Backyard barbecues are in full swing. If you’re looking for some ways to change up your hamburger and hotdog routine, think about a marinade. Marinades are an easy way to infuse a variety of flavors in your favorite grilled meats, seafood, and veggies. You probably already have ingredients in your pantry, fridge, or garden to whisk together a new taste theme for what you’re putting on the barbecue. Marinate your vegetables and fruits as well–they deserve some flavor too! In fact, veggies get a heightened sweetness when their juices are caramelized from the heat.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Not all marinades are the same, and not all foods need to same amount of marinade time.
- Beef can benefit with a marinade from 1 to 12 hours, BUT if it contains an acidic ingredient, like the balsamic vinegar one below, it only needs a short while to work its magic, if the meat sits in an acid-based marinade too long its texture can get mushy.
- Fish and seafood only need 15 or 30 minutes, while chicken or pork can benefit from a couple hours or even overnight. For Fruits and vegetables, 15 minutes to 1 hour does it.
- You need a little bit of fat, such as vegetable or olive oil. Fats help transfer and spread all those yummy flavors and help keep meats moist.
- If making marinade ahead, combine ingredients in a jar, tighten lid, then shake to combine and store in the fridge until ready to us.
- A zippered plastic bag works great to marinate, just push out any air before sealing, place in refrigerator, and flip a few times so that everything gets equal coverage.
- Marinades are not just for the grill. Broil, bake, roast or a stove top skillet are all ways to cook marinated food.
- Discard any marinade that has come in contact with raw meat. If you want to serve additional marinade alongside your dish, or baste while grilling, set aside a portion before using the rest to marinate the meat. To reuse any marinade that has come in contact with raw meat, you will need to pour into a saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil on the stove top.
Balsamic Vinegar Marinade
Makes ¾ of a cup
This flavor booster has a subtle sweet taste, a little bit of tang, and is robust enough to stand up to beef or pork. The brown sugar helps give your meat that caramelized char we love about grilled meat. If using for beef kabobs, go ahead and marinate your vegetables for 30 minutes before skewering. Think onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes for a tasty and colorful grilled meal!
- ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- ¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Put meat and marinade in a zippered sealed gallon bag. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, flipping bag occasionally to make certain all the meat gets marinated. (Don’t marinate for longer than 8 hours, as the acid in this marinade can change the texture of your beef.) Marinate vegetables for 30 minutes.
Makes 1 ½ cup
- Teriyaki is a flavor most of us are familiar with and an ideal choice to make a star of chicken, or pork. This is a good, basic, go-to teriyaki recipe to keep on hand. It’s also an amazing marinade for meaty tuna steaks cooked on the grill! Marinate pineapple slices in the teriyaki then grill, your barbeque menu gets another star! The teriyaki marinade can also be turned into a glossy sauce by thickening with cornstarch on the stove top.
- 1 cup less sodium soy sauce
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Put meat and marinade in a zippered sealed gallon bag. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours or overnight, flipping bag occasionally to make certain all the meat gets marinated. Marinate vegetables or fruit for 1 hour.
- To make a teriyaki sauce to spoon over finished meat, pour unused marinade in saucepan, whisk in ½ teaspoon cornstarch, bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer until sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly.
- Drizzle over meat before serving
Lime and chili marinade
Makes 1/2 cup
To add a kick to your shrimp, scallops, or other seafood, try this easy to assemble marinade. It stands alone but has all the right flavors if you’re putting together shrimp or fish tacos. Think marinated red peppers, red onion, and papaya or mango over the flame as well!
Any firm fish is a candidate for a combination of fresh citrus, herbs, and spices. Use the recipe below as a guide but try your own likes. Substitute lemon or orange juice for the lime. Basil, dill, parsley, oregano, chives, or rosemary for the cilantro. Minced garlic, smoky paprika, sriracha, or red pepper flakes add intensity or heat.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
- In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients then pour over fish or seafood. Marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Skewer shrimp or scallops for easier handling and flipping on the grill or use a grill basket so those little guys don’t end up in the coals! To prevent seafood from sticking, make certain your grill is both clean and hot before cooking. Oil grill by running a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil across hot grates.