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How long to marinate chicken? Pork chops? A steak? Vegetable kebabs? Tofu? Many marinating questions…and you’re in the right place.

4 marinades in jars

Why Marinades are So Great

Marinades are brilliant because essentially you can take any kind of meat or fish or seafood you like, give it a dunk in the mixture and you’ve turned a plain something into a great dinner. Marinades add flavor, and can also make foods more tender. The more delicate the protein, the less you want to marinate it, especially if it contains citrus juices which can start to “cook” the food and change its texture (eg, make it mushy).

Some Guidelines for Marinating Success

  1. The thinner the food, and the less dense the food, the less time it needs in the marinade.
  2. The more acid (citrus juice, vinegars) in the marinade, the less time the food should marinate.
  3. Unless you are marinating food for 30 minutes or less, or the food you are marinating is a non-meat item like vegetables, make sure you do it in the refrigerator.

Can You Use A Marinade as a Sauce?

  1. If you want to use some of the marinade as a sauce, separate it from the rest of the marinade before adding your raw protein.
  2. For food safety, never reuse a leftover marinade, or serve it as a sauce, because it can have harmful bacteria. If you’re using the marinade to baste, stop basting with the marinade well before the food is cooked, so any raw meat, fish or poultry juices in the marinade have time to cook away.
  3. More info about safe marinating can be found on

Can You Reuse A Marinade?

  1. You shouldn’t do this, unless you have only used it to marinade vegetables, and then you should use it within a few days.
  2. Some marinades can be boiled after the raw food is taken out, and then they are safe to use. The marinade should come top a rolling boil, and a temperature of at lest 165°F. Marinades with a lot of sugar in them might burn, though, and marinades with a lot of acidity might change in flavor.

Where Should You Marinate Meat?

Always in the fridge, never at room temperature.

How Long To Marinate Chicken? And steaks, fish, shrimp, pork, tofu, vegetables…. a breakdown of marinating timing guidelines (and marinade recipes!).

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How Long to Marinate

These are some general marinating guidelines, and of course most recipes will give you specific instructions.

How Long Do I Marinate That?

How Long Do I Marinate Chicken?

  • Whole chicken: 4 to 12 hours
  • Bone-in pieces: 2 to 6 hours
  • Boneless pieces: 30 minutes to 2 hours

How Long Do I Marinate Meat?

  • Bigger roasts, such a chuck roast, pork shoulder: 2 to 8 hours
  • Tougher or larger steaks, like strip, London broil: 1 to 2 hours
  • More tender cuts of meat, like sirloin, skirt or flank steak, lamb or pork chops: 30 minutes to 1 hour

How Long Do I Marinate Fish and Seafood?

  • Filets, scallops, shrimp: 15 to 20 minutes
  • Whole fish, thick fish steaks: 30 minutes

How Long Do I Marinate Soy Products?

  • Tofu: 30 minutes to 1 hour
  • Seitan and tempeh: 1 to 6 hour

How Long Do I Marinate Vegetables?

  • Dense vegetables, such as carrots, squash, potatoes: 1 to 2 hours
  • Softer vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes: 30 minutes to 1 hour

And now you’re off to the races. Check out Minimum Safe Internal Temperatures Chart for all kinds of meat!

Try these Marinade Recipes:

Turn something plain in a delicious dinner with these 5 easy marinade recipes.

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

Lemon Garlic Chicken Marinade

This 5-ingredient marinade comes together in minutes and is perfect for chicken (also also pork, shrimp, and any fish).

Ginger, Mint, and Lime Marinade

Ginger, Mint, and Lime Marinade

This bright marinade with slightly Southeast Asian flavors is a perfect soak for anything from shrimp to chicken to pork.

Indian Curry Yogurt Marinade / Photo by Carrie Crow / Katie Workman /

Indian Curry Yogurt Marinade

Great on lamb, chicken, and salmon. The yogurt acts as a tenderizer for the meat and a cooling counterpoint.

Spicy Sesame Asian Marinade

Spicy Sesame Asian Marinade

6 ingredients and the possibilities are pretty unlimited.

Jamaican Jerk-Style Marinade

Jamaican Jerk-Style Marinade

Jerk is defined both as a spice blend and a style of cooking, hailing from Jamaica, with its roots in Africa.

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