This is the best Greek marinade – it’s bursting with flavour and works on a variety of meats. Want lamb gyros, you definitely need this marinade. Juicy chicken thighs? This marinade; It has a wonderful way of working into the meat keeping it juicy and succulent after cooking with the added bonus of being incredibly flavourful.

  • It tastes tangy and rich in umami.
  • So quick and easy to make.
  • Creates beautifully tender meat.
  • Versatile – use it on everything from meats to roast vegetables.
  • Customisable – I’ve added options for you to change it up to suit you!

And it’s versatile. I originally created this as a Greek lamb marinade but it adds amazing Mediterranean flavour to everything from lamb chops to chicken thighs and prawns/shrimp too. The same thing happens every time – juicy meat that’s tender and makes you want more.

Consider it your new go to Greek lamb marinade or Greek chicken marinade or, hey, why not drizzle over some pan-fried potatoes while they cook (did that and it rocks).

If you love this, you’ll also love these Greek lamb kebabs and my Greek seasoned chicken that so many readers make every month.

A small glass jar filled with marinade.

Ingredients you’ll need

You only need 8 basic ingredients for this Greek marinade and I’m willing to bet you have most, if not all, on hand right now.

Ingredients for Greek marinade on a baking tray.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Olive oil: First up you need a good quality olive oil but I actually prefer a lighter flavoured version so the other flavours can shine. Oil holds everything in the marinade together and adds moisture to the meat. You can also swap it for other oils like rice bran oil or avocado oil.
  • Lemon juice: Every good marinade needs a source of acid to tenderise the meat. In Greek cooking, lemon is an absolute classic flavour and that’s what we use here. The natural sugar in lemon also helps to create the most amazing caramelised edges to your Greek chicken or lamb or whatever you’re using it on.
  • Fresh flavours: Loads of fresh garlic and fresh thyme add great flavour.
  • Spices: For dried spices, we use;
    • Paprika: an often overlooked, but very Greek ingredient that adds sweet, earthy flavour.Salt: Salt not only adds flavour but also helps to make the meat juicier.Dried oregano: One of the most classic Greek herbs and they do use it a lot dried. If you have fresh, you can use that and add double the amount.
    • Dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes): These are for flavour and a touch of spice but you can leave them out if you prefer.

Variations / substitutions

  • Herbs: While I prefer fresh thyme here you can use dried (halve the amount). Another great herb in Greek cooking is mint though it is quite a strong flavour so don’t go too heavy.
  • Yogurt: You can add some full fat Greek yogurt to your marinade, just a couple of tablespoons will go a long way to helping to further tenderise the meat and add some tang and will also add a great crust to meats when you grill them.
  • Lemon: I definitely think you need to keep a good hit of lemon in this recipe but if you don’t have quite enough juice in yours, feel free to make up the difference with red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.

How to make it (step-by-step)

Next to the flavour and moisture it adds, the wonderful thing about this Greek style marinade is how easy it is. Just mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, container or zip lock bag – it takes all of 5 minutes – then add the meat.

Ingredients for Greek marinade in large bowl.
Place the marinade ingredients in a dish or zip lock bag.
The marinade mixed together in a large bowl.
Whisk the marinade ingredients together.
8 lamb chops covered in marinade in a glass dish.
Add the meat and massage the marinade all over. Chill up to 24 hours.

If you want to make it ahead, just add all the ingredients to a mason jar and give them a good shake up. It will keep perfectly for 6 days in the fridge.

Marinating time

First things first, it is possible to over-marinate meat so the rule of thumb is to marinate no longer than 24 hours. Longer than that and the meat can take on a strange mushier texture that isn’t so pleasant – this is because the acid in marinades actually breaks down muscle fibres. You want to keep some of that fibre in the meat for a meaty texture.

As little as 1-2 hours is often enough for smaller cuts of meat or more delicate cuts. My Greek lamb kebabs marinate for just that long and turn out to be so incredibly tender using this Greek marinade.

  • Chicken and pork: These meats are best marinated anywhere up to 6 hours.
  • Beef and lamb: Red meats and gamey meats can withstand longer marinating times and you can marinate them up to overnight.
  • Fish and prawns: These very delicate meats are best marinated for no longer than an hour. For fish especially, 20-30 minutes is enough.

Keep in mind, the above can be used as a guide but even 1-2 hours in marinade for any of these proteins does wonders to it’s flavour and texture.

5 Greek lamb kebabs on a dark tray.

How much meat will this marinade cover?

This is a stick to the meat kind of marinade, not the type that will run off when you lift the meat out. This will marinate 500g of meat beautifully and even up to 1kg of meat just fine. If you do go for the larger portion, the recipe does double easily and this way you can make sure every bit is loaded with flavour.

Storage and meal prep

Keep marinating meats in an airtight container or a large ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

The marinade itself can be made and store in the fridge in an airtight container or a mason jar for up to 6 days.

Closeup of the top of the marinade.

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Top down view of marinade in a jar with lemons and thyme around it.
5 from 3 ratings
A simple and delicious Greek marinade perfect for lamb, chicken, pork and beef. With flavour from lemon, garlic, herbs and spices, it’s a game-changer for perfect tender meat.


  • 1 medium lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped, discard stalks (roughly 2 teaspoons of leaves)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (notes 1)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes), optional

For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided


  • Zest then juice the lemon. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to a large bowl (if there isn’t enough juice in your lemon, you can make up the difference with a little white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar).
  • Add the remaining marinade ingredients – garlic, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt, oregano, paprika and dried chilli flakes. Mix well.
  • Add the meat and toss to coat well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. See the post for suggested marinating times.
  • When ready to cook, simply lift out the meat and cook – no need to blot or drain.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.


  1. Tablespoons: I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon equal to 4 teaspoons. Check yours before measuring.
  2. Yield: This recipe is perfect for up 500g of meat but will cover up to 1kg. Feel free to double the recipe for the latter.
  3. Serving suggestions: Delicious for the perfect Greek style lamb souvlaki, skewered with red onions and capsicum (bell pepper). Serve with a simple Greek salad of tomatoes and cucumber or wrapped in pita with tzatziki sauce. Also great for roast or pan-fried veggies.

More Information

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Have you tried this recipe?Don’t forget to leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it was! I love hearing from you. Nutrition information is approximate and derived from an online calculator. The brands you use may cause variations.
Nutrition Facts
Greek Marinade
Amount Per Serving
Calories 34 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 0.4g3%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Sodium 583mg25%
Potassium 38mg1%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 0.3g0%
Protein 0.3g1%
Vitamin A 261IU5%
Vitamin C 6mg7%
Calcium 18mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.