How to Make Marinades for Steak

Give your steak extra sizzle with a homemade marinade.
Give your steak extra sizzle with a homemade marinade. (Image: Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images)

Most marinades serve a dual purpose; they tenderize meats that soak in them, while adding an extra depth of flavor to your steak. Once you master the chemistry of a marinade, you can easily create new flavor combinations. Your marinade will need equal parts of an acid and an oil, with other seasonings to your personal taste.

Things You'll Need

  • Acidic liquid
  • Herbs and seasonings
  • Olive or vegetable oil

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Select an acid for your marinade. Vinegar and citrus juices are common choices, as are wines. Give your steak an Asian flair, for example, by starting with an orange juice base. Give it a Southwest kick with vinegar or red wine.

Mix in your favorite herbs or seasonings. Add a little soy sauce and garlic to the orange juice, or use parsley, garlic, rosemary, thyme and basil for a traditional marinade. If you like, sweeten the flavor with a little honey, maple syrup or sugar, or give the marinade a little spice with chopped jalapenos.

Drizzle in a good quality oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is a good choice, as it adds its own layer of flavor, although any light vegetable oil will work.

Place the stirred marinade and your steak in a zippered plastic bag for an hour or more, up to overnight for heavier, less tender steak cuts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment with different acid and seasoning combinations. Keep the oil light so that it does not overpower the other flavors.
  • Do not reuse marinades, as doing so can result in cross-contamination. If you want to use the marinade as a sauce base, make a little extra and keep it separate.
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