Basics of marinades

Basics of marinades


Creating flavor isn’t always as simple as sprinkling salt and pepper on raw meat and cooking it on the grill. Sometimes you desire extra flavor, and you need it quickly.

This is when our experts at ATBBQ will use a marinade to get maximum flavor in minimal time. Because they don’t deeply penetrate the meat, we’ve found marinades are especially effective on thin, flat cuts of beef, poultry and pork, or fish filets. 

What is a marinade

A marinade has three basic components: acid, oil, and seasonings. Each has its own role in creating flavor and improving texture.

Acids –like citrus juices, vinegar, wine, or dairy products like buttermilk and yogurt – help create a more tender texture and add a tangy flavor to the outside of the meat.

The oil helps keep the outside of the meat moist and helps adhere seasonings to the surface. These work together to deliver flavor. Vegetable oil and olive oil works well.

Fresh or dried herbs, garlic, spices and other seasonings add flavor to the cuts of meat. In the meantime, salt in the seasoning penetrates the cuts of meat through osmosis, breaking down proteins to improve tenderness and juiciness, much like a brine.

Pro Tip: Because acids quickly alter the composition of meat, don’t marinate meat in it for long periods of time like you would a brine. The texture can turn mushy.

How do marinades work?

Flavor cannot get deep into meat because it can't penetrate it very far beyond the surface. Instead, it builds up on the outside.

This is where a marinade shines. It’s great to use when you have limited time and want to maximize flavor. Marinades often blend many seasonings together to create a more complex flavor profile. Oil helps hold the seasonings on the meat and the fat in the oil works to amplify the flavor of your food as well.

To get the best results, completely cover the food with the marinade and set your soaking time to match the size and thickness of the meat you are preparing. Very thin cuts of meat or more delicate meats (like fish) may need only 15-20 minutes while a thicker cut of meat with a denser muscle (like beef) may require several hours. 

Pro Tip: Use a resealable plastic bag or large baking dish to marinate your meat. Flip or stir the meat in the marinade at least once to make sure the meat is coated well and flavors are evenly distributed. For food safety, keep the food refrigerated until you're ready to cook.

Is Marinating worth the effort?

Yes! Marinades are a great way to create complex flavors when cooking meat.

There’s also not a lot of effort in marinating. Just create your marinade recipe and drop the meat into it, then let it sit while you do other things.

We often place our food in the marinade while preparing our grills. For larger pieces of meat, we prepare the marinade in the morning, let the meat marinade while we're at work, and cook it cook it when we get home in the evening.  If there’s low effort and high flavor, we can do that! 

Our staff is filled with home cooks who use our products every day and would be happy to answer your questions.

Go and marinade that meat!