Many people often argue on what is the best way to marinate a steak. A lot of the confusion also comes from the classic question of “How Long Should I Marinate a Steak?” Hopefully this post will help clear up the different opinions out there and explain why some people may think one way is better over another.
Since defining the “best” of anything is usually an opinion and not scientifically proven , there’s really no one size fits all answer that everyone will agree with and enjoy. There are many different recipes and methods and ultimately it will all come down to your own taste buds and personal preferences. Instead, here are some things to consider to help you decide what is best – FOR YOU.
Type of Meat: The first consideration to make is the type of steak you are planning on cooking or grilling. A fresh prime well marbled cut such as filet mignon, porterhouse, ribeye or strip steak may not need more than just a little good old salt and pepper, since they will likely be tender and juicy all on their own. Other steaks that are tougher or that have been frozen could definitely benefit from spending a little time absorbing some flavor from soaking. The size will also have a factor in how long it should spend marinating – you would likely not need to soak a small filet cut as long as you would a porterhouse.
Time: Another consideration is time. Many of us with our everyday busy and hectic schedules do not have the time to carefully measure and prepare the ingredients for a homemade marinade. Thankfully, there are some very good and very easy options, all available in a bottle and all available right from your local grocery store’s shelves. Italian dressing is one of the good old standby classics and works well for just about everything including chicken. Many other oil based or vinaigrette dressings make for a good choice as well. I have had steaks marinated in French dressing, A1 Steak Sauce, and many other strange concoctions as friends and I experimented with different things. If you prefer to make your own homemade marinade, you may want to check out some of our marinated steak recipes.
As for how long you should soak the steaks, it will depend on how much time you have. If you only thought about dinner 15 minutes ago, it will probably be okay to let it soak just for about 20-30 minutes. If you want to try longer, some people prefer to do it in the morning and allow it to soak until they decide to eat later on in the day or evening. If the meat is a cheaper cut or you expect that it could be tough, generally marinating it as long as you can stand will help a little bit, especially if the sauce you are using contains a natural tenderizer in it such as wine.
Container: The next thing to consider is what type of container you will use to soak the meat. A reusable dish is probably the most environmentally friendly choice, however not everyone has one of these on hand in the right size when they decide they want to grill. Many often also worry about if the meat will be evenly covered. Another popular option is to use a resealable plastic bag. This way works well, and you can even shake up the bag over the course of it sitting in your refrigerator if you are worried about the different seasonings settling all to the bottom.
No matter what decisions you make in regards to how you marinate the steak or how long you let it soak, the most important part comes down to how you actually cook it on the grill. So make sure you also read our steak grilling tips to learn how to make it to perfection!
Have any thoughts on the best way to marinate a steak? Share it in the comments below.