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.
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.

Can’t wait to hit the grill? Be sure to check out the 3rd Annual PWWB Grilling Series, created to help you grill more confidently & deliciously all summer long!

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If warm summer temps get you in the mood for majorly sunshiney, lemony, garlicky flavors, you’re in the right place! This Lemon Herb Marinade is one of my absolute favorite marinade recipes. I first threw it together on a whim last summer, figuring it would be tasty enough but probably not mind-blowingly amazing…& I gotta say, I’ve never been so happy to be completely wrong about a recipe!

Despite being seriously quick & simple (4 ingredients! 5 minutes!), this lemon herb marinade creates intense lemony, garlicky flavor that pairs with just about anything (grilled chicken! veggies! pork! seafood! steak!). 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.

I’m pretty sure that as soon as you try it, you’ll fall in love, too!

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.

Lemon Herb Marinade – Recipe Highlights

This Simple Lemon Herb Marinade is (click for shortcuts within this post!)

  • FRESH & BRIGHT. Bright, citrusy lemon + fresh, fragrant herbs = major sunshiney flavor! This lemon and herb marinade recipe yields loads of flavor with minimal effort. A total back-pocket recipe!
  • SIMPLE. This recipe calls for just 4 total ingredients, many of which you probably already have on hand. Plus, it can be mixed up in 5 minutes or less – easy!
  • VERSATILE. The best part? You can use it on just about everything. Use it as the best quick & easy lemon chicken marinade or for grilling steaks, veggies, & so much more!

Simple summer staples don’t get better than that! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Lemon Herb Marinade, or jump straight to the recipe & get grilling!

Lemon Herb Marinade Key Ingredients

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

Lemon 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.
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

You will need…

  • Lemon – Use both the zest & juice for maximum flavor. As is the case with all citrus, look for lemons with thin skin & feel heavy for its weight to ensure they’re juicy enough!
  • Aromatics – Namely garlic & 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 this Lemon and Herb Marinade Recipe:

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.
Note: full Recipe Directions are provided in the Recipe Card, below.

Here’s how you do it: Simply add all of the marinade ingredients to a medium bowl, whisking to combine. That’s it! With your lemon herb marinade mixed & ready to go, you can use it immediately or transfer to a small jar & place it in the fridge for later use. (In fact, if you’re prepping for later use, you can skip the bowl & combine all of the ingredients in a small jar & shake to combine – less dishes, for the win!)

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 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 & no more than 30 minutes.
  • Chicken & Pork – At least 20 minutes & no more than 1 hour.
  • Beef – at least 20 minutes & up to 12 hours.
  • Veggies – at least 20 minutes & up to 12 hours.
Side angle of chicken thighs in a large glass mixing bowl, marinating in Lemon Herb marinade. The bowl sits atop a light blue surface.

Make-Ahead & Meal Prep

Great news for meal preppers: 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. (A little bonus? The flavors of the marinade meld together even more the longer it sits!)

Here’s what you’ll do:

  • Prep the marinade & store it in a jar or an airtight container in the refrigerator. The marinade will keep for up to 5 days.
  • When you’re ready to start marinating (refer to the suggested marinating times above), simply give it the marinade a shake & pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!
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.

How to use your lemon and herb marinade:

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

A few favorite pairings to try include:

  • Chicken. This lemon chicken marinade is the easiest way to add tons flavor to grilled chicken this summer. It works well with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, drumsticks, & even whole chicken.
  • Seafood. Lemon, garlic & herbs are all classic pairing for grilled salmon, grilled shrimp, or fish like mahi-mahi, swordfish, & tilapia.
  • Pork. Grilled pork chops & 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 & beef kabobs!
  • Veggies. Keep things simple & light by using this marinade to give the perfect bright & summery touch to your favorite grilled veggies.

No grill? No problem! 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 & finishing under the broiler. 

My ideal plate? ⇢ Grilled Lemon Chicken Thighs + Summer Salad! I love using this lemon chicken marinade to grill juicy, flavorful lemon chicken thighs, which pair perfectly with a simple seasonal salad like this pesto pasta salad with grilled veggies, my favorite Caprese Salad 2.0, or this lemony grated zucchini salad.

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.

I cannot wait for you to try this Lemon Herb Marinade recipe! It’s so simple yet SO flavorful, & 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 & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!

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

Print
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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.

Simple Lemon Herb Marinade

  • 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 & 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 & 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 & juice, garlic, olive oil, & chopped fresh herbs to a bowl or jar. season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt & 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 & no more than 30 minutes.
    • Chicken & Pork – At least 20 minutes & no more than 1 hour.
    • Beef – at least 20 minutes & up to 12 hours.
    • Veggies – at least 20 minutes & 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 & pour it over whatever meat or veggies you’re using it on – easy!

Keywords: Lemon herb marinade, lemon and herb marinade recipe, lemon garlic chicken, lemon chicken marinade, marinade recipe, easy, simple, no-cook, grilling & smoking, Italian, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan

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, Facebook, & Pinterest for more easy, modern recipes & fun!

Ready to Hit the Grill?

If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to Grilling 101, a compilation of tips & tricks for all of the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.

All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 15 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.

& lastly! Be sure to give @playswellwithbutter a follow on Instagram – I’ll be teaching you how to grill up some goodness all summer long, & we have so much fun on Instagram!

Want more grilling tips & recipes?

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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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