The 11 Best Marinades You Should Make Today

Merna Delaurentis

Table of Contents What Is a Marinade?Related GuidesFlank Steak with Lime MarinadeIngredientsMethodSoy-Marinated Flank SteaksIngredientsMethodKorean Marinated Beef (Bulgogi)IngredientsMethodThe Ultimate Marinade for Tender Grilled SteakIngredientsEquipmentMethodRecipe NotesBest Steak Marinade in ExistenceIngredientsMethodTeriyaki Beef MarinadeIngredientsMethodZesty Beef MarinadeIngredientsMethodOvernight Brisket MarinadeIngredientsMethodTipsHow to Use Overnight Brisket MarinadeJamaican Jerk MarinadeIngredientsMethodLemon & Herb MarinadeIngredientsThai Chili MarinadeIngredients Editors’ Recommendations Everyone uses […]

Everyone uses brines and rubs to season and flavor their meat but a simple method called marinating will not only flavor your favorite beef recipes, it will also tenderize those tough fibers or cuts of meat — such as on a skirt steak. A marinade is basically a prepared sauce and instead of putting on the cooked meat, you place the meat and the sauce (marinade) in a leak-proof container to allow the marinade ingredients to slowly break down the beef proteins.

What Is a Marinade?

A marinade is a sauce that contains fat, acid, and seasonings. Fat can be an oil, buttermilk, mayonnaise, or yogurt. An acid can be lemon, limes, oranges, any type of vinegar, wine, or tomatoes. The seasonings can be paired with the acid to create a flavor profile. The fat will create moisture and will allow any fat-soluble ingredients to be absorbed into the meat. The acid will break down the fibers of the steak to weaken its structure, making it tender. You have to be careful because if you let the beef sit in the marinade too long, you run the risk of the marinade changing the texture of the meat completely. For example, the acid cooks the meat slightly like in ceviche, if it stays too long in the marinade, you will have tough, slightly cooked meat.

Related Guides

Once the beef has been marinated, you can begin the cooking process. Ideally, you will cook the beef on the grill or even use a grill pan. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook it in an air fryer, slow cooker, or digital pressure cooker; you just need to adjust your cook time.

Although these are marinades for beef, you can apply them to almost any meat, including chicken or pork. You just need to watch the marinating time because some meats will marinate faster while others will take longer. Usually the tougher the meat, the longer the marinade. Marinades take anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, it just depends on the recipe.

You can use the marinade as a basting sauce but you should never serve it as a sauce bon its own because of potential bacteria from the raw meat. If you do use it as part of the basting method, you should stop basting when you get close to the desired temperature to cook off any juices from the raw meat.

If you have ever asked yourself, “What should I marinate steak in?” or “How do I marinate beef?”, those are easy questions to answer. Just pick one of these 11 best beef marinades. Better yet, try them all. They will take your grilled beef to the next level.

Flank Steak with Lime Marinade

(From Martha Stewart)

This recipe is great for a citrus flavor and for last-minute marinating.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (about 4 limes) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
  • .5 tsp red-pepper flakes
  • 1.5 pounds flank steak
  • Vegetable oil, for grates
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and red-pepper flakes. Add steak, and seal bag (place in a dish to catch any leaks); marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, up to 1 hour.
  2. Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off, and discard marinade; season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until meat reaches desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

Soy-Marinated Flank Steaks

Soy-Marinated Flank Steaks on a wooden chopping board from Food Network.

(From Food Network)

The soy sauce adds just the right amount of umami flavor to the steak.

Ingredients

  • 1 flank steak, about 1.5 pounds
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Poke the steak all over with the tines of a fork; cut in half, against the grain, to make 2 steaks (1 steak may be slightly thicker). In a non-reactive bowl or large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, oil, garlic, sugar, and pepper, to taste. Add the steak, and turn to coat. Cover or reseal the bag and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
  2. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Position the rack in the top position in the oven and preheat the broiler. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry. Cook the steaks, for 5 to 8 minutes on each side for rare to medium-rare. Set aside on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut the steak against the grain, on an angle, into very thin slices. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter or plates. Serve.

Korean Marinated Beef (Bulgogi)

Bulgogi marinated beef on bed of lettuce and rice.
From Epicurious

(From Lillian Chou Epicurious)

A great Korean-style method that goes perfect with grilled meat.

