This inspired recipe for Kelly’s Overnight Chicken requires a simple marinade recipe that creates the sauce and tender chicken every time. After a hands-free rest in the fridge and bake in the oven, it’s a weeknight dinner we all need.
When I was visiting my friend Kelly in Charleston, I went through her recipes and picked out a few, and this is now a staple at our house. This chicken recipe is great because you need to start it the day before, hence the name Kelly’s Overnight Chicken.
So when I’m making dinner the night before, I throw this together. Then when dinner rolls around the next day, you put the chicken in the oven and throw some green beens in the steamer, maybe a salad and dinner is ready.
This chicken is my favorite combination of sweet and savory. The marinade becomes a sauce and the chicken is incredibly tender. Really, you need to make this.
How Long Can You Marinate Chicken?
The timeframe for marinating chicken depends on the ingredients in the marinade. The trick is to refrain from using vinegar or acid in the marinade to keep the meat from breaking down. (If an acidic ingredient is present, such as vinegar, citrus juice or yogurt, the maximum marination time is 2 hours).
This recipe is so simple, you’ll wonder why you never set chicken in the fridge to marinate overnight before.
All it takes is 4 marinade ingredients (which you probably already have on hand) and the chicken.
For the marinade, you will need honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce and curry powder. Grab a package (or two) of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and you’re halfway there.
Honey. My family’s favorite honey is Orange Blossom, but use whatever you have on hand. The honey naturally caramelizes when the chicken bakes in the oven, creating a fabulously sweet, browned, savory sauce.
Soy Sauce. Regular or low-sodium both work. I do not add any additional salt since the condiments provide enough seasoning on their own.
Curry Powder. Curry powder is usually a mixture of chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground ginger, pepper and turmeric (which gives it that golden-hue). It can be bought in mild, medium or hot strengths, but my family prefers mild. Ingredient and flavor combinations will vary by brand.
Chicken. Four large or six small chicken breasts provide just the right amount of meat for an equal meat-to-marinade ratio. Purchase one or two packages, depending on how your chicken breasts are sold at stores. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs would be a wonderful alternative. I would use 8-10 small thighs for this recipe.
How To Make Overnight Chicken
Once you have the sweet and savory components mixed together, give it a good rest in the fridge and you have dinner ready to be cooked the next day.
Prepare the marinade. Mix together the honey, mustard, soy sauce and curry powder.
Give it a rest. Put the chicken and marinade in a plastic bag or glass container and marinate overnight.
Bake! The next day, put the chicken and the marinade in a pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for one hour covered with tin foil.
Baste and caramelize. Uncover the chicken and baste. Cook another 15 minutes.
Finish and serve. Slice and top with some of the remaining sauce.
What Makes This Overnight Chicken Recipe So Good?
Kelly is a dear friend of mine and her recipes are always incredibly delicious and ridiculously simple. I love to make this recipe for my family because:
- It requires 5 minutes of prep and minimal clean-up.
- Marinating the chicken overnight makes it a set-it-and-forget-it recipe.
- All I have to do the next day is turn on the oven and prep a green veggie for a complete, well-balanced meal.
I can’t think of anything this sweet and savory chicken dish wouldn’t go well with. My kids absolutely love it, too.
Top Tips For Overnight Chicken Marinade:
- Marinate overnight and up to 24 hours. The fact that there is no acid in the marinade allows the chicken to sit in the mixture for so long. After the 24 hour mark, however, the chicken will begin to breakdown.
- Baste and keep cooking. The final 15 minutes of baking the chicken uncovered allows the sugars to caramelize and the sauce to thicken. Make sure you don’t skip it!
More Chicken Recipes //
- Air Fryer Everything Chicken Fingers
- Healthier Orange Chicken and Vegetables
- Sour Cream Chicken
- Chicken with Boursin Mushroom Sauce
- Easy Weeknight Chicken Curry
- Baked Balsamic Chicken
Originally published in November 2010, updated August 2020 with updated images and updated recipe card.