Do you love Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Dressing? Us too, but we only just tried it as an Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken and it’s the best chicken marinade yet!!

A close up of Asian Ginger Marinade for grilled chicken being sliced with a fork and a knife

When Carrian and I were first married we loved heading to a favorite Japanese Steakhouse with our friends and there was this really yummy Ginger Dressing served over a very simple, crisp ice burg lettuce salad and all of us loved starting our meal with it. Sometimes simple really is best. The other day we were chatting about how long ago that all seems and we decided to recreate the dressing. As we tasted it I couldn’t help but think how great it would be for a main dish and this Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe was born. 

Marinating always sounds like one extra step, but it’s Carrian’s favorite thing to do because she can start dinner whenever she has an extra five minutes and then tomorrow’s meal is all prepped and ready to go the next day. No slaving in the kitchen or last minute realizing dinner is in 30 minutes and you have nothing prepared.

Carrian and I love marinade because it also flavors meat, especially chicken so well and all you have to do it let it sit in the fridge. When we were finishing up college it was a great way for us to concentrate on school and our jobs, but still come home and have a healthy meal together. Now that we have children to care for it also allows us to be less stressed before meal time as half of the work is already done.

a dark grey platter with a bed of fresh cilantro piled with Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe

The Asian Ginger Marinade for Chicken has a lot of flavor, but it’s still a simple enough flavor combination that kids will eat it and enjoy it too. And you know how picky our two year old is, so that says a lot.

We just keep doing the same thing, make dinner, put it in front of him, don’t make it a fuss but help him at least try a bite and if that’s all he takes we consider it a win still. No separate meals or you have to eat the whole thing before you leave. All of that eventually seems to backfire, so instead we make meal time about the people until their little palates change and it becomes about the food too.

Of course we still get frustrated too. Toddlers are the best and the worst. We just tag team it. If I get annoyed, Carrian takes over and vice versa. It’s all about little steps and being on the same side as parents.

Japanese Ginger Dressing is a simple combination of ingredients, but each one has an important role, so this is one of the few recipes that we don’t recommend making substitutions for or skipping ingredients. Let’s break our Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken down.

a dark grey platter with a bed of fresh cilantro piled with Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe

How to Make a Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Dressing

Japanese ginger dressing is made by whisking together a vinegar, oil and fresh garlic and ginger along with a few other ingredients. Let’s break down the most important ones first.

  • Ginger

Obviously you can’t make a ginger dressing or marinade without ginger, but you’re going to want to use fresh ginger as it packs the best flavor, especially for a dressing that you want to taste clean and not dull.

  • Fresh Ginger vs Ground Ginger 

Is ground ginger the same as fresh ginger? Yes and no. Ground ginger does come from actual ginger, but you can’t think of them as exactly the same as fresh packs a bigger punch and flavor with it.

  • Substituting Ground Ginger for Fresh Ginger

If you absolutely must substitute ground ginger in place of fresh ginger you can use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger in place of 1 tablespoon fresh ginger and vice versa.

  • How Can I Substitute Ground Ginger?

There isn’t a substitute for ground ginger, especially in a ginger dressing.

  • Peanut Oil

Peanut Oil is much like ginger in that it has a distinct flavor compared to other oils. While you can substitute for other oils like canola or olive oil, the flavor won’t be exactly the same so we don’t recommend it.

Side note- peanut oil is the best oil for frying foods. It maintains a higher heat without burning. 🙂

  • Shredded Carrot

Shredded carrot may seem an unlikely ingredient but it adds a little sweetness to cut through the vinegar and adds a little more color to the marinade.

  • Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is another unique flavor that should be kept in the recipe unless you’re absolutely desperate. It has a more mild flavor so a balsamic or red wine vinegar won’t be a great substitute. However, if you do need a rice vinegar substitute try cider vinegar.

  • Garlic

Garlic and ginger go so well together it would be a shame to not add garlic to this dish. If you must substitute out the fresh garlic, dried or ground garlic powder would be fine.

