isabel's island chicken marinade

This is my very best chicken recipe of all time! You have to make it! This recipe, Island Chicken Marinade is one I have made so many times over the years I could do it in my sleep. And many readers and friends have told me how much they love it.

I launched HealthySeasonalRecipes.com a year ago this week. To celebrate, I want to share one of my most prized recipes. It is not mine really. I got it from a restaurant where I worked called Isabel’s on the Waterfront. Luckily, I wrote it down, because the restaurant closed down years ago. When I worked there, I made this marinade recipe so many times, I had it memorized. I think I could have made it blindfolded. It is called Island Chicken Marinade, or more fondly by the crew at Isabel’s, Buccaneer’s Marinade.

Even though Isabel’s is gone, the recipe lives on. Not only do I make it several times a year, but I pass it on A LOT! As soon as someone tries a bite of chicken marinated in this recipe they ask for the recipe. I serve it for parties of 100, or for dinner on a Tuesday night. I never get sick of it. Of course it is a great chicken breast marinade but it is also good with pork loin or tenderloin, flank steak, chicken thighs, scallops and even shrimp.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon dry thyme
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cayenne
  • ½ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ cup red-wine vinegar


  • Heat olive and canola oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cover and cook, removing lid to stir often, until the onions are softened but not browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in brown sugar, allspice, thyme, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and cayenne and remove from the heat. Stir in soy sauce or tamari and red wine vinegar. Cool completely before marinating meat.

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