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The Secrets to Great Marinades

Dry or wet, a rub is a great way to enhance the flavours of your meat, fish, or meat substitutes before cooking them. A rub will also make them more tender and can extend their shelf life. Sweet, spicy, aromatic: there’s a rub for every taste!

Types of marinade

There are two types of marinades:

Wet marinade

The basic wet marinade always starts with an acid ingredient to break down the fibres and make the flesh softer:

  • white or red wine
  • unsweetened citrus
  • apple or white cranberry juice
  • flavoured vinegar
  • beer
  • yogurt
  • mustard
  • Tamari sauce

Oil and spices are added to this acid ingredient. Aromatic fruits and vegetables can also be added to the mixture.

Dry marinade

A dry marinade is used primarily to flavour and heighten the taste of meat without necessarily tenderizing it.

The basic dry marinade consists of herbs, spices, aromatic compounds mixed with a small amount of oil and, at times, alcohol.

The meat is not left very long in a dry marinade because its purpose is simply to perfume the meat.

Tips and advice

  • The numerous herbs and spices available today provide endless opportunities when preparing a dry marinade.
  • If you have more of a sweet tooth, add a little maple syrup.
  • If you prefer spicy, add some Tabasco sauce, harissa, Worcestershire sauce or a little hot pepper.
  • Soy sauce, tamari, Hoisin oyster sauce will add a salty taste to the marinade.

Expert tip

Calculate at least 250 ml (1 cup) of marinade per kilo (2.2 pounds) of meat.

Basic principles of marinating meat


  • Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers.
  • Avoid aluminum, which will oxidize on contact with acid ingredients in the marinade and transfer a metal taste to your food. The same advice applies to tools and utensils.
  • Place the meat in the bag, pour in the marinade, remove the air and set the bag in a bowl.


  • Refrigerate in an air-tight container to avoid any proliferation of bacteria and to protect other foods in the fridge from absorbing the aroma of the marinade.
  • For thicker cuts of meat, it is a good idea to prick the flesh here and there to allow the marinade to better penetrate the meat.
  • Never re-use marinade that has been in touch with raw meat. It should be discarded. If you would like to use it as a sauce to flavour the cooked meat, the marinade should be boiled for 10 to 15 minutes prior to serving.

Marinating time

  • For best results, meat should be left to marinate at least one hour, which gives it time to absorb the flavour and become more tender.
  • Results are even more satisfying when the meat is left to marinate overnight (depending on thickness) because the longer it marinates, the more flavourful it becomes.
  • Marinating time should not exceed 24 hours however because after this time, the marinade will actually start to cook the meat.