  • How Much Garlic Powder Equals One Clove of Garlic

Let’s say you can’t get to the store for a head of garlic, how much garlic powder equals one clove of garlic? 1/8 teaspoon is about 1 clove of garlic according to google, but I usually go for 1/2 teaspoon.

a dark grey platter with a bed of fresh cilantro piled with Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe

When to Marinate Chicken

There’s always the question of when should you marinate your chicken. We believe the best answer is 12-24 hours before cooking it as the flavors really develop and have time to sink into the meat.

However, that’s not always possible, so aim for at least two hours before dinner.

Will Marinade Preserve Chicken?

Marinade doesn’t really preserve chicken, but it can certainly toughen it. Any marinade with acid like lemon juice or lime juice can toughen meat. We like to use zest and some juice as the zest packs extra flavor without the acid to help with this. This Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken won’t have that issue.

How Long Will Marinated Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Marinated chicken can sit in the fridge for up to 2 days according to the USDA and we totally agree. After that you’re pushing it. If we won’t be using it after 24 hours we throw it in the freezer for up to 2 weeks, or longer if we used a Food Saver.

Can You Cook Marinade from Chicken?

Whatever is on the chicken can be cooked, but don’t reserve the liquid for basting or to turn into a sauce as it has come into contact with raw meat and should be disposed of. This is why we often make a marinade and instruct in the recipe to set some aside in another container.

a dark grey platter with a bed of fresh cilantro piled with Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe

Can Marinade be Frozen?

Most marinades can easily be frozen in ziploc bags, laid flat in the freezer. If your freezer has metal bars and not a flat shelf, freeze it first on a cookie sheet so it doesn’t slip between the bars and freeze. Been there. Done that. Not worth the hassle.

Can Marinade be Reused?

It seems like a waste to chuck all of that yummy marinade down the sink, so can marinade be reused?


Please, no.

Marinade has been with raw meat and should be disposed of properly even if it’s raw meat going back in. Cross contamination is just asking to be incredibly sick. Always, always start over.

Can Marinade be Made Ahead of Time?

Marinade can be made days in advance, stored in the refrigerator until ready to be used.

a dark grey platter with a bed of fresh cilantro piled with Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken recipe

Easy Substitute for Marinade

Don’t have time to make a marinade or are you missing ingredients? That happens to us all the time, so we like to keep a few handy dressings in our fridge that work fantastic as a marinade. Here are our favorite dressings to use for marinades.

More Marinated Chicken Dishes You’re Sure to Love:

Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken

4.34 from 18 votes
Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 14 minutes


Do you love Japanese Steakhouse Ginger Dressing? Us too, but we only just tried it as an Asian Ginger Marinade for Grilled Chicken and it's the best chicken marinade yet!!


  • 1/4  Cup Onion, Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Ginger, Minced Fresh
  • 1 Tablespoon Carrot, Finely Shredded
  • 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 4 Chicken Breasts, boneless, skinless


  • In a large measuring cup, or jar, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well combined.
    1/4  Cup Onion, 1/2 Cup Peanut Oil, 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons Water, 2 Tablespoons Ginger, 1 Tablespoon Carrot, 2 Tablespoons Ketchup, 4 teaspoons Light Soy Sauce, 1 teaspoon Sugar, 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice, 1 Clove Garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Salt, 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • Pour 2/3 of the marinade into a zip top bag along with the chicken breasts. Seal and place in the fridge for 2- 24 hours. We prefer a longer marinade time.
    4 Chicken Breasts
  • Place the remaining marinade in a bowl in the fridge.
  • Heat the grill to high heat.
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge to rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
  • Drain the marinade and place the chicken, top side down on the grill. Turn the heat to medium.
  • Cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes, flip over and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cooked through. The last few minutes brush some of the reserved marinade over each chicken breast.
  • Remove from the grill and let rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing.


May be stored in the refrigerator for 4 days or frozen for 2-6 months.


Serving: 1gCalories: 528kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 49gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 877mgPotassium: 910mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 733IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: America's Best 4th of July Desserts, Recipes and Sides

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A close up of Asian Ginger Marinade for grilled chicken being sliced with a fork and a knife