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Grilled all-purpose marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with diced chives.

All-Purpose Grilling Marinade (for Chicken, Steak, Pork, & More!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 18 reviews
  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 Cup 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments, Marinade
  • Method: No-Cook, Grill
  • Cuisine: American


This 5-minute All-Purpose Marinade is totally flavorful, versatile, & crowd-pleasing! Made from scratch with just 9 simple pantry ingredients, it’s a go-to marinade that is equal parts zesty, sweet & spicy. Chili powder & smoked paprika add just the right amount of kick, while brown sugar lends a bit of sweetness, creating an absolutely crave-worthy caramelized crust on whatever you’re grilling.

Perfect for grilled chicken, steak, pork, seafood, or veggies!


  • 2 pounds meat or veggies of choice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, loosely packed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (see Recipe Notes, below)
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • optional: pinch cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper, to season

Olive oil, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, low-sodium soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and optional cayenne pepper arranged on a light blue surface.


  1. Mix the all-purpose grill marinade: Add the olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, paprika, and a pinch of cayenne pepper, if using, to a bowl or jar. Season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and ground black pepper as desired. Whisk or shake to combine.All-purpose marinade shown in a small ball jar, sitting atop a light blue surface with two cloves of garlic resting on the surface in the foreground.
  2. Marinate: Pour the all-purpose marinade over your meat or veggies of choice. Marinate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
    Chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in All-Purpose marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.
  3. Grill as desired. Enjoy!
    Grilled all-purpose marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with diced chives.


  • Make it vegan: Use your favorite vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce (this is my go-to), or double up on soy sauce and omit Worcestershire sauce altogether.
  • Suggested marinade time: Marinating time will vary based on the type of protein you’d like to use. Having tested this All-Purpose Marinade recipe with a variety of different proteins and a variety of different marinating times, here’s what I suggest:
    • Seafood – At least 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
    • Chicken and pork – At least 6 hours and up to 3 days.
    • Beef and lamb – At least 12 hours and up to 3 days.
    • Veggies – At least 20 minutes or up to 5 days.
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to marinate something beyond the suggested marinade times above but would like to do some meal prep, I suggest prepping the marinade in advance. Store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days – the flavors meld together even more as the marinade sits. When you’re ready to start marinating (refer to the suggested marinating times above), simply give it the marinade a shake and pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!