If you miss marinating your chicken in store-bought Italian dressing (I sure did!), then this homemade version will satisfy that craving. A dairy & gluten-free version, this infuses chicken with flavor and juiciness. Easy to assemble and worth the wait while it marinades, this will be your go-to chicken flavoring all grilling season long! This marinade is also free of the top-8-free allergens!
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During the summer months my mom would often grill chicken that she’d marinated in store-bought Italian dressing. It was a dinner I looked forward to as it added lots of zest and flavor to the chicken. Depending on the brand of Italian dressing, it will have wheat/gluten and it always has dairy–which is a problem if you have to avoid both due to food allergies like we do.
I knew there had to be a way to make Italian dressing dairy-free, so I set out a few years ago and we have loved this allergy-friendly recipe ever since! I’m sorry I’ve sat on it for so long!
This recipe has even been featured on a local talk show, Fox 13’s The Place. Check it out, if you’d like to see how to make it:
Not only do I make this gluten & dairy-free chicken recipe all summer long, but I even make it in the winter months using my indoor grill pan. This recipe is just too good to only enjoy for a few months out of the year!
The great thing about this recipe is that it uses all pantry staples, at least for me. If you’re new to dairy-free cooking, the only thing you might have to get would be some nutritional yeast. You’re going to want to go ahead and get some now anyways–because it’s the best seasoning if you want that cheesy flavor. I know it sounds odd, but since learning about it, I use it in a ton of recipes. It won’t give you that same texture, but it is like a thickener (think a yellow powder) that gives the taste of cheese in sauces. In fact, here are two other recipes you can use it on: Gluten & Dairy-free Spinach Sausage Pasta & Egg & Dairy-free Frittata Cups.
As with all marinades, the longer the chicken can marinade the better. I love to do mine overnight, or at least throw it together in the morning. I’d say 8 hours minimum, but I’m a flavor junkie. Another way to help the chicken really get maximum flavor is by trimming and cutting it before you marinade it. I used to just throw in the large chicken breasts straight from the store, but the marinade can only penetrate so much. Now, I go ahead and butterfly the chicken breasts (or smaller, since we have kids) into what I’ll actually be grilling, instead of waiting to cut it right before I grill. Try it! It’s the best grilling secret I’ve found in awhile!
The lemon, garlic and traditional Italian seasonings bring back all of the original flavors of the store-bought version in my homemade recipe. I hope that this helps bring back classic grilling flavors into your summer. Who says you can’t have your childhood favorites just because you have food allergies and restrictions?
I’ve made this many times for family get togethers and everyone enjoys it–food allergies or not!
Remember–sharing is caring, so if you know someone that needs a gluten & dairy-free chicken recipe, be sure to share this with them!
PS–If you’re wondering what else we like to have at allergy-friendly BBQs, I often do my German Potato Salad, watermelon, baked potato chips, corn on the cob and baked beans…but sorry–the baked beans recipe is in my upcoming cookbook, so you’ll have to wait until spring 2019! And for dessert, we love for a crowd my chocolate sheet cake.
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (this really doesn't add much heat-I promise!)
- 5 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (you can use chicken thighs too!)
- Place all of the ingredients, except the oils, in a blender. With the lid slightly ajar (enough to pour something in, but enough to keep splatters out) hit blend and slowly pour the oils in while the machine is going. This helps the oils incorporate.
- Trim and cut your meat (the thinner, the faster it will grill, and the more flavorful it will be). Place it in a zip top plastic bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken.
- Lay the bag full of your chicken and marinade flat (this ensures even marinating) in your fridge for 8-24 hours and allow it to marinade. (I like to set it on a plate, just in case the bag opens and spills.)
- When you're ready to grill, discard any marinade and cook until the chicken registers 165 degrees F.
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Looking for more dairy-free chicken recipes? Here’s some of my favorites: