This chicken thigh marinade is the perfect blend of mustard (2 kinds!), garlic, maple syrup, brown sugar, vinegar and seasonings. It is so simple and so good, it could be used to marinate socks!
This is one of those marinade recipes that’s wonderful on every single kind of meat you could consume — salmon, steak, pork tenderloin, chicken in all its varieties, etc. I love when when I find a fail-proof marinade recipe like that! We used to make this chicken all the time when the blog first began, but over the years you slowly start to try new things and before you know it, without even meaning to, you’ve forgotten some of the things that you love the most.
Boy, if that’s not symbolic of life, I don’t know what is!
This chicken thighs marinade recipe is one that is simply whisked together, can easily be adapted if needed (see notes below) and works just as well marinating 30 minutes as it does for hours. But beware, not all meats can handle it the same, so check out the entire post.
And if you haven’t already, you absolutely must take a second to pin our other marinade recipes like:
We are about to send our first off to college in a year, another is deep in the waters of Jr High and still our caboose is entering the battlefield of the elementary school playground. If there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that family dinners are an absolute must to stay connected to one another. I would bet that it’s even life-saving for families. But with three kids at three different schools and totally different needs I can easily feel like I’m running around and never slowing down. This recipe is loved by everyone around the dinner table!
Ingredients for Chicken Thigh Marinade
The best marinades have a little salt, a little sweet, a little acid, and a little spice. This marinade recipe checks all the boxes. Here is what you will need:
- Chicken Thighs: boneless, skinless
- Dijon Mustard: pale yellow in color but bold in tangy flavor
- Stone Ground Mustard: adds texture to the marinade and the teeny tiniest bit of heat
- Garlic: adds flavor
- Dark Brown Sugar: light brown can be used, dark brown just has a richer flavor
- Maple Syrup: be sure to use the real stuff, Grade A
- Oregano or Marjoram: I used dried herbs for this recipe, but you can use fresh if you want. You’ll want to half the amount down to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Rice Vinegar: adds acid and brightens the marinade
- Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper: season to taste
The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of this post. You can also print or save the recipe there.
You can feel free to swap out any of the mustards for whatever ones you like best. Use spicy brown for more heat, honey mustard for more sweetness, etc. You can also change up the herbs – basil, thyme, marjoram, and oregano all works great.
Should You Poke Holes in Chicken Before Marinating?
No, no and more no! You should never poke holes in any meat for marinating. It drains the natural juices in the meat and results in a drier finished product.
How Long to Marinate Chicken Thighs
Chicken thighs are pretty easy to please when it comes to marinating. You can leave them at room temperature for as little as 30 minutes or they can marinate in the refrigerator overnight up to 24 hours. I wouldn’t recommend going any longer than 24 hours though. The meat starts to break down and get tougher.
If you’re looking to make this recipe ahead of time, the marinade can be made up to 3 days ahead of time. Then just add it to the chicken to marinate for up to 24 hours.
Other Marinating Times
Not all meats are created equal when it comes to marinating. Chicken breasts should never be marinated using this marinade for more than 6 hours. Beef (like steaks or roasts) and pork can handle over night, up to 24 hours.
What is a Safe Temperature for Chicken Thighs?
Chicken thighs are considered safe to eat when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I like to pull them out of the oven around 160 degrees and then while they rest, they come up to 165.
How to Bake Chicken Thighs in the Oven
If you want to use the oven for this recipe rather than the grill, preheat the oven to 475 degree and bake them for 5 minutes. Then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. If the tops aren’t as golden and crispy as you want, you can broil them for a couple of minutes but keep a close eye on them!
Ways to Use Marinated Chicken Thighs
If you end up with some leftover thighs, you can slice them up and toss them with some pasta. They also go great on a sandwich or wrap or tossed in a salad.
What to Eat with Grilled Chicken Thighs
Here are a few ideas for some great side dishes to eat with this chicken main dish:
Store: Grilled chicken thighs will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 4-5 days.
Reheat: My favorite way to reheat grilled chicken thighs is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the thighs in a baking dish and add about a cup of chicken broth. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes.
If you want to reheat them a little quicker, just zap them in the microwave. They tend to dry out in the microwave though.
Freeze: These marinated chicken thighs freeze great. Once they have cooled completely. Place them in a ziplock bag and get as much air out as possible (using a food saver would be an even better option). They will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat according to the instructions above.
Can you freeze chicken in the marinade?
You can also freeze the chicken in the marinade before grilling if you prefer. Place the chicken and the marinade in a ziplock back and freeze immediately. When you are ready to eat it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then grill as directed.
Chicken thighs are a budget-friendly, flavorful and healthy protein. After letting them soak in all the delicious flavors of this chicken thigh marinade, you’ll be grilling up maple mustard chicken thighs alllllllll summer long!
More Juicy Chicken Thigh Recipes:
In a small bowl, combine the mustards, garlic, brown sugar, maple syrup, oregano (or marjoram) and rice vinegar. Whisk until completely smooth and well incorporated.
1/3 Cup Dijon Mustard, 1 1/2 Tablespoons Stone Ground Mustard, 1 Clove Garlic, 2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, 3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup, 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano or Marjoram, 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
Pour 3/4 of the sauce into a ziploc and place the remainder into a small tupperware. Add the chicken thighs in and sprinkle evenly with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Squish to coat everything.
6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs, Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
Refrigerate for at least 30min or up to overnight.
Remove the meat from the fridge and let rest on the counter for 5-8 minutes. (It is always best to cook meat that is not straight out of the fridge.)
Heat your grill to medium high heat and use an oiled paper towel to grease the grill grates, then place the thighs on the grill.
Grill for 4-6 minutes per side (depending on the size of the thigh)
Flip the chicken and baste with the sauce.
Continue to cook through, 3-5 minutes.
Remove from the grill and tent with foil.
Let rest for 2-3 minutes and then serve!
- Light Brown Sugar can be used