The Best Tips and Tricks For Marinating All of the Meats

Since it is time to gear up for grilling season, it’s time to clean out those grill grates and dust the cobwebs of our minds as well by freshening up with a few tips and tricks for marinating all the meats this summer. 

What should a marinade always consist of?

A marinade should always have three components: an acid (such as vinegar, wine, or citrus), an oil (such as olive oil or sesame oil), and a flavoring agent (such as herbs and spices). These three things work together to give your meat tons of flavor, without adding a ton of calories or fat. The acid breaks down the proteins, which allows it to retain its natural juices and absorb more flavor. The oil helps it retain that moisture while cooking. And lastly, the herbs and spices of course bring lots of flavor to the meat.

How much marinade should I use?

About ½ cup of marinade for every 1-2 pounds of meat. Any extra marinade can be stored in the fridge to be used later in the week, or to cook down to use as a sauce to go on top after it’s cooked.

Pro Tip: Remember to try and reserve any marinade you want to use as a sauce and set aside until the end. Any marinade that touches raw meat must be brought to a full rolling boil for a full minute before it can be used for basting or as a sauce.

What temperature should I marinate?

Never marinate at room temperature. This allows for dangerous bacteria to grow and possibly cause food poisoning. Always refrigerate your meat while it’s marinating--you can even use the freezer.

Pro tip: Did you know that you can actually marinate in the freezer? Follow all your usual steps to add your meat and marinade ingredients into a gallon zip-top plastic bag with the air removed and place for up to a month in the freezer to marinade. Make sure to get it out of the freezer the night before to defrost in the fridge so it’s ready to go when you are.

Using frozen meat?

If you are using frozen meat like chicken or beef, make sure to let that frozen meat defrost right in the marinade. This way the moisture inside the meat exchanges with the marinade and you will get even more flavor and no loss of moisture.

How long should I marinate?

You can marinate anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours to infuse some flavor. However, to do some real tenderizing, you want to marinate at least 6 hours but no more than 24 hours or muscle fibers will break down too much and the texture can become mushy.

How can I have the easiest clean up?

For the easiest clean up, place all ingredients in a zip-top gallon size freezer bag, squeeze to get all the air out and zip it up. 

Pro Tip: If you are using a dish to marinate in instead of a plastic bag, it is best to go with shallow containers made of non-reactive materials like stainless steel, glass or ceramic.

How do I get even more flavor in my marinade?

To get even more flavor, tenderize the meat with a fork before marinating to increase the surface area that the meat can impart more flavor.

Do you have any other tips to share on all things marinating? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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