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3 Easy Marinades Everyone Should Know How to Make

One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to boost flavor in all your grilled meats and vegetables is to soak them in a marinade. Tough meats become fork-tender. Tender meats become even more mouthwatering, and vegetables turn into plant-based superstars when you match them up with the right marinades. Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom is here to share her tips for how to make the best marinades, along with top marinade recipes to try. Check out the video up top and scroll down to get all the details.

The 5 Components of a Marinade

Aromatics: onions, garlic, herbs, spices

Acid: citrus, vinegar, mustard

Salt: kosher salt, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, capers, anchovies

Sugar: granulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit juice, jam

Oil: neutral vegetable oil

How Long Should You Marinate Foods?

The general rule of thumb is, the tougher the meat, the longer the marination. Delicate foods like shrimp and fish need 15 minutes to a half hour. Vegetables take about 30 minutes. Chicken and pork can marinate from three to 12 hours. Beef and lamb can marinate from three to 24 hours. Too long a soak can turn meats into mush, and marinating for too little time doesn’t impart much flavor.

For more details, see How to Marinate Meats and Vegetables.

3 Essential Marinades

1. All-Purpose Marinade

Try this recipe: Marinade for Steak. The recipe title says steak, but this is a well-balanced marinade that you can easily use on chicken, pork, and vegetables. Note that Nicole adds honey, which adds flavor and caramelization.

Tip: Nicole likes to marinate foods in zip-top plastic bags because cleanup is easy, the marinade reaches all parts of the food, and you can freeze meats right in the marinade for easy make-aheads and meal-prep.

2. Tough-Meat Marinade

Try this recipe: Lisa’s Favorite Carne Asada Marinade. A long soak in this bold, citrusy marinade makes skirt steaks and flank steaks give up their gnarly ways. Use it as well on hard-working muscles like shanks, brisket, and shoulder cuts.

Tip: Use 3 parts oil to 1 part acid, or at least half oil and half acid. Too much acid (and too long a soak) will break down the meat fibers too much, turning it mushy.

3. Creamy Marinade

Try this recipe: Grilled Lemon Yogurt Chicken. Use the yogurt marinade from this recipe to add moisture and tangy flavor to grilled chicken or pork.


Our 15 Best Chicken Marinades

Get More Marinade Recipes

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole:

Learn the Secret Trick to This Ultra Decadent Lasagna

How to Make 3 Different Dinners From 1 Rotisserie Chicken

5 Unexpected Ways to Make Zucchini

6 Easy Summer Desserts That Won’t Heat up Your Kitchen

How to Make the Two Most Popular Pasta Salads on Allrecipes

How to Make and Use Pickled Red Onions

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