Grilling Tips: How to Marinate Food

Marinating food before cooking is an interesting method to prevent food from getting too dry after grilling. Find out how the best marinade recipes and our suggestions.


Some cooking methods tend to dehydrate food (especially some cuts of meat), particularly due to very high temperatures which can damage both the texture and flavor; consequently food tend to get rather hard and needs to be deprived of unpleasant aromatic elements (in the case of game).

Marinating food before cooking is an interesting method to sort these problems out and at the same time it gives more flavor to what you are cooking. Preparing marinades and barbecue sauces is a fairly simple process but it requires some precautions and needs to be planned in advance.



What is marinating

An easy marinade (for, beef, chicken, pork or fish) consists of three types of ingredients: acids (such as wine, beer, vinegar, or lemon juice), oils (mainly olive oil) and flavorings (spices and herbs). In some cases you can also add various kinds of sauces (soy sauce, yogurt sauce, Worcester sauce).
Each element has a specific function: the acids break down the proteins present in the food, making them more tender and susceptible to the influence of other flavors, oils retain the natural flavor and water, preventing dehydration both before and while cooking, and the aromas add flavor to foods.


marinated pork skewers

How to marinate meat for grilling

Here is a selection of the best marinades for steak and other cuts of red meat.

Red meat marinade recipes

Mix chopped garlic and rosemary, pepper and salt and lots of red wine. Let the meat marinate for about 2 hours.

Beer marinade

Did you know that meat can be marinated in beer too? Mix a clove of garlic, orange zest, sage, pepper and juniper beans and drizzle of light beer. Let the meat marinate for about 2 hours.

Honey meat marinade

Mix 3,5 tbs of honey, pepper and thyme, 2 tbs apple cider vinegar and sprinkle the meat. Leave the meat rest in the marinade for no more than half an hour.

Marinating in balsamic vinegar

Mix balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in equal parts lemon juice, basil leaves and black pepper, sprinkle the meat and let it marinate for no more than half an hour.

Oriental marinade

Finally, an idea for the lovers of Eastern flavors: arrange the meat in a container with a clove of garlic, grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of brown sugar, dry martini and soy sauce. Let the meat marinate for about 1 hour.


meat  marinade

Bbq chicken marinade

In a bowl mix a jar of natural yogurt, 1 tablespoon of curry, chopped parsley, lemon juice, pepper and garlic (optional) and pour it over the chicken. Let marinate for about 2 hours.


chicken marinade

Fish marinade

This the classic marinade for grilled fish: chopped parsley, thyme, garlic and lemon juice.

Oriental marinade

This Asian marinade for fish is slightly different from the one for meat: mix a clove of chopped garlic, thyme, ginger and and dry white wine.


tuna marinade

Tips for healthy marinades

Barbecue marinades are a simple successfull idea for tenderizing steak and other foods before grilling. Yet, it is important to pay attention with them.

Never let foods marinate out of the refrigerator and in any case don't exceed the times indicated above. Since raw meat or fish release organic fluids that can encourage bacterial growth, use the marinade only or for prolonged cooking and at high temperatures however. In case of quick cooking, drain the marinade before cooking and quickly rinse the food under running water.


fish marinade



Pork skewers on the grill by Alpha (cropped) | Dips by Nigel Wade CC BY-SA 2.0
Marinade by Jeremy Keith | Tuna steak marinating by Yandle | Marinade by hindyg | Marinade by Aimee Plesa | Fish need to swim by Mirko Tobias Schäfer used under CC BY 2.0