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Recipes · 11 Easy Marinades to Make Cheap Meat Tender and Delicious

11 Easy Marinades to Make Cheap Meat Tender and Delicious

Learn how marinating your meat can save you money!

One of our favorite things to cook on the grill in the summertime is marinated flank steak. It’s quick and easy, and great for just the family or for entertaining a crowd. But as I was making it this past weekend, I began to think about maybe mixing it up with a different marinade. My go-to marinade is Mr. Yoshida’s Marinade and Cooking Sauce, and while it is completely DELICIOUS, I thought it would be fun to try something new!

I started looking around online and found several delicious marinade recipes that I wanted to try out. I figured I would just go ahead and make a blog post out of it, so that I could share those recipes with you, too! But rather than just sharing the recipes, I thought I’d put together a little primer on marinades to go along with it. So we’ll go over why marinades are useful, what goes into them, how to use them, and then I’ll share all of those tasty recipes with you.

Related: The One Chef’s Secret You Need To Know If You Love Steak

Why Use A Marinade?

But first, let’s talk a little bit about marinades in general, and why you’d want to use one. The most obvious reason you would want to marinade a piece of meat is to add flavor!
There are probably thousands of different marinade recipes out there on the web, so it’s pretty easy to find ones that feature your favorite flavors. (If you don’t know where to start, try typing in a few of your favorite flavors or ingredients into Google along with the word “marinade.”)

Another reason you may want to use a marinade is to make your meat more tender and juicy. This can actually save you money on your grocery bill! You can buy a cheaper cut of meat, marinate it, and still have it turn out tender and delicious. The key is the acid content of the marinade, which helps to break down the tough tissues in the meat before it’s cooked.

Related: How To Make Tender, Juicy Steak With One Secret Ingredient

Which leads us to our next topic – what makes a marinade?

What Goes Into A Marinade?

A marinade is a combination of three basic components:

  • Acid – Acids you may find in marinades include lemon or lime juice, vinegar, wine, and more. The acid helps tenderize the meat and lends a bright, tangy flavor.
  • Oil – Oil penetrates into the meat and brings the other flavors in the marinade along with it.
  • Herbs & Spices – These are what gives the marinade a unique and delicious flavor!

By keeping these 3 components in mind, you can start experimenting and discover some really unique and flavorful combinations! Next, I want to share a few important tips for using marinades correctly, because you want to be extra careful wherever raw meat is concerned.

Guidelines For Marinating

Here are some general guidelines for using marinades safely and effectively:

  • Meat and poultry are generally marinated for 2 hours up to 2 days.
  • Seafood and fish should be marinated for no longer than one hour.
  • Use a non-reactive container such as plastic or glass. Stay away from aluminum, copper, or cast iron.
  • If a marinade requires cooking, wait for it to cool down completely before pouring it over the meat.
  • Always refrigerate your meat while it’s marinating.
  • Never reuse marinades! You can save any unused marinade in a jar for later use, but once it’s been in contact with raw meat, it can’t be reused.

Now that we all know a bit more about marinades, let’s get to the good stuff – the recipes! Here are 11 of my very favorite marinade recipes, starting with one that was shared with me by a reader several years ago. The reader was Amy B. from California, so around our house we call this one “Amy B.’s California Marinade!” (This recipe makes quite a bit of marinade, so feel free to cut this recipe in half or just freeze what you don’t use.)

11 Delicious Marinade Recipes

I haven’t included any directions for these recipes, because most marinades just need to be whisked together. Or you can whip them up quickly in your blender or food processor! Special instructions are noted where applicable. 

1. Amy B.’s California Marinade


4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup mustard
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp pepper
2 cups olive oil

2. Coffee Marinade


1 cup strongly brewed coffee
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

3. Teriyaki Marinade


1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp garlic powder
5 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Special Directions:

Combine everything except the cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Mix the cornstarch and cold water separately, and add the slurry to your marinade in small amounts until it reaches your desired consistency. Remove from heat and let cool.

4. Greek Marinade


1 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp pepper

5. Lemon Rosemary Marinade


Juice from 3 lemons
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp salt

6. Korean BBQ Marinade


1 cup white sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp lemon juice

7. Seafood Marinade


1/2 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice

8. Balsamic Marinade


1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp thyme

9. Sweet and Sour Marinade


3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp soy sauce
2 scallions, sliced
Pepper, to taste

10. Smoky BBQ Marinade


1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup liquid smoke
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
3 Tbsp seasoning salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 1/2 Tbsp onion powder

11. Lime and Cilantro Marinade


2 cups lime juice
4 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno, minced
3 scallions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

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