Marinades are a great way to add flavor to food and tenderize tougher cuts of meat. They are typically made up of an oil, an acid and a number of herbs, spices, seasonings and aromatics.
While a piece of food is ‘marinating’, the acid is working to break down the protein in the meat – this is what it means to ‘tenderize’ a piece of meat. The tougher the piece of meat, the longer it needs to marinate for and will usually require oil and acid. For more tender cuts of meat, an acid isn’t always necessary if you are just marinating for a short amount of time. For acids, you can experiment with vinegars, lemon/lime or other fruit juices, wine or buttermilk.
The herbs, spices, seasonings and aromatics are there to give the marinade a deeper flavor. When making your own marinade, try using a variety of these ingredients, adding small amounts at a time and tasting as you go to make sure they blend well together.
You ideally want to cover the food as much as you can when marinating, so a wide, shallow dish is best to make sure everything is evenly coated with the liquid, and also turn the meat at least once while it’s marinating.
Here are a list of ten great meat marinades for almost every type of meat.
From Eating Well
A basic marinade for chicken or pork that’s seasoned with garlic and fresh parsley for an invigorating kick.
Honey-Glazed Baby Back Ribs with Whiskey Marinade
From Food and Wine
Honey, ginger and sesame oil give this marinade an Asian twist.
This spicy recipe is great for grilled chicken and comes with even better user tips for inventive variations.
Great for meat or wild game like venison, this marinade is a great basic to have on hand for anytime of year.
Straight out of the bottle, this marinade is fast, easy and works well because most salad dressings have emulsifiers (thickening agents) that penetrate the meat proteins even faster than acid.
This recipe uses apple and orange juice to give the marinade a fruitier taste.
BBQ and hot sauce gives this marinade a kick.
Spices and seasonings like paprika, cumin, fennel and saffron add depth and flavor to the meat.
Orange, Honey, Ginger-Soy Marinade
A zesty marinade that can also be used on vegetables, fish or tofu.
This simple soy-sauce and Worcestershire-based marinade is fast and easy for chicken, pork or almost any other type of meat. Try using it in large amounts, then freezing the extra meat for quick weeknight meals.