What is Marination?

Food can be flavorfully enhanced by marinating using only a few simple ingredients. So pick your favorite flavors and take in the simple advice in this guide. Fish, poultry, and other meats can sometimes be made more tender by marinating them. Even some vegetables, like artichokes, eggplant, and zucchini, can be marinated. You’ll learn the secret to successful marinating in this guide. Making preparations in advance will help your food to absorb the flavors.


For those who enjoy meal planning, you can prepare most of the food the night before, allowing you more time to unwind when preparing the dish quickly. Although some preparation is necessary beforehand, marinating and grilling meat is one of the simplest ways to enhance the flavor and texture of any meat while also being remarkably simple and quick. In addition to marinating meat for outdoor grilling throughout the summer, you may also grill meat indoors or roast it in a hot oven.

What is Marination?

They make a flavorful liquid to soak foods before cooking, known as marinating or marinading. Water, oil, wine, beer, liquor, sauce (such as soy or Worcestershire), acid like citrus or vinegar, salt, pepper, and a range of spices are typical ingredients in a wet marinade. Although mustard is occasionally added to assist the ingredients in sticking to the dish, a dry marinade contains dry spices.

The goal of marinating, whether wet or dry, is to make tougher cuts of meat softer and to provide the dish taste and moisture that will withstand cooking.

Although brines and marinades both submerge food in liquid, brines are mostly made of salt and contain little to no acid. This allows the brine to penetrate the meat and season it from the inside out.

The meat tissue, such as cattle, poultry, or hog, breaks down due to the acid in a marinade. This makes it possible for the meat to absorb moisture and marinade flavors. However, it’s crucial to avoid letting the meat sit in the marinade for too long because doing so would cause the acid to degrade the flesh too much. The acid in the marinade can turn frozen meat mushy, so it’s preferable to start with fresh rather than frozen meat.

How do you Marinate Meat?

A relatively straightforward method for marinating meat is incorporating all of the marinade’s ingredients into a ball. Please put all the meat in the bowl, ensuring it is well covered, then wrap it in cling film and store it in the refrigerator. The bowl can then be shaken periodically to provide a uniform covering.

Another simple method is to dip each piece of meat into the marinade, coat it, and then put it in a freezer bag. This can be filled roughly halfway with the wrapped meat, sealed tightly to prevent spills, placed in the refrigerator, and frequently shaken. When moving meat from the kitchen to a BBQ, this strategy is useful for saving room in your refrigerator.

It would help if you were extremely careful when deciding what to manufacture and keep your marinade out of due to the reactive ingredients included in marinades, such as enzymes and acids. Both glass and food-safe plastic make excellent choices for mixing bowls. As long as the meat is not packed too tightly, you may also marinate the meat in the fridge using a glass casserole tray. It would help if you were careful to avoid using tin foil or anything made of clay since these materials may react poorly with the marinade and ruin your meat.

How Long do you Marinate Meat for?

While some varieties of meat can be marinated for longer to improve flavor and texture, others may start to degrade if left for too long. It will take less time to fully benefit from the marinade because smaller pieces of meat will absorb the marinade more quickly. What kind of meat you are preparing will greatly impact this.


Avoid marinating fish or other seafood for an extended period since the meat may start to get mushy. This is because a marinade’s acidity may be rather harsh on delicate fish and cause them to disintegrate. In general, you shouldn’t marinate most fish for more than 30 to 60 minutes; for smaller pieces, you should allow even less time.


Chicken can be marinated in large and small pieces, such as goujons or cubes. A marinade is ideal for chicken since it prevents drying and provides additional flavor. You might want to “score” the meat, making small slashes when marinating items like thighs or drumsticks, allowing the marinade to penetrate the meat more deeply. Because they will absorb more marinade if the chicken is cut into smaller pieces, marinating times can vary greatly. Smaller pieces of chicken can marinate for a few hours, while larger pieces and chicken on the bone can marinade for up to an entire day.

Beef, Pork, Lamb

These red meats can be marinated for up to 24 hours and are ideal.

The best way to cook meat that has been marinated is on a barbecue or, if that is not possible, on a very hot indoor grill. Other options include using a very hot oven or cooking in the oven before completing under a hot grill to get a sear on the outside of the meat. For maximum advantage, you should change your meat frequently. The heat from the cooking process mixes with the marinade’s components and the protein in the meat in this final step of the marinade, bringing out every flavor to its best.

What to Use in a Marinade?


Although marinades differ from recipe to dish, they often have three essential ingredients: oils, acids, and seasonings.


A marinade’s oil content preserves the food’s natural flavor and keeps it from drying. Olive, sesame, peanut, infused, and sesame is all excellent marinade oils (such as chili). Some oils have flavoring properties.


These substances soften the surface of the meat and allow flavors to penetrate by unraveling the proteins in the meat. Vinegar, wine, sherry, citrus juice, yogurt, and buttermilk are examples of acids. Buttermilk and yogurt help to keep food wet, while a citrus-based marinade can effectively “cook” raw fish. Lemon juice, vinegar, and even yogurt are some of marinades’ most frequently used acidic ingredients.


