This guide explains how to marinate steak so it becomes tender, juicy and succulent.
Have you ever tried marinating steak, but it came out rather rubber-like and not so palatable?
If you are not of us, make sure it won’t happen and read on. 😉
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Personally I adore simple salt-only steak, cooked on the rare side, but from time to time I like to come up with marinades and try things.
Marinating steak is a piece of cake, especially when you follow the method:
- Why Marinate Steak
- Acid vs Enzyme Marinades
- How to Marinate Steak So It’s Tender in 3 Steps
- How Long Is Marinated Steak Good For In The Fridge
Why Marinate Steak
To begin…let’s try to dig a bit and see – why would I marinate steak on the first place?
There are two main reasons:
#1 Marinating Helps to Tenderize Meat
However it’s not a magical thing or anything – it won’t help you (a lot) with converting a cheaper tougher cut into a tender, succulent piece.
It can only penetrate slightly into the surface, so marinating a very thick and very tough slice is not a great idea.
One way of helping any marinade to go deeper is by using vacuum marinator – it helps to open the pores, so the liquid can enter easier.
#2 It’s All About Flavor
Yes, marinades, especially delicious ones, add some really cool flavor to original (still very delicious) steak.
Dry rubs, mixtures of herbs and spices, are best suited for already tender cuts (e.g. rib eye), whereas traditional, acid- or enzyme-based marinades are great for tougher cuts (e.g. chuck steak).
Talking of flavor – some ideas of healthy round steak recipes for your next meal.
Acid vs Enzyme Marinades
Generally speaking, there are two types of marinades: acid- and enzyme-based.
Acid-based marinades are the ones that include citrus fruits like lemon, lactic acid in yogurt and so on.
Enzymes that are used the most in marinating meat come from kiwis, papayas and pineapples.
What is the difference and which one is better?
From my experience acid-based marinades take more time to marinate steak.
However you should be extra careful with enzyme-based marinades, because they act quickly, especially at higher room temperature (they are activated by warmer temperature and slow down in the fridge).
How to Marinate Steak So It’s Tender in 3 Steps
Here is my quick marinating framework.
Not only it saves time, but it also helps to keep your kitchen and refrigerator cleaner and safer!
To illustrate the process we are going to use one of our steak marinade recipes with wine.
Enjoy delicious steak!
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- 1 Round/Flank/Chuck/Flat Iron Steak (1″ thick – maximum)
- 2 Cups red wine
- 2 Tsps of orange Zest
- 2 Sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 Small onion diced
- 2 Tbsp redcurrant jelly
- Bowl (to mix the ingredients together)
- Food-safe resealable plastic bag
#1 Combine Ingredients
Mix red wine, diced onions, redcurrant jelly and orange zest in a bowl.
Use the back of your knife to crush rosemary sprigs (this helps to extra more flavor and aroma) and add them into the bowl ass well.
Mix everything together.
#2 Pack & Seal
Carefully put the steak inside (you can even use a pair of tongs for that) the food-safe resealable bag and pour in the marinade mixture after that.
I use this sequence in order to not splash things out.
Seal the bag, making sure the minimum amount of air, if any, stays inside.
Ideally the marinade mix should be touching the entire steak, so try to really spread it around.
#3 Marinate Overnight
How long to marinate steak in fridge?
Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
In both cases use another bowl/plate underneath the package, so, in case the bag opens, the marinade won’t spill everything around.
For best results I recommend turning the steak every 2-4 hours.
Once you are done marinating, pat the steak dry and continue to dry heat cooking methods like pan-searing on stove, cooking it in oven, cooking in cast iron skillet, oven broiling or even searing on stove and finishing in oven! 🙂
Remember – marinades can only penetrate as much…that’s why it becomes kind of useless to marinate for longer than 24 hours in the fridge (a tough cut, like brisket, will not tenderize further; you would need to use moist heat like in slow cooker for best results).
How Long Is Marinated Steak Good For In The Fridge
Now that I touched the topic of refrigeration overnight, people might wonder – how long can I marinate steak in the fridge?
The answer depends on the few factors (e.g. use by date), so let’s assume it’s a fresh chuck steak (i.e. tough, but not too tough like brisket).
Opened fresh steak can be refrigerated for 2-4 days, but, when it comes to marinating chuck (or any other similar steak), I would avoid prolonged marinating – that’s anything beyond 24 hours.
If meat surface is marinated for too long, it will become mushy and rubber-like (especially if you use vinegar).
I hope this how to marinate steak guide was useful.
Happy Steaks! 🙂