Food & Drink

How to Marinate Meat and Vegetables (and 15 of Our Favorites)


When I think about summer cooking, gathering, and grilling outdoors, I’m transported to memories of spending the night before a big barbecue prepping the main dish, sides, drinks, and dessert. And part of meal prep includes marinating meat and vegtables, which is essential to pulling off a great barbecue! Here are a few marinating tips that will leave your guests asking for the secret recipe.

Why should you marinate meat and vegetables?

Essentially, marinating meat and vegetables treats them like a sponge, soaking up combined juices and flavors. Marinating is a great way to infuse different flavors or to spice things up from the typical salt and pepper (basic seasoning).

How to build the perfect marinade:

Whether you’re following a recipe or creating your own, marinating can be a fun way to experiment with both food and flavors. Marinades are typically made from the following ingredients:

Acidic components like lemon juice, vinegar, wine, or yogurt
Cooking oils like olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil
Seasonings and herbs like salt, pepper, coffee, garlic, rosemary, cilantro
Sweet and salty components like brown sugar and soy sauce

Really think about the type of meat you’re using because it can affect the marinade ingredients you use. Using certain marinade ingredients is like a science: Using acidic components will tenderize meat, causing it to be juicer, while using too much vinegar can cause meat to turn out dry and tough.

Marinades and meat should always be refrigerated and stored in plastic, sealable bags or covered glass or plastic containers.

Beef and Steak Marinade

Source: Cooking Glory

The best cuts of beef to marinate are usually the tougher ones, such as flank, skirt, sirloin, round, and hanger. You can marinate these cuts for up to 24-hours, refrigerated in a food-grade plastic bag or covered glass dish.

Marinated Skirt Steak via East Coast Alex
Coffee and Soy Marinated Steak French Dip Sandwiches via Gringalicious
Beef, Fig and Red Onion Balsamic Skewers via Every Last Bite

Poultry Marinade

Source: Froment Free

When marinating chicken, be sure to pierce holes into the meat to allow the juices to really soak in. According to the USDA, poultry can be refrigerated and marinated for up to two days in food-grade plastic bags or covered glass dishes.

Chili Lime Mango Marinated Chicken (Gluten Free, Dairy Free) via Cotter Crunch
Chargrilled Lemon Garlic Chicken via Home and Plate
Blackened Teriyaki Fajitas via Froment Free

Vegetable Marinade

Source: Peas and Crayons

Vegan Vegetable Skewers with Tahini Carob Marinade (English is in second half of post) via Food Porn, Vegan Style
10 Minute Marinated Mushrooms via Peas and Crayons
Grilled Sesame Ginger Bok Choy via The Healthy Maven

Fish Marinade

Source: My Food Passion

Fish and shellfish should only marinate for 30 minutes to one hour. Any longer and the fish will start to “cook” on its own in the acids.

Quinoa Bowl with Citrus-Marinated Salmon via My Food Passion
Drunken Cajun Shrimp Skewers via The Savory Spicerack
Japanese Miso Marinated Side of Salmon via RecipeTin Eats

Other Marinades

Source: Vodka and Biscuits

Slow Cooker Jerk Pulled Pork via Vodka and Biscuits
Grilled Icelandic Lamb Chops with Honey Herb Chimichurri via This is How I Cook
Herb Marinated Goat Cheese via Life as a Strawberry


– Think ahead and decide which ingredients you’d like to use. This way you can marinate the meat while at work or over night.
– Do not reuse leftover marinade or use mariade as a sauce—they contain bacteria from the raw meat.
– Do not use aluminum foil when marinating because it could have a chemical reaction, which will spoil the food.

What is your favorite marinade and meat combo? 


References: Start Cooking, USDA