Ingredients

  • .25 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp Asian sesame oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and pale green parts separated from greens), minced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 lb flank steak, cut across the grain into very thin slices (no more than 1/8 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Accompaniments: butter lettuce or other soft-leaf lettuce; thinly sliced garlic; packaged kimchi*; steamed white rice.

Method

  1. Stir together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, white and pale green scallions, garlic, ginger, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add steak and toss to coat, then marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until just smoking, then add steak in 1 layer and sauté, turning over occasionally, until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with scallion greens and remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, then serve with accompaniments.
  3. *Available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

The Ultimate Marinade for Tender Grilled Steak

Steak marinade and meat in a bag.
From The Kitchn

(From Meghan Splawn The Kitchn)

This marinade hits all the right taste buds with sweet, salty, and a little spice from the mustard.

Ingredients

  • .5 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 pounds flank steak

Equipment

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Gallon zip-top bag
  • Chef’s knife and cutting board

Method

  1. Make the marinade. Place the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt in gallon zip-top bag. Seal and shake to combine.
  2. Marinate the steak for 1 hour or overnight. Add the steak to the marinade and seal the bag. Place the bag in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Prepare the steak for grilling. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Discard the marinade.
  4. Grill the steak over high and medium heat. Heat half of an outdoor grill for high, direct heat. Heat the other half for medium, direct heat. Place the steak over high heat until browned, burnished, and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Move the steak to medium heat and continue grilling to desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes more for medium (about 140 degrees F).

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Best Steak Marinade in Existence

Best Steak Marinade in Existence by Kookie from Allrecipes.

(From Kookie Allrecipes)

One of the best ways to season and tenderize the steaks with a kick.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • .5 cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • .25 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp dried basil
  • 1.5 tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • .25 tsp hot pepper sauce (Optional)
  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic (Optional)

Method

  1. Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce and garlic, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour marinade over desired type of meat. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.

Teriyaki Beef Marinade

Teriyaki beef marinade in a bowl.
From Taste of Home

(From Taste of Home)

This marinade will put a little bit of a sweet and salty glaze on beef.

Ingredients

  • .5 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • .25 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • .5 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Use to marinate beef.

Zesty Beef Marinade

Zesty beef marinade by dicentra on Food.com.

(From Dicentra Food.com)

A truly lively and flavorful way to prepare steak.

Ingredients

  • .5 cup lemon juice
  • .5 cup balsamic vinegar
  • .5 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • .25 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Overnight Brisket Marinade

Overnight brisket marinade in a jar.
From The Spruce Eats

(From Derrick Riches The Spruce Eats)

A mild yet flavorful marinade perfect for tender cuts of beef.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups red wine
  • .5 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp mustard
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp​ red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp horseradish
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, use less or omit if preferred
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Method

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the marinade over brisket and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  4. Remove brisket from marinade and boil the remaining marinade for 5 minutes to use as a mop.

Tips

  1. If you want to make the marinade ahead of time, it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  2. Use the remaining marinade to make what’s a called a mop, Boil the leftover marinade for at least five minutes to destroy any bacteria. Use this thin sauce to brush over or “mop” on top of the meat for extra flavor during the cooking process, whether it’s smoking, grilling, or braising.

How to Use Overnight Brisket Marinade

You can use this over a brisket, but it’s also great as a marinade on other cuts of beef and pork.

Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jamaican jerk marinade ingredients.
From The Spruce Eats

(From Derrick Riches The Spruce Eats)

Some of the best Caribbean flavors bring the heat to any type of meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • .5 cup scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 hot pepper (finely chopped)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt ( kosher or sea salt is preferable)
  • 1 tsp Jamaican Pimento (or ground allspice)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • .5 tsp ground nutmeg
  • .5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Optional: 1 dash hot sauce

Method

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on size of the blender, this process might need to be done in batches.
  3. Use marinade right away or, if making ahead, simply store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. We recommend making this the day before using to let the flavors marry well; however, it is not required.

Lemon & Herb Marinade

Lemon and herb marinade ingredients and a bag of meat.
From Eat This, Not That!

(From Kiersten Hickman Eat This, Not That!)

This herbaceous marinade is mild yet flavorful with a hint of brightness from the lemon.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • .5 cup fresh parsley
  • .5 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • .25 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper

Thai Chili Marinade

Marinade ingredients and a bag of meat.
From Eat This, Not That!

(From Kiersten Hickman Eat This, Not That!)

A marinade that is sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy all rolled into one.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • .25 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

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