How do I make a basic marinade?

If you like to cook and prefer not to just buy a bottle of marinade, it's fairly simple to make your own. If you're a creative cook, you can start with this recipe and divert from it to create your own signature flavor.

This recipe will add great flavor to chicken, fish and shrimp and will extend the meat's refrigerator life. It takes about 10 minutes to mix together and makes enough to marinate one or two pounds of food.

6-8 cloves garlic
1/2 c. chopped fresh herbs
1 c. olive oil
1 tbsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

First, mince the garlic and place it in a mixing bowl. Then, rinse the herbs in cold water and dry them carefully with clean paper towels. Chop the herbs into small pieces and place them in the bowl with the remaining ingredients. If using rosemary, remove the leaves and discard the woody stems before chopping.

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Carefully place the food to be marinated in a sealable plastic bag or a clean container. Pour the marinade over the food and mix everything together well.

Marinate food in the refrigerator for several hours or up to two days. This particular marinade contains no salt or acid, so food can be left in it for longer periods of time.

Take food out of marinade and cook it on the outdoor grill for best flavor. You can also roast or sauté marinated foods.

You can make this marinade in advance for more convenience. Store it in a covered container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Variations and tips:

  • Parsley, thyme, oregano and marjoram are good in this marinade, in virtually any combination.

  • Cilantro and basil lose their flavor quickly and are best avoided for marinades. Use them fresh, instead, on the finished product.

  • Rosemary and sage are very bold and make a good combination for a western flavor. Tarragon is a distinctive herb that works well in this marinade, but because it has such a strong flavor, use it on its own.

  • Try marinating foods in large, sealable plastic bags. They're easy to use, they allow all surfaces to be coated with the marinade, and they can be easily discarded after use.

  • Once raw food has been stored in this marinade, discard the marinade immediately after use and do not use it again.

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