Super Simple Lemon Herb Marinade

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This Simple Lemon Herb Marinade is bright & zesty summertime perfection! A lemon and herb marinade recipe made with less than 5 ingredients to create the biggest punch of lemony, garlicky flavor. It's seriously quick & simple but also seriously flavor-filled & versatile – use it as a lemon chicken marinade, or on steak, pork, lamb, or your summer veggies of choice.
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Grilled Lemon & Herb marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with fresh herbs & lemon wedges.

Add Instant Sunshiney Flavor to All Your Grilled Favorites! 🍋 🌿

This Lemon Herb Marinade is one of my absolute favorite marinade recipes. I first threw it together on a whim last summer when I used it on grilled lemon chicken thighs.

I thought it would be tasty enough but probably not mind-blowingly amazing…and I gotta say, I’ve never been so happy to be completely wrong about a recipe! 🙌🏼

It’s an embarrassingly easy recipe that is truly so simple, but I feel obliged to share it in its own dedicated blog post because it’s just that good.

Saved and enjoyed by thousands of PWWB readers, it’s the perfect marinade for introducing majorly sunshiney, lemony, garlicky flavors to anything you love to grill.

The intense bright, citrusy lemon flavor is all thanks to a simple combination of lemon juice and zest., loads of fragrant aromatics and herbs, and a little bit of olive oil to bring it all together.

It’s seriously quick and simple and the result is a total back-pocket recipe that pairs with just about anything from grilled chicken to veggies, pork, seafood, or steak!

Loads of flavor with minimal effort? Simple summer staples don’t get better than that!

Want more marinades for grilling season? Got you covered! Check out PWWB’s 15 Go-To Grilling Marinades.

Key Ingredients

The best thing about this lemon and herb marinade recipe is that it requires just a couple of simple, everyday ingredients you probably already have on hand during the summer months!

Lemon juice, lemon zest featured on a microplane, garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs including rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper are arranged on a light blue surface.

You will need…

  • Lemon – Use both the zest and juice for maximum flavor. As is the case with all citrus, look for lemons with thin skin and feel heavy for their weight to ensure they’re juicy enough!
  • Aromatics – Namely garlic and fresh herbs. The herbs are optional since the marinade provides plenty of lemony, garlicky flavor but if your herb garden is overflowing, now’s a good time to put some fresh herbs to use. I suggest hardier fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary or oregano – check the Recipe Notes, below, for more suggestions.
  • Olive oil – Just the littlest bit, to bring the lemon and herb marinade together. Since the ingredients list is so minimal here, it’s important to use high-quality olive oil for best results. This is my go-to EVOO.

How to Make Lemon and Herb Marinade

Building off the simplicity of its ingredients, this lemon herb marinade is super simple to throw together.

It takes 5 minutes, start-to-finish. Plus, if you’re a meal prepper, it can be mixed together well in advance!

Chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Lemon Herb marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.

To make this easy grilling marinade, simply add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl, whisk to combine, and add your protein or veggies of choice. That’s it!

Suggested Marinating Time: Since this lemon garlic marinade is so acidic (it has a lot of lemon juice in it!), you don’t want to marinate too, too long.

In most cases, the 20 minutes it takes to preheat the grill is plenty, though marinating times vary based on the type of protein you’re using. Having tested this recipe a variety of different proteins and marinating times, here’s what I suggest:

  • Seafood – At least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes.
  • Chicken and Pork – At least 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
  • Beef – at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  • Veggies – at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Chicken thighs in a Ziploc bag, marinating in Simple Lemon Herb marinade. The bag sits atop a light blue surface. “Lemon Herb Marinade" is penned in the bag's memo area.

Meal Prep

Despite the suggested marinating times for this lemon and herb marinade recipe, you can still get ahead on your dinner by prepping the marinade in advance. Prep the marinade and store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to start marinating, simply give it the marinade a shake and pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!

Serving Suggestions

This marinade is great with tons of different proteins and veggies – use it as a quick and easy lemon chicken marinade or for grilling steaks, veggies, and so much more!

Here are few ideas to get you started...

