What Does Marinating Do to Chicken?

What Does Marinating Do to Chicken

Marinating chicken is a cooking technique that involves soaking meat in a marinade before cooking it. The purpose of this process is to add flavor and alter the texture of the meat.

But what does marinating do to chicken?

The margination process activates the enzymes in the meat by ingredients such as herbs, spices, acids (such as vinegar), fruit juices, yogurt, or buttermilk, to mention just a few. These enzymes break down some of the muscle fiber which results in tenderizing the meat.

For the best flavor, marinate chicken for at least an hour. However, I like to make a double batch and let it soak overnight (12-24 hours).

The longer you marinate your meat, the more delicious it will turn out.

How long do you marinate chicken?

I marinate my chicken for at least an hour. I like longer, though. As mentioned, the more time you marinate your meat, the better it will turn out.

 Chicken should be marinated for at least 1 hour, and no longer than 24 hours.

The length of time that chicken should be marinated depends on the type of recipe you’re making and how strong the flavors in your marinade are.

The longer you marinate your meat, the more flavor it will absorb. But if you leave it in for too long, it can get mushy and/or turn to mush.

How to marinate chicken quickly?

You can speed up the process by using a meat tenderizer.

However, I wouldn’t recommend doing that, because then you would end up with something that tastes like soy sauce instead of whatever else you put in there (I assume you put other things in).

It’s best to marinate meat at room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes, or else bacteria could grow during the marination process.

How to marinate chicken for frying?

When marinating chicken for frying, I love the chicken pieces to be rubbed in a mixture of salt and pepper, lemon juice, or vinegar and then allowed to sit for 30 minutes.

After this, the pieces should be put into the frying pan without washing off any of the marinades. The pan can then be covered with foil and cooked over low heat.

Why is it necessary to leave the marinade on the chicken while it is frying?

The piece of meat will absorb flavors from other ingredients in the marinade. These ingredients, which are mainly herbs and spices, will give flavor to the inside of the chicken.

Leaving these flavors inside also prevents overcooking because it continues to cook during the frying process.

What happens to the chicken if it is marinated for several hours?

If you marinate your chicken overnight, those enzymes already will have broken down some of those muscle fibers.

It becomes tender and takes less time to cook (and absorb marinade flavors). If you like a light flavor, then marinating only an hour or two is fine.

If you leave it overnight, the acid (wine, vinegar) will start to cook the meat inside too which is not so good.

It really depends on how much marinade flavor you like personally.

I always marinate mine for an hour or two at most.

How long can chicken be left in a marinade?

There is no general rule as to how long should the chicken be left in a marinade. I guess it is dependent on your taste desire.

Consult your recipe for specific guidelines, but for the best flavor and texture, follow these general guidelines:

  • White meats such as chicken breasts or fish fillets can be marinated for up to 30 minutes.
  • Whole poultry and bone-in poultry pieces should not be marinated longer than 4 hours.
  • Large roasts need only a few hours of marinating time because the marinade has little time to penetrate the meat.

When making a marinade for steak or kabobs, place your meat in a resealable plastic bag and pour the excess marinade into another container so you can use it as a basting sauce during cooking.

Thirty minutes is the absolute maximum for marinating anything unless you’re going to cook it immediately. This might seem a little absurd to those of us who’ve always heard that meat should be allowed to soak up all the flavors of whatever liquid happens to be around… but really, it’s not so bad.

Thirty minutes allows enough time for the liquid’s flavoring agents to sink into the meat, and, depending on what you use for marinade (fruit juices, yogurt, buttermilk), it can kill some of the bacteria off.

If you’re really worried about food safety issues, go ahead and cook your chicken immediately after margination or try adding some lemon or lime juice to your marinating liquid, since it helps kill the germs.

Can you freeze chicken after marinating?

This is a question that many people ask, especially when they are unsure about how long the chicken has to be marinated.

Technically speaking, you can cook or freeze the chicken immediately after marinating it. However, if you want the best results possible (tender chicken!), then it’s best not to freeze the meat before cooking.

The best way to freeze marinated chicken is to let it sit in the marinade for a few hours before cooking. This method works because it allows the enzymes in the meat to do their work on a small scale before you cook and eat them.

After that, place the pieces in a freezer bag with all the air pushed out of it. You can also wrap each piece in plastic wrap.

These measures will keep the chicken from drying out and freezer burn. The chicken should be good for a few months, but make sure that you label the bag with this information.

How does marinating change the taste and texture of chicken?

Marinating meat does two things to it: It helps tenderize it, which in turn helps retain moisture. Secondly, the marinade penetrates deep into the chicken, seasoning it from within.

A good marinade should have a balance between acidic ingredients (such as lemon juice, vinegar, buttermilk) and dry spices (such as black pepper, salt).

The acids in the marinade break down the muscle fiber of the meat. In short, it will become less tough after marinating.

The dry spices add flavor to the meat – a process that takes place on a molecular level via osmosis. This is also a reason why marinating the meat for longer periods of time makes it more tender.


In conclusion, marinating chicken changes the texture of the meat, makes it more flavorful, and tenderizes it.

You can marinate fresh or store-bought chickens for different periods of time depending on what you are using to flavor the meat.

After the chicken is done cooking, discard any leftover marinade so as not to contaminate other food items in your kitchen.

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