Chicken is one of the easiest things to make, especially for a busy college student. But sometimes you just need to switch things up. The right marinade can take your chicken from "tastes like chicken" to "that's finger-lickin' good."  A marinade can't be a last minute thing. You have to let your chicken, well, marinate for at least an hour, but that makes it even better for college students. If you feel you need a study break, you can start on dinner by preparing a marinade of your choice, popping it and some chicken into the fridge, and then studying again (or not) until it's time to cook and eat. Then you get the reward and pride of making a delicious meal all by yourself and using your time wisely. Here are some ideas for grilled chicken marinades to step up your next meal-prep Sunday. 

1. Teriyaki Marinade

chicken, chicken wings, cutting board
Casey Tang

Made with soy sauce and sugar, teriyaki is a delicious and unique combination of flavor you can add to your next chicken dish. One of my favorite teriyaki chicken recipes includes white vinegar, garlic, and green onions. This dish is served best on top of rice and with some pineapple or mandarine oranges to accentuate the sweetness in the dressing. 

2. Lemon Marinade

Liza Keller

Sometimes a lighter marinade just hits the spot and this lemon chicken recipe does just that. It's made with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and a little bit of garlic — it's simple and delicious! To make full use of this recipe, you could add your leftovers to a crispy Caesar salad the next day.  

3. Spicy Peanut Marinade

If you're cooking for your roommates or perhaps a special someone, this classic spicy peanut Thai dish will 100% impress. It's spicy and creamy and the scent alone will make your home smell like a restaurant. It's great on rice or with steamed vegetables. 

4. Guinness Marinade

chicken, barbecue, sauce
Katherine Richter

Beer is a secret baking ingredient for a variety of breads and desserts, but did you know it's also a delicious marinade? If you have any leftover Guinness on hand, try this Guinness marinade recipe. You can enjoy it with a side of veggies or another drink — we won't tell anyone. 

5. Fajita Marinade

Instead of having your typical Taco Tuesday, you could try a hosting a Fajita Friday. Chicken fajitas are loaded with spice and flavor and your friends will absolutely love you for making this for them. Cut up some peppers and onions, heat a few tortillas, and then top them off with cheese/salsa/guac and you're ready for a good time!

6. BBQ Marinade

Barbeque is known for its saucy and smokey meats and its carb-loaded dishes like mac-n-cheese, cornbread, and potato salad. However, if you're in the mood for a bite of that classic summer taste, try this light BBQ rub recipe. It's low-cal and heavenly. If you're looking for some healthy BBQ side options, like sweet potato fries or cauliflower tater tots check out this article for inspiration. 

7. Apple Cider Marinade

An apple cider chicken marinade is juicy, tangy, and very simple to make. You can follow this recipe for a more authentic apple cider chicken marinade or if you're in a rush, you can cheat the system a bit by using this apple cider vinaigrette dressing and olive oil.

8. Shoyu Marinade

Shoyu chicken is kind of like teriyaki chicken, except it's Hawaiian. It's normally paired with rice and sometimes added to ramen. There also are so many other ways to cook chicken the Hawaiian way, like Chicken Katsu, Furikake Chicken and more! 

9. Honey Mustard Marinade

rice, cereal
Alex Weiner

It's cheap, it's easy, and it's healthy — have you ever read anything targeted more at a college student than that? This honey mustard grilled chicken marinade recipe is just what you need if you're trying to stay on budget, both financially and calorically. Add some rice and asparagus (like in the picture above) or maybe on top of a salad and you're done!

10. Pineapple Marinade

This one of a kind pineapple chicken recipe will certainly brighten up your week. The sweet pineapple flavor would excel in a stir-fry and/or on top of rice. Depending on how flavorful you want it, this grilled chicken marinade could need up to four hours to marinate, so plan accordingly. 

11. Harissa and Yogurt Grilled Chicken Breasts

meat, chicken, sauce, pork, vegetable
Ellen Gibbs

If you're in the mood for something with a kick, this harrisa and yogurt grilled chicken recipe is for you. It's spicy and creamy and the perfect way to end a long day. Pickled vegetables or a vegetable stir-fry would taste great with this dish. 

12. Miso Chicken

Elizabeth Barker

Miso is a taste that's hard to describe, but if you've had it once, you'll definitely want it again. To satisfy that miso craving or to taste it for the first time, try this miso chicken recipe. It's made with miso paste which can be tricky to find, but here's a list of places you might be able to get your hands on some!

13. Avocado Caprese Marinade

I should start by saying this caprese grilled chicken recipe is special because of its toppings, but that doesn't mean that the base (the chicken) isn't just as important. The balsamic-y, garlic-y, Italian-y flavor originates in the grilled chicken marinade, so when you have that right, the toppings you add just make it better. 

14. Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jamaican jerk chicken is known for being an explosive combination of smokey and spicy, and this recipe does not disappoint. FYI, you'll need a blender or a food processor to really combine the ingredients for this one. 

15. Red Wine Marinade

chicken, meat, pepper, bird
Hannah Linn

A red wine grilled chicken marinade, in my opinion, is the most classic recipe of them all. It's something you eat at a fancy dinner party, so if you're in the mood for a classic meal, this one's for you. You can eat it with Brussels sprouts or any veggie your heart desires.

If you don't have time to marinate your chicken, you can always roll it in some seasonings. These 12 seasonings for chicken breasts will definitely kick things up a notch.