How To Marinate Meat

how to marinate meat

Seems simple enough – mix the marinade and add the meat. Make the most of your summer marinades with these suggestions.

The secret to tasty marinated meat is time. For optimum results, you need to allow enough time for the meat to soak up the flavours of the marinade.

Marinades that are herb and spice based can be left on from 1 hour to 1 day, but highly acidic marinades should only infuse for 1 to 2 hours. Longer marinating with acidic marinades can toughen the meat over time.

Yoghurt and buttermilk are mildly acidic and work well at flavouring and tenderising meat by marinating overnight.

Times for marinating meat

  • Steak and chops: 2-4 hours
  • Roast lamb, beef and pork: 4-6 hours (or overnight)
  • Roast chicken: 4-6 hours (or overnight)
  • Chicken wings: 2-4 hours
  • Prawns and squid: 1-2 hours
  • Fish: 2-4 hours (less time for delicate fillets)

Marinating tips

  • When marinating meat it is best to use a glass bowl, rather than a metal one. The acidic ingredients in your marinade can react with the metal, giving the food an unpleasant taste.
  • If you don’t have a glass bowl, zip-lock bags can be used.
  • Don’t poke holes or pierce your meat before marinating. Doing this only drains the juices out of the meat.
  • Mix your marinades well before applying to the meat. Ensure an even coating of marinade over every part of the meat.
  • Turn the meat regularly while marinating if the marinade hasn’t covered all the meat in the bowl.
  • Always leave meat that is marinating in the fridge – don’t leave it at room temperature or outside while heating the BBQ. Bacteria can multiply quickly on raw meat if it is warm.
  • Wipe off excess marinade before cooking but ensure there is still some marinade on the meat surface to maximise flavour.
  • NEVER put raw marinade over cooked food. You can use any leftover marinade as a sauce or glaze as long as you BOIL it before using.

And for some marinade ideas, check out our tips for top marinades and rubs.