Unless you’re grilling filet mignon for your backyard barbecue crowd, you may find that the cut of meat you purchased needs a little help to make it tender. And since most of us won’t be buying top dollar cuts of meat on a regular basis, we need a reliable, delicious way to tenderize our grilled steak. Good news! Grilled steak marinade not only produces tender, flavorful steak every time, but it also gives you a chance to show off your culinary prowess and get creative with flavors.
The tenderizing process of a good marinade happens as the acidic element (usually citrus or vinegar) begins to break down the fibers of the meat. For the best results, leave the steak in the marinade for several hours or overnight before grilling.
Most marinades consist of oil, an acid like lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, and seasonings. You can easily create your own by determining what flavor family you’re aiming for (sweet, savory, Asian, spicy, etc.) and combining ingredients to produce the desired effect. Common ingredients include garlic, soy sauce, herbs, brown sugar, and shallots.
Place the steak in a zip top bag or glass dish and turn at least once to make sure all sides of the meat come into contact with the marinade. If you like, you can reserve some of the marinade to use for basting later. Discard any leftover marinade that has come into contact with the meat in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.
Delicious Grilled Steak Marinade Recipes
While a lot of chefs enjoy experimenting with flavors, some of us just need a recipe to follow. Here are some delicious ones to get you started.
- Balsamic and Soy–1/4 c. olive oil, 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c. soy sauce, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 1 Tbsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. salt
- Spicy Garlic Herb–1/2 c. olive oil, 1/3 c. lemon juice, 1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 tsp. hot sauce, 2 cloves chopped garlic, 3 Tbsp fresh chopped basil, 1 tsp. black pepper
- Maple Soy–Equal parts maple syrup, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves.
When the steaks have finished marinating, remove them from the zip top bag and pat dry. Place on the grill over high heat and cook for 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally. This will result in a medium-cooked steak. Leave on the grill a minute or two longer for well-done, and a minute or two shorter for rare.