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You need to try these incredible beef marinades

A good piece of steak starts with a good marinade. These are the ones to make

Two slices of raw beef on white paper
Getty Images

There are a thousand tips and tricks to achieving a flavorful, tender, juicy, and delicious beef dish. Dry brining, tenderizing, and of course, marinading beef are wonderfully easy ways to ensure perfectly seasoned, melt-in-your mouth, incredible texture. But what goes into a steak marinade? How do you do it? How long should you marinate your beef?

What is a marinade?

A marinade is basically a prepared sauce that goes onto meat before cooking, not after. The meat is placed in the sauce (marinade) inside a leak-proof container to allow the marinade ingredients to slowly break down the beef proteins.

A steak marinade is a sauce that contains fat, acid, and seasonings. Fat can be an oil, buttermilk, mayonnaise, or yogurt. An acid can be lemon, limes, oranges, any type of vinegar, wine, or tomatoes. The seasonings can be paired with the acid to create a flavor profile. The fat will create moisture and will allow any fat-soluble ingredients to be absorbed into the meat.

The acid will break down the fibers of the steak to weaken its structure, making it tender. You have to be careful because if you let the beef sit in the marinade too long, you run the risk of the marinade changing the texture of the meat completely. For example, the acid cooks the meat slightly like in ceviche, if it stays too long in the marinade, you will have tough, slightly cooked meat.

Once the beef has been marinated, you can begin the cooking process. Ideally, you will cook the beef on the grill or even use a grill pan. That doesn’t mean you can’t cook it in an air fryer, slow cooker, or digital pressure cooker; you just need to adjust your cook time.

Although these are marinades for beef, you can apply them to almost any meat, including chicken or pork. You just need to watch the marinating time because some meats will marinate faster while others will take longer. Usually the tougher the meat, the longer the marinade. Marinades take anywhere from 1 hour to overnight, it just depends on the recipe.

You can use the marinade as a basting sauce, but you should never serve it as a sauce on its own because of potential bacteria from the raw meat. If you do use it as part of the basting method, you should stop basting when you get close to the desired temperature to cook off any juices from the raw meat.

If you have ever asked yourself, “What should I marinate steak in?” or “How do I marinate beef?” those are easy questions to answer. Just pick one of these 11 best beef marinades. Better yet, try them all. They will take your grilled beef to the next level.

Flank steak with lime marinade

Flank Steak with Lime Marinade on a white plate from Martha Stewart.
Martha Stewart

(From Martha Stewart)

This recipe is great for a citrus flavor and for last-minute marinating.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (about 4 limes) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 scallions (about 1/3 cup), thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2pounds flank steak
  • Vegetable oil, for grates
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper

Method

  1. In a resealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, scallions, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Add the steak, and seal bag (place in a dish to catch any leaks); marinate in the refrigerator, turning occasionally, up to 1 hour.
  2. Heat grill to high; lightly oil grates. Remove steak from marinade, letting excess drip off, and discard marinade; season with salt and black pepper. Place on grill; cover. Cook, turning once, until meat reaches desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Let it rest 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

Soy-marinated flank steaks

Soy-Marinated Flank Steaks on a wooden chopping board from Food Network.
Food Network

(From Food Network)

The soy sauce adds just the right amount of umami flavor to the steak.

Ingredients

  • 1 flank steak, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Poke the steak all over with the tines of a fork; cut in half, against the grain, to make 2 steaks (1 steak may be slightly thicker). In a non-reactive bowl or large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the soy sauce, Worcestershire, vinegar, oil, garlic, sugar, and pepper to taste. Add the steak, and turn to coat. Cover or reseal the bag and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
  2. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Position the rack in the top position in the oven and preheat the broiler. Remove the steaks from the marinade and pat dry. Cook the steaks for 5 to 8 minutes on each side for rare to medium-rare. Set aside on a cutting board for 5 minutes.
  4. Cut the steak against the grain, on an angle, into very thin slices. Arrange the slices on a warmed platter or plates. Serve.

Korean marinated beef (Bulgogi)

bulgogi marinated beef on bed of lettuce and rice.
Epicurious

(From Lillian Chou Epicurious)

This is a great Korean-style method that goes perfectly with grilled meat.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1 bunch scallions (white and pale green parts separated from greens), minced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 pound flank steak, cut across the grain into very thin slices (no more than 1/8 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Accompaniments: Butter lettuce or other soft-leaf lettuce; thinly sliced garlic; packaged kimchi*; steamed white rice.

