Mom’s Marinated Grilled Chicken

It’s taken me awhile to share this marinade recipe, but mostly because the weather in Seattle has been so spotty and my grilling days are numbered due to excessive rain. Also a small part of me has kept this one close to the vest because it’s unique to my family and genuinely the best way I’ve ever discovered to grill chicken.

That being said, I can overcome my familial selfishness because the whole point of this blog is to share good recipes with my readers, and it would be wrong to withhold this marinade from all of you. Very much like several of my other dishes (*ahem* Caramel BrowniesSwiss SteakStuffed Peppers), I have my wonderful mom to thank for passing down such a great recipe to me, and from me to all of you!

Like most marinades, this gets better over time so the longer you can afford to let your chicken breasts marinade, the juicier and more flavorful it will be. I can usually come home from work around 5pm, throw this marinade together and serve dinner around 8pm, and the marinade has enough time to take effect. If possible though, this marinade can’t be beat if you let it soak into your chicken 4-8 hours.

Easy to prepare, quick to grill, this meal is a great summer dinner for the family or even just yourself. As my boyfriend (and frequent consumer of this chicken) will warn though: whole cloves are added to the marinade to give flavor – make sure that you don’t serve the chicken without a quick visual check to ensure no cloves are attached! Biting in to a whole clove is not pleasant (I speak from experience), so keep that in mind when you’re grilling and serving this chicken!

The quantities for this marinade are good for 2-4 chicken breasts; cut or double to meet your own needs!


  • 4 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1 tsp. basil leaves
  • 3 whole cloves
  • Salt/pepper to taste


  • In a medium-large container with a lid, mix together all ingredients.
  • Reserve a small amount of the marinade in a separate container (this will be used for basting, it’s worth it – promise!)
  • Add thawed chicken breasts and coat well.
  • Marinade in the refrigerator at least 1 hour (best after 4 hours!)
  • Heat grill between 350°F – 400°F and add chicken breasts.
  • After 6-8 minutes, baste the chicken breast with the reserved marinade and flip over.
  • Cook another 6-8 minutes and baste the other side of the chicken, flipping over after basted.
  • Continue basting/flipping until the chicken breast is completely cooked through.

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