Make this fresh Mexican Chicken Marinade to season all of your favorite cuts of chicken, make chicken for tacos, or delicious chicken for burritos. The spices in this marinade give chicken a warm, spicy, and bright flavor with minimal effort.
This marinade for chicken is so versatile and perfect with any cut of chicken. It’s simple to make, all mixed up in a plastic bag without any mess. Allow chicken to marinade in this delicious mix for a few hours and you’ll have perfectly marinated Mexican chicken with great flavor, ready for all of your favorite recipes.
We eat a lot of chicken at my house, and it can be tricky to come up with new ideas and flavors to go with chicken for multiple meals per week. Using chicken marinades makes the task of dinner so much easier.
I also love that I can prep the meat in the marinade the night before and it’s ready to grill or bake at dinnertime the next day. Try this Mexican marinade to season a whole roast chicken, or a spatchcock chicken for a simple and impressive meal.
Why You’ll Love This Mexican Marinade for Chicken
Are you tired of regular ground beef tacos? Making chicken for tacos is a welcome swap and just as delicious and satisfying. Serve grilled chicken for tacos in soft corn tortillas and topped with guacamole and pico de gallo.
- The flavors in this marinade are just so amazing. Warm spices, a bit of kick from chili powder, and the brightness of lime shine through.
- It tenderizes the chicken. Adding a marinade to grilled chicken makes it extra juicy and tender.
- The marinade for Mexican Chicken comes together in just a few minutes. We are simply adding all of the ingredients to a zip top bag with the chicken. No bowls, no whisk, and therefore very few dishes are needed. I love any recipe that doesn’t make me wash a lot of dishes.
- Simple ingredients. The ingredients for this marinade probably already live in your pantry. We’re putting together common spices to create a new, mouthwatering flavor mix.
Ingredients in Mexican Chicken Marinade
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Olive Oil – Oil is the main liquid ingredient in this Mexican marinade, and adds moisture to the meat.
- Garlic – Finely minced garlic gives a warm, savory flavor to the chicken.
- Fresh Lime Juice – Acid from the lime will tenderize the chicken as well as add a bright, fresh flavor.
- Chili Powder and Smoked Paprika – I love the mild heat and the smokey flavor that these spices add.
- Cumin – This warm spice just screams “tacos!”. It’s a necessity in any taco meat seasoning.
- Salt – for well-seasoned chicken for tacos.
- Cinnamon – This is optional, but I really like the way a bit of cinnamon makes this marinade different from any other I’ve tried.
How To Make Chicken For Tacos
- Start by grabbing a gallon-sized ziplock bag, or another airtight container that will fit your chicken.
- Add your meat to the bag. You can use any sort of chicken you like, including chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or even a whole chicken.
- Add all of the recipe ingredients to the bag with the chicken and toss it around until the chicken is well coated in the marinade.
- Place the marinating chicken in the fridge for at least 2 hours, and up to 24 hours. The longer you let it sit in the fridge, the stronger the flavors will be and the more tender the chicken will become.
- Remove the marinated Mexican chicken from the bag and then cook it using your preferred method. The recipe below shows you how to grill chicken or bake it. Make sure to cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F/74°C degrees so that it’s safe to eat.
What to Serve with Grilled Mexican Chicken
This chicken recipe is a fantastic base protein for so many different Mexican-style meals.
- Make a filling burrito bowl with chicken, Cilantro Lime Rice, black beans, and my Lime Crema sauce.
- Shred or dice the grilled chicken and make chicken nachos. Top tortilla chips with your favorite cheese and chicken, then broil until the cheese is melted. Top with sour cream or guacamole, and pineapple salsa when they come out of the oven.
- Serve Mexican grilled chicken with your favorite side dishes for a simple and delicious meal. I like grilled chicken with simple Roasted Potatoes and a nice fresh vegetable like Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli.
How to Store Chicken for Tacos
After cooking, allow the chicken to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This grilled chicken is an amazing ingredient to add to lunches, use for meal prep, or create a quick taco dinner during the week. Cooking up a large batch of this on the weekend will save you tons of time during the week.
Yes, there is a limit to how long you should marinate chicken. There are acids in marinades that help to tenderize meat, but leaving meat to tenderize for too long will actually do negative things to the texture of chicken. With this marinade, I don’t suggest leaving it for more than 24 hours. If you do leave it longer, the chicken may dry out or get stringy.
A marinade generally only penetrates a small bit into whatever kind of meat you’re using. Poking a few holes into the mat with a knife will give you a bit more surface area and therefore a bit more flavor. For extra flavor, I suggest cutting chicken breasts in half before marinating to get even more surface area and a bigger burst of marinade flavor.
You sure can! This marinade is delicious on just about anything. Substitute steak or pork for the chicken in this recipe for an entirely new dish. If using this marinade on vegetables, keep the marinade time to less than an hour. Veggies don’t need as long as meats in order to soak up flavors. I would try hearty vegetables like cauliflower, carrots, or beans with this recipe.
I know you’re going to love this delicious and simple recipe for grilled chicken using my Mexican chicken marinade! Learning how to make this delicious chicken has made my dinner planning so much easier, and I hope it will do the same for you. Don’t forget to Pin this recipe for others to enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1-2 pounds chicken breasts, cutlets, thighs, or drumsticks
- Ziploc bag
- To a Ziploc bag, add the chicken followed by the wet ingredients and the spices.
- Seal the bag, and toss the chicken so that the chicken is well coated in the marinade.
- Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for 2-24 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the bag, and grill it or bake it until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F/74°C with an Instant read thermometer.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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