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Trading Store-Bought Marinade For Homemade

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March 19, 2024

The purpose of a marinade is to infuse flavor into meats and proteins before they are cooked. Depending on the type of marinade, it can affect muscle fibers, enhance moisture, or impart flavor. So it’s no wonder why people love to marinate their meat.

If you’ve never tried to make your own from scratch, now is the time! Not only can you save money by stocking up on bulk ingredients, but you can also tailor the flavor to how you want it to taste.

What is a Marinade?

In the simplest of terms, a marinade is a blend of fat, acid, and seasoning. Typical examples of marinade ingredients are:


  • Butter
  • Dairy and plant-based milks
  • Vegetable, nut, and seed oils
  • Yogurt


  • Citrus juice
  • Vinegar
  • Wine


  • Dried or fresh herbs
  • Dry mustard
  • Fruit zest
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Spices

What are the 3 Main Types of Marinades?

There are three common marinades, each with its own unique recipe ratios and applications.

1.  Acidic Marinades

Acidic marinades are known for helping to “cook” protein and plant-based fibers. Ceviche and sauerbraten are typical examples of dishes resulting from acidic-based marinades. The high acid levels break down some of the connective tissues when applied to seafood and meats. The acid can also enhance some of the natural flavors of the proteins by coaxing out natural sweetness.

With this type of marinade, less is more. Any protein that sits too long with an acidic marinade runs the risk of a softer texture and overly puckery bite. Cuts of meats, chicken, and seafood that are more thin benefit from 30 minutes to an hour before cooking. Larger portions of beef and pork can handle 2 hours up to overnight of an acid-based marinade.

Try this Classic Acidic Marinade and Recipe: Garlic-Lime Shrimp

2. Oil-Based Marinades

Oil-based marinades are excellent for infusing flavor. They don’t have high acid levels so proteins can soak up a marinade without drastically changing the PH balance. Fat components found in oils help retain moisture within the meat, making the proteins succulent and juicy post-cooking. 

Since oil-based marinades contain higher amounts of fat, meats can tolerate longer marinade times. Experts recommend anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. Any longer, the proteins can start to break down and turn mushy.

Try this Classic Oil-Based Marinade and Recipe: Mustard Marinated Steak

3. Enzymatic Marinades 

Enzymatic marinades utilize certain ingredients like dairy products and protease-based fruits to tenderize proteins. Papaya, pineapple, mango, figs, and honeydew melon are all examples of protease fruits that, when added as part of a marinade base, can tenderize while flavoring. Dairy-based marinades are the only types that tenderize in the classic sense. The calcium in dairy products, like buttermilk, triggers an enzymatic breakdown in meat proteins, which helps keep the meat tender.

A minimum of 2 hours up to 24 is recommended for dairy-based marinades. When using protease in your marinade, keep in mind a little goes a long way, so you’ll only want to add 0.05 percent of the protein’s weight to avoid over-tenderizing. 

Try this Classic Enzymatic Marinade and Recipe: Buttermilk Fried Chicken

How to Make a Marinade from Scratch

Making it from scratch is a breeze once you understand the different marinade types and their unique applications.

Learn the Proper Ratio

The first part of making marinades is to get the ratio right. A general rule of thumb is 3 parts acid, 1 part oil, and 1 part spices or seasonings. However, if you are trying for a more acid-based recipe, you’ll want to adjust to 2 parts acid and 1 part oil. (Note: Sometimes, the measure with your heart method works as you become more advanced in your culinary skills.)

Combine the Ingredients

Whisk the fat and acid together in a bowl until incorporated. Then, stir in your flavorings. Make sure to use a container that is large enough for your ingredients and won’t spill over as you whisk.

Marinate the Meat

Once your marinade is ready to go, it’s time to marinate! Choose a non-reactive dish or container. Place your protein inside and pour your mixture over the meat ensuring that it is fully covered. Wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge. You can also use resealable storage bags. 

No matter what vessel you choose, it’s essential to wash or dispose of the container to mitigate cross-contamination thoroughly. Never reuse your marinade as it has come into contact with raw meat.

Stock Up on Marinade Essentials at US Foods CHEF’STORE 

CHEF’STORE has everything you need for a perfect marinade and more! You’ll find bulk spices, oils, vinegar, and herbs galore at our wholesale grocery stores. We also carry bulk meats, seafood, fresh dairy products, beverages, plastic wraps, and storage containers.

Stop by today and get cooking!

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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