What Is A Marinade And How To Make Them?

meat marinating in a bowl

Do you like to know what a marinade is and how to make them? Here you can read all about the magic behind using marinating meat for tons of extra flavor.

Key takeaway

A marinade needs these three ingredients.

  • Acids. Such as lemon juice, vinegar, or buttermilk.
  • Oils. This helps moisture retaining.
  • Seasoning. Also called spices

When I want to make my food taste even better, I don’t just rely on salt and pepper or other spices.

Sometimes, I crave that extra burst of flavor, and I want it to be very present when I taste my meat!

That’s when I turn to using a marinade. It works like magic to add a whole lot of flavor in a relatively short amount of time.

“You see, marinating is like giving your food a flavor bath.”

Now, you might be wondering, what’s so special about marinating?

I will explain to you what is so special about a good marinade.

Marinating is super effective when you’re cooking thin slices of beef, chicken, pork, or even fish filets.

It’s like a secret sauce that makes your food taste amazing without taking a long time to soak in.

So, if you want to make your meals extra delicious in a hurry, try marinating your meats and fish for an hour or even shorter. You won’t be disappointed!

What Is A Marinade

pouring marinade over a piece of meat

In making a marinade, it’s important to understand that it consists of three key ingredients: acid, oil, and seasonings.

These elements each play a vital role in enhancing the taste and texture of the food you’re preparing.


First, let’s talk about acids. These mostly are ingredients such as citrus juices (like orange or lemon juice), vinegar, wine, or dairy products such as buttermilk and yogurt.

When you use acids in a marinade, they help make the meat softer, and more tender, and also give it a tangy or slightly sour taste on the outer layer.

Related Read: https://bettergrills.com/tenderizing-meat/


Next up is the oil. Oil plays a significant role in maintaining the moisture on the surface of the meat.

It also helps to keep the seasonings (like herbs, garlic, and spices) stuck to the surface of the meat.

This teamwork between acidity, oil, and seasonings is what gives your dish its delicious flavor.

You can use different types of oils, but vegetable oil and olive oil are some popular choices.


Now, let’s explore seasonings. Seasonings are things like fresh or dried herbs, garlic, various spices, and other flavorful ingredients.

Related Read: https://bettergrills.com/what-are-the-basics-for-creating-a-bbq-rub/

These are what add a yummy taste to your meat. As they sit in the marinade, they infuse their flavors into the meat, making it even more delectable.

Lastly, salt, found in most seasonings, plays a crucial role. It goes inside the meat through a process called osmosis. This helps break down the proteins in the meat, making it more tender and juicy, just like when you use a brine.

So, when you make a marinade, remember these three important parts: acid, oil, and seasonings. They all work together to make your food taste amazing and have a delightful texture.

Is Marinating Worth The Effort?

Absolutely! Using marinades is, in my opinion, an excellent method to add rich and powerful flavors to meat when I’m cooking.

The great thing about marinating is that it doesn’t require a lot of hard work.

All I have to do is whip up my own special marinade recipe and then gently submerge the meat into it.

After that, I simply allow the meat to rest in the marinade while I can go on with other things I am doing.

Sometimes, I like to place my meat in the marinade as I’m getting ready to prepare the grill. But for those larger cuts of meat, I have a special routine.

I prepare the marinade the day before and then let the meat soak up all those delicious flavors overnight.

While I’m doing other things, the meat is ready to be cooked to perfection. It’s truly an effortless way to infuse my meals with exceptional taste and aroma.

With the combination of minimal effort and the promise of delightful flavors, this is an approach I use many times for low and slow cook on the smoker!

How To Make A Marinade

As I mentioned above you need 3 things to make a marinade.
An acid, oil, and seasoning.

marinating steak

Now mix the acid, such as vinegar, with the oil and mix this together.
The next step is adding the seasonings and herbs that you picked for this marinade and add them to the liquid mixture.

“That’s it! You have made a marinade.”

All that is left is to add your meat to it and decide how long you need the marinade to do its magic.

Marinating – My Experience

I was wondering what the difference was between marinate and marinade. I found out it is the same thing. Marinate is a verb and marinade is a nuon.

I use marinades not all the time. But I have one marinade for chicken breast and chicken leg quarters that I use over and over again.

marinated chicken

The marinating I do is mostly smaller pieces of meat such as steak, chicken, and pork chops.

For larger cuts of meat or Turkey, I sometimes use a brine and let that soak in to make the meat more tender.

However, in most cases, I use my homemade spice rubs and let that sit on the meat overnight.

Some people combine brining with marinating. But in my opinion, they are 2 completely different things with different purposes.

If you like to know more about brining you can read this article: https://bettergrills.com/brining-meat/

Have fun testing some marinates and enjoy new flavors.

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews and the outdoor cooking tips he is writing about. You can read more on the About page for Eddie van Aken

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