that is often associated when chicken is frozen. This is a prefect way to store large quantities of purchased at once. Cutting the meat into even sized pieces is especially important for defrosting, so that you are not left with one piece of meat that is frozen solid, while another piece is completely thawed.


The marinade also helps to really tenderize the chicken. I often run into the problem of either forgetting to purchase a marinade at the store, or not having time to make an extravagant marinade.
This marinade recipe listed below is one of my favorites. It’s seriously the best:

  • It uses all common household spices
  • It doesn’t have a lot of the unnatural, additives that some of the pre-made marinades have (think SODIUM)
  • The flavor soaks into the chicken and I can taste it even after cooking it.
  • The cooked product is great alone, or paired with a salsa and cheese!
  • I paired it with a southwest quinoa salad, which made for a super delicous combination (See recipe ***HERE)

How do you make your own marinade? 

It’s all about the secret formula:

3 parts oil + 1 part acid + spices

That it!

Oil examples: olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, etc…
Acid: vinegar, soda, beer, yogurt, citrus juice
Spices: Anything dried or fresh spice that you desire! Garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, cumin, cilantro, etc…

Here’s my absolute favorite marinade recipe: I made this recipe the other day with intentions to have my husband grill it, however it was pouring down rain! So, I deiced to cook inside on the stove. I used this pan which gave the chicken the effect of being grilled. This chicken recipe is super versatile and  can be paired with almost anything–refried beans, Mexican rice, black beans. I choose to serve it with my Southwest Quinoa salad, and it was the perfect compliment. You can view that recipe by clicking HERE.

Check out more recipes on my Facebook!




Yields 3 chicken breast

Southwest Marinated Chicken

Follow this recipe for a perfectly tender chicken! This recipe has just the right combination of spices and oils to make for a tasty chicken! This is great served with beans, rice or a southwest quinoa chicken salad.

10 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

55 minTotal Time

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Recipe Image


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 Tsp. Cumin
  • 2 Tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 small chicken breasts (~ 1 pound)


  1. Combine olive oil, spices and vinegar in bowl.
  2. Place chicken in bowl and mix until covered completly with marinade.
  3. Let sit 20-25 minutes before cooking.
  4. Cook chicken on grill until cooked and reaches internal temperature of 165. (Measured by meat thermometer).


gluten free
dairy free
egg free
wheat free
peanut free
seafood free
treenut free
sesame free
mustard free



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