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Authentic Mexican chicken marinade in a mason jar.

Mexican Chicken Marinade

  • Author: Denay DeGuzman
  • Total Time: 55 Minutes
  • Yield: For 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts 1x


This traditional Mexican chicken marinade is filled with bright citrus flavors and fresh ingredients. Use it for prepping authentic Mexican grilled chicken that’s festive and flavorful.


Units Scale


  • 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, butterflied or pounded until no thicker than 1/2 inch

Mexican Chicken Marinade

  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 3 Mexican limes (key limes), zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch black ground pepper


RECIPE PREP: For Mexican grilled chicken, butterfly or pound the boneless/skinless chicken breasts so they’re no thicker than 1/2 inch. Pat the chicken dry between paper towels. Put them in a large zip-top freezer bag.

  1. Add all marinade ingredients to a small bowl and stir or whisk to combine. Or if desired, use a mason jar instead. Attach the lid and shake the mixture well.
  2. Pour the marinade into the zip-top bag, directly over the chicken breasts. Gently remove any excess air from the bag and zip it shut. Gently massage the bag to distribute the marinade and to make sure the chicken is well coated on all sides. Put the chicken in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. (Once chicken is removed from the marinade – discard the marinade.)
  3. Grill the chicken over medium heat for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping it over halfway through grilling, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165ºF.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a platter and cover with foil. Let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting or serving. This resting time is important as it allows the juices to redistribute themselves, settling throughout all parts of the meat. This results in tender juicy chicken. If desired, garnish with freshly-chopped cilantro.


How to substitute dried herbs for fresh: As a general rule, use 1/3 the amount of dried herbs for the fresh herbs called for in the recipe.

I don’t care for cilantro, what else can I use? Fresh Italian parsley.

How long can I leave chicken in the citrus marinade? Marinate the chicken (in the fridge) for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Do not allow boneless chicken to marinate longer than 2 hours. The citric acid will break down the muscle fibers making the poultry tough. However, bone-in chicken can be marinated for up to 12 hours.

  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • 30 Minutes:
  • Cook Time: 12-15 Minutes
  • Category: Marinades
  • Method: Grilling
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Mexican Chicken Marinade, Marinade for Mexican Chicken, Grilled Chicken Marinade, Citrus Chicken Marinade