Finger Lakes Chicken Marinade

Here’s an great chicken marinade that I’ve had for years.  I’m not sure how “Finger Lakes” it really is–but that’s what it was called when the recipe was given to me.

The unusual combination of mayonnaise and vinegar in the marinade helps to both tenderize and moisten the chicken.  The acid in the vinegar is the tenderizer and the mayonnaise adds moisture.  While you’ll get a good flavor at the minimum marination time of 2 hours, I think it’s far better at 4 or more!

Finger Lakes Chicken Marinade

Finger Lakes Chicken Marinade


  • 2/3 C Mayonnaise
  • 1 C Vinegar
  • 2 tsp Chicken Bullion Powder (or 2 cubes crushed)
  • 1 TBS Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning


  • -Combine all ingredients.
  • -Reserve 1/4 C of marinade for basting.
  • -Place chicken pieces into liquid and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Shake, toss or otherwise mix the chicken up a couple of times during marination.
  • -Grill, Baste and Enjoy!

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  1. Jane says

    Cornell Chicken!
    It was invented by Dr. Bob Baker, then a professor of poultry science at University of Pennsylvania and later Cornell, where it was published and became known as “Cornell Chicken.” (from BBQ USA, Steven Raichlen) A slightly different story places the invention of the recipe AT Cornell. Both stories say the reason was to promote chicken & get people to eat more.

    Here is an article that gives more info: I’ve been to Jim’s in Candor. Pretty good,though I like my hubby’s version (using Raichlen’s recipe and Just Bare chicken) better, though you can’t beat eating at a picnic table on a Finger Lakes/Central NY summer evening, especially compared to Saint Louis in the summer!

    Recipe (states for 4 chickens, I use 1/2 recipe (but whole egg) for 1 chicken, with extra left)
    1 large egg
    1 c. vegetable oil
    2 c. cider vinegar
    1 T. poultry seasoning
    1/2-1 t. black pepper (freshly ground is always best!)
    3 T. coarse salt (supposed to be salty & served with salt potatoes, too! drink a lot of water that night!)

    It’s very similar to your recipe (almost exact, I think)
    Using kitchen/poultry shears, cut out backbone of chicken. Flatten out skin side up and cut in half through breastbone.
    Place egg in food processor (or blender or stick blender), pulse to beat. With motor running, add the oil in a thin stream.
    Add vinegar, seasoning, pepper & salt and mix. It will be liquidy.
    Direct grill chicken with two zones, medium and medium-low. Oil grate.
    Place chicken halves skin side down over medium side of grill. Cook until skin surface is cooked, about 5 minutes. Turn over & grill for 5 minutes.

    Whisk sauce to recombine & as needed. Baste. Continue to baste generously every 3-5 minutes. Grill chicken until turn rich golden brown & meat is cooked through, 15-20 minutes per side. If starts to burn, move to med-low zone. Test thigh for 180F for doneness. Rest 3 minutes, serve.

    It’s very similar to your recipe, almost exact, I think. I’ve been wanting to tell you the whole egg and 1/2 cup oil part, because it makes mayo for me EVERY time.

    • says

      How cool! Thank you so much for sharing Jane! Yes-basically mine just takes the lazy way and uses Mayo instead of making mayo with the egg & oil. . . Also your recipe has it as just a baste–whereas by the time I got the recipe it had the chicken marinade in it and then baste. I just love finding out the history of things!

  2. Jane says

    oh….THERE’s where that sentence fragment went! I thought I had deleted it when I couldn’t find it where I’d typed it.

  3. Jane says

    To the question of “how ‘Finger Lakes’ it really is,” VERY!
    No marinade time in mine, it’s all in the baste.

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