Building a Better Marinade

Marinades can help your meats become more tender, add new dimensions of flavor, and protect the meat when grilling. Check out these tips and tricks to master your next marinade.

Marinade Must-Haves:

There are 4 parts of marinade that must be included

  1. Acid
    • Tenderizes the meat
    • Vinegar, citrus, wine
  2. Oil
    • Moisturizes and carries flavor
  3. Salt
    • Seasons and pulls other elements into foods
  4. Aromatics & herbs
    • Makes it bold
    • Garlic, ginger, fresh or dried herbs, spices

Maximize Your Marinade:

Marinades only penetrate about 1/2 inch into meat so if you butterfly or flatter your cuts ahead of time you will get maximum flavor and tenderness

Minutes to Marinade:

  • Veggies only need a quick 15-30 minutes.
  • Seafood should not soak for more than 1 hour if there is citrus juice or vinegar because they will “cook” the food as seen in ceviche.
  • Lean cuts of poultry or pork can sit 1-4 hours or even overnight and all day to get the most flavor.
  • Tough cuts of beef and pork can sit 8-12 hours, overnight, or for 1-2 days.

Make a Marinade in Moments:

Add a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to bottled low-fat vinaigrette for a tasty, impromptu marinade


  • Hartigan, Julie. “Mighty Marinades.” Weight Watchers. July/August 2015. 79-81.

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