Marinades are a great way to pack some serious flavor into your grilled foods. Just simply mix your favorite seasonings with a liquid base and let your food take in all that delicious marinade magic. Just a few minutes of resting in a marinade will make all the difference. Here is our simple guide for how to use marinades in your next grill adventure.
Step one: Pick your flavors.
The first key to making a marinade is to pick flavors that you like. Try pairing lemon juice with fresh herbs for a clean, aromatic taste. For something a little hotter, cayenne and chili powder can really bump up the flavor profile of any protein. Garlic is another great element because it’s strong flavor will stay with the meat even through flame and fire.
Step two: Mix flavors with a liquid base.
Your flavors will need to be in a liquid base to coat the food. Oils and acids are most commonly used as the liquid components of a marinade, but the possibilities are endless. Try olive oil for a salty, nutty flavor or red wine vinegar for a more acidic tang.
Step three: Apply to food.
Add your food to your marinade in an air-tight container. We highly recommend using a zip-top plastic bag because you can seal air out and let the food rest tightly with the marinade. This is also a great tool because it can be closed to protect food from being contaminated while resting.
Step four: Take a rest.
Place the bag in the refrigerator and let rest for a while. Larger proteins such as pork loin or beef cuts work best with at least 2-3 hours of resting. More delicate pieces such as fish, vegetables, or chicken work well with about an hour of marinating. Experiment with different times and see what works best for you.
Step five: Discard.
It is vital that after you have removed your food from the marinade to discard the bag and any leftover marinade juice. Because these have made contact with raw proteins, they are contaminated and cannot be used again. We suggest making extra marinade and reserving this to be used once food has been cooked.
- When you seal your plastic bag, be sure to squeeze out as much air as possible.
- Lay bag flat while resting to evenly coat the food
- Rotate the bag halfway through marinating to keep things mixed together.
- Place bag in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet to prevent spills or leaks.
- Pre-made sauces or salad dressing make great marinades for when you are pressed for time but still crave fantastic flavor.
An easy, garlic-heavy marinade that is perfect for smoked chicken drumsticks.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- Whole head of garlic, all cloves peeled and chopped
- Note: For a quick trick to make peeling garlic easy, try microwaving the unpeeled cloves for 8 seconds and then crush the cloves with the flat side of a knife. They'll pop right out!
- 10 chicken drumsticks
- In a bowl, mix olive oil with white wine vinegar.
- Add the peeled and chopped cloves of garlic.
- Add kosher salt and pepper. Mix well until combined.
- Pour marinade into zip-top bag.
- Add about 10 chicken drumsticks to bag, squeeze out air, and seal tightly. Lay bag in casserole dish.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Turn over bag and refrigerate another 30 minutes.
- Using your favorite smoking wood, smoke drumsticks for 1-2 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grill wings over direct heat until internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.
Remove from grill and enjoy!
Other Great Ways To Use Marinades
Looking for something to add a little variety to that chicken dinner? Here are some other great tips for how to use marinades in multiple different ways that will definitely have you coming back for more.
Marinades for Fish
The meat on fish filets is generally much softer than on beef, pork or chicken, making it a great medium to soak up delicious seasoning. If you choose to marinate your fish however, we suggest using a sturdier fish like tuna or salmon to be sure that the delicate flakes will hold up through grilling. Try pairing citrus with fresh herbs for a light and flavorful grilled fish, or take a culinary adventure to Japan with our favorite Teriyaki sauce marinade.
Marinades for Pork
Although pork chops are quick to be labeled as the boring, weeknight dinner staple, they can easily be transformed into the rockstar of any meal with a sweet or spicy marinade of your choice. Take advantage of the many spices from the Caribbean with this Jamaican jerk marinade, full of flavor from fresh peppers, onion, and thyme. Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat and give that pork the extra kick it might need!
Marinades for Beef
A little salt here. A little pepper there. Bam. Sometimes that’s all a good, quality cut of beef needs. However, if you’re left wanting a little more out of that beautiful steak just waiting for the magic of the grill, consider a quick marinade that will pack in extra flavor in only a short amount of time. Take a trip south of the border and whip up this quick chimichurri marinade with red pepper and parsley the next time you’re grilling beef. You might not ever go back to the days of plain salt-and-pepper steaks again.
Marinades for Vegetables
That’s right. Marinades don’t just work wonders for meat, but they also can add worlds of flavor to any of your favorite vegetables. Treat the vegetables just as you would a cut of meat by soaking them in a marinade for up to an hour to pack in award-winning zing. Slice up some eggplant, red pepper, or zucchini and pair with this spicy grilled-veggie marinade for a dish of unbelievable fresh flavor.