A two-ingredient marinade that doubles as a sauce

Great little recipe has the smallest ingredient list possible and everything in between: flavor, creativity, wow factor. That means five or less ingredients, not including water, salt, black pepper, and some fats (like oil and butter), because we’re assuming you’ve got them covered. Psst, have you heard that we are releasing a cookbook? We’re pulling out a cookbook!

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It’s hard, if not implausible, if not impossible, to think of a side dish that doesn’t go well with grilled chicken. Everything in your pantry works – potato salad, potato salad, the hodgepodge of cucumber and onion and celery in the crisper plus a piece of sour cream .

The only question is: are you going to marinate the chicken? And it is true that this is a trick question. Because the answer is actually another question: what cut of chicken do you use?

If it is bone-in thighs, of course, salt them thoroughly and then throw them into the flames. They are fat and juicy and tough enough to withstand heat. But if boneless, skinless breasts are your choice – and they cook so quickly, so evenly, so effortlessly, why wouldn’t they? – there is only one answer. Of course, I marinate the chicken.

A marinade is to meat what an Epsom salt bath is to me: a place to go after work, relax tight muscles, drink a martini, eat potato chips and read a magazine that I end up ditching. in the tub when my cat jumps up and scares me in the light of day.

Maybe the metaphor doesn’t hold up. But you get the idea.

A marinade is the culinary equivalent of personal grooming, an unnecessary, but glorious step. Especially with lean cuts that lack personality and tend to dry out, a good marinade increases flavor and tenderness to infinity and beyond.

Of course, there are many ingredient lists that can get you there. At a minimum, you will need salt for its flavorful superpowers, something fatty (like oil) for coating and richness, something sour (like citrus juice) to tenderize and add flavor. tangy, and something tasty (like herbs) for, you know, flavor.

On our site alone we have many marinades with many ingredients: This one with jalapeños, coriander stems, garlic, olive oil, sugar, salt and black pepper . This one with kombucha, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. This one with silky tofu, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, rice vinegar, salt and black pepper.

But for those days when you want to do less and get just as much, know that you can fall back on these two ingredients: mayonnaise and hot sauce.

As is the case with sandwich bread, the mayonnaise clings to the chicken, expertly enriching it with a good oily egg yolk and paving the way for better browning and charring (read: better flavor). The hot sauce takes care of everything else: the vinegar flavor and spiciness of the chili, not to mention the salt and flavors you chose for the hot sauce (I love Cholula’s Garlic and Buffalo’s Wing) – one thing! – from Frank’s).

The result is chicken breast that has the confidence of a chicken thigh.

And what is more? These two ingredients are not only a marinade, they are also a sauce. Simply stir them while the grilled chicken rests, adjusting the ratio to be as creamy or fiery as you want. Then serve it on the side for brushing and dipping, preferably outside, where you can still smell the smoke from the grill and watch the sun set in the sky.


Recipe: Back pocket marinade for grilled chicken

Preparation time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Servings: 2


Marinated chicken

  • 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 to 1 1/4 lb)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons of hot sauce (see author’s notes)
  • 1 pinch of kosher salt (optional)

Spicy mayo

  • / 4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of hot sauce, and more to taste


  1. Marinate the chicken: Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally. (If you’re over-performing, you can also mash them to a uniform thickness for more even cooking.) Add them to a container or zippered bag. Combine mayonnaise, hot sauce and a big pinch of salt (if using) in a bowl. Pour this marinade over the chicken and make sure the meat is completely covered. Refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.
  2. When you’re ready to eat, heat a grill over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. While it is heating, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and use your hands to squeeze out as much of the marinade as possible (this helps it brown better).
  4. Oil the grill grates, then add the chicken. Cover the grill and cook, 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Flip, cover again and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the other side is blackened and cooked through (165 ° F). Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the spicy mayonnaise: Mix the two ingredients and taste. Does he need more hot sauce? Adjust as needed.
  6. Serve the grilled chicken with the spicy mayonnaise for dipping.
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