To make an easy, flavorful marinade for chicken, whisk 1/4 cup olive oil together with 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 minced cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the chicken and the marinade to a dish or resealable bag to marinate for one to 12 hours.
To create a customized homemade marinade, Bon Appetit recommends using the following four elements: Oil or fat, acid, salty and sweet ingredients and aromatic vegetables. This basic formula offers nearly endless easy variations. For example, pink peppercorns, fresh cilantro, lime slices, rice wine vinegar, honey and olive oil. Another idea is to combine fish sauce with lime juice, palm sugar, scallions, garlic and sesame oil.
Classic, oil-based marinades are one way to add flavor and tenderize the chicken. Alternatively, yogurt or buttermilk-based marinades also help keep the meat juicy and tender. For example, Food & Wine's yogurt marinated grilled chicken maintains juicy meat even if it gets overcooked. To make a yogurt marinade, combine 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt with 1 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 3 minced cloves garlic. Season the marinade with 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the chicken for a minimum of three hours in the refrigerator.