How to Marinate

Marinating Tips

First off, what is a marinade?
Most people think of a marinade as a flavored liquid used to soak, flavor and tenderize meats. It is… but surprisingly, it can also be anything that is rubbed on or injected into meats or vegetables before cooking or grilling. This means that dry rubs and brines are also considered marinades and should be considered when speaking of how to marinate.

As grilling season approaches the basics of how to marinate become even more useful in order to create a tasty main dish. Let’s explore a few other considerations and, more importantly, precautions when marinating raw meats.

how to marinate

How to Marinate

Tips to Marinate Safely

  • Always marinate in the refrigerator:
    Never leave meats out to marinate at room temperature. Remember, that would put them into the “danger zone” temperature range of 40°F to 140°F where bacteria loves to breed.

  • Amount of marinade:
    Allow about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of marinade per pound of meat.
    When brining, it is best to entirely cover the meat with liquid.
    For dry rubs, the entire meat should also be coated well with seasonings and then wrapped.

  • Container to use:
    Use a non-reactive container to marinate.
    Glass containers are fantastic for marinating, but food safe plastic containers and bags are also good to use. Food safe plastic bags, as shown, make it easy to place the food into and also easy to turn over and over again while marinating. When the project is complete, simply toss away all the mess along with any potential bacteria growth.

  • how to marinate

  • Turn often while marinating:
    Unless your meat is completely submerged in liquid, which is really a waste of liquid ingredients (unless brining), then turn the meat often to make sure the marinade is soaking into the meat from all sides.

  • If searing meats (instead of grilling outside):
    Pat the meat dry with a paper towel before cooking so that it will brown instead of steam in the pan because of the extra moisture.

  • Marinating Precautions:
    If the marinade will also be used as a sauce or be basted on during the cooking process, then reserve (set aside) about half (or whatever amount desired or called for in a recipe) of the marinade BEFORE placing the meat into the container with the marinade.

  • Any marinade that has come into contact with raw meat should be tossed after removing the meat.
    If you forgot to set some aside beforehand and want to use the remaining marinade for the current meat only, then the marinade must be boiled for at least one minute before it can be used for basting the current meat.

  • Remember: NEVER return any marinade that has touched raw meat back to the refrigerator – it cannot be re-used and MUST be tossed!
  • How to Marinate

    Additional Information

    When a recipe says to “marinate overnight”, there is some leeway in the process.

    For more tips on cooking a nice meat indoors, see our post on how to sear meat.

    See our food prep tips, which includes a tip for easy marinating.

    To find out the proper temperatures that a refrigerator and freezer should be maintained, please see our proper fridge temperature post.

    To find out how long meats last, see our meat page.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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