Do This Before Putting On Marinade For Ultra-Flavorful Chicken

Chicken is one of the most consumed proteins on the planet, and according to the book Tastes Like Chicken, Americans eat 73.1 million pounds of this bird every day. Many consumers even go so far as to purchase products that "taste like chicken," such as chicken-flavored ramen and potato chips. And it's no wonder that the chicken is so popular, as its flavor compounds are rich in the umami taste and give off an aroma that is fatty and "roasty," per the National Library of Medicine. Granted, a pinch of salt and pepper or a dry rub blend is usually enough to highlight these coveted chicken flavors, but marinating is also a popular choice and for a few good reasons.

For starters, marinating leads to more moist and tender chicken thighs thanks to the mix of oils (which aids in moisture) and acids (which act as a tenderizer) according to Eating Well. NDTV Food also states that a good marinade should season the chicken from the inside out, which begs the question: How can marinade penetrate all the way to the interior of each chicken piece when the exterior usually reaps all the benefits?

Use a fork with your chicken

Piercing the chicken with a fork will help the overnight marinade flow through its interior, according to the executive chef of Manuela, Wes Whitsell. Cook's Illustrated also states that scoring your chicken works just as well, which means to take a knife and run it across the exterior of the meat to create a few slits. It's best to poke holes in your chicken before you mix it with your marinade and try not to pierce it while it cooks so the juices can stay sealed in the interior, per SELF.

In terms of how long you should marinate your chicken, BBC Good Food suggests that an average of 5-6 hours is enough for the flavors to marry together. If you're really pressed for time, 10 minutes is sufficient for at least some of the marinade flavors to shine through. 24 hours is usually the limit, as the chicken can become soft and mushy in texture if it's left in the marinade for too long, via the USDA.

So don't be afraid to use your fork to poke a few holes before marinating, as this method will help any herbs, oils, and acids create flavor on the outside and inside of each chicken piece.