First things first, when grilling, it’s best to choose a thin steak as it will cook quicker. This could include a skirt steak, hanger steak, or flank steak. This could also include short ribs or tri-tip. All of these are cut from strong muscles and have a lot of delicious flavor to go around. That being said, strong muscles are tougher by nature, so that’s why these steaks definitely need a marinade.
When making a steak marinade, it’s important to remember that it’s totally up to your preferences. If you’re in a certain mood, serving a certain menu or have specific things in your pantry—you can switch it up and customize it to what you prefer. Another thing to remember is that it needs to be really strong to infuse the meat with flavor that lingers after the marinade is gone.
Every steak marinade needs four essential things—oil, acid, flavoring, and salt. After having those things on hand, the only thing you need is how to understand the basic ratio and timing of how to marinate your steak. Then, you can throw out any recipe going forward. You simply won’t need them!
- Marinade With Oil First
Make sure that the marinade you use is at least half oil. This makes it into a thick sauce to coat your meat and gives the final taste more flavor. Having a layer of oil on your steak before you start grilling will allow it to cook more evenly.
The general rule is to have about a ½ cup of marinade for every pound of meat that you grill—so if you’re cooking a regular two pound steak, make sure you’re using a ½ cup of oil. We suggest using canola oil if you don’t want to taste it or olive oil if you do. Also, feel free to mix more than one oil when making your marinade. Again, you can customize it to your liking. Make sure you air on the side of caution and start with the lesser amount of oil, as you can always add more later on.
- Definitely add some acid, but don’t overdo it
What does acid do? It takes tough connective tissue and it makes it way more tender. If you add too much, it will make the meat even tougher and give it a gross, chalky taste and feel. Your best bet in avoiding this is to balance the amount of oil and acid that you use.
For your two pounds of steak, try whisking ¼ cup of acid with your ½ cup of oil. Depending on the type of taste you’re looking for, you can use a fruit juice like orange juice or a vinegar like balsamic. On the flip side, you could also use wine, beer or onions and garlic.
- Add In Some Different Flavors
The flavoring speaks for itself—it simply adds your desired flavors and makes your steak into something you think will taste delicious. Use whatever condiments you have on hand or whatever is in your spice collection. Have fun and experiment with everything from sriracha to fresh ginger.
- Add A Little Sweet, Add A Little Salty
Balancing out the flavor is important so make sure to add these two elements to your mixture. Salt is good for tenderness and moisture and can come from something like soy sauce rather than just salt itself. While sugar isn’t as important, it does the balancing out. If your marinade is already sweet, you can skip this step completely—too much sugar can cause burning!
At this point in the process, make sure to give your steak a taste and adjust where necessary.
- Set a Timer For Anywhere From 1-12 Hours To Marinate
It’s finally time to pour your marinade on the steak and coat it. We recommend using a resealable plastic bag so you can seal it up and completely cover the meat. If you’re only marinating for a short time, you can leave the steak out. If you’re planning on marinating for longer, put it in the refrigerator (just take it out an hour before you cook!)
- Time To Grill!
The final step is here! Get your grill ready and take the steak out of the marinade. Then, pat it down with paper towels.
While cook time can depend on different factors, thin cuts should be cooked on high. For the best results, use a thermometer to measure the accurate temperature.
Here’s a quick guide of when to pull off your steak:
- Medium-Rare: 120–125°F
- Medium: 135°F
Now, all that’s left is to enjoy the delicious steak you created!