Marinated Citrus Garlic Chicken

Marinated Citrus Garlic ChickenWithout question, this recipe is one of my favorites. It’s one of my most popular dishes on a moderately hot spring/summer afternoon. I’m reminded of the time I made it for a potluck picnic at an outdoor festival one time and everyone was shy at first. Afraid to grab a bite. Once they did? They wiped me out…which was a good thing. It was there to be eaten. It’s also perfect for any night of the week where you need something quick. The key is to use fresh juices and invest some time and let the chicken marinate in what we call “mojo”.


10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 cup FRESH lime juice (Tiny plastic green lime-looking bottles taste like, well, tiny plastic bottles)
2 cups orange juice (Fresh oranges are ideal, but can get pricey. See below for juice tip)
1/2 cup FRESH lemon juice
10-15 cloves crushed garlic. Don’t laugh…who doesn’t love garlic? Besides, some cloves are larger than others.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1-2 tbsp. dried cumin.  More if you like more, less if you like less.
Freshly ground black pepper


Mix all of the juices, garlic, oil and spices together. In Latin American markets you can find “Naranja Agria” (Sour Orange Juice) that is what marinates the chicken. It’s harder to find sometimes and if you use orange juice out of the carton its typically too sweet to do its job. That’s part of the reason we add lemon and lime, for acidity. I find though, that store bought juice is just soooo sweet that 3/4 cup (combined) of squeezed juices don’t give us that tartness we are looking for. So I use a tiny bit of regular white vinegar. One teaspoon usually does the trick. Don’t be afraid to taste it, you are looking for a “sour orange” taste.

Once you have the juices and spices mixed to your liking, grab yourself a ziploc-type bag and toss your chicken in. I like thighs because they don’t dry out as quickly as breasts. I like boneless because it’s easier. But in this instance you can use whatever kind of chicken you’d like. Squeeze the air out of the bag, close it and put it in the ‘fridge. That’s it.

I have never made this recipe without marinating at least 8-9 hours. Overnight is better. Thirty-six hours is better than that. Marinate them on a Sunday and they are perfect for a Tuesday or even Wednesday night on the grill. Of course, weekends were made for grilling right? Do your busy work on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon is a snap!

Speaking of the easy part, once you’ve decided when you are going to make them, fire up the grill. Get it nice and hot. I like to go full blast on my outdoor grill. These guys will cook pretty quickly and you want them to get some nice color that high heat will bring you. The kind of heat you are using will depend on how long they need to cook. Make sure they are cooked through with a nice char on the outside and you are good to go!

With potato salad? Macaroni salad? Heck, they make great sandwiches or wraps as well. 


Eat It and Like It launched in Savannah, Georgia with television personality Jesse Blanco as the host. His passion for food and travel has made Eat It and Like It a two-time EMMY nominated program about contemporary and traditional Southern food.