How to Marinate Meat

Chicken being marinated in a bowl with fresh herbs and lemons.

A good marinade is often a griller’s secret weapon. Thanks to the added juices and flavors, your BBQ can reach new heights of taste and tenderness that will have everyone coming back for more. But while the ingredients you choose for your marinade go a look way toward enhancing the quality of your food, the way you apply it is just as important.

The goal of marinating is to remove as much oxygen or air from the mixture of meat and marinade so the flavors can travel deeper and faster into your food. There are a few different methods that make marinating possible, and we’ve got you covered on all of them.


  • Steak being marinated in a vacuum sealed bag.
  • Marinating with a Vacuum Sealer

    A vacuum sealer is the only way to completely take all air out of a bag, which allows your meat and marinade to get really well acquainted with each other. The flavors will infuse deeper and at a much quicker rate, making vacuum sealing the way to go if you want the best possible results. (It feels like cheating, if we’re being honest.)

  • Steak being marinated in a vacuum sealed bag.

  • Fish being marinated in a resealeable bag.
  • Marinating with Resealable Bags

    If you don’t have access to a vacuum sealer, your everyday zip-top bag will get the job done too. Just keep in mind that you want as little oxygen as possible present in the mixture, so make sure to give your bag a few shakes then squeeze out as much air as you can. Though you’re still creating a vacuum of sorts inside the resealable bag, this method will take more time to work its magic than true vacuum sealing.

  • Fish being marinated in a resealeable bag.

  • Turkey being injected with juices with  marinade injector to keep it moist and flavorful.
  • Marinade Injectors

    While the methods above are great for coating the exterior of your food, marinade injectors let you get straight to the meat of it. These tools look like giant syringes or needles and function much the same, shooting marinades deep into your meat to create flavor from the inside-out. In addition to producing tasty results, this technique allows you to marinate food relatively fast.

  • Turkey being injected with juices with  marinade injector to keep it moist and flavorful.

  • Chicken being marinated in a bowl with fresh herbs and lemons.
  • Marinating in a Bowl

    The key to this method is to completely submerge your meat within the marinade. This way, all sides of it are exposed to the juices and there’s almost no oxygen to interfere with the infusion process. For your safety, it’s important to use a bowl made of food-safe materials like glass or plastic instead of metal. The acids in most marinades can react with the metal and cause it to seep into your meat, which may result in food poisoning.

    No matter which option you choose, there are a few other steps you need to follow for proper marinating. The most important thing to remember is that you should never leave marinating meat sitting on the counter because bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature. Place your mixture in the fridge instead, turning it over every now and then to ensure each side of the meat gets some time in the spotlight.

  • Chicken being marinated in a bowl with fresh herbs and lemons.

TIP: When it comes to how much marinade to use, make sure the meat is completely covered so no spot goes untouched. There isn’t a golden rule for how long meat should marinate either — just remember that the larger the cut, the longer it takes to get the full effect. Also be wary of letting food marinate for too long because some marinades contain elements that will eventually break down the texture of the meat into mush.

At this point, you’re probably thinking of which method you’d like to try first. May we suggest a few BBQ sauce and marinade recipes to get you started?