Can You Cook Chicken in Marinade? Can You Bake Chicken in Marinade? 

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Can you cook chicken in marinade? The answer to this really depends on how you cook it! There are many factors you’ll want to consider before cooking your chicken in its marinade.

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Some of those factors may surprise you.

From the ingredients in the marinade to the type of chicken you use, how you utilize a marinade can make a big difference in how your meal turns out. In fact, using a marinade the improper way may even have dangerous outcomes! Eager to learn more? Be sure to stick around. We’re getting started right now!

Table of Contents

Can You Cook Chicken In Marinade? Can You Bake Chicken In Marinade? 

Can You Cook Chicken in Its Marinade?

Can You Cook Chicken in Marinade?

Yes, you can technically cook chicken in its marinade. But you’ll want to know how doing so may affect your meal. 

A marinade is usually a concoction of acid (typically vinegar or lemon juice), oil (often olive oil), and a collection of spices and herbs to make the sauce flavorful. Meat is then usually drenched with this sauce, covered, and placed either in the refrigerator or at room temperature (depending on the amount of marinating time needed) to soak up the flavor of much of the sauce, and to tenderize the meat.

The marinade is usually then discarded (but not always—stay tuned for more information on how to consume your leftover marinade safely) and the meat is then cooked. 

The purpose of a marinade is to impart flavor and moisture to your meat to prepare it for cooking. Just like boiling chicken before frying, marinating helps make chicken taste better. The acids within the marinade also work to tenderize the meat. If the marinade contains sugar, honey, or pure maple syrup you can expect your meat to develop a crispy crunch when fried, seared, or grilled.

All of this leads to perfectly cooked meat that is flavorful, juicy, and tender, which is much of the reason why marinades are so popular all over the world.

Having said that, cooking a chicken directly in its marinade may pose a few issues.

By cooking your chicken with your marinade instead of discarding the marinade afterward, you run the risk of changing the texture of your meat and the overall outcome of the dish. Not only will the taste of the meat be more potent when cooked in a marinade, but it also may become more mushy or soggy due to the excess liquid. This may negate any satisfying crunch you expected from your chicken and change the overall texture of the dish. 

Note: Be sure not to use your marinade as a pour-over sauce after your chicken has cooked without following the proper protocol. We will detail how to properly convert your marinade into a pour-over sauce later in this post. But for now, we want you to know that using an uncooked marinade as a pour-over puts you and anyone consuming the dish at risk for contraction of Salmonella, E.coli, and other serious illnesses.

Can You Cook Chicken in Marinade? Can You Bake Chicken in Marinade? 

How Long Can You Marinate Chicken?

How Long Can Chicken Marinate?

Now that you know what a marinade is and its purpose, it is now time to talk about the length of time that you should marinate your chicken.

Marinating chicken can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes up to 12 hours. 

To most home cooks, it may seem that marinating your chicken for a long amount of time would be the best way to achieve full flavor. While this can be true in many instances, the fact of the matter is that marinating a piece of meat in a marinade for too long can render the meat mushy. 

Remember that one of the marinade’s purposes is to moisturize and tenderize the meat. By default, leaving chicken within an acidic and oily marinade for too long will break down the fibers of the meat, causing it to lose its familiar structure and satisfying texture to become mushy and unappetizing once cooked. 

marinated grilled chicken

To prevent this from happening, you’ll want to avoid leaving your meat in a marinade for long periods of time. The maximum amount of hours to leave your chicken in a marinade is 12 hours, but for some pieces of meat, even that long isn’t necessary. 

White meat, such as chicken breasts, won’t take as long to absorb flavors, especially if the cut of meat is boneless. Darker meats, however, can take more of a beating and will respond well to longer marinade times. But again, try not to exceed 12 hours.

Still, some people find it easier to place a chicken within a marinade the night before and cook the chicken when they wake up. This would equate to a little over 8-9 hours which is the perfect amount of time to marinate chicken. 

The other option? Leave your chicken in a marinade for 15-30 minutes at room temperature. It may not seem like your marinade would infuse the meat in this short amount of time. But when you are in a pinch and need to cook your chicken quick, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your marinade was able to elevate the flavor and texture of your meat, even in that short amount of time. 

marinated meat skewers

Can You Marinade Chicken For Too Long?

Remember that despite what many may believe about marinades, it is very possible to marinate your chicken too long.

Whatever you do, do not allow your chicken to sit in a marinade for two or more days. Doing so will destroy the fibers in the meat and yield a dish that is unappetizing. 

Can You Use Marinade as Sauce?

Turning a marinade into a sauce isn’t hard. But it does take knowledge and know-how to get the job done.

Inexperienced cooks may think it’s okay to simply use a marinade as a pour-over sauce, and indeed you can if there was no raw chicken in it. 

(Speaking of raw meat, learn how to store raw chicken on our blog.)

