Southwest Chicken Marinade

Grilled chicken is one of the most grilled meats in our house. Chicken is fast and easy to grill, making it perfect for weeknights. But after a while, you can start getting tired of the same old chicken meals. That is why we are always working on new marinades for our weeknight chicken meals. This Southwest Chicken Marinade is one we turn to for fajitas or serving over rice.

A good marinade has three main elements: an acid, an oil, and flavouring.

Southwest Chicken Marinade has the three elements needed to make a great marinade. All three elements are represented to give the chicken full flavour.

Bowl of marinadeThe acid in this marinade is lime juice, which is used in many Southwest dishes as well as drinks. Lime juice not only tenderizes the chicken, it also adds flavour.

The oil used is avocado oil because it has a higher smoke point, making it better for barbecuing and grilling. It doesn’t have a strong flavour so it won’t overpower the flavours of the spices.

The spices used are really what give this dish its flavour. Apart from the lime juice, the true flavours come from the chili powder, ground cumin, and cayenne.

The longer the marinating time, the better the flavour

Chicken should marinate for at least 4 hours, but I prefer to allow it to marinate overnight. A 12 to 15-hour marinate allows the chicken to absorb all the flavours.

We like to use boneless, skinless chicken for this recipe. Breasts or thighs, or a combination of the two. But bone-in chicken can also be used.

The marinade is thick so it sticks to the meat. Because of its thickness, it can also be used as a rub for a whole chicken. For a thicker rub, omit the chicken stock.

Chicken with Marinade

Uses for Marinated Chicken

We like to grill the chicken and use it in fajitas or serve it over Mexican or Spanish rice with a side salad. The grilled chicken is also excellent on top of a salad or added to a lettuce wrap.

Larger batches of chicken can be grilled and used for meal prep as well. It can be kept in the fridge once cooked for up to 3 or 4 days, making it a great meat for meal prepping.

One other way to serve marinated grilled chicken is on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and chipotle sauce. This way makes a great lunch or quick dinner when you have leftovers.

marinated chickenInstead of grilling, chicken can also be marinated and then cooked in a 350°F oven, covered for 45 to 60 minutes, then shredded for carnitas or tacos. Shredded chicken also tastes great in a burrito.

There are so many ways to use this marinated chicken. It can also be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge in a mason jar for up to a week before use.

Bowl of marinade

Southwestern Chicken Marinade

Prep Time 5 minutes
Course Marinade
Cuisine Southwestern


  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp coriander
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp chicken stock


  • Add all ingredients to a medium sized bowl.
  • Mix well. Marinade will be thick.
  • Pour over chicken and allow to marinade for 4 hours to overnight.

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