yummy recipes for busy people

Easy Chicken Marinade with Lemon & Basil [Low carb, Gluten free]

This simple healthy chicken marinade with lemon & basil is perfect for the grill – but also delicious when baked in the oven or fried stove-top. Marinated with olive oil, lemon & basil this chicken comes out juicy, tender and full of flavor – so good you don’t even need a sauce to go with it. (But if you want one anyway – may I suggest some whipped feta?)

sideview of sliced grilled chicken marinated with lemon and decorated with basil leaves
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Why this marinade will level up your chicken game

  • The chicken is softened and tenderized by the lemon & salt.
  • The most flavorful grilled chicken there is…
  • … and it’s delicious both warm and cold.
  • I don’t say it often – but it’s so good it doesn’t even need a sauce.
  • Suitable for all types of chicken meat: be it chicken thighs, filets, kebabs, for skewers or even minced chicken, this marinade will work wonders.
  • Works for oven baking and pan frying as well as grilling.
  • This flavor packed chicken is a great dish next to a simple side – or the star player in a salad, wrap or pasta.
sideview of lemon chicken on a wooden chopping bord with basil leaves

Expert tips for marinating

  • Always marinate in plastic bags – it makes it so easy getting marinade all over your meat (I always double-bag it just to be safe), and also makes turning it while marinating so much easier. Because the next tip is to…
  • turn your meat a few times while marinating, to ensure all the flavors go all around.
  • Choose oil according to taste – or lack thereof. For this recipe I want the olive oil taste, but that’s not always the case – so if you don’t specifically want the taste of olive oil, use a more neutral oil like rapeseed.
  • Use dried basil if you don’t have fresh. About 1 Tbsp should do as a substitute for 20 leaves of the fresh kind.
  • Add salt moderately and only if it fills a purpose – in this recipe the salt helps tenderize the chicken, and the suggested amount is tested so that the chicken doesn’t turn out too salty. If you don’t need the salt to tenderize or are just afraid you’re meat will turn out too salty – add salt just before cooking instead. The lemon will still help make the chicken oh so tender.
  • Marinate longer for more flavor but don’t forget to…
  • decrease the amount of salt if marinating longer than 1-1.5 hours (for this recipe).
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How to make the best Lemon Chicken Marinade

No annoying choppy prep for this one! We’ll just dive straight into it instead.

process shots showing zesting of a lemon and mixing of the zest with lemon juice

Start by zesting your lemon into a bowland then squeeze in the lemon juice.

process shots showing adding basil, olive oil and salt & pepper to a marinade

Follow with fresh basil leaves that you shred roughly with your hands, salt, fresh ground black pepper and olive oil. Mix!

process shots showing adding chicken and marinade to plastic bags

Bring out two plastic bags and place them one in the other. Place the chicken in the inner bag and pour over the marinade.

process shots showing chicken and marinade in plastic bags, how the chicken looks after marinating and after grilling

Then close the bags with a knot and massage the chicken through the bags, to distribute the marinade evenly and start the tenderizing process. Then place the plastic bags in a bowl and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

When you bring out the chicken after that hour, it will be a little bit white. This is normal! A lot of lemon juice in there which will tenderize and the acidity will also start to “cook” the chicken – hence, it turns a bit white.

Grill your chicken for about 8 minutes per side (or as long as needed to ensure it is cooked through) and then serve with your favorite side, or as part of a salad, pasta dish, in a wrap… hot or cold! Either way, it’s gonna be yummy.

sideview of sliced grilled lemon marinated chicken with basil leaves and a knife and fork

Tools to help you make it

Now you have my secret chicken weapon – use it well! And let me know what you think about this version of chicken marinade with lemon – it’s easy, just leave a comment and/or a rating below.

closeup of sliced grilled chicken with basil leaves

Easy Chicken Marinade with Lemon & Basil

5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Barbecue, Buffet, Main Course, Marinade
Cuisine: dairy free, European, gluten-free, Healthy, Keto, Low carb, Mediterranean, Paleo
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Marinating time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 21 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 486kcal


  • 400 g chicken thigh fillets or another cut of chicken

Lemon Basil Marinade

  • 1 lemon juice and zest
  • 20 basil leaves roughly shredded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • Make the marinade by mixing together lemon zest, lemon juice, basil leaves, olive oil, black pepper and salt in a bowl.
  • Bring out two plastic bags and place one in the other. Place the chicken in the inner bag and pour over the marinade. Close the bags with a knot and massage the chicken gently through the bags to distribute the marinade evenly. Place in a bowl in the fridge and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour, turning the bags a few times during this time.
  • Grill your chicken thigh fillets for 8 minutes per side, or as needed to ensure the chicken is cooked through.


  • Prep time is for making the marinade
  • Cook time is estimated time for grilling – time is estimated at 8 min/side for chicken thigh filets. This time will vary if using other cooking methods or other cuts of chicken. Please always make sure that your chicken is cooked through.
  • If marinating longer than 1.5 hours please decrease the amount of salt, or add salt just before cooking instead.
  • Nutritional information assumes 1/3 of the marinade is consumed
Nutrition Facts
Easy Chicken Marinade with Lemon & Basil
Amount Per Serving
Calories 486 Calories from Fat 342
% Daily Value*
Fat 38g58%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 196mg65%
Sodium 329mg14%
Potassium 435mg12%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 365IU7%
Vitamin C 10.1mg12%
Calcium 23mg2%
Iron 1.6mg9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional information is approximate and automatically calculated, and should only be viewed as an indication.

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