Marinades made easy

Associated PressSeptember 18, 2013 

These marinades are (clockwise from top right) orange ginger, white wine mustard, lemon herb and garlic balsamic. At center is maple soy. On the meat (from top) are chipolte lime, red wine and rosemary and spicy hoisin.


Marinades are one of the simplest ways to add fast and easy flavor to your meals. Combine a few ingredients in a zip-close plastic bag, add your meat, seafood or veggies, then walk away for a while.

We've outlined some basic marinades below to help get you started, as well as some suggestions of what you can use them for. But the truth is, marinades are so versatile and easy to use, you can substitute whatever your favorite ingredients are or anything you happen to have on hand.

These marinades are enough to cover 1.5 pounds of food. Double up as needed, but keep in mind that you don't need the food to swim in the marinade, just be thoroughly coated. Once the food has soaked up the flavor, you can pan-fry it, grill it or broil it.


Citrus juices are fairly acidic, which means they permeate and tenderize food quickly. They work great as a base for marinades that you want to throw together just before dinner. These marinades work equally well for seafood as they do chicken or steak. For seafood, marinate for up to 30 minutes; chicken and steak can handle up to 2 hours.

  • Chipotle-lime: Juice and zest of two limes, two tablespoons adobo sauce and one minced chipotle chili from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce, two cloves minced garlic, a hefty pinch of salt. Great on flank steak or shrimp.

  • Orange-cumin: Juice and zest of one orange, one tablespoon ground cumin, one teaspoon chili powder, one teaspoon garlic powder, a hefty pinch of salt. Try with haddock or chicken breasts.

  • Lemon-herb: Juice and zest of one lemon, one tablespoon Italian herb blend, one teaspoon ground pepper, hefty pinch of salt. Good on salmon or chicken thighs.


    Because vinegar is so aggressive, you'll want to temper it with oil. This helps carry the flavor into the food, as well as prevent the flavors from becoming too jarring. Adding oil to vinegar also gives you a bit of leeway in your timing. For fish, seafood and vegetables, marinate for 30 minutes and to up to two hours. For chicken, steak and pork, you can go for up to eight hours.

  • Garlic-balsamic: Two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons balsamic vinegar, four cloves minced garlic, hefty pinch salt. Try with pork loin or steak tips.

  • Spicy hoisin: Two tablespoons rice vinegar, two tablespoons hoisin sauce, one tablespoon vegetable oil, one teaspoon red pepper flakes, one teaspoon five-spice powder. Try on chicken tenders or scallops.

    Maple-soy: Two tablespoons soy sauce, three tablespoons apple cider vinegar, two tablespoons maple syrup. Try with pork tenderloin medallions or cod.


    Wine is a great base for subtle marinades. Because wine has a softer flavor than citrus or vinegar, you can use it to highlight other flavors. Like the vinaigrette marinades, use a little oil to help carry flavors, and prevent food from sticking to the cooking surface. These marinades work especially well for hearty vegetables and meats. Marinate from 30 minutes to overnight.

  • Red wine-rosemary: Quarter cup red wine, one tablespoon olive oil, hefty pinch each of salt and pepper, one large stem rosemary, chopped. Try with sirloin steak or portobello mushrooms.

  • White wine-mustard: Quarter cup dry white wine, three tablespoons Dijon mustard, one tablespoon vegetable oil, hefty pinch each salt and pepper. Great with chicken thighs or eggplant.

  • Raspberry-ginger: Quarter cup sweet red wine, quarter cup seedless raspberry jam, one tablespoon vegetable oil, two tablespoons grated fresh ginger, hefty pinch each salt and pepper. Try on pork chops or chicken breasts.

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