Method

  1. Stir together soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, white and pale green scallions, garlic, ginger, and 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add steak and toss to coat, then marinate 15 minutes.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until just smoking, then add the steak in one layer and sauté, turning over occasionally, until browned and just cooked through, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with scallion greens and the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, then serve with accompaniments.
  3. *Available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

The ultimate marinade for tender grilled steak

Steak marinade and meat in a bag
The Kitchn

(From Meghan Splawn The Kitchn)

This marinade hits all the right taste buds with sweet, salty, and a little spice from the mustard.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 pounds flank steak

Method

  1. Make the marinade. Place the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt in a gallon zip-top bag. Seal and shake to combine.
  2. Marinate the steak for 1 hour or overnight. Add the steak to the marinade and seal the bag. Place the bag in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Prepare the steak for grilling. Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Discard the marinade.
  4. Grill the steak over high and medium heat. Heat half of an outdoor grill for high, direct heat. Heat the other half for medium, direct heat. Place the steak over high heat until browned, burnished, and grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Move the steak to medium heat and continue grilling to your desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes more for medium (about 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to four days.

Best steak marinade in existence

Best Steak Marinade in Existence by Kookie from Allrecipes.
Allrecipes

(From Kookie Allrecipes)

One of the best ways to season and tenderize the steaks with a kick.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)

Method

  1. Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce and garlic, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour the marinade over the desired type of meat. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.

Teriyaki beef marinade

Teriyaki beef marinade in a bowl.
Taste of Home

(From Taste of Home)

This marinade will put a little bit of a sweet and salty glaze on beef.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Method

  1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. Use to marinate the beef.

Zesty beef marinade

Zesty beef marinade by dicentra on Food.com.
Food.com

(From Dicentra Food.com)

A truly lively and flavorful way to prepare steak.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespooons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Method

  1. Thoroughly combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

Overnight brisket marinade

overnight brisket marinade in a jar.
The Spruce Eats

(From Derrick Riches The Spruce Eats)

A mild yet flavorful marinade perfect for tender cuts of beef.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2cups red wine
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, use less or omit if preferred
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Method

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Pour the marinade over brisket and let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
  4. Remove the brisket from the marinade and boil the remaining marinade for 5 minutes to use as a mop.

Tips

  1. If you want to make the marinade ahead of time, it will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  2. Use the remaining marinade to make what’s called a mop. Boil the leftover marinade for at least five minutes to destroy any bacteria. Use this thin sauce to brush over or “mop” on top of the meat for extra flavor during the cooking process, whether it’s smoking, grilling, or braising.

How to use overnight brisket marinade

You can use this over a brisket, but it’s also great as a marinade on other cuts of beef and pork.

Jamaican jerk marinade

Jamaican jerk marinade ingredients
The Spruce Eats

(From Derrick Riches The Spruce Eats)

Some of the best Caribbean flavors bring the heat to any type of meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup scallions (finely chopped)
  • 1 hot pepper (finely chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt ( kosher or sea salt is preferable)
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican Pimento (or ground allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash hot sauce (optional)

Method

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Depending on the size of the blender, this process might need to be done in batches.
  3. Use marinade right away or if you’re making ahead, simply store it in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to seven days. We recommend making this the day before using to let the flavors marry well; however, it is not required.

Lemonand herb marinade

Lemon and herb marinade ingredients and a bag of meat
Eat This, Not That!

(From Kiersten Hickman Eat This, Not That!)

This herbaceous marinade is mild yet flavorful, with a hint of brightness from the lemon.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of pepper

Thai chili marinade

Marinade ingredients and a bag of meat
Eat This, Not That!

(From Kiersten Hickman Eat This, Not That!)

A marinade that is sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy all rolled into one.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Dark beer marinade

Dark beer
Dan Barrett / Unsplash

This wouldn’t be a complete list without a choice that includes using beer. This steak marinade recipe calls for your favorite stout or dark brew, which adds plenty of depth to the flavor and tenderness of the meat.

Ingredients

  • 2 (16-ounce) beef sirloin steaks (or your preferred cut)
  • 1/4 cup dark beer (stout, porter, or brown ale)
  • 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Method

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the beer, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. If you want a thicker marinade, whisk in a tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Pour the marinade over the steaks, coating them evenly. Let them sit for about 5 minutes. For extra flavor, you can marinate the steaks for longer, up to 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Flip the steaks and sprinkle them with half of the remaining seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside for another 10 minutes.
  5. Flip the steaks again, sprinkle with the remaining seasonings, and marinate for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the steaks from the marinade and discard the marinade (don’t reuse it).

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