Simple Flavorful Marinades for Meat

The Recipe for the Perfect Marinade

A marinade is a great (and easy) way to add your favorite flavors to your next grilled meal using the things that you have in the pantry, spice rack and refrigerator. Constructing a marinade doesn’t have to become a science experiment, the best way to approach it is to start simple and tweak it until you’ve created something unique and delicious.  

Our easy to follow marinade guide will set you on your way to making your own one-of-a-kind marinade for your next backyard barbecue. If marinading isn’t your thing, we got some great Spice Rub Recipes too, just mix them up rub them on and get grilling!

Step 1: Create your Marinade Base:

A great marinade is comprised of 3 Parts Oil and 1 Part Acid


Oil is the vessel that delivers the flavor of your marinade to your food. Try these:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil


An acidic component balances the marinade, start small and go from there. Try these:

  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Lemon or Lime Juice

Step 2: Add Your Flavor Enhancers:

-Salty or Sweet

Add a touch of sweet or salty, but don’t over-do it.

  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Brown Sugar
  • Orange Clover Honey


Herbs and other tasty ingredients add great flavor to your marinade.

  • Fresh Chopped Herbs
  • Minced or Crushed Garlic
  • Chopped or Minced Shallot, Onion or Scallion
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Lemon Zest

Step 3: Marinade Away!

Mix your flavor enhancers with your oil and acid in a non-reactive container (don’t use metal) such as a large plastic zip-top bag, glass bowl with a lid or plastic storage container.

Now you’re ready to add in your meat, seafood, veggies, tofu or whatever you’d like to marinate and store in the fridge for up to 12 hours or longer before heading out to the grill. Remember to always marinade under refrigeration on the bottom shelf.

It’s up to you to choose how long to marinade your food, but here are a few loose guidelines:

  • Seafood: 30 Minutes – 3 Hours
  • Tofu or Tempeh: 30-45 Minutes
  • Poultry: 30 Minutes up to 4 Hours
  • Beef: 1 Hour up to 24 Hours (More heavily marbled cuts can be marinated longer)
  • Veggies: 30 Minutes – 1 Hour

Once you’re satisfied with how long you’ve marinated, all you’ll need is a hot grill. Just shake off the excess liquid and go straight to the grill. If you’re marinating meat, be sure to thoroughly clean any utensils, dishes or surfaces that came in contact with your marinade. Toss the excess or leftover marinade, especially marinades used with raw meat; it won’t be cooked so you don’t want to eat it.

Take a look at these simple combinations for marinade inspiration:

Classic Herb Marinade

  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Finely Minced Garlic
  • Chopped Fresh Oregano
  • Chopped Fresh Rosemary
  • Roughly Ground Coriander Seeds
  • Cumin
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper


Lemon, Thyme and Garlic Marinade

  • Olive Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Chopped Garlic
  • Finely Minced Fresh Thyme
  • Zest of 1 Lemon


Basil Balsamic Marinade

  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Finely Minced Small Shallot
  • Fresh Chopped Basil
  • Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to Taste

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