Before you throw that steak or chicken on the grill, read this post! We rounded up a dozen of our favorite EASY marinade recipes. Give us five minutes, and we'll give you some of the most delicious and tender meat you've ever tasted!

lemon and herb marinated chicken, from Shelf Cooking

Wanna know one of our favorite life hacks for shelf cooking like a boss? We buy the cheapest meat and make it taste like a million bucks with the right marinades and seasonings! We'll pause so you can let that marinate for a minute.

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You don't need lobster or filet mignon to get all the juicy goodness you crave. With the right spices and a little tenderizing, you can make any cut of meat or seafood taste like a 5-star meal! Ready to save some money and cook up some incredibly tasty meals?!


Hey, we're glad you asked! We always wanted our own cooking reality TV show, so let's do this. Give us a second to channel our inner-Rachael Ray. Okay, we're ready!

According to the Oxford dictionary, a marinade is “a sauce, typically made of oil, vinegar, spices, and herbs, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavor or soften it.”

So, whether you need to soften a skirt steak you found on clearance or add some flavor to a mild fish, a good marinade can save your supper. It can save your grocery budget, too! Most of these marinades come together with pantry staples, so you don't need a bunch of fancy pants (cough, cough…expensive) ingredients to whip up a tasty meal. Ready to get to the recipes?!


squeezing lemon juice over steak, from Shelf Cooking

There's nothing better than a fresh steak off the grill! Except, of course, a steak that's bursting with flavor and tender enough to fall off the fork. The next time you plan to cook up some red meat, try one of these marinades. Just let your meat soak in the mixture for at least two hours before you start cooking.

  • Lemon Garlic Marinade –  Mix ½ cup of lemon juice and ½ cup of olive oil with ¼ cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of Worcestershire, two tablespoons of minced garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Pour it over your meat, and then soak. Before you toss that steak on the grill or in the broiler, top it with a pat of butter.
  • 3-Ingredient Steak Marinade – If you're short on time and ingredients, this marinade is for you! Combine a quarter cup each of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil.
  • Cola Marinade – This one is perfect for a fattier or tougher cut of beef! Let it marinate overnight for best results! Just whisk together two 12-oz cans of soda, one cup of soy sauce, ¼ cup of lemon juice, and ½ cup of olive oil. Sprinkle in some garlic salt for good measure, or add in the seasoning salt of your choice.
  • Dijon Mustard Marinade – It might sound weird, but that mustard is good for more than just hot dogs! Combine one-quarter cup each of olive oil, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire, then add two tablespoons each of dijon mustard and minced garlic. Trust us. This one's GOOD!

Now that you've got four of the easiest steak marinades to try, what do you say we switch gears and talk about chicken?


making marinade for chicken teriyaki, from Shelf Cooking

If you think chicken dinners are bland, then you've never tried one of these marinades! Here are four of the easiest (and most delicious) chicken marinades around:

  • 1-Ingredient Chicken Marinade – Say what?! Yup. Here's the easiest hack of all time. Place your chicken in a large freezer bag, then pour a bottle of Italian dressing over that chicken. Let it sit in the fridge for 4-6 hours, and you'll be golden.
  • Pickle Juice Marinade – Here's proof that you should never throw away perfectly good leftover pickle juice! Combine one jar of pickle juice with ¾ cup of milk and let your chicken soak for an hour. Use the breading of your choice and drop your chicken in an air fryer for Copycat Chick-fil-A nuggets!
  • Chicken Teriyaki Marinade – There are plenty of complicated teriyaki recipes out there, but we like easy! Try this 3-ingredient marinade: ¼ cup soy sauce, one clove of minced garlic, and three tablespoons of brown sugar.
  • Citrus Chicken Marinade – Ready for some of the juiciest chicken you've ever tasted? Let this one marinate for 2-4 hours. Any longer, and the citrus might turn your chicken into mush! Just combine ½ cup of orange juice with two tablespoons each of lemon and lime juice. Feel free to toss the zest in, too! Add two teaspoons each of dijon mustard and honey, and mix in two tablespoons each of garlic and minced onions. This one is SO good and perfect for grilling!

Gosh, we're hungry now! By the way, these marinades work beautifully for pork chops, too. Now that you know how to make the perfect chicken and beef let's make this a surf and turf feast! It's time to talk about seafood marinades.


lemon garlic shrimp, from Shelf Cooking

Whether you're doing meatless Monday, fish-fry Friday, or just love seafood, it's always helpful to have a few marinade recipes in your back pocket. There are tons of ways to flavor that fish, but here are a few of our fave recipes:

  • Easy Grilled Shrimp Marinade – This tastes better than the endless shrimp from your favorite seafood restaurant! Combine ¼ cup of olive oil with two tablespoons of lemon juice and two teaspoons of minced garlic. Toss in a bit of salt and pepper for good measure, then marinate your shrimp for one hour, skewer them, and grill.
  • Maple Salmon Marinade – Round up ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup of maple syrup, and one teaspoon of garlic powder. No syrup? Try honey! Let your salmon marinade for around 30 minutes, then broil, sear, or grill.
  • Honey Citrus Tilapia Marinade – Tilapia is one of the most affordable cuts of fish, and it's also mild and delicious with a little citrus flavor. Case in point: this easy marinade! Combine ¼ cup each of honey, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Toss in two tablespoons each of minced garlic and olive oil, a little salt and pepper, and marinate your fish for about 30 minutes.
  • Lemon & Herb Seafood Marinade – This recipe works well for just about any type of fish. Combine ¼ cup each of olive oil and lemon juice. Add two tablespoons of your favorite minced fresh herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Marinate for 30 minutes to 2 hours, then cook as desired!

We'll take one of each, please! Don't those all sound so good?!

You'll be a grill master in no time with these easy marinade recipes in your back pocket. A little effort goes a long way, so give these a try and see what you think!

At first glance, which of these recipes is your fave? We'd love to know, so leave us a comment below!

Image with text that reads "marinade recipes" from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more recipes that are perfect for summer?

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