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What are the Different Ways to Marinate?

Tiffany Manley
Tiffany Manley

Marinades are used for a variety of reasons in cooking. Different ingredients accomplish different things when used as a marinade. The most common reasons to marinate something are to add flavor or make a piece of meat juicy. Marinades also might be used to preserve something, such as vegetables, or to add more flavor to a dish by marinating it after it has been cooked. There are many ways to marinate a food item, but a couple of common ones are with an acid-based marinade, such as vinegar, or with a dry marinade, made with a variety of spices.

The benefit of using a mixture of ingredients to marinate a protein is that it creates a balance of several flavors that work to enhance the flavor rather than cover it up. A mixture of red wine, spices, soy sauce, herbs and sugar might compliment a grilled steak wonderfully. Mixing soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, onions and garlic together to marinate chicken can enhance the flavor tremendously. Using a mixture of ingredients to marinate meat works in the much the same way as sprinkling something with salt and pepper, but it more evenly distributes the flavors.

Using olive oil is a popular way to marinate fish, poultry, and meat.
Using olive oil is a popular way to marinate fish, poultry, and meat.

Vegetables can be marinated as well. Many people do this to preserve the vegetables in their fridge for just a little longer. Vinegar and olive oil are great preservatives, and they work well to preserve the natural flavor and freshness of the vegetable when they are used as a marinade. The vegetables might then be steamed or even cooked in the marinade.

Red wine is frequently used to make marinades and sauces for red meat.
Red wine is frequently used to make marinades and sauces for red meat.

Another way to marinate is to use a dry marinade. One of the greatest benefits of using a dry marinade to marinate meat is that it allows an individual to flavor his or her meat without the use of the fat that normally is present in a wet marinade. A dry marinade is made using a variety of spices and herbs, and it is a great way to add some heat to a dish in a controlled way.

Marinades should enhance the flavor of meat, not cover it up.
Marinades should enhance the flavor of meat, not cover it up.

One common misconception is that marinating a piece of meat flavors the meat entirely or tenderizes it. Several food scientists tested this theory and found that using a marinade on meat did not flavor the entire piece of meat or tenderize it. The flavor does coat the outside surface of a piece of meat if you marinate it, which generally is much harder to accomplish if the meat is merely seasoned with a few spices.

Discussion Comments


My husband loves to make barbecue - he marinates in overnight in a dry rub and cheap yellow mustard and then he adds vinegar to keep it moist while its cooking for hours.

And I wondered why I did not ever taste the mustard and he mentioned that the taste is cooked out, and that its purpose is not for taste, that you put it on before you put the dry rub on and it helps soak the rub further into the meat.

He once tried to marinate a brisket and then of course cook it, and he to this day, says that it is the hardest meat to grill and get to the right texture. So there must be a special way to marinate brisket.


@speechie - Its a good thing you asked! Because what I have heard is that shrimp if marinated as long as you like to with some meat like you mentioned in your comment, you might just make the shrimp mushy. And for me shrimp already has a weird texture, so I would hate to find out what mushy shrimp taste like.

As far as I have seen, which hasn't been too much with shrimp marinades as I really enjoy some just boiled shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, is a marinade with lemon, parsley, and just a dash of hot sauce would be tasty with a bit of tang.


One of the big differences I have noticed in marinating a piece of meat (I'm not so sure about vegetables) is how long you marinate it for. I know some recipes call for about five to thirty minutes of marinade time, but I really think it makes for an incredible tender and tasty meal if you marinate the meat for hours.

One thing that I have not tried to marinate is shrimp. Any suggestions for how or what to marinate shrimp with?


I will eat salmon just about anyway it is served, but I think it always tastes best when you marinate salmon.

I have an easy marinade recipe that uses honey, soy sauce, olive oil, brown sugar and butter. Depending on how much salmon I have, I usually use approximately a tablespoon of each.

Once I mix everything in a bowl, I add the salmon and make sure it is evenly coated and put in the refrigerator for awhile so the marinade can soak in to the meat.

Once the meat is done marinating, you can either grill it or broil it. I have done both, depending on the weather conditions, and it always comes out tasting great either way.

It is important to remember to get rid of the extra marinade as once the meat has soaked in it for awhile, you don't really have any other use for it.


