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Marinades: Delicious Sauces for Chicken, Meat and Fish

August 23, 2020 | by Elizabeth Kurtz

These quick and yummy marinades are your answer to fast and fresh dinners.

Summer grilling, back to school busy, or getting ready for the holidays? These marinades are your answer to fast and fresh dinners. These delicious and quick sauces create wonderful chicken, meat and fish dishes. I not only keep them in the refrigerator ready for last minute company but also prepare and add the chicken or meat and freeze. Then defrost and bake or grill, fresh, and you are one step ahead. Lastly, making marinades from scratch is easy and far more nutritious than the store-bought variety. Just look at the labels and you may be alarmed at the sugar, salt and fat ratios. And while all of these store-bought items create good flavor, the home-made versions are more balanced with even better results with taste.

Best Basic Chicken or Meat Marinade

Photo by Modern Honey

Makes 1 cup and serves 6

I use this as one of my favorite go-to, quick and delicious marinades. I like it on both chicken cutlets and bone-in pieces as well as thin cuts of meat like skirt steak or minute steak split.

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (non-fish variety)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs. Chicken pieces, cutlets or pieces with skin and bone-in*

In a large zip-lock bag, mix together oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add chicken to bag, seal and mix so that chicken is well coated in sauce.

Let marinate for at least 30 minutes or ideally about 4 hours. You may also freeze the chicken in the marinade. Defrost and continue.

Preheat a gas grill to medium heat. Brush grill with oil to prevent sticking.

Place chicken on the grill. Cook for approximately 5 - 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of chicken or until 165°F. Serve warm.

Note* Chicken on the bone can be baked in a 350°F oven for about 50 minutes. Cook in the marinade and baste. Chicken cutlets are better on the grill.

Trendy Tea Brine for Roasted or Grilled Chicken

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Karin Olsen

Serves 6

Tea is a great tenderizer. Something about the chemical makeup of the herbs creates super juicy chicken. This is actually a brine that infuses flavor into the chicken. Use whatever tea is your favorite flavor but most people like chamomile, green tea or any mild tea of your liking.

  • 2 family-size tea bags pr 6 regular tea bags
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 vidalia onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 2 lbs. Chicken pieces

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a 3-qt. heavy saucepan; add tea bags. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes.

Discard tea bags. Stir in sugar, salt, onion, lemon, garlic, rosemary and pepper, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely (about 45 minutes); stir in ice. Cool completely (this is important for food safety).

Place tea mixture and chicken in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag; seal. Place the bag in a shallow baking dish and chill 24 hours. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade; pat chicken dry with paper towels.

Preheat a gas grill to medium heat. Brush grill with oil to prevent sticking.

Place chicken on the grill. Cook for approximately 5 - 6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of chicken or until 165°F. Serve warm.

Note* Chicken on the bone can be baked in a 375°F oven for about 50 minutes. Remove from marinade and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Chicken cutlets are better on the grill.

Coca-Cola Marinated Meat with a bit of an Update


Photo by the Kitchen Magpie

Serves 8

This cola flavored (or sweetened) meat marinade has been around for years. I add a bit more pepper and lemon juice and garlic to create more contrast in flavor. Don’t use diet coke in this.

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 16 ounces Coca-Cola
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (non-fish variety) or steak sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Any 4 - 5 lb. roast of your choice, best on Delmonico, French roast, square roast, brick roast

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, coke, lemon juice, oil, Worcestershire, garlic and pepper. Place the meat in a non-reactive baking dish. Pour marinade over meat, toss to coat well. Cover tightly and marinate 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cook meat for 2 hours. Uncover and baste with pan sauce. Cook, uncovered for 30 more minutes. When cool, slice thinly, and return to the pan to coat in sauce. Serve warm with sauce.

Pomegranate Spiced Marinade for Lamb, Chicken or Meat


Photo by Cookingstr

Serves 8

This wonderful sweet and savory pomegranate marinade is strong enough for lamb and also a great go-to for Rosh Hashanah. I add some fresh chopped mint or parsley for extra freshness and serve both the lamb and the meat with couscous to soak up all the delicious pan juices.

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3 tablespoons silan or honey
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds cubed lamb or 1 (4 lb) French roast or square roast
  • 1/4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Whisk pomegranate juice, silan or honey, garlic, olive oil, ground ginger, cinnamon, cumin, paprika, kosher salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add lamb or meat and toss to coat. Cover and marinate 2 hours at room temperature, or up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Drain, reserving marinade.

Heat a heavy large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear lamb or meat until browned, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes total per side. Return meat to the pan and add reserved marinade and 1/4 cup water. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer over medium-low heat until meat is tender, about 1 hour for lamb and 2 hours for a roast.

Serve meat with pan juices and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.

Herb, Citrus and Honey Glazed Fish

Serves 4

Great on any hearty fish!

4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place the olive oil, honey, soy sauce, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the marinade for later use.

Place salmon and marinade in a zip lock bag or a glass dish. Turn salmon a few times to coat in marinade on both sides.

Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours.

Remove the salmon from the marinade.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 18 minutes or grill.

Grilling instructions: Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium high heat and grease the grates well. Add the salmon fillets and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until salmon is opaque throughout.

Brush the reserved marinade over the salmon fillets, then serve.

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