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The 12 Best Marinades

You asked for it, and here it is our 12 Best Marinades. This list covers several flavor profiles and protein-specific marinades. We’ve had a lot of fun perfecting these recipes, and we hope that you’ll quickly see how they made our best marinades list! Before we begin, let’s talk about why and how to use a marinade.

marinade recipes

Why Use a Marinade?

Marinades offer several benefits, but two of them stand out the most. They add flavor and tenderize meats. Now, when we say tenderize, we don’t mean that it will completely change the composition of meat from super tough to fork-tender. Acids like vinegar, citrus, and other fruit juices like pineapple or papaya, will penetrate the tough muscle fibers, softening them a bit. The oils help keep the meat moist; the salt adds a minimal bit of plumping (much like a brine), while the herbs and spices add flavor. The key is not to over-marinate, as some meats like chicken, fish, seafood, and vegetables are prone to disintegrating or turning rubbery if marinated too long. 

Marinating-Best Practices:

  • Quantity: Know how much marinade you’ll need. Typically, 1/2 cup per pound of meat is the norm. However, you might need less if using more powerful ingredients like balsamic vinegar.
  • Quality: Choose the best meats for your recipe. While a marinade will help add flavor and moisture to meat, you want to make sure you have the right cuts, and quality product. If you’re interested in an online butcher, we recommend Porter Road. They have a great selection of pork, beef, and chicken available on the market.
  • Application: Make sure you’re getting the most out of your marinating experience. That means applying a good coating of marinade on the meat. Pour the marinade straight onto the meat, and toss with tongs to coat.
  • Equipment: We recommend using a large glass baking dish or resealable food-safe plastic bags to marinate meats, vegetables, and meat substitutes. To keep marinated food fresh and to mitigate foodborne illness, store it in your refrigerator until it’s ready to be cooked.
  • Timing: Know how long to marinate. Large cuts of meat like beef, lamb, and pork roasts might require a longer marinating time of 8-24 hours. Fish, seafood, and vegetables require a short 15-30 minute marinating time. 
  • Cooking: You can remove your proteins straight from the marinade and place them right on your grill, in a skillet, or oven to cook. However, we like to blot the excess moisture with paper towels and season with a low salt rub for ribs and large roasts. Doing this adds an extra layer of flavor to the finished product. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore the 12 Best Marinades, shall we?

1.) Lemon-Herb Marinade

Lemon-Herb Marinade
Lemon-Herb Marinade

The bright citrus and herb flavors of this Lemon-Herb Marinade if perfect for chicken, pork, and fish. Need to liven up chicken breasts? Reach for this lemon-herb mixture.

2.) Pineapple-Rum-Ginger Steak Marinade

Pineapple, Rum, and Ginger mixture for marinating steaks
Pineapple, Rum, and Ginger Steak Marinade

This pineapple-rum and ginger steak marinade is sweet from the brown sugar and has a robust earthiness of the rum and soy sauce. This marinade works beautifully on beef steaks and roasts. You can even simmer it to make a sauce, which in our book we consider this one of the best marinades.

3.) Carne Asada Marinade

Marinating carne asada
Carne Asada Marinade

Whether grilling some Carne Asada for tacos or planning a steak dinner, our Carne Asada Marinade is a great starting point. The citrus juices in this Carne Asada Marinade flavor the meat and add tenderizing power, making this the perfect marinade for steaks. 

4.) Pork Chop Marinade

pork chops with marinade on them
Pork Chop Marinade

Not only is this pork chop marinade packed full of flavor, but it offers you a little extra time and convenience. Make up the marinade the night before and store it covered in the refrigerator. When you get up in the morning, start the chops marinating. By the time dinner time rolls around, you’ll be ready to grill or bake some tasty pork chops! 

5.) Korean Bulgogi Marinade

Marinated and cooked bulgogi in a bowl
Bulgogi Marinade

And yet another amazing marinade recipe is this Korean Bulgogi marinade on beef. Slice (or keep whole), marinate, cook and serve in lettuce wraps or over rice. The flavors are amazing, and you’ll see why this made our 12 Best Marinades list!

6.) The Ultimate Pineapple Marinade

The Ultimate Pineapple Marinade
The Ultimate Pineapple Marinade

This sweet, fruit-based ultimate pineapple marinade contains the tenderizing power of pineapple and apple cider vinegar with light East Asian-inspired flavors. This marinade works well on all meats, seafood, vegetables, and meat substitutes! Because of this recipe’s incredible versality, we had to add it to our best marinades list!

7.) Beef Rib Marinade

Beef Rib Marinade
Beef Rib Marinade

Are you planning on smoking or grilling some beef ribs this weekend? Consider using this beef rib marinade to help get you in the right direction. The flavors in this marinade are simple but yield some tasty, amazing beef ribs! 

8.) Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Jamaican Jerk Marinade
Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Caribbean cuisine is delicious and diverse, but one thing remains true, Jamaican jerk hits the top of the flavor list every time. The mixture of herbs, earthy spices, and piquant elements in this marinade is wonderful.

9.) Greek-Style Lamb Marinade

Greek Style Lamb Marinade
Greek Style Lamb Marinade

Greek cuisine is characterized by olive oil, lemons, herbs like oregano and thyme, and meats like lamb, fish, pork, poultry, fish, and seafood. Often, these meats are marinated, then cooked on an open flame, or baked in the oven. The lemon juice permeates the surface of the meat, tenderizing it, while herbs and other ingredients impart a uniquely delicious Mediterranean flavor.

10.) Pork Rib Marinade

Pork Rib Marinade
Pork Rib Marinade

If you’re new to outdoor cooking, you might be wondering what method produces the most tender, succulent pork ribs. Usually, ribs are coated in mustard and dusted with a generous amount of dry rub. However, some older methods have fallen by the wayside–for instance, marinating pork ribs before grilling them. This old method is making a comeback, and we’re here for it!

11.) Balsamic Marinade

Balsamic Chicken Marinade
Balsamic Marinade

Deep, rich, sweet balsamic vinegar is amazing in marinades! Its robust flavor jump-starts anything from boneless chicken thighs and breasts to steak and pork tenderloin. That’s enough to make this list of 12 best marinades!

12.) Easy Teriyaki Marinade

Marinating fish with teriyaki
Easy Teriyaki Marinade

The perfect way to infuse teriyaki flavor into your favorite foods. This teriyaki marinade works well on all types of proteins, and it’s great for beef jerky! The plus side is that you can double the recipe ingredients to make a serving sauce! Did we say marinade and sauce? Yes we did! That concludes our list of 12 Best Marinades. Now, let’s get cooking!

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