Benefits of Marinating Chicken: [Everything You Should Know]

How long can I marinate chicken? The most asked question by people. It can be tricky to know the length of time you are required to marinate chicken given that its different parts have a difference in marinade time absorption. Let’s find out here.

Boneless chicken breasts only take 30 minutes to marinate perfectly, while the bone in breasts needs 1 to 2 hours for perfect marinating. 

With simple marinades, you will impart more flavor into your chicken, tenderize it, and enhance its moist absorption.

Keep reading for more understanding on marinating chicken and comprehensive answers to some of the questions you may have had about cooking a delectable chicken for your guests or family. 

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What are the Benefits of Marinating your Chicken?

There is more than just a mixture of spices and juices in the marinade. However, you can only enjoy these marinating benefits if you marinate your chicken within the stipulated time. Most marinades contain acids and enzymes that weaken the chicken tissues making them tender.  

Marinating or overusing ingredients will spoil your meat. Therefore, ensure that you balance oil, seasonings, and acid in your marinade. So what are the benefits of marinating your chicken?

1. It makes your chicken tender.

Among the top reasons for marinating chicken is because it tenderizes the meat, thus reducing the cooking time and enhancing flavor. Acid is one of the main marinade ingredients. Its role is to break down the tough tissues in chicken.

2. It adds more flavor to the surface.

Salt in your marinade works by drawing the most liquid present in your chicken through a process known as osmosis. This allows enough brine to fully get absorbed into the meat while they break down the muscles and tissue structures responsible for making the meat tough.

Brine works by drawing water-soluble flavors present on the surface of the marinade into the meat. These flavors are like onions and garlic. On the other hand, oils are responsible for transferring fat-soluble flavors to the chicken, such as chili, herbs, and other spices, onto the chicken surface.

In addition, you can always change the marinade preparation recipe to suit your favorite taste or flavor. You are not limited to only one option. You can always get any flavor on your chicken for your loved ones.

3. Enhances moisture absorption

The marinade makes it easy for the chicken to absorb moisture through osmosis. What is osmosis? And why osmosis? This process involves water movement from a highly concentrated area to a lowly concentrated area. Therefore, water and juices are drawn from the marinades, which are highly concentrated in the chicken.

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Everyone would want to enjoy a tender and juicier chicken. Therefore, marinating ensures that your chicken will not dry out while cooking or in storage. In addition to that, a well-moist chicken takes very little time to cook to perfection.

How to marinate chicken

Here are simple, quick steps to marinating chicken that will give you juicier and more tender chicken meat.

These steps will help you perfectly marinate chicken using the acid, oil, and seasonings marinade. Let’s break it down.

1. Combine the marinade ingredients

The acid ingredients used most are vinegar, lemon, or lime juices. Fat ingredients include oils such as chile, vegetables, or olive oil and then seasonings such as zests, syrups, herbs, spices, and other secret or favorite ingredients that give the user the taste they desire. 

The number of flavors available is endless; therefore, we can’t mention them all, but everyone has the favorites they love working with.

2. Add tenderizing ingredients

 In addition, you can add tenderizing ingredients to your marinade. These include pineapple juice, honey, yogurt, or milk. If you intend to add these, you should add them with the acidic ingredients. Ensure that your tenderizing ingredients won’t make your meat mush at the end of marinating.

3. Blend your mixture

Blending the mixture is recommended because it gives the best marinade that will easily absorb into your chicken meat pieces. The blender breaks down the acid while emulsifying the fat, forming a smooth solution.

However, if you do not have a blender, you can as well make your marinade as smooth as possible. Put them in a tightly sealed jar and shake them well until the soluble ingredients form a solution.

4. Marinate the chicken

Take two cutting boards, one for preparing your chicken and the other for other ingredients. Cut the chicken into your desired pieces and cut. There are two ways you can use to marinate your chicken. The first one is to brush the marinade through the chicken surfaces, while the other one is putting the marinade and the chicken in one container.

Placing the chicken and marinade in one container is one of the best methods anyone could use. It allows the chicken to soak well into the marinade. Use non-reactive containers.

Place the chicken and marinade jar in a refrigerator for six hours. Some people prefer not to use the fridge and just let it marinate under normal temperature, which is also okay.

You can use the leftover marinade as your sauce. Take them and cook them in a saucepan, and leave them to boil for about four minutes to destroy any bacteria that might have built up in preparing and marinating.

When cooking your marinated chicken, ensure that it cooks until it attains an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

5. Timing

Chicken normally marinates best in short soaks. Unlike tough meat cuts such as beef, which can take up to six hours, chicken only needs two hours. Remember that if you soak your chicken for too long, it will do the opposite of what you expected. The proteins will be denatured, the meat will toughen, and the texture will be something else.

However, you should remember that some chicken parts will turn out differently from others due to their fatty content. For instance, the chicken thigh is fattier than chicken breasts, meaning it will turn out moist and delicious because it already has moisture. Then adding more from the marinade makes things perfect. So expect differences depending on the part of the chicken.

How long can I marinate chicken in the fridge?

Two days. Many recipes recommend that you refrigerate your marinated chicken for six to twenty-four hours. However, the longer you keep it in the fridge, the safer it is. We are not saying 6 to 24 is unsafe, but the longer, the better.

However, keeping it for more than two days is a disaster. The marinade can easily start breaking down the chicken fibers making it mushy, something you do not desire at all. So it is fair to say that marinate chicken in the fridge for a minimum of six hours and a maximum of two days.

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How long can I marinate chicken in buttermilk?

You can marinate your chicken in buttermilk for at least 4 hours and not more than hours. However, you can even marinate it for a minimum of one hour. However, you will not desire results like what you will get when you leave it a little longer in the marinade. USDA says you should marinate your chicken in buttermilk for 48 hours if you put it in the refrigerator.

The bottom line

Marinating chicken is one way of improving the flavor and texture of your meat. There are various marinade recipes you can use to marinate your chicken that you can get the flavor you desire. You can as well use your marinade as a sauce only after cooking it for some time.

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