How to marinate meat and why

Raw steak with rosemary, salt, and peppercorns

Why would you marinate meat when, for many, good meat, simply grilled or roasted, is something akin to perfection? Unadorned by additional flavours, the pure taste of the meat is the star of the show. So, why would anyone want to invite a marinade to the party?

Marinate for tenderness

Certain cuts like fillet steak don’t need marinating. They are perfectly tender and need little more than a quick sizzle in the frying pan. But if you like the more robust flavour of, for example, a ribeye steak, you may find that your appreciation increases when you tenderise it. Marinating a steak for tenderness means soaking it in an acidic liquid such as lemon juice, wine, or vinegar. You leave it for a minimum of 2 hours, but no more than 24. The acid breaks down the tougher proteins making the meat incredibly succulent.

Marinate for flavour

Besides the acid, it’s a good idea to use your marinade to add complexity of flavour. Garlic and rosemary are strong allies to steak. If you like olive oil, it goes great a steak marinade. A pinch of salt will enhance the flavour, and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard will give another punch.

Marinade recipe

There’s no great secret to the perfect marinade. Play around with ingredients until you find something you really love. A bit of sugar helps make a great crust. Soy sauce, papaya, Worcestershire sauce, honey, paprika, and too many other ingredients to mention are all worth consideration. To get you started, we provide an example of a marinade below.


  • 250 ml red wine
  • 150 ml olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 5 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • Half a red onion (chopped)
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 2 steaks (ribeye, rump, or sirloin will work well)



  1. Combine all ingredients apart from the steaks in a jug or bowl.
  2. Place steaks in a resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade.
  3. Squeeze the air of the bag and seal.
  4. Massage the steaks to ensure they are covered in the marinade.
  5. Marinate meat for around eight hours in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove steaks from bag and cook as desired.


Bonus tip: Once steaks are cooked, remove from the pan and while they rest, add a glass of red wine to the pan and deglaze to make a delicious sauce to pour over the steaks.

Yoghurt marinade

Traditional marinades as described above can be a little harsh on certain meats like chicken and lamb, and can actually make the meat rubbery. That’s where plain natural yoghurt comes in. Yoghurt tenderises meat in a different way, and is perfect for grilled chicken or lamb. Simply add the flavours you want. Garlic, cumin, paprika, and lemongrass all work well. Marinate the meat in the yoghurt for around 12 hours, and cook as normal. The yoghurt will form a crisp and tasty crust.

Tell us about your marinade

Do you have a favourite marinade or method of marinating meat? We’d love to hear from you. Are there any cooking tips, recipes, or articles you’d like us to publish? You can leave your feedback on Facebook, Instagram or via email.

Traymoor, your online butcher

Through our online butcher’s shop, Traymoor delivers restaurant-quality meat across Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and London (North & East).  We offer everything from roasting joints to steaks, chickens, speciality sausages, lamb chops, burgers, stewing steak and more. For great value, take a look at our excellent meat packs.

Traymoor sources only the highest quality produce from approved suppliers with full product traceability. For that reason, we are proud members of the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society and the Scotch Beef Club.

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