Chicken is a versatile lean protein that can fit into a nutritious diet when it's prepared the right way. Marinating chicken is one way to add flavor and tenderness without adding calories and fat.
There's no one best way to cook marinated chicken, but there are several options to choose from. Depending on the cut, cooking times will vary. You can try baking, grilling, roasting or stir-frying marinated chicken.
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How to Marinate Chicken
You can make poultry or chicken marinade with lemon juice, garlic and herbs you like, such as dried Italian seasoning or chopped fresh parsley, rosemary or oregano. Customize your chicken marinade to highlight your favorite flavors.
If you're marinating chicken, do it for at least two hours to really let the seasonings settle into the meat. You can also try letting your chicken marinate overnight.
Try overnight chicken marinade for baking with robust flavor.
Chicken is considered safe to eat at an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA.
4 Different Ways to Cook Your Chicken
1. Baked Marinated Chicken
Once you have marinated your chicken for two to eight hours, it's time to cook. Baking your marinated chicken is one fuss-free way to do it and ensure it comes out tasty and juicy. Here's how to bake marinated chicken:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Drain your chicken of the marinade.
- Place your chicken in a lightly greased baking dish.
- Bake your chicken for the required cooking time, which will depend on the weight and cut. For example, chicken breasts may require only 20 to 30 minutes while a whole chicken will require one to two hours.
- Use a meat thermometer to check your chicken for doneness and take it out when the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
2. On the Grill
Grilling your marinated chicken is another very simple way to cook it, and it's a great choice if you're a fan of a smoky, barbecue flavor.
Not only that, but marinating food before grilling may help prevent the formation of harmful carcinogens, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Here's how to grill marinated chicken:
- Light up your grill and allow it to warm up.
- Drain the marinated chicken.
- Place aluminum foil over your cooking rack.
- Lightly spray the foil with nonstick olive oil to prevent the chicken from adhering to the foil.
- Once your grill is heated, place the cooking rack on the lowest setting.
- Place your chicken on the rack and close the lid to your grill.
- Cook the chicken, turning every four minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 F.
3. Roasting Marinated Chicken
Roasting is often confused with baking, although the cooking styles are somewhat different. When roasting a chicken, you are attempting to brown it through frequent basting with marinade or oil. Roasted chicken is also cooked at a lower temperature than baked chicken. Here's how to do it:
- Preheat your oven to 325 F.
- Place your chicken in a nonstick roasting dish.
- Cover your chicken and cook it in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cover and baste your chicken with oil or marinade and cook uncovered for one to two hours, basting every 20 to 30 minutes.
- The oil or marinade will brown the outer skin of your chicken, leaving it crispy on the outside.
- Remove chicken from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
4. Stir-Fry Your Marinated Chicken
Stir-frying marinated chicken is a quick and nutritious weeknight dinner. Instead of using vegetable or canola oils, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in your frying pan. Here's how to stir-fry marinated chicken:
- Drain your chicken of the marinade and cut it into bite-sized pieces and
- Heat a large frying pan with some olive oil on the stove over medium heat.
- When the oil starts bubbling, place the chicken into the frying pan gently. It should start to sizzle.
- Cover your chicken with the lid and allow it to fry over medium heat until browned, stiring every two minutes. The chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
If you wish, you can add any vegetables of your choice to the stir-fry and serve it alongside a grain like brown rice to make it a complete meal. Try broccoli, snow peas, carrots and cauliflower. Sauces such as soy sauce, coconut aminos or stir-fry sauce can add flavor to your dish, too.
To include vegetables, add them once the chicken is done cooking, replace the lid on your pan and allow them to cook until done to your liking.