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How Long Can You Marinate Chicken?


Marinating has become synonymous with taking your time. I know I sometimes call my time in the waiting room at the doctor’s office as my marinating session. I’m just sitting there doing nothing.

That’s not true of chicken that’s being marinated, though. It is soaking up the herbs and spices and juices and becoming more delicious. Marination is vital for producing the most flavourful, succulent chicken possible.

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If you want the flavour of herbs and spices to be permeated throughout the chicken and not just on the outside, then you need to marinate your bird before cooking it.

How long can chicken marinate for? It’s a question that is often asked by people who don’t have much experience with marinating. They have heard that marinating chicken takes a long time, but they don’t know how long. The answer can vary based on what you want to do with the chicken, how much time you have on your hands, and how flavourful you would like the chicken to be.

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Sometimes, a mild marination is desirable, especially if you still want a strong chicken flavour to the dish. The size of your chicken cuts will determine how long you need to marinate for. If you have some thick pieces of chicken, for instance, then it will take longer for the juice and herbs to penetrate all the way through the chicken. The marination process will take longer for it to be effective.

Let’s look at some of the specifics of marinating and why you might want to marinate for a certain period of time

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How Long Can I Marinate Chicken?

How you marinate will affect how long you need to marinate for. One example of that would be if you were to use a marination machine. This is basically a simple device that you put your chicken and seasonings into and then turn it on. The device will spin the contents around rapidly for as long as you like. In many cases, you just use the marination machine for about 30 minutes, and the chicken is well marinated.

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Not everyone has one of these in the corner of their kitchen, and they are usually only something that a restaurant would use, particularly fast food restaurants for speedy marination and food preparation.

When you are wondering how long can chicken marinate in the fridge, you are probably not thinking about taking it out every so often and shaking it vigorously. That would speed up the process, but it’s not feasible.

The minimum amount of time I would let chicken sit in the fridge to marinate before I would say it might be ready to eat and would be at least partially seasoned would be an hour. That’s the bare minimum, though, and I prefer much longer.

How long can chicken marinate in fridge and still be good to eat? The optimum time is about 6-8 hours, for medium cuts of chicken. Thicker cuts might need longer, as I mentioned.

How Long Can You Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk?

A buttermilk marinade can give your bird that really crispy, flavourful outer skin. If you want a crunchy bird that doesn’t just take like fried flour, then buttermilk batter is the way to go. If you want a great flavour that really gets into the chicken and makes it all taste succulent and delightfully Southern, then a buttermilk marinade is the way to go.

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How long can chicken marinate in fridge with buttermilk? I like to close mine up in a plastic resealable bag and let it sit there for as long as 24 hours. That’s really the maximum amount of time it needs, and any longer than that is unnecessary and you run the risk of letting your chicken go bad. Or at least it might not taste fresh.

What’s the minimum amount of time for that marinade to really get in there and do its job? That would be 12 hours, and while that is technically long enough for making a flavourful piece of chicken, it’s not ideal. I much prefer the 24-hour marinade, if you can swing it.

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How Long to Marinate in Lemon Juice?

Lemon chicken is probably may favourite Asian style chicken. I used to be a sweet and sour chicken lover, but the first time I tried really good lemon chicken, my favourites changed. Now, I make this whenever I can, and the secret is to have a really good marinade. Lemon juice works fine on its own as a marinade, but you can mix it with some other seasonings to give your chicken more flavour.

How long can you marinate chicken in lemon juice? This is the kind of marinade I would leave overnight in the fridge. You use the same method as the other one I have listed so far- put the chicken with your marinade into a resealable plastic bag and place in the fridge and leave it there for hours.

According to some chefs, the ideal time for lemon juice marinade and any citrus marinade is about 2 hours for chicken. Any longer than that may be diminishing the flavour and cause your chicken to taste off.

You can try both ways and see what works best for you, but I think those that say the marinade is affecting their chicken negatively after a few hours are probably using too strong of a marinade- too much citrus juice. Just use enough to give it a lemon flavour and not so much that it is drowning in the lemon juice, and your chicken should be fine to marinate for the entire night.

How long can chicken marinate in the refrigerator? That all depends on the marinade you are using, in most cases. How long is too long for marinating? I think anything over 24 hours is overkill and probably just happens because of bad planning or forgetfulness. Be sure to pull out your chicken at that point and start cooking it up rather than let it marinate for any longer.

My rule of thumb for marination time is that it is better to marinate for too long rather than for not long enough. You want that flavour to soak in there and to do its job, and it can’t if you rush the marination process.

You won’t speed things up by changing the temperature or giving your chicken less room in the bag. The only way to speed it up is by shaking the chicken, and that’s hard to keep up for long without a marinating machine.

If you are worried about marinating your chicken for too long, then you don’t need to be. It’s not really something I stress over, and I have never had problems with my chicken marinating for too long in the refrigerator.

You hear horror stories from time to time related to over-marination, but I think those people just marinated poorly, using improper proportions or bad storage methods. In most cases, you should be fine to leave your chicken to marinate for up to 24 hours.