How Long Should You Marinate Steak?

how long should you marinate steak

Marinating steak can be a great way to really bring out the flavors of your piece of meat. But, have you ever wondered how long should you marinate steak?

If so, we’ve got you covered. In this post, I’m going to teach you all about marinating steak, what the benefits are of marinating steak, and exactly how long should you marinate.

Now, on with the show…

Why Marinate Steak?

The main reason to marinate steak is that it will add flavor to your meat.

It also helps tenderize your steak and keep it moist while cooking since the meat soaks up some of the surrounding liquid.

This is important for steaks that are not super tender, such as flank or skirt steak.

The process of marinating breaks down the fibers in the meat, making it more tender.

Marinating steak not only makes the meat more tender, but it fills it with a flavor of your choice which can really bring life to an otherwise boring piece of meat.

Another benefit, if done correctly, is that marinating steak helps lock in some of the juices resulting in a more tender and flavorful finished product.

How Long Should You Marinate Steak?

When it comes to the exact time period for how long should you marinate steak, there is no definite answer.

However, we recommend that it should be between 30 minutes and 24 hours.

Anything less than 30 minutes won’t really make a huge difference compared to not marinating at all.

And anything longer than 24 hours runs the risk of breaking down the meat too much and can lead to a mushy mess.

The best time period for marinating steak is around 4 to 8 hours as this will allow the meat to take on as much flavor as possible without degrading it too much.

Of course, even though you can technically marinate steak for a few minutes, it won’t make a huge difference in the finished product.

So, if you don’t have a few hours for marinating steak, it is best to skip this step and move on with seasoning the meat.

However, if you want the flavors to marinate through your meat, try adding a bit of lemon juice or vinegar to the mix which will help thin down your marinade so it can infuse meat in a very short time.

It is important to note that there is no exact time for marinating steak because every person has their own personal preference.

What Ingredients Are Best For Marinating Steak?

Now, you may wonder what ingredients are best for marinating steak.  

There is a huge list of amazing things to put in a marinade from fruit juices and soy sauce to wine and vegetables. However, it is best to stick to the basics when you are first starting out.

These include ingredients such as soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, pepper, salt, and vinegar.  

Pretty much any spice can go well with your marinade to create a customized taste for every bite.

When determining what marinade to use it is important to pick some ingredients you like and those that will compliment each other.

This is because some flavors will overpower others which can make the final product not as good as it could be.  

So, try some different marinades out and find what combinations work best for you.

The Benefits Of Marinating Steak

There are many benefits to marinating steak that I truly believe make the process worthwhile.

All of these factors are important for creating a flavorful piece of meat with every bite.

The next time you plan on grilling some steaks try adding a little extra step when cooking by marinating them first.

Here are some of the many benefits of marinating steak:

  • Adds flavor to the meat
  • Tenderizes the steak and keeps it moist while cooking
  • Prevents loss of flavorful juices through the grilling process
  • Smooths out the meat fibers, making it less chewy
  • Gives steak an additional dimension of taste that is really quite amazing

If you’ve got a tough cut on your hands that you want to make as tasty as possible, then marinating is a great way to do so.

Yes, it will take some extra time, but it doesn’t require much effort and is really a worthwhile process.

A flavorful steak is well worth the wait if you ask me.

Disadvantages Of Marinating Steak

Sadly, there are some downsides to marinating steak that you should be aware of.

This can’t be considered a comprehensive list because everything has its pros and cons, but here are some major disadvantages of marinating steak.

  • Adds extra step to cooking that not everyone wants to take
  • Requires planning ahead as the meat needs time to absorb flavors
  • Can generally only apply to tougher cuts since they would require more tenderizing

Marinating steak overnight is not recommended.

When you marinate, the flavors of your spices will penetrate into the meat.

This means that if you plan on grilling your steaks and adding seasoning after they are cooked, it won’t work so well because the marinade flavor has already been added.

If you want to add traditional seasonings to your grilled steak, you should add them beforehand.

By marinating steak overnight you risk the chance of your meat becoming too tender and dry.

This is because over time some of the flavorful juices will be drained from the meat while it absorbs all that new flavor.

So, if you plan on marinating some steaks overnight you are going to want to keep them in the fridge while they catch up on their beauty sleep.

Luckily, marinating steak for a shorter amount of time isn’t necessarily bad because it still allows enough time for the flavors to seep through without making your meat too soft.

Why Time Is Important When Marinating Steak

The amount of time you marinate your steak is going to play a huge role in how tasty and delicious the finished product is.

This is because your steak is going to absorb a lot of the flavors in the marinade over a certain period of time.

The longer you marinate your steaks, the more flavor will be absorbed into the meat.

This is why when you are marinating steak it is important to remember that some ingredients such as lemon juice and citrus can tenderize the meat in just fifteen minutes.

Other ingredients that have more powerful flavors may take longer order to fully permeate the steak.

When marinating steak it is important to mix your marinade thoroughly and then let your steaks soak up all the flavor for at least thirty minutes if possible, but no more than four-eight hours.

For Best Results

When marinating steak it is important to remember a few key tips.

Marinade your steaks in an airtight container or sealed bag for best results, but make sure you have checked the ingredients list of the marinade.

You don’t want to use a container that will react with a certain ingredient and ruin the flavor.

Keep your meat in the fridge while it is marinating and if possible, flip or rotate it periodically for even seasoning throughout.

Lastly, remember that not every ingredient will work well with every type of steak.

 Everything has its pros and cons so just because something worked well with one cut doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same with another.

If at all possible try to experiment with a small cut of steak before you take on a whole slab if you are worried about not getting it right.

When marinating steak there is no harm in trying out a few different combinations and seeing what works best for your palate!

Other Considerations

It’s worth keeping in mind that not all steaks are created equal.

Some cuts will require less tenderizing depending on the toughness or delicateness of the meat which means that some cuts will have a shorter marinating time while others may require up to eight hours.

The best thing you can do is experiment and see what works for your steak and your marinade with different steak cuts.

Another key point to remember is that marinating steak doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t season it after.

After your steak is cooked and you let it rest for a few minutes, be sure to add in some sea salt and black pepper because this creates a delicious crust around the meat.

There are also many other seasonings that will work well with grilled steaks such as cayenne pepper, garlic, or any number of fresh herbs.

As long as you know how to marinate steak properly and season it after the grilling process then your steaks will always turn out phenomenal!


As a whole, you should marinate your steak for between four-eight hours, and definitely no longer than 30 minutes.

It’s tricky to answer this question as it is largely going to depend on personal preference, however, I have found that around four hours produces the best results for me.

Marinating steak is an important step that should not be missed, especially on tougher cuts that need a little tenderizing.

If at all possible try to experiment with a small cut of steak before you take on a whole slab if you are worried about not getting it right.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you now know how long to marinate steak.

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