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How Long to Marinate Steak

Want to know how long to marinate steak? You’ll learn that and more, along with some tips to get the best results!

Next time you plan to cook a steak dinner, build in some time to marinate the meat. This elevates the flavor and tenderness to a whole new level!

slices of steak on a wooden board

Over the past 50+ years that I’ve been booking, I’ve experimented with a variety of marinating methods. What you’ll see here are mostly suggestions and tips I’ve discovered. Don’t be afraid to try different things to make your steak perfect for your taste. 

Marinate Steak to Unlock Flavor and Tenderness

Marinating steak is an important step that balances flavor, texture, and tenderness. With a wide range of steak cuts like skirt steak, filet mignon, flank steak, and rib eye, the marinating process becomes a key step in achieving that delicious, juicy steak we all crave. 

But how long should you marinate your steak? I hope this guide helps you with the essentials of creating the best steak marinade and finding the perfect marinating time for different cuts of meat.

Understanding the Basics of Marinades

A good marinade is a blend of acidic ingredients, oils, and seasonings. Acidic components like lemon juice, lime juice, and balsamic vinegar help in breaking down the muscle fibers in the meat, making it more tender. 

bowl of lemons

Oils such as olive oil add moisture and help in flavor infusion, while seasonings like garlic powder, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and this wonderful meat seasoning blend that delivers big flavor.

Bowl of meat seasoning blend

Marinating Different Cuts of Steak

Each cut of steak has its unique characteristics and requires a specific approach in marinating:

Tender Steaks (T-Bone Steaks, Filet Mignon, and Ribeye Steaks): These require less marinating time. A period of 30 minutes to 2 hours is sufficient. The goal is to enhance flavor without overpowering the meat’s natural tenderness.

air fryer t-bone steak on a plate

Tougher Cuts (Skirt Steak, Flank Steak, Hanger Steak): These benefit from longer marinating times, ideally 4 hours to overnight. The acidic marinades help in tenderizing the tougher muscle fibers.

Economical Steaks (Round Steak, Top Sirloin): Often leaner, these cuts can be marinated for 3-5 days. The extended time allows the marinade to work its magic, making the meat more flavorful and tender.

Key Ingredients for a Flavorful Marinade

When you marinate steak, creating a flavorful marinade involves mixing the right ingredients:

Acidic Components: Lemon juice, lime juice, and balsamic vinegar are popular choices. They not only tenderize the meat but also add a bright flavor. Some salad dressings have these ingredients in them, so they can also help with tenderization.

Oils: Olive oil is a staple in steak marinades. It helps in flavor absorption and keeps the steak moist during cooking.

Seasonings: Garlic powder, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and Italian seasoning are essential for that delicious marinade. For a bit of sweetness and depth, brown sugar or low sodium soy sauce can be added.

Special Additions: For an extra kick, ingredients like hot sauce or lactic acid can be included for a more complex flavor profile.

Steak Marinating Process: Tips and Techniques

The process of marinating steak is easy. Just take all of the information I’ve shared into consideration and follow these steps:

Marinating Time: The marinating time varies depending on the cut of steak. Tender cuts need less time, while tougher cuts benefit from longer marinating.

Temperature: Always marinate in the refrigerator to adhere to federal food safety guidelines. Marinating at room temperature can lead to bacterial growth.

Containers: Use a plastic bag, airtight container, or freezer bag. These ensure that the steak is evenly coated with the marinade.

Post-Marination: Before cooking, bring the steak to room temperature for even cooking. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess marinade. This helps in achieving a better sear.

Cooking Your Marinated Steak

After marinating your steak, follow these tips to cook it to perfection:

High Heat: Cooking steaks on high heat, like in a cast-iron skillet, delivers a delicious crust.

Internal Temperature: Follow the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines for internal temperature to ensure your steak is cooked safely.

Resting Time: Allow the steak to rest for a few minutes after cooking. This helps in retaining the juices.

Great Sides to Serve with Steak

When you serve a wonderful steak, it’s a good idea to have some yummy sides to go with it.

steak with butter on top

Here are some that we enjoy:

Lemon Roasted Asparagus – Your taste buds will be so happy when you have a side of this delicious asparagus. And it’s so easy to make!

plate of lemon roasted asparagus

Loaded Twice-Baked Potato Casserole – Here you’ll have all of the flavors you love in one delicious dish! It’s easy to make, and yummy to eat!

loaded potato casserole

Slow Cooker Vegetable Casserole – Get a variety of vegetables on your plate with this fabulous slow cooker veggie casserole from Back to My Southern Roots.

Corn Casserole – This version of a corn casserole delivers the wonderful flavors of cream cheese and mild green chiles. Make enough for leftovers because you’ll definitely want some!

scooping corn casserole out of a casserole dish

Potato Salad – We love potato salad as a side dish for any meal. This recipe for my mama’s potato salad is one of the best!

Scooping potato salad from the serving bowl to a plate

Personal Preference for Marinating Steaks

The perfect marinade and marinating time depend largely on personal preference and the type of steak. While tender cuts of beef like filet mignon require minimal marinating time, tougher cuts like skirt steak benefit from longer periods. 

steaks marinating in a pan

Remember, the best way to find your ideal steak marinade recipe is by experimenting. I’ve tried a variety of marinades, so I know which ones my family prefers. Now that it’s just my husband and me, I’m testing out even more. This will continue to be a work in progress for us.

Try different marinades, adjust the time frame, and cook using various methods to discover what tantalizes your taste buds the most. With these tips on how to marinate steak, you’re on your way to cooking the most flavorful steaks that make the meal one you want to serve often!

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