Orange Marinated Chicken

The trick to quickly prepared meals is just a little foresight and planning. In this case you marinate the chicken pieces overnight, but once you take them out of the marinade, they take less than 20 minutes to cook. My father found this recipe on a local sausage maker’s calendar, of all places. We futzed with it a bit, pounded the chicken thighs for more even cooking, used olive oil instead of vegetable spray, and served it with some of my mother’s awesome Spanish rice. Loved it.

Orange Marinated Chicken Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 6.


  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (4 pounds if buying bone-in)
  • 6 oranges, peeled and seeded, coarsely chopped (or 2-3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 of a 7-ounce-can of chipotle chili peppers in adobo
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh marjoram leaves (or oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried of either)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Chopped fresh parsley and orange slices for garnish


1 In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped oranges, onion, chipotle in adobo, garlic, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and salt. Pulse a few times to make a coarse purée.

2 Put boneless chicken thighs between two sheets of wax paper and pound with a meat hammer until an even thickness of about 1/2-inch. Combine the chicken pieces and the orange marinade together either in a bowl or in a ziplock freezer bag. Refrigerate overnight.

3 Heat olive oil in a large cast iron pan on medium high heat. Remove chicken pieces from the marinade, wiping off excess (but not all) marinade. Working in batches, cook the chicken pieces for 5 minutes on each side.

Serve over rice or Spanish rice.

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Recipe adapted from one by the National Chicken Council

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Showing 4 of 14 Comments

  • Karen

    This sounds delicious and I have some chicken in the refrigerator, just waiting to be used. Breast, though, not thighs. I am not sure about the chipotle chili peppers, though. My family is not big on spicy peppers. Any suggestions on an alternative to the peppers? Or maybe it would be just fine without them?

    Hi Karen, this recipe is highly flavorful because it calls for chipotle and for chicken thighs. You can make it without the chipotle and with breasts instead, but the results won’t be the same. ~Elise

  • Trish in MO

    Elise, can you freeze it in the marinade? OK stop giggling, I just don’t know about these things hehe! But wouldn’t that be handy?

    Great question. Trader Joe’s freeze’s their New Zealand lamb chops in a rosemary marinade, you just defrost and cook. So, I it might work. The only thing I can see being an issue is that orange juice is acidic, and acid can break down the meat if marinated too long. I would try it and see if it works for you. ~Elise

  • may

    My mother had many hispanic coworkers and they taught her a very similar recipe for marinating meat for the grill (think El Pollo Loco style). It is delicious and we always have it at summer bbqs now. Their version uses Sunny D instead of fresh squeezed OJ, and you’d think that would make the chicken too sweet, but it works like a charm! You get nice, moist, lovely chicken.

  • Linda in Washington State

    Hi Elise!

    Great Chicken recipe. About the orange juice,
    alot of favor is in the peel of an orange. Chicken with orange peel can be frozen without breaking down the chicken.

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