Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Art of the Marinade

One of the easiest ways I have found to meal prep in advance is to marinate different cuts of meat in freezer or vacuum-seal bags and then toss them in the refrigerator or freezer until I am ready to use them.

As a parent, I have come to terms with the fact that just when I think I have everything planned and figured out, someone decides they're up for the challenge of throwing me for a loop. My son gets sick, the check engine light comes on in my car, the chicken I was planning on cooking for dinner doesn't smell quite right, the baby decides she doesn't want to nap, or all of the once, and I still have to make dinner. Of course, I don't think my children, food, or car are actually trying to sabotage me. This is where I pull out my secret weapon, pre-marinated meat.

If you open my freezer at any given time, you are bound to find a neatly stacked pile of bags filled with marinated chicken breasts, boneless chicken thighs, and London Broil. Every few months, I spend about 45 minutes to an hour one evening marinating and freezing these different meats. Yes, there is a little bit of preparation involved, but in the end, it is totally worth it.

After much research (otherwise known as watching copious Food Network shows) I have learned that the perfect marinate consists of four things: Oil, acid, aromatics, and salt. While I have one or two go-to marinade recipes, I generally like to use this time to play with different combinations and see what works. If I come up with something I absolutely LOVE, I write it down on a 3x5 index card and pull the recipe out again the next time I have a marinade marathon.

There are four components to a typical marinade: Oil, acid, aromatics, and salt.

When making a marinade, it is best to have a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid (e.g. 1 cup of oil and 1/3 cup acid). There are so many different oils to choose from these days, vegetable oil, olive oil, avocado oil, etc. Select one that works best for you, or combine a few! Note: while I love using coconut oil for baking and frying, I would not recommend using it in a marinade because it solidifies when cold and wont blend with your other ingredients. 

Acids include different types of vinegar (my favorites are apple cider and rice vinegar) and citrus juice (lime, lemon, orange, etc.).

Once you've built your base, it's time for the fun part! I love experimenting with different combinations of herbs and spices for the aromatic component of my marinade. I almost always use a frozen garlic cube or two, but after that the possibilities are endless. You can use fresh herbs (this is another great use of the dorot frozen herb cubes), dried herbs, or citrus zest.

The last component of a marinade is salt. While you can always use traditional table salt I tend to prefer using miso paste or soy sauce, which adds even more flavor depth.

Combine your ingredients in a freezer bag, add your protein, and marinate. When freezing, do not forget to label your bag with the contents and cooking instructions. Also, I like to use my food saver to heat seal my bags to ensure they don't leak.

If preparing fish, I recommend marinating for a maximum of 15 minutes because the acid will change the texture of the fish. I recommend marinating other proteins overnight, but if you're in a rush, 20 minutes should be okay.***

Here is a marinade recipe that can be used on any protein:

Asian Style Marinade



1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
2-3 Frozen Garlic Cubes or 2-3 Minced Garlic Cloves
1 1/2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Ginger or 1 tsp Dried Ginger
1 Bunch Green Onions, Sliced
1 Teaspoon Agave Syrup
1/4 Teaspoon Sriracha (Optional)
1/8 Cup Soy Sauce



Combine items in a plastic freezer bag or bowl. Add protein and marinate as long as possible.
Prep time: 5Cook time:n/aTotal time: 5Yield: 4 Servings 

What marinade combinations have you used?

*** If using a marinade heavy on citrus, I do not recommend marinating for more than an hour or two because the citrus will start to cook the protein and change its texture.


  1. Delicious! Huge fan of consuming meals flavored by an Asian style marinade. As for prepping, I am lazy LOL. But sometimes flavor our tempeh stir fry with some fabulous Kikoman and some other fixins.

  2. Used this tonight! Came out soooo yummy!


Taco Tuesday Revamped

I am obsessed with Taco Tuesday. I'm pretty sure it's how my three-year-old knows what day of the week it is. Why do I love Taco Tu...