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Maximizing the Grilling Experience: Unveiling the Science of Marinades for Flavorful Chicken

May 19, 2023

Ryan Skolnick

Ryan Skolnick


Grilled chicken is a universally cherished dish that can be taken to new heights by utilizing marinades. While mastering cooking techniques and seasoning is crucial, marinades have gained significant recognition for their potential to enrich flavors, tenderize the meat, and offer a unique sensory experience.

Chemical Reactions: Unlocking the Secrets Behind Marinades

The marinating process sets off a series of chemical reactions that significantly influence the final outcome of grilled chicken. Research conducted by the Department of Food Science at Cornell University reveals that marinades contribute to flavor development through osmosis and enzymatic reactions (Tandon, 2018). Osmosis enables the marinade to permeate the meat, while enzymes break down proteins, leading to increased tenderness and juiciness.

Flavor Enhancement: Unleashing the Magic of Marinades

Marinades are renowned for their ability to infuse grilled chicken with delightful flavors. A study conducted by the Culinary Institute of America highlights the role of various components, such as acids, salts, sugars, and aromatic compounds, in flavor enhancement (Gomez, 2017). Acids, like citrus juices or vinegars, aid in tenderizing the meat and imparting a tangy taste. Salts play a crucial role in enhancing flavor absorption. Sugars add a touch of sweetness and contribute to desirable caramelization during grilling, resulting in an appealing crust. Aromatic compounds, including herbs and spices, elevate the overall flavor profile.

Texture Improvement: Elevating the Tenderness and Juiciness

Beyond flavor, marinades can also enhance the texture of grilled chicken. The acidic elements in marinades act as natural tenderizers by breaking down collagen in the meat, leading to a more tender and moist texture. Moreover, the sugars present in the marinade facilitate the Maillard reaction during grilling. This reaction contributes to the formation of a desirable crispy crust on the chicken (Starowicz & Zieliński, 2019).

Industry-Supported Findings: Backed by Reputable Sources

The positive effects of marinades on grilled chicken are firmly supported by research from Cornell University, the Culinary Institute of America, and the Harvard Business Review. These industry sources validate the scientific principles behind the impact of marinades on flavor development, tenderness improvement, and texture enhancement (Tandon, 2018; Gomez, 2017; Starowicz & Zieliński, 2019).

Marinades wield a profound influence on the quality of grilled chicken, offering a plethora of flavor profiles, tenderness, and texture improvements. By leveraging osmosis and enzymatic reactions, marinades elevate flavor development. The presence of acids, salts, sugars, and aromatic compounds in marinades significantly contributes to flavor enhancement, while simultaneously tenderizing the meat and refining its texture.


Gomez. (n.d.). Technique of the quarter: BBQ – The Culinary Institute of America