One simple chicken marinade combines 1 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, oregano and basil with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine and a dash of salt and pepper. Place the marinade with chicken in a Ziploc bag, and let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes.
For a honey mustard flavor, combine 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a bit of lime and 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix well, and marinate for two hours. This marinade holds up particularly well on the grill.
For an Asian-inspired chicken dish, combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic and a splash of sesame oil in a bowl. Marinate the chicken for no more than 12 to 24 hours. Serve the chicken with rice to complete the meal.
The best marinades include three components. Start with an acid such as citrus, vinegar or wine. The acid breaks down the muscle fibers and tenderizes the meat. Secondly, you need an oil such as olive oil, canola oil or sesame oil. Oil helps protect the food while it's marinating and gets it ready for the grill or pan. Finally, a marinade needs herbs and spices for flavor.
Marinate the chicken anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours. You can use the same marinades on fish as well, but do not marinate fish for more than one hour.