From National Cattlemen’s Beef Association |

There are two reasons you might want to use a marinade:  to help add flavor or to tenderize.  Whatever your goal is, it’s important to know your beef cut and to plan ahead.  While marinades may contain similar ingredients, the key to adding flavor or tenderizing is the length of marinating time.

If you’re just looking to add flavor to a tender steak like T-Bone or Ribeye, you only need to marinate for 15 minutes to 2 hours.  Flavor-enhancing marinades may include herbs, oils and spices.

There are some cuts such as Top Round or Skirt steak that really benefit from a tenderizing marinade.  The keys to tender beef are time and ingredients.  You’ll want to marinate your steak for 6 to 24 hours.  A tenderizing marinade must contain an acidic ingredient (such as lemon juice, yogurt, flavored vinegar and wine) or a natural tenderizing enzyme (found in papaya, ginger, pineapple and figs).

More Quick Tips on Marinades:

  • Always marinate in the refrigerator, never at room temperature.
  • Allow 1/4 to 1/2 cup of marinade for every pound of beef.
  • Marinate in a food-safe plastic bag or in a nonreactive container such as glass or plastic.  Turn or stir the beef occasionally to allow even exposure to the marinade.
  • Before cooking, remove the beef from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel to promote even browning and prevent steaming.
  • If a marinade is to be used for basting or as a sauce, reserve a portion of it before adding to the beef.  A marinade that has been in contact with uncooked meat must be brought to a full rolling boil for at least one minute before it can be used for basting or as a sauce.  Never save and reuse a marinade.

Flavor Marinades place all ingredients in food-safe plastic bag with steak for 15 minutes to 2 hours

Balsamic-Mustard Marinade:
– 2/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette
– 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

Argentinean Steak Marinade
– 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
– 1/3 cup spicy steak sauce
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves

Lime-Jalapeno Marinade
– 1/2 cup red currant jelly, warmed- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
– 1/4 cup chopped seeded jalapeno peppers
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Tenderizing Marinades place all ingredients in food-safe plastic bag with steak for 6 to 24 hours

Ginger-Soy Marinade
– 1/3 cup soy sauce
– 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons honey
– 1 tablespoon minced garlic
– 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
– 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel

Chili-Cilantro Marinade
– 2/3 cup Italian dressing
– 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
– 1 tablespoon chili powder