Marinated grilled meat is a feast. With the right ingredients and a few tricks, you can intensify the meat’s taste and make it particularly spicy and aromatic – no matter if it’s beef, chicken, lamb or pork. You don’t need many ingredients to create a tasty marinade, but you should respect a few basics. Otto shows you how to marinate meat properly.

How to marinate meat: 7 tips for delicious marinades

1. The basic ingredients of any marinade

Salt and oil are the two basic ingredients of any marinade. You can also add soy sauce or sugar as additional taste boosters. Here’s the 4 basic ingredients in how to marinate meat properly.

  • Salt:
    Salt is the foundation of any marinade. It makes sure the meat can absorb the marinade, so use it abundantly. In combination with herbs and spices, it enhances the taste. Salt makes sure the moisture from the marinade gets absorbed even in dryer areas of the meat. The process behind this is called osmosis: the salt first pulls out the meat juices, which then get absorbed back into the meat with the marinade’s flavors in tow.
    Salty fact: salt breaks down the meat’s protein structures creating little gaps that can be filled by the marinade’s moisture making the meat more juicy. Otto goes into to detail how to salt your steak for the best flavor.
  • Oil: 
    Oil is a must-have for your marinade. Most of the herbs and spices only reveal their aromatic flavors when combined with oil.
  • Soy sauce:
    Soy sauce is a favorable replacement or addition to salt when you are looking for a more exceptional marinade. Soy sauce contains glutamic acid which reinforces the meat’s flavor.
  • Sugar/Honey:
    Sweetness in the form of sugar or honey further intensifies the meat’s flavor and guarantees a beautiful crust on the grill. The best way how to marinate meat with honey is to melt it into your sauce or brush it directly on the meat.

4 things to know about meat quality

2. Plenty of herbs and spices

The higher the concentration of salt in the marinade, the more herbs and spices you need for the meat to absorb their taste. One of Otto’s favorite herb mix marinade is with an abundance of garlic, herbs and spices: at least 3-4 cloves of garlic and at least one big tablespoon of chopped herbs. This is how you marinate meat: plenty of herbs and spices!

3. Fork the meat before marinating

Take a fork and prick some holes into the meat before marinating it so that the meat will absorb the sauce more easily. Using a knife can achieve the same goal, especially when you want to marinate bigger steak cuts.

4. Cover the meat in the marinade

The meat should be covered evenly with the marinade from all sides. For this purpose, we advise you to put the marinated meat into a zip-lock bag and flip the bag after marinating for half the time needed. Another way is to use a big bowl covered with cellophane, stirring the meat halfway through the marinating time.

5. Refridgerate

Microorganisms love to proliferate at temperatures between 5-40 ºC/ 40-100 ºF. This is why Otto recommends placing your marinating meat into the fridge. It is adviseable to place a plate or tray underneath it in case of any leaks – less mess to clean up afterwards.

Porterhouse cut
Porterhpuse Steak Recipe

6. Marinate for several hours

The whole purpose to marinate is so that the meat will be absorbed with a mouthful of flavors. The longer you leave the meat in the marinade, the more of the salty seasonings will emanate from your cooked steak. If you are wonderng how to marinate meat quickly, Otto recommends the vaccum-seal method. If you have the right equipment, you can vacuum seal your meat and marinade to shorten the time you need to wait before grilling. Some even swear it enhances the taste experience even more than the original way.

7. Never use the same marinade twice

The marinade mixes with raw meat juice so you shouldn’t use the same marinade more than one time. If you were hoping to use some of the marinade on your grilled meat as a sauce, make sure to make extra marinade and put some aside for topping.

Pat LaFrieda Otto Grill

8. Cook it right

And remember, no matter how delicious the marinade, you will want to cook your meat properly – find out how to cook a proper core temperature with this guide to the desired degree of doneness.

Do you all of a sudden have a craving for a marinated meat snack? Try our marinated lamb chops.