Many foods benefit from sitting in a seasoned liquid called a marinade for several hours before cooking. Most marinades are made from three types of ingredients:
- Acid: Common acids used in marinades are vinegar, wine, or citrus juice. The acid tenderizes meat and vegetables and adds flavor.
- Oil: Oil helps prevent food from drying out while cooking. Olive, peanut, and sesame oil add flavor as well as moisture, whereas canola and vegetable oil are flavorless.
- Herbs and spices: The mixture of herbs and spices you choose adds more flavor to the food.How to Make a Marinade
How to Make a Marinade
Part of the fun of marinades is experimenting with new combinations of acids, oils, herbs, and spices. These three sample marinades will get you started thinking about possible combinations. To make these marinades, just combine the listed ingredients.
- Teriyaki marinade: 1 cup teriyaki sauce, 3/4 cup pineapple juice, 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
- Balsamic garlic steak marinade: 1/2 cup olive oil, 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped), 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary (finely chopped), fresh black pepper to taste
- Jerk chicken marinade: 1 yellow onion (chopped), 4 gloves garlic (chopped), 6 scallions (finely chopped), 2 Tbsp ground ginger, 1 tsp kosher salt, 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, 4 tsp ground allspice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 4 Tbsp soy sauce, 6 habanero chile peppers, chopped finely, 4 Tbsp dark rum, 1 tsp cracked black pepper, 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar, 2 Tbsp dried thyme
How to Marinate Food
Once you’ve made the marinade, add it to the food you’re going to grill.
- Place the food in a shallow container: Use a container made of glass, ceramic, or plastic. Don’t use aluminum, tin, or steel containers—the acid in most marinades reacts with metal and will give you a metallic taste.
- Pour the marinade over the food: Make enough marinade so that it covers the food on all sides. If the marinade doesn’t cover the food fully, flip the food halfway through the marinade time.
- Place the food in the refrigerator: Store marinading food in the fridge to prevent bacterial buildup.
- Marinate for a number of hours: The larger and denser the cut of meat, the longer it should marinate. Steaks, chops, and poultry can marinate for 4–8 hours, whereas most pieces of seafood should be marinated for no more than two hours. Vegetables should marinate for no more than an hour.
- Before cooking: To minimize flare-ups, wipe off excess marinade from cuts of meat before grilling.