Expertly Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe

Chicken often seems like such a "basic" or "boring" protein, but those descriptors go straight out the window when you learn how to expertly marinate your chicken before baking it. And when you've got the perfect recipe for baked chicken, the options for serving it as an entree are practically endless. "This baked chicken dish is quite versatile and with several options once the chicken has been baked," says recipe developer Ashley Altan of Crave-Worthy. "The chicken may be served with practically any side dish, such as asiago mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli, or it can be separated from its bone, shredded, and added to soups, salads, and the list goes on." 

Of course, the key to perfectly marinated chicken is ... you guessed it: the marinade. The trick is to include bold and acidic elements that work together to tenderize and flavor the chicken. For this recipe, one ingredient, in particular, sticks out. "The whole-grain mustard is the tastiest part, adding a complementary sharpness to the marinade that works nicely with the lemon zest and juice," Altan says. Plus, she adds that it's a simple recipe with ingredients that are easily sourced, and may already be in your kitchen.

Gather the ingredients for this expertly marinated baked chicken

For this perfectly-marinaded chicken, you'll (of course) need the chicken itself. Altan says to use a whole chicken that's separated into breasts, thighs, legs, and wings. Additionally, you'll need olive oil, a lemon, Aleppo pepper, whole grain mustard, garlic cloves, salt, black pepper, and thyme sprigs. 

Mix up the marinade

With your ingredients ready to go, your first task is to whip up the marinade. Simply combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, Aleppo pepper, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme in a bowl. Whisk them all together briskly, until the dressing comes together forming a light yellow color. 

It's best not to sub out the ingredients for what you have on hand, as each item plays a specific role. "The olive oil will lend a neutral taste to the seasonings while also assisting in cooking and making the garlic and [chicken] skin crispy," Alton explains. "Along with the garlic, the Aleppo pepper offers a hint of spice, while the thyme lends perfume and earthiness." 

Marinate the chicken

After making the marinade, you just have to marinate the chicken before baking it. Place all the pieces of the chicken into a deep, oven-safe baking dish, then brush the marinade evenly on all sides of each piece of chicken. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, then set it in the fridge for at least an hour to allow the marinade to do its work. 

"Because the marinade contains acid, marinating for no more than six hours is recommended," says Alton. "The acid dissolves the muscle fibers, turning them mushy. One hour is plenty of time to give the chicken a deep flavor." 

Bake the chicken

As your marinating time is wrapping up, go ahead and preheat the oven to 400 F. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and place it in the oven for about an hour. The goal is for the internal temperature to reach 165-175 F to be sure the chicken is completely cooked through.

Allow the chicken to rest before serving

Remove the chicken from the oven and set it on the stove to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute before slicing, allowing for the juiciest, most flavorful results. When the chicken has finished resting, simply serve it alongside your favorite sides or use the meat in other recipes. 

"When serving the chicken, my golden rule is to give guests (or family members) two portions, such as a wing and a leg, together, because of their size. However, thighs and breasts are large enough to be served separately. This meal serves six people comfortably, which guarantees that everyone is completely satisfied," Alton says. 

Expertly Marinated Baked Chicken Recipe
4.4 from 51 ratings
This chicken marinade is incredibly easy and gets its flavor from simple ingredients like lemon, mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Prep Time
Cook Time
expertly marinated baked chicken plated
Total time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), sectioned into breasts, thighs, legs, and wings
  1. For the marinade, combine olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, Aleppo pepper, whole-grain mustard, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme in a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk until the olive oil and lemon juice are homogenized, resulting in a light yellow dressing.
  3. Place all parts of the chicken in a baking dish.
  4. Using a brush, apply the marinade to the top of the chicken, flip each piece over, and repeat until all pieces are covered.
  5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place into the fridge for at least 60 minutes, and no longer than 6 hours.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 F.
  7. Remove the plastic wrap and place the baking dish in the oven for 60 minutes or until an internal temperature reaches between 165-175 F.
  8. Once baked, take the dish out of the oven to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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