I like to marinate meat - especially if I am going to be grilling it. The easiest way I have found to marinate is to put my meat in a baggie, pour in some Italian vinaigrette dressing, make sure the meat is coated and put in the refrigerator for a few hours.

I usually use this with chicken breast, but have used with other meats as well. I have marinated anywhere from 30 minutes up to 8 hours.

This marinade not only adds flavor to the meat, but it turns out very tender and juicy. It is easy for chicken to get dry on the grill, but this is a wonderful and easy way to keep it juicy.


@MrSmirnov - If you want to marinate ribs to really bring out the flavor I would suggest looking up a recipe for a beer marinate. The beer with spices really makes a fantastic marinate, and I think it compliments the flavor of the meat really well. As for marinating in BBQ sauce, that is really a matter of personal taste. Perhaps you could do both dishes?

Also, when you marinate vegetables before grilling, I would just go with something really simple. For myself I like to go with a bit of an Asian flair by marinating in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and sesame oil. It tastes fantastic and is really easy to do.


Does anyone have any tips on how to marinate ribs to really bring out the flavor? Also, do you think a BBQ marinate would work well, or would you suggest something a little less traditional?

I have a big BBQ coming up soon and am really looking to help out by helping to prepare some of the meat. I don't usually cook, so it will be a bit of an extra challenge for me to help make something tasty.

I have also heard that you can marinate vegetables for the grill. Is this true? If so, what kinds of marinate are best for veggies?


@SZapper - I love crock pot meals! What you are describing sounds great and really, really easy. I may have to give that try sometime.

I'm a big fan of marinating meat. I tend to lean towards dry marinades though. My favorite thing to do is just coat chicken in poultry seasoning and some olive oil and then throw it in the oven. It doesn't take a lot of preparation time, and always comes out tasting delicious.


Sometimes I like to use marinade, but I don't necessarily marinate the meat before hand, if that makes any sense. One of my favorite easy meal is chicken in the crock pot with marinade.

What I do is buy a whole family pack of chicken thighs, which are pretty cheap. Then I buy a bottle of marinade and put the whole pack of chicken and the whole bottle of marinade in the crock pot. Cook on low for 12 hours, and then you have the meat portion of your meal cooked!

Usually I'll serve it with mashed potatoes and some kind of vegetable. I think it makes a great meal.


I like Japanese marinades a lot. Most American marinades are made for meat but Asian marinades are often used for vegetables.

When I visited Japan, I ordered 'bitashi' vegetables all the time. Bitashi means marinated. My favorite Japanese marinade is one with shiitake dashi which is mushroom broth. It makes the vegetables taste nutty and rich and also makes them a little salty.

They prepare this dish by cooking vegetables first, either steaming, stir-frying or oil-frying and then putting them in the marinade. They are served with some of the marinade in the bowl and you can keep dipping the veggies in it as you eat. I love this dish, I think it is the best way to have vegetables.


My favorite way to marinate is using a mixture of oil, tomato paste and spices like oregano. I mix chicken pieces in this sauce and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours. When I don't marinate chicken, it always comes out very bland, especially if it is not being fried. This is a good way to add flavor to it.

Another sauce I learned about recently is made with chopped onions, plain yogurt and Indian masala or curry powder. This is one of the ways Indian food is marinated and it makes chicken very soft and tasty. I marinated chicken this way last time and kept it in the fridge over night. It came out very very good.


I usually marinate steak or marinate pork with mojo sauce. This marinade is a traditional Caribbean marinade that has a smoky lime base and has a combination of citrus and barbeque flavor. It is really fantastic and it works best with pork.

You just have to be careful not to put too much otherwise the acidic flavor will kill the taste of the food. The mojo marinade is also used with traditional Cuban side dishes like yucca. This is really a nice alternative to traditional marinades and if you serve your entrée with a little sangria you really have a nice authentic Latin dining experience in your own home.

I love eating pork with this marinade, but I eat it once in a while because pork is high in cholesterol.

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    • Using olive oil is a popular way to marinate fish, poultry, and meat.
      By: margo555
      Using olive oil is a popular way to marinate fish, poultry, and meat.
    • Red wine is frequently used to make marinades and sauces for red meat.
      By: sattriani
      Red wine is frequently used to make marinades and sauces for red meat.
    • Marinades should enhance the flavor of meat, not cover it up.
      Marinades should enhance the flavor of meat, not cover it up.