My Kids Ate It: Citrus Chicken

by Wendy Copley on June 18, 2013

Citrus Chicken

I really should have titled this post “My Kids Ate It and Ate It and Ate It. And Ate It.

Citrus Chicken is my new go to chicken recipe and I’ve been making it a ton over the past couple months. The simple marinade features garlic, orange and lime juices and it comes together really fast. And because it’s comprised of ingredients we almost always have on hand I can pull this recipe together at the spur of the moment.

And it’s versatile! Did I mention that it’s versatile? The original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but I make this most frequently using chicken thighs that I buy on sale. I’ve also used the marinade on my kids’ favorite chicken drumsticks and on boneless pork loin chops. The original recipe called for a quick saute, but I’ve also baked the meat in the oven. My favorite way to cook this chicken though is on the grill. The sweet juices permeate the meat and caramelize just a little to give it a light citrus flavor. If I have a little extra time, I like to mix about a cup of chicken broth with a few tablespoons of lemon or lime juice, reduce it down to about a third of a cup and pour it over the top of the chicken at the table. This gives it a delicious little pop.

Citrus Chicken

Citrus Chicken
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (I often sub in parsley from the pot on the back deck)
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5-6 large chicken thighs (I’ve also used chicken breasts and drumsticks with great success)

Preparation

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Pour juice mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag. Add chicken to bag. Seal; let stand over night or for as much time as you have. (Half an hour or even five minutes works fine.)
  2. Heat grill to medium heat. Coat grates with a thin layer of oil. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Grill chicken until cooked through.

Modifications

I’ve already spelled out some of the variations I’ve made to this recipe up above. I use chicken breasts, thighs, drumsticks and pork loin chops. And sometimes I bake or saute the chicken instead of grilling. I also leave out the ground red pepper that the recipe originally called for because that would be a deal-breaker for my four-year-old but I think it would be a great addition if you were serving this to people who like a little heat.

But my best modification is that I’ve started making up packets of this recipe in advance and keeping it in the freezer. My grocery frequently puts max packs of chicken thighs on sale for $5. When I pick some of these up, I make a triple batch of the marinade, divide it between three freezer bags, and add 5 or 6 thighs to each packet. I lay the bags flat on a cookie sheet and freeze them solid, then store the packets in the freezer to use later. If I let the chicken defrost in the fridge over night, it gives the meat plenty of time to marinate as it thaws.

Citrus Chicken -- ready for the freezer

The Verdict

My family loves this recipe! Citrus flavors are some of my favorites, but my husband and the kids love this too. It’s mild enough that the boys will eat it, but it has enough extra flavor to keep the grown-ups happy too. Win-win!

What are your favorite recipes to stash in the freezer? Do you ever double or triple a dish to save time down the line?

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  • I love the frozen pre-marinated packets! Genius.
    Definitely a good go-to recipe – and anything that can stand modification and stands up to kids is a win. I would love it with the red pepper but, like you said, that’s a deal-breaker for my daughter. She loves lemon and lime, though, so that’s a no-brainer.
    I often make casserole meals that I know are way too big for the three of us to handle and freeze several nights of casserole dinner for another time. There’s always a day when we need a quick pull from the freezer meal. Some that have worked well for us are a Spanish rice we love, a one-skillet Mexican chicken and rice that freezes beautifully, a beef enchilada casserole I just found on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago – fantastic. Stuffed pepper casserole works nicely, too – we chop up the peppers inside the stuffing because none of us cares for the cooked pepper shells.

  • Meghana Paranjape

    This was a super hit with my kids. I used rosemary instead of thyme. And baked it instead of grilling. But boy, dinner was gone in no time!
    I am going to try grilling next time…and am also thinking of doing an adult version of it by adding some green chilies to it. We love spicy food! đŸ™‚
    Thanks so so much for this recipe.

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