Meat Marinades 101

Meat marinades are a super effective way to introduce a ton of flavor to your food. They are also treated as an art form. There are many things to consider, the variety of ingredients, the length of time to marinade, and even the type of meat. Here is a breakdown of how to get started on your own custom marinade.

Man Marinating Chicken

Meat marinating is an art form. Can you perfect it?

What Goes into a Marinade?

The key to a fantastic marinade consists of a few staples. In the most basic equation, you need fats, acids, and flavor. Fats are usually derived from oils like vegetable or olive oil. Why? These oils tend to penetrate meat faster and can help to keep moisture. Acids, like vinegar, is the layer that tenderizes the meat. You can us other acids like lemon or lime juice, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, pineapple juice, or even apple juice. Don’t forget the flavor. Herbs and spice really help to bring the marinade together.

Fats + Acids + Herbs/Spices = Marinade
Olive Oil + Lemon Juice + Rosemary = Yum

Following this simple math, you can mix and match many combinations. Try them out, test them on friends and family. Sometimes it is the experimentation that is the most fun.

How Long Should You Marinate?

Simple answer: depends on the meat. For poultry marinades, you need about two hours but can be held up to two days. It isn’t recommended to go longer than that. The more acidic your marinade is, the less time you want it to sit so it doesn’t toughen the meat too much.

When it comes to beef, depending on the toughness of the cut, you want to sit a little longer. Go ahead and prep the beef in the marinade the night before. That being said, you can ruin great cuts of steak with marinade. Stick to cuts like flank, skirt, sirloin and hanger. On the other hand, fish don’t need much time at all, only 30 minutes to an hour. If your wait any longer, it can cause the fish to get mushy.

How to Marinate

Meat Marinade

You can use your hands or a brush to spread your herbs on your meat.

When marinating your meat, we suggest that use a large plastic bag or a non-reactive dish. If you use an aluminum or a copper dish, it will react to the acid in the marinade. It’s very important to remove your meat from the packaging you purchased it in. Furthermore, it’s imperative that you clean your meat and pat it dry with a paper towel. By doing this, you are removing any bacteria that may be on your meat.

Then, use your fingers or a spice brush to spread your herbs or spices into the meat. Depending on which type of meat is involved, you lightly rub spices or herbs into the meat or you rub the meat to enhance its flavor. After placing your meat on a dish or in a plastic bag in your refrigerator, not at room temperature. Once the marinade has soaked with the meat, discard it or boil it to kill off the bacteria if you want to reuse the sauce. Here at Adam’s Prince Frederick, we have some marinades of our own. Did reading this make you hungry? Come on in for some barbecue!