Mexican Chicken Marinade
This Mexican chicken marinade produces the most tender, juicy and flavorful chicken! It is so quick and easy to make. Use the chicken for tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, nachos, and salads. This restaurant style chicken is a little spicy, incredibly flavorful and always a big hit!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This Mexican chicken marinade is quick and easy.
- Everything is made in one bowl or ziplock bag.
- This recipe is easy to scale. Feel free to double or triple it.
- This chicken is great for grilling, pan searing, roasting or slow cooking.
- The marinade really tenderizes the meat.
- It adds so much flavor to chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
- This is a great recipe to make ahead of time. Feel free to marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours.
- This recipe is Whole30 compliant, Keto, Paleo, low carb, gluten free, dairy free, nut free, sugar free, and low carb.
- Suitable for many diets and lifestyles.
- Check out this Chicken Taco Seasoning for another way to add flavor to chicken.
Ingredients & Substitutions
These are the main ingredients and substitutions for Mexican chicken marinade. Scroll down to the recipe card for full ingredients list and instructions.
Olive oil adds moisture and tenderness to the chicken. This is vital to achieving the perfect texture. Feel free to use avocado oil if needed.
Lime juice is acidic. Acid helps tenderize the chicken through breaking down the proteins and fats. Lime juice makes the chicken more tender and provides a great citrusy flavor.
Minced garlic adds a great garlicky flavor. Use freshly minced garlic for best taste. If needed, substitute with garlic powder.
Cumin adds a classic taco flavor.
Both chili powder and paprika add spice. For a more mild flavor, feel free to reduce these amounts. For a more spicy flavor, increase these.
Oregano adds a nice balance of flavor to this marinade.
Onion powder also adds a great flavor.
Fresh cilantro adds freshness, color and taste to this recipe. Chop it into small pieces.
Sea salt helps break down the chicken protein too. This really aids in tenderizing the meat.
Lastly, use chicken breasts or chicken thighs. If using frozen, thaw beforehand. This recipe may also work well with chicken wings.
Taste & Texture
This Mexican chicken marinade is a little spicy with bold flavors. It tastes just like chicken from a Mexican restaurant! It is fresh, citrusy, and delicious.
The marinade is smooth and liquid. The chicken comes out tender, moist and juicy.
Ways to Use Chicken
This marinade for Mexican chicken is versatile. Here are some ways to use chicken in different Mexican recipes.
Use the chicken in tacos. It is great grilled or slow cooked.
Add this chicken on top of salads. It is delicious on top of a Taco Salad!
Use this chicken in enchiladas. It pairs well with rice and beans.
Great for chicken fajitas!
This Mexican chicken marinade goes well inside burritos and chimichangas.
Use this chicken on top of tortilla chips for nachos.
Cook this chicken in a slow cooker or Instant Pot to make pulled chicken. Then add to any recipe!
Add some leftovers to these Cheese Quesadillas.
Use this chicken for chicken tortilla soup.
This chicken is delicious in casseroles and tostadas.
Add this chicken to the top of Mexican pizzas.
How to Make
First, add chicken to a large bowl or plastic bag. Add in all marinade ingredients. Stir to coat chicken completely.
Zip bag fully shut or cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 24 hours.
When ready to make chicken, remove from fridge. Preheat grill, oven or stovetop. Discard excess marinade liquid.
Cook chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on size of chicken, more or less cooking time may be needed.
Expert Tips & Tricks
This recipe is forgivable. Feel free to adjust amounts of spices and seasonings to suit your taste.
Marinate chicken for at least 1 hour. If time permits, marinate for up to 24 hours.
Do not marinate for more than 24 hours.
Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperature of chicken. Chicken must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Flavor Variations & Add Ins
Here are some ways to switch up the flavor of this Mexican chicken marinade.
Add in a squeeze of orange juice or grapefruit juice. This adds fresh citrus flavor.
Feel free to add in more chili powder or paprika. This makes it more spicy.
Use this marinade for beef or pork.
For a very spicy flavor, add some chopped jalapeños to the marinade.
For sweeter, add a drop of honey or agave syrup.
How to Serve & Store
Serve this Mexican marinade chicken once cooked or grilled.
It pairs well with many dishes. For sides, serve with rice, beans, salad or vegetables.
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
This chicken freezes well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour. For best results, marinate for 24 hours.
This marinade is not overly spicy. It is not mild, but rather medium. Feel free to add in some chopped jalapeños, extra paprika or chili powder for more spice.
Use a large glass bowl or Ziplock bag. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Yes! This Mexican chicken marinade is great grilled.
Yes. Do not marinate for longer than 24 hours. At that point, the chicken will start to lose its texture.
Pyrex 3 Glass Mixing Bowls: These mixing bowls are heavy duty. Great for making this marinade and storing the chicken.
Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups: These measuring cups are great for cooking and baking.
Staub Baking Dishes: If baking this chicken, these dishes are great.
Meat Thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of chicken. Chicken must be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat.
You May Also Like
If you make this Mexican chicken marinade recipe, I would really appreciate a review! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Join my exclusive Facebook Group for a behind the scenes look. I would love for you to follow along! For more ideas, see these Lunch and Dinner Recipes.
Get the Recipe: Mexican Chicken Marinade
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro
- pinch sea salt, optional
- 2 pounds chicken, breasts or thighs
- First, add chicken to a large bowl or plastic bag. Add in all marinade ingredients. Stir to coat chicken fully.
- Zip bag completely shut or cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour up to 24 hours.
- When ready to make chicken, remove from fridge. Preheat grill, oven or stovetop. Discard excess marinade liquid.
- Cook chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on size of chicken, more or less cooking time may be needed.
- Finally, serve chicken.
- This recipe can be customizable. Add more paprika or chili powder for a more spicy flavor.
- Marinade for at least 1 hour up to 24 hours. The longer the chicken marinades, the more tender and flavorful it becomes.
- Do not marinate for longer than 24 hours. The chicken will lose its texture.
- Be sure to fully cook chicken. Use a meat thermometer to check that internal temperature has reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Store leftover chicken in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- This marinade makes enough for about 2 pounds of chicken. This recipe can be easily cut in half or doubled as needed.
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6 Comments on “Mexican Chicken Marinade”
This marinade was perfectly flavorful and delicious! Already cannot wait to make it again. 🙂
Classically delicious! We eat tons of Mexican chicken recipes at our house and this simple marinade is a real hit in many of them. No matter what method of cooking I am using, this marinade is a sure win.
I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed this, Glenda! Thank you!
This marinade was so good and so flavorful! Definitely going to make this again.
Sooo good!! I used regular and smoked paprika – the chicken was amazing!
We tried this with drumsticks, actually, and it turned out SO good. My husband loved it. Will definitely be adding it to our weekly rotation!