  • Chicken. Use as a lemon herb chicken marinade to add tons flavor to grilled chicken this summer. It works well with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, drumsticks, and even whole chicken.
  • Seafood. Lemon, garlic and herbs are all classic pairing for grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, or fish like mahi-mahi, swordfish, and tilapia.
  • Pork. Grilled pork chops and pork tenderloin practically beg for the bright flavor of this citrus and herb marinade!
  • Beef. While lemon may not be the first flavor you think of when it comes to grilled steaks, its brightness provides a perfect contrast for the richness of grilled beef. Use on your favorite steaks and beef kabobs!
  • Veggies. Keep things simple and light by using this marinade to give the perfect bright and summery touch to your favorite grilled veggies.
Grilled lemon herb marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with fresh herbs & lemon wedges.
My ideal plate? ⇢ Juicy, flavorful grilled lemon chicken thighs pair perfectly with a simple seasonal salad – you simply can’t go wrong!

No Grill? Use Your Stovetop or Oven!

If you do not have access to a grill, this lemon herb marinade also works great with any other preparation – stovetop, skillet meals, sheet pan meals, etc. Tip! ⇢ You can create a similar caramelized, grilled effect by using a grill pan on the stove or baking in the oven and finishing under the broiler.

I cannot wait for you to try this Lemon Herb Marinade recipe! It’s so simple yet SO flavorful, and I know you’re going to love it as much as we do.

If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo and tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations!

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Grilled Lemon & Herb marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with fresh herbs & lemon wedges.

Super Simple Lemon Herb Marinade

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  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 Minutes
  • Total Time: 10 Minutes
  • Yield: 3/4 cup marinade 1x
  • Category: Sauces & Condiments
  • Method: No-Cook, Grilling & Smoking
  • Cuisine: Italian, American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Fresh herbs, bright lemon, & loads of garlic lovers come together in this Simple Lemon Herb marinade recipe! Made in 5 minutes or less with just 5 ingredients, this simple lemon and herb marinade can be used for grilled lemon chicken, steak, pork, lamb or your summer veggies of choice!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds meat or veggies of choice
  • 2 large, juicy lemons, zested and juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely chopped hardy fresh herbs, such as oregano, rosemary or thyme
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper or crushed red chili flakes, to seasonLemon herb marinade ingredients arranged on a light blue surface: lemon juice, lemon zest featured on a microplane, garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs including rosemary, thyme, & oregano, salt, & pepper.

Instructions

  1. Mix the lemon herb marinade: Add the lemon zest and juice, garlic, olive oil, and chopped fresh herbs to a bowl or jar. season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes as desired. Whisk or shake to combine.Lemon herb marinade shown in a small ball jar, sitting atop a light blue surface with sprigs of fresh rosemary & thyme in the foreground & in the background.
  2. Marinate: Pour the marinade over your meat or veggies of choice. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour.Chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Lemon Herb marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.
  3. Grill as desired. Enjoy!
    Grilled Lemon & Herb marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with fresh herbs & lemon wedges.


Notes

  • Suggested marinating times: Since this lemon garlic marinade is so acidic (it has a lot of lemon juice in it!), you don’t want to marinate too, too long. In most cases, the 20 minutes it takes to preheat the grill is plenty, though marinating times vary based on the type of protein you’re using. Having tested this simple lemon and herb grilling marinade on a variety of different proteins with a variety of different marinating times, here’s what I suggest:
    • Seafood – At least 20 minutes and no more than 30 minutes.
    • Chicken and Pork – At least 20 minutes and no more than 1 hour.
    • Beef – at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.
    • Veggies – at least 20 minutes and up to 12 hours.
  • 10-Minute Meal Prep: If you’d like to marinate something later in the week, I suggest making the marinade in advance, whenever you’re meal prepping for the week. 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!

Recipe by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Eat Love Eat

Grilled Lemon & Herb marinated chicken thighs shown on a white speckled plate atop a light blue surface. The chicken is garnished with fresh herbs & lemon wedges.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 8.14.22
    Cora said:

    Super easy marinade! Chicken was super moist and bursting with flavor. Thanks!

    • 8.15.22
      Erin @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      Thanks so much, Cora! Thrilled to hear that you enjoyed!