The Top 10 Marinades Every Man Must Know

May 18, 2010

The month of May is officially National Barbecue Month. That means it’s time to get your grill on. The key to good grilling is simple: good meat and bathing that meat in a delicious marinade.

Photo: DreamPictures/Rise/Getty Images

A good marinade will add flavor to your favorite meat and make it more tender and juicy. Making a marinade is pretty damn simple. All you is need is three basic components. The first is an acid such as lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, or wine. The acid is important as it breaks down the meat, tenderizing it. The second is oil. This protects and preserves the food while it is marinating and when also when it’s being cooked. The third is any herb and/or spice. This is what gives a marinade its unique flavor and zest. Feel free to experiment by grouping one or more ingredients from each component.

Here are some general guidelines for marinating:

  • Meat and poultry are generally marinated for 2 hours up to 2 days.
  • Seafood and fish should be marinated for no longer than one hour.
  • Use a nonreactive container - steer clear of aluminum, copper, or cast iron.
  • Wait for your marinade to cool down before pouring over the meat of your choice.
  • Always refrigerate your meat while it's marinating.
  • Never reuse marinades!




10. Coffee Marinade

Photo: Sang An/FoodPix/Getty Images

Don’t throw away that half empty pot of coffee. Instead use it as a marinade. You can marinate pork chops, chicken, steak, or any game meat in coffee. Generally let the meat stand for one to three hours in your favorite cup of Joe. The coffee will give the meat a lovely smoky taste. Just remember to use cold coffee. Hot coffee will cook the meat!


1 cup strong brewed black coffee or espresso
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
About 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus a little more for rubbing on the steak
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ to 2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of fat

Combine all the ingredients and, before adding the meat, separate ¼ of the marinade to use later for basting. Then add the meat. Let it stand in the refrigerator for at least two hours and up to 24 hours. When grilling, use the spare marinade for basting.

Source: Super Market Guru


9. Greek Marinade

Source: MIB Pictures/UpperCut Images/Getty Images

This authentic, tasty Greek marinade is a must for any backyard griller. With a touch of sourness thanks to the lemon and a sweetness brought out by oregano, it will leave your taste buds dancing, Zorba the Greek-style. The marinate suits any meat and is probably best suited to lamb.


1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
8 lamb rib or loin chops or chicken breast, cut 1/2 inch thick (or chicken)

Place all ingredients in a bowl, and then add meat. Refrigerate for two to four hours. Now it’s time to get a-grillin'!

Source: Recipe Goldmine


8. Tandoori Marinade

Photo: Barbara Bonisolli/StockFood Creative

As its name would suggest, the tandoori marinade originated in India. What distinguishes this marinade from most others is its key ingredient is yogurt. Mostly used with chicken, this marinade is rich in flavor and bite.


5 oz. plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 fresh red chillies, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon mild curry paste
2 tablespoons red tandoori paste
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz milk (approximate)

Source: Indian Curry Recipes


7. Teriyaki Marinade

Photo: Ross Durant Photography/Foodpix/Getty Images

This traditional Japanese marinade is widely popular and simple to make. The basic ingredient is soy sauce which sweetens and caramelizes when cooked. In Japan the marinade is mainly used for fish, though it works perfectly with all types of meat. This marinade, when reduced, also acts as a dipping sauce.


1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Japanese cooking wine
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 clove garlic, smashed and
1 piece fresh gingerroot
1 tbsp honey
1/2 teaspoons Japanese wasabi powder or
1/4 teaspoons wasabi paste (optional)

In small saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat, and discard garlic and ginger. Let cool. Marinade food in about 3/4 cup of sauce for 20 minutes. When ready to cook, reheat remaining marinade and brush over food several times during cooking and once again at end of cooking to glaze.

Source: Big Oven


6. Tequila Mockingbird Marinade

Photo: Melanie Acevedo/FoodPix/Getty Images

This marinade originated from the famed Mexican restaurant of the same name in Connecticut. It is spicy, sharp, and has a real kick to it. It works perfectly with jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, and chicken.


1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons triple sec
1 large jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Mix all ingredients in small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. (Can be prepared one day ahead of time.) Cover and refrigerate. Marinate poultry one to three hours and seafood 30 minutes in refrigerator. Drain (do not pat dry) and grill. Boil remaining marinade in heavy small saucepan one minute. Drizzle some of marinade over poultry or seafood just before serving.

