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I made a marinade for chicken and I added fresh ginger to the ingredients I always use. I marinated the chicken overnight.

The baked chicken had a mealy texture whe cooked. Four pounds of wonderful organic free range chicken breasts ruined :+(

I remember having a similar result when I added some grated fresh ginger to burgers before grilling.

Does ginger have some sort of enzyme that attacks the protein? Would using a cooked marinade eliminate the problem and still keep the ginger flavor?

Any help will be appreciated. TIA

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  1. If you add ginger to a marinade, you should only marinate it a couple hours. It breaks down the meat.

    1. I do teriyaki style marinade and sometimes do it overnight, heavy on ginger, have never had a problem with mushy texture. I usually use Foster Farms, occasionally Rocky. h-h-h-m....

      1. Any high acid ingredients in a marinade will start to "cook it" (break down protein) if left too long.

        What were the other ingredients in your marinade?

        Check this link. It gives you some info. on tenderizing marinade ingredients:


        1. Thank you for the ask the meat man reference. Very interesting. I have bookmarked the site.

          The only difference between the marinade I usually make and this one was the fresh ginger. I might try cooking the marinade first before adding it to the chicken.

          My usual marinade is olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, S&P, garlic, spices, herbs, wine. I have never had a problem.

          I was planning on making the Barefoot Contessa Indonesian Chicken which uses a whole cup of ginger.

          Before ruining another $30 worth of good chicken, I would like to get it right.

          Has anyone had better results with a cooked marinade?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Fleur

            The vinegar and/or lemon juice would definitely break down the meat when marinating overnight. Shouldn't be the ginger. Less time on the marinating; you should be OK.

            1. re: Fleur

              Would you mind paraphrasing the Indonesian Chicken recipe? Anything with a cup of ginger has to be something I would love... TIA (and no rush, I am tied up in meetings and won't cook for a week-- but the thought of making something with a cup of ginger might get me through, and also mollify my family...)

            2. I use fresh ginger regularly and don't end up with mushy foods. I would suspect the vinegar/lemon - acids definitely break down proteins.

              1. You really only need to marinate chicken, beef or pork for an hour, and fish for a half hour. After that, the chemicals in the marinade cease to add more flavor and only serve to break down the surface of the meat. Hence the mush.

                1. Thanks for all the tips. Since I never had a problem with wine, vinegar, or lemon juice in a marinade, I am assuming it is the raw ginger. When I added ginger to chooped steak for burgers, I got a similar result.

                  I have decided to go with cooking the ginger first, then adding it to the marinade, letting it soak for only a few hours.

                  Why do almost all marinated meat and chicken recipes call for marinating overnight?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Fleur

                    Most contemporary recipes DO NOT call for overnight marinating. I can think of a bunch that call for extended-time brining, but well-written cookbooks will often offer an upper limit to the suggested marinating time (ie, 1-3 hours). I know of one whole-chicken recipe that calls for an overnight, but is a sugar-soy mixture with no acid at all. If marinating overnight is convenient for you, try cutting back on the acid ingredients some. About the only thing I marinate overnight is flank steak...

                  2. ginger is a tenderizer, works great in teriyaki sauces

                    1. "I was planning on making the Barefoot Contessa Indonesian Chicken which uses a whole cup of ginger."

                      You should! I've made the Barefoot Contessa recipe a few times and never had any texture problems. It uses 1/2 cup of grated ginger to 2 quartered whole chickens and no acid at all (just honey, soy, and garlic). It's great in the summer time - I used to bring it cold to pot/lucks and cookouts. Big hit because it's so different. Good luck!

                      1. Re: Barefoot Contessa Indonesian Chicken

                        Hi Rubee,

                        Do you make it exactly as the recipe says? It seems like an awful lot of sodium to me.

                        Her recipes are usually quite good, but very heavy handed on the salt.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Fleur

                          I do make it as the recipe says and haven't found it too salty, but if you think her recipes tend towards too much sodium, you might cut down a little bit (I also usually use Tamari which I find less salty than soy sauces like Kikkoman).

                        2. I've got to say I've never had a problem with ginger affecting texture before either. But then again, I don't marinate my chicken for long. My family usually lets it sit for less than an hour.