These offer distinctive flavors. Starting with garlic, ginger, and onion is terrific, but you can add fresh herbs, chili, sugar, or honey to sweeten or spice up your cuisine. Citrus peel, soy sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, herbs, and spices are examples of seasonings.

A marinade can be seasoned with various ingredients, from fresh and tangy Mediterranean herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, tarragon, or mint to the hotter, more robust flavors found in South Asian cuisine when employing spices like cumin, coriander,  and chili. Other choices include mustard, pepper, and tamarind. There are too many and too many different combinations to list them all.


Salt aids in the deeper penetration of the marinade’s flavors into the meat. It functions by dissolving some of the structural proteins on the surface of the meat, allowing other marinade flavors to permeate. The flesh can also become less tough, thanks to this protein breakdown. Finally, salt removes moisture from the heart, allowing the juices and marinade to be drawn in and increasing the effectiveness of the marinade. You can use salt by itself in your marinade, or you can add salty ingredients like soy sauce. Additionally, salt is very good at bringing out the flavors of other ingredients in your marinade.


Fats are crucial to the effectiveness of marinades. The flesh can retain moisture thanks to fats, preventing the meat from drying out too much. Additionally, fats can be employed to impart flavors to meat, such as those from onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Lastly, fats are perfect for blending the flavors in a marinade, preventing your meat from feeling overly salty or acidic. Various types of oil are common fats, but depending on what you are cooking and the flavors you want to achieve with your marinade, you can also use yogurt or coconut milk.


While serving the same goal as acids, fruit-based enzymes are significantly more potent at dissolving the meat’s proteins and enhancing flavor. Mangoes, pineapples or pineapple juice, papaya, melons, figs, and even ginger are common examples that work well for this purpose.


The proteins on the outside of the meat can respond more quickly to heat with the addition of sweetness to a marinade, giving your steak a particularly appealing sear and scorched appearance. A small amount of sugar may truly add richness and depth to the flavors in your marinade, especially when used to counteract acidity. For this purpose, people frequently use honey, ketchup, barbeque sauce, and even soft beverages.

Marinating Basics

The amount of time you should marinate something depends on the type of marinade you’re using, how big your ingredients are, and what you’re marinating. Generally speaking, food will get more flavorful the longer it is marinated. Follow these general recommendations and the chart below for the best outcomes.

  • Small or tender cuts, such as lamb and beef fillets, chicken breasts, and shellfish, must marinate for a shorter period (usually two to four hours). A longer time will be needed for larger or tougher cuts like the leg, rump, or shoulder (usually four to six hours).
  • When using acidic marinades, exercise caution. Foods left in these mixtures for too long may alter in texture and color. For instance, fish fillets can vary drastically in a few minutes.

Food Safety and Marinade

A marinade touches raw meat, fish, and seafood, picking up microorganisms. The marinating object must be kept in the refrigerator and should not marinade at room temperature.

Avoid marinating food in aluminum foil, non-stainless steel dishes, or pottery because these materials might react negatively with the acid in the marinade and release lead or other undesirable substances.
Use a disposable ziplock bag, a glass container, or a plastic container that is safe for food.

Any marinade that has come into touch with the food you are marinating should always be discarded. Any marinating vessels should be cleaned or, if disposable, thrown away. Use them only after you have thoroughly cleaned them before using them to serve or store the cooked food.

Avoid basting cooked food with the marinade that has come into contact with raw ingredients. For basting or as a sauce, you should have a separate quantity that hasn’t come into contact with the uncooked food.

Benefits of Marinating Meat

Here are the benefits of marinating meat:

  • Taste/Flavor: This is where you may be inventive! There are countless ways to create your unique marinade that is perfect for every cuisine. With just a few staple cupboard ingredients, you can give bland meats and vegetables a huge taste boost. You have the option of adding spice, smoke, or sweetness.
  • Texture: A grilled chicken breast is the juiciest item in the world, while flank steak can melt in your mouth when marinated. Marinades soften leaner meats prone to being dry, and tougher cuts become more flavorful.
  • Moisture/Tenderness: Similar to brining, marinating is a good approach to add moisture to the meat that could otherwise become too dry when cooked while enhancing the meat’s tenderness. You may be aware that bringing relies on salt to accomplish its job. Still, a marinade uses much more to tenderize and enhance the flavor of the food you prepare, including acid, fat, seasonings, herbs, spices, sugar, and salt.


Finally, remember that uncooked poultry, seafood, and meat all contain bacteria that might make you sick. Therefore, store the meat that is marinating in the refrigerator and bear in mind that once you take the meat from the liquid, it will be infected and should be thrown away. As metal can react poorly with the acid, try to marinate in a glass dish or a zip-top plastic bag.

But with just a few basic safety precautions, you can add a lot of flavor and moisture to dry steaks, tasteless chicken, and seafood without adding a lot of fat or calories.

Pick flavors for your marinade you like because the cooked meat will taste much better if the acid, oil, and seasoning are balanced well. While seafood should be marinated for no longer than two hours, beef and pig can marinate overnight in the refrigerator due to the acid in the marinade.