Source: Suite 101


Recent Features

The Top Eight Signs You're About to Die (if You're in a Movie)

The Top 10 Biggest Pimps in Sports History

The 10 Coolest Comic Book Heroes Who Need To Be in a Movie

The Top 10 Toys That Made Us Wish We Were 10 Again

The Top 10 Worst Fictional Movie Musicians

5. Dr. Pepper Marinade

Photo: Liz/

Who'da thunk that meat would delight in a Dr. Pepper bath? That’s right--the soda pop makes a great, licorice-esque marinade. The sweetness of the soda beautifully caramelizes your meat of choice and the acid in the pop helps break down the meat, tenderizing it and making it super tender and delicious.


1 cup of Dr. Pepper
1 tablespoon of minced garlic clove
1 teaspoon of El Yucateco red habanero hot sauce
1/4 cup of California extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup of Tai Hua standard dark soy sauce
1 pinch of onion powder
1 pinch of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of minced vidalia onion
1/4 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. It can be used with beef steak, venison steak, seafood steak, pork steak, buffalo steak, or even poultry. For beef or venison, marinate for eight hours, pork marinade for four hours, seafood marinate for an hour, and poultry marinate for two hours.

Source: Barbequed Steak


4. Jamaican Jerk Marinade

Photo: Miles Willis/Getty Images

This marinade is perfect for chicken, though it can be used well with beef. The Jamaican dish is smoky and chocolaty. There are two possible ways the marinade came to be called “jerk.” One originates from the Spanish work “Charqui” which is used to describe dried meat. Over time this word apparently morphed into “jerk." The other theory is the name is derived from people “jerking” or poking holes in the meat while it marinates. Whatever its origins, it’s delicious.


1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground sage
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons garlic powder or fresh
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
juice of one lime
1 scotch bonnet pepper (habanero)
3 green onions -- finely chopped
1 cup onion -- finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder, and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add the olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, and lime juice. Add the scotch bonnet pepper, and onion, mixing well. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least one hour, longer if possible. Preheat an outdoor grill. Remove the breasts from the marinade and grill for six minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling, baste with the marinade. Bring the leftover marinade to a boil and serve on the side for dipping.

Source: Diana's Kitchen


3. Beer Marinade

Photo: Denis Lane/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Adding beer to a marinade can actually be very healthy for you. According to a recent German study, soaking red or white meat in beer reduces the formation of cancer causing HCAs (heterocyclic amines). How handy is that? Now you have another excuse to crack open a cold one.


1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup beer
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
Steak or meat of choice

Cook onion and garlic in 1/4 cup oil until tender. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients except meat. Place meat in shallow baking dish and pour marinade over. Cover, refrigerate six hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Grill, basting with marinade.



2. Whiskey Ginger Marinade

Source: Proceed With Cautions

The sweet, intoxicating taste of whiskey and the refreshing and zesty taste of ginger combine to form a truly remarkable marinade. The key to making this marinade is to pour yourself a whiskey while you’re making it. Why wouldn’t you? The bottle’s already out.


1/3 cup bourbon
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
cooking spray
1 tablespoon water
1/2teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves or meat of choice

Combine bourbon and next nine ingredients (bourbon through garlic). Reserve 1/3 cup marinade. Pour remaining marinade into a zip-top plastic bag and add chicken. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Cook meat.

For sauce, combine water and cornstarch, stirring well with a whisk. Place reserved 1/3 cup marinade in a small saucepan and stir in cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Drizzle sauce over chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Source: Proceed With Cautions


1. Peri-Peri Marinade

Photo: The Food Pornographer/flickr

This is the hottest of hot marinades and is not for the faint of heart. The marinade is traditionally made from the peri-peri chili or African bird’s-eye chili. The marinade originated in Mozambique and spread to Portugal where it is used in a vast number of dishes.


1 - 3 fresh hot chile peppers (hot red peppers are typical; jalapeno peppers and poblano peppers are also good), chopped
4 tablespoons lemon juice or lime juice (or cider vinegar)
4 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper or red pepper, or one tablespoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or garlic powder)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
dried or fresh oregano or parsley (or similar) (optional)

Combine all ingredients. Grind and mix the ingredients into a smooth paste. Adjust the ratio of cayenne pepper and paprika to taste. Rub marinade onto meat and allow to marinate in a glass bowl for at least thirty minutes (or overnight if possible) before cooking. This marinade works well on chicken, beef, or any other grilled meat. Some cooks briefly cook the mixture before storing it. "Aging" the marinade by storing it in a refrigerator for a few days allows the flavor to develop.

Source: Congo Cook Book


Recent Features

The Top Eight Signs You're About to Die (if You're in a Movie)

The Top 10 Biggest Pimps in Sports History

The 10 Coolest Comic Book Heroes Who Need To Be in a Movie

The Top 10 Toys That Made Us Wish We Were 10 Again

The Top 10 Worst Fictional Movie Musicians