16 Popular Types of Marinades (And Their Uses)

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Marinades are used to enhance the flavor of foods like beef, chicken, and vegetables. They are usually a mixture of oil, seasonings, and acidic ingredients, like vinegar, wine, or citrus juice.

There are different types of marinades, which can be acidic, enzymatic, or oil-based.

They work well with different foods, so to properly flavor your dish, you need to familiarize yourself with the different marinade varieties so you can choose the right one for your dish.

What Are Marinades?

Marinade are liquid solutions that you soak in foods and meats before cooking. The purpose of marinades is to add flavor and moisture to foods and tenderize tougher cuts of meat to start the breakdown process of cooking.

This action can be a result of acidic ingredients such as wine, vinegar, or fruit juice or enzymatic components like papaya, guava, ginger, or pineapple. Through the breakdown, fluids and seasonings enter the meat so it will not dry out quickly during grilling but maintain its moisture.

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Marinades are especially important for grilling due to the high, intense heat grills often produce, leading to the formation of harmful chemicals on the surface while cooking. An acidic marinade lessens the formation of these substances.

What Are Marinades Made Of?

A typical marinade consists of 3 essential components:

  • Acid (such as citrus, wine, or vinegar)
  • Oil (such as sesame oil or olive oil)
  • Flavoring agents (such as herbs and spices)

How Long Should You Marinate?

We suggest you marinate for about 5-6 hours; this will impart the best texture and flavor. Although, even 10 minutes of marinating will still add the required flavor.

You can leave non-acidic marinades longer, but this will not, in any way, make them work any better. Therefore, stick to a maximum of 24 hours.

NOTE: It’s not advisable to leave meats to marinate in acid for more than overnight. Leaving meat in an acidic marinade for too long will make the surface texture stringy and dry eventually.

Types Of Marinade

1. Acidic Marinades

This includes vinegar, tomato, wine, and citrus juice; acidic marinades work to loosen the meat’s protein bonds, making it more tender so that these juices can then be absorbed.

2. Dairy Marinades

This isn’t the most appealing type of marinade, but many chefs and grilling experts swear by it; it is said to be the only proper way to go about marinating meat.

Dairy contains calcium, which works to age the meat by activating its enzymes, making the meat more tender. You can use buttermilk or yogurt, which is also acidic.

3. Enzyme Marinades

This includes kiwi, papaya, pineapple, and other fruits that contain papain or bromelain.

These proteins break down and tenderize the meat, but keep in mind that using this type of marinade may dry and toughen your meat if left to marinate for too long.

Marinade Varieties

There are basically 2 different marinade varieties; wet and dry marinating.

4. Wet Marinating

This involves placing the meat in a flavorful liquid to soften it and prevent it from going bad. Wet marinating can only be done for a short period of time and needs to be placed in the fridge.

Adding salt in a wet marinade should be avoided as it can suck out the natural juices out of the meat cut.

5. Dry Marinades

This is also known as dry rubs or BBQ spices and uses a variety of dried herbs and spices to pack even more flavor to your meat.

Salt can be added to a dry marinade and works to break down the proteins of the meat so that other flavors can be absorbed. Before using a dry rub on a piece of meat, coat it with lard, oil, or water so that the marinade adheres better to the meat surface.

6. Wet Rubs

This is another variety of marinade and is an excellent option for those who love to BBQ.

Wet rubs are pastes that include Jamaican jerk seasoning and tomato-based rubs, and you simply need to thoroughly coat the meat with a mixture of spices and herbs; this creates a thin layer of flavor on the meat before it is cooked.

Popular Marinade Types

Types of Marinades
  • Teriyaki marinade
  • Lemon and rosemary marinade
  • Classic steak marinade
  • Pineapple marinade
  • Jamaican jerk marinade
  • Greek-style lamb marinade
  • Brisket marinade
  • Mexican marinade
  • Beef rib marinade
  • Bulgogi marinade

7. Teriyaki Marinade

Teriyaki marinade is a common type of marinade and is sure to add flavor to whatever meat cut you are using.

This marinade pairs really well with pork and poultry but can also be used on beef. You will need the following ingredients to make this marinade:

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  • 3​ large lemons
  • 1/4 cup of fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup of ​olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

8. Lemon and Rosemary Marinade

Lemon and rosemary marinade is excellent for flavoring chicken and gives it a lemon-herb flavor. This marinade not only works well with poultry but can also be used with pork and lamb. Ingredients used includes:

  • 3​ large lemons
  • 1/4 cup of fresh rosemary (2 tablespoons dried rosemary)
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

9. Classic Steak Marinade

Nothing makes a great steak even better than the suitable marinade. A classic steak marinade tenderizes and flavors your steak, so it comes out perfectly when grilled.

This marinade not only works for beef but also works well with pork, poultry, and lamb. You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder (or granulated onion)
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic (minced)

10. Pineapple Marinade

This marinade pairs really well on pork or chicken and adds a tremendous Hawaiian flavor to beef dishes. The acidity of pineapple tenderizes and sweetens meats:

  • 1 cup of crushed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1/4 cup of cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of powdered cloves

11. Jamaican Jerk Marinade

If you want your meat an immerse jerk flavor, then this Jamaican jerk marinade is the one for you. It can be used on all kinds of meat and poultry. Ingredients you’ll need include:

  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped scallions
  • 1 finely chopped hot pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of  fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt salt
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican pimento (or ground allspice)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • A splash of hot sauce (optional)

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12. Greek-Style Lamb Marinade

This greek-style lamb marinade can be used with any meat but pairs particularly well with lamb dishes.

Ensure to allow the meat to sit in the marinade for a while so it can soak up as much flavor as possible. You will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 to 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of roughly chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper

13. Brisket Marinade

If you are making a beef brisket roast, then this brisket marinade is what you need to add a lot of flavors and tenderize the meat. You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups of red wine
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of mustard
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons​ of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon​ of wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of horseradish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or as you would prefer)
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder

14. Mexican Marinade

This type of marinade can be used on any cut of meat and gives any dish an authentic Mexican flavor. It is packed with a great lime and cilantro flavor, which doesn’t overpower the flavor of the meat.

  • 1/3 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder (or as your tastebuds can handle)
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ancho chili powder

15. Beef Rib Marinade

Beef rib marinade adds a lot of flavor to your beef ribs, and the acid from the lemon juice and vinegar used also helps to tenderize the meat once they are smoked. You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne (optional)

16. Bulgogi Marinade

This traditional bulgogi marinade recipe is created explicitly for Korean bulgogi, a marinated steak cut into strips and served on the side of lettuce leaves or rice.

This marinade can also be used for any cut of beef.  To make this marinade, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of  sake (or rice wine or sherry)
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  • 8 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 4 scallions (minced)
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

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