How to Turn Marinade Into Sauce

Turning Marinade Into Sauce

To turn your marinade into a sauce, simply divide your marinade in half. Place your chicken in half of the marinade. The rest of the uncontaminated marinade, put in a separate bowl to be used later.

Just be sure to double the amount of marinade your chicken needs when using this method. This way, you aren’t deducting flavor from your chicken by reducing the amount of marinade you use to soak it in.

If, however, you don’t reserve some uncontaminated marinade ahead of time, you may also use the marinade your chicken soaked in. But be careful. Marinades that contain raw meat will contain harmful bacteria that will need to be cooked off first. 

Lemon Chicken

To cook off harmful bacteria, you’ll need to bring your raw meat marinade to a boil. Sustain this boil for at least five minutes to avoid making yourself and any of your dinner guests sick.

As you are boiling your marinade, be sure to keep your eye on it, stirring as you go. This is due to marinades, especially those with sugars in them, burning quickly. 

You’ll also want to note that marinades often thicken when boiled. This can be perfect when using them as a sauce after having cooked the meat.

If, however, you would prefer your marinade to be on the thin side, you will want to follow the instructions for reserving uncontaminated marinade in the beginning. Or you may add a splash of chicken or vegetable broth to your cooked marinade to thin it out.

What to Do With Leftover Marinade

If you’ve got leftover marinade, it may be a good idea to save it.

We recommend that you do this once you’ve boiled out the bacteria, so you or someone else isn’t using a marinade that is already contaminated.

Once boiled, allow the marinade to cool. Store it in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.

If you want to freeze your marinade, you can boil the marinade. Allow it to cool, and then place the marinade in a freezer bag. Lay flat in your freezer until you are ready to use it. 

skinless marinated chicken kebab

Can You Reuse Marinade?

Remember, you can reuse marinade but only if the marinade has the germs cooked off of it. Strive to only thaw your marinades in the fridge if able. This has proven to be the safest way to prevent bacteria from multiplying while thawing.

Know that with every thaw and refreeze, the risks of multiplying bacteria increase. Especially if you choose to thaw your marinade at room temperature. Therefore, you must be careful what thawing methods you choose.

You may need to consider splitting your marinade into a few individual bags. This way, you are only thawing the amount of marinade you actually need without needing to refreeze it. 

Can you Freeze Chicken in a Marinade?

In case you’re wondering, it is possible to freeze your chicken in its marinade.

To do so, simply douse your chicken in marinade and place it in the freezer.

Because the marinade and the chicken are frozen, it won’t break down the meat like it would if it were thawed. 

Once ready to eat, simply unthaw your chicken using safe thawing methods as always, and cook it up. No need for extra marinating time. 

Your taste buds will thank you!

grilled marinated chicken meat on gray metal grill

Can You Cook Chicken in Marinade? Yes, But…

Yes, you can cook chicken in its marinade, but you’ll want to be careful when doing so.

Depending on your cooking methods, searing, grilling, or frying chicken in its marinade could turn disastrous. It could affect the ability of your meat to develop a crispy crunch.

In addition, cooking chicken in its marinade may also cause the chicken to be more potent than you intended. It may turn out to be unappetizing because of this. 

Avoid an oddly textured and potent tasting chicken. We recommend you simply marinate your chicken for 15 minutes to 12 hours. Then finally discard your marinade. Or cook your marinade and use it as a pour-over. 

Remember never to pour over marinade that hasn’t first been boiled. This is so as to kill the bacteria in the marinade from the raw meat that was in it.

We hope this helps! See you next time! 

FAQs On Cooking Chicken In Marinade

Is it OK to bake chicken in the marinade?

While we wouldn’t recommend searing, grilling, or frying your chicken in its marinade, it is usually a good idea to bake your chicken in its marinade. Why? Because baked chicken is often known for its juicy, rich, and roasted flavor. By cooking your chicken in a marinade you not only impart flavor but also moisture as your chicken gently heats in the oven. As your chicken cooks, so will the marinade it is sitting in making for an easy and safe way to enjoy juicy and flavorful chicken.

Can you cook meat with the marinade?

You can cook meat with the marinade, but, depending on the recipe and desired outcome, you may not like the result. We would not recommend cooking your chicken in a marinade if you are searing, grilling, or frying your meat, as this may render your meat soggy rather than crispy and crunchy.

Do you drain marinade before cooking chicken?

Yes, you should drain marinade before cooking chicken. Once drained, you can reserve the leftover marinade to be boiled in a separate pot for at least 5 minutes at sustained heat to cook off any bacteria before drizzling it over your cooked meat. Remember that marinade boiled this way will usually become thicker, which in many cases, is a very good thing as this helps the newfound “sauce” to cling to your meat and veggies better.

Is it safe to cook used marinade?

A used marinade can be utilized. Assuming that the marinade has reached temperatures of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. To be sure, simply cook your marinade until it has reached a boil. Sustain it there, watching it carefully as you stir to prevent burning, for 5 minutes to ensure the destruction of bacteria and pathogens. 

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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