BBQ Chicken Marinade

The classic Chamorro marinade is quite simple.  Start off with a base of soy sauce and vinegar — the ratio is up to you, but I like using a 1:1 ratio of soy sauce to vinegar (e.g., 1 cup soy sauce mixed with 1 cup vinegar).

I also add a few other ingredients to my marinade to give it an additional depth of flavor.  What you add depends entirely on you, so you can be as creative as you can here.  Some of my favorite add-ins are garlic and onions (powdered or fresh), ginger, brown sugar (not too much because sugar burns easily), honey, and sometimes even a cup or two of coca cola (use your favorite soda).

Marinate your chicken for several hours or overnight before grilling to allow the marinade to really soak into the meat.  I like using zip lock bags to marinate any meat I plan on grilling.  Just flip the bag over every hour or so to ensure all the meat gets marinated evenly.

Grill the chicken as you normally do.  We have a smoker, so I start off by smoking the chicken  — skin side down — for 30 minutes, then I crank up the heat to 275 degrees and cook the chicken — skin side up now — for about an hour and a half or until it’s done and a nicely browned.

Make a smaller (fresh) batch of your marinade (do not reuse the marinade the chicken was soaking in) for glazing the chicken after it’s done.  Place the marinade in a small sauce pan and add some corn starch to it.  Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sauce thickens slightly.  Brush the glaze over the cooked chicken to give it a beautiful (and tasty) sheen.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll love it.

My recipe below makes enough marinade for approximately 3 pounds of chicken.  It’s also good for marinating pork chops, ribs, and steaks.

BBQ Chicken Marinade
Classic Chamorro marinade that's sure to make your neighbors come out of their homes wondering what's grilling that smells so good!
Serves: 2 to 3 cups
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup vinegar
Optional Marinade Additions:
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (powder or minced)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (or ½ small onion, finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (ground or freshly grated)
  • 1 cup cola
  • ⅓ cup vinegar
  • ⅔ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • Add any of the other optional ingredients used in your marinade
  1. Place all of the marinade ingredients in a large zip lock bag. Seal the bag then shake it up to mix the ingredients together. Add the chicken to the bag then re-seal. Marinate the chicken for several hours before grilling.
  2. Place the glaze ingredients in a small sauce pan. bring to a boil, whisking contantly. Cookmuntil the sauce thickens. Brush the glaze on the cooked chicken.



  1. Wendy says:

    These look and sound delicious I generally bake my chicken parts at 400f for 20 minutes and they come out perfectly cooked tender and juicy. My question is , would not cooking them for 45 minutes dry them out?

  2. Carla says:

    May I use rice vinegar

  3. Melinda says:

    What type of vinegar please???!! Thanks

  4. Libby M says:

    I ran across your marinade recipe, SO DELICIOUS! I made it and it was a huge hit. Thank you so very much for sharing. My BBQ wasn’t working so I baked it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then cooked it stovetop in its glaze for another 5 or 8 minutes. I am hooked!

  5. Jillian says:

    My husband said this was the best chicken he’s ever had! I remembered my brother grilling something similar after he had lived in Guam for a year, equal parts soy and vinegar and sugar is how he did it. I liked yours with a little less sugar! So good!

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  7. Jenice says:

    Do you use a baking pan or cookie sheet to bake in oven? What temp & how long?

    • Bake it on a rimmed sheet pan at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes. You can baste the chicken with the marinade as it bakes. Check to see if the chicken is completely cooked through before eating (if still pink inside, bake them longer).

  8. Lupe says:

    I’m gonna try this.!!

  9. Dustin says:

    This recipe is amazing. My best friend growing up was from Guam and besides Spam, rice and ketchup which is also good. When his family would BBQ You would find me at the table several times. Your recipe brought me right back to my best friends BBQ’s in the park. THANK YOU!

  10. Monique says:

    I made it and it was a little to sour for menot a vinegar person but ty for the recipe

  11. dame says:

    How do you cook the ribs with this recipe. Low and slow on grill or baked?

  12. Ron says:

    Hi, I used your marinade recipe for my barbecue, and I have to say, it was delicious! Thank you so much! I live in the mainland and have missed island food for a very long time. Your marinade made my 4th of July special! By the way, the glaze was extra delicious! Happy 4th, and again, thanks!

  13. dana says:

    Mmm! White vinegar or Apple cider?

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