Know How Long to Marinate. It might sound like a no-brainer, but larger cuts of meat require more time to marinate. Smaller pieces of meat (cubes for kebabs, for example) have more surface area, which allows them to absorb more marinade more quickly. As a general rule, most steaks are best marinated for about 30 to 60 minutes.
(Credit: Flickr/Food Thinkers)
Make It From Scratch. Control the salt, sugar, and preservatives in your food by making your marinades from scratch. A basic marinade uses an acidic ingredient (like citrus juice or vinegar), seasonings (like fresh herbs and spices), salt, and oil. Need a recipe to get you started? We’ve got you covered.
Balance the Flavors. If you’re making a marinade from scratch without a recipe, try to include one sweet ingredient (like fruit juice), one acidic ingredient (like vinegar or citrus juice), and one spicy ingredient (like garlic or ginger) to balance the flavors. And, for even more depth of flavor, try adding a smoky ingredient like ground chipotle or cumin.
(Credit: Flickr/Brian Hoffman)
Enzymes Are Your Friend. Certain enzymes found in warm-climate fruits (like pineapple and kiwi) help tenderize meat. Adding pineapple juice or mashed kiwi fruit to your marinade is a great way to add sweetness and help tenderize a tough cut of meat.
(Credit: Flickr/Justus Blümer)
Use Quality Ingredients. A good marinade can have as few as three or four ingredients, but those ingredients have to be high quality. If you’re using wine, use a bottle that you’d drink; if you’re using lemon juice, squeeze it yourself, and so on.
(Credit: Flickr/James Williams)
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.