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Summer Means Grilling Means Marinades!

Jul 8, 2015

It's summertime folks, so that means you'll be more than likely firing up your grill on at least a weekend basis. I know we are at our house as much as we can--not just for the yummy food, but it gives my husband a good reason to drink a cold beer or two (but that's a whole other blog post!).

I figured with all of the grilling options out there--beef, pork, chicken, fish, veggies--it'd be great to send out several recipes for spicing up regular 'ol meat fare. Marinades are a great way to add loads of flavor to lean meats that don't provide a lot of fat for flavor.

A couple of tips when using a marinade:

  1. Keep in mind when you're marinating meat, the acidity of the marinade breaks down the meat on a molecular level. This is great for adding flavor, but you want to make sure you're not marinating for more than and hour or two to prevent the meat from becoming tough instead of nice and tender.
  2. Use a vacuum sealer when marinating aid in the flavor getting deep into the meat during the two hours of marinade time.
  3. Keep half of the marinade aside to use as a sauce for serving. Make sure this half is not exposed to raw meat before you use it on cooked meat.

Dry rubs are technically also marinades, so this is another great option to add a ton of flavor when cooking over flame.

Stock Your Marinade Pantry

  • White wine vinegar
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Coconut vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard
  • Tomato paste
  • Coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative that's low in sodium)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic and onion powders
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Dried herbs like oregano, thyme, rosemary
  • Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley, marjoram

What about a lot of oil? Very little fats are used in a lot of marinades because acid is truly the star at getting the flavor into the meat. Fats are somewhat necessary for emulsifying and bringing flavors together when using a blender to combine ingredients. Grilling is a great way to eat healthy. Most meats provide at least a small amount of fat anyway, so a lot of extra fat from sauces isn't necessary. Note: Just make sure you're meats are from grass-fed or pastured animals or are wild-caught to ensure that their fats are the healthy kind!

Classic Dry Rub

  • 2 T Kosher salt
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1/2 smoked paprika
  • 1/2 T onion powder
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 t cayenne
  • 1 t cumin

Whisk to combine all of the ingredients and manually rub them into the meat. Let the rub sit on the meat for one hour before grilling (or smoking). This is best used on meats that require a long, slow cooking time--beef or pork roasts, for example.

Chili Pepper Lemongrass Teriyaki

  • 1/2 c coconut aminos
  • 1/4 c coconut vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T lemongrass, chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t Japanese 7 spice (Togarashi) OR chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree. Try this mixture on chicken or fish. It's also great for a dipping sauce. Leave out the jalapenos for folks with a sensitive palate for heat.


  • 1/4 c red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c red wine vinegar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree. Save half for dipping. This is great with steak, especially if having the steak atop a big, leafy salad!

Marjoram and Citrus Fish Marinade

  • 1/2 c white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 c orange juice
  • 1/4 c Meyer (or regular) lemon juice
  • 1 t each of orange and lemon zest
  • 3 T fresh marjoram, chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 1 T olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients until combined. Marjoram is similar to oregano and offers a great, yet different, flavor profile to fish in particular. Citrus makes the fish pop and keeps it light and refreshing.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 1 c tomato paste
  • 1/2 c stone ground mustard
  • 1/4 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1/2 T salt
  • 1/2 T black pepper
  • 1/2 c chopped dates

Whisk together all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. Puree in a blender once simmered. Use either before grilling and/or afterwards to coat the cooked meat. Don't fall into the store-bought BBQ sauce trap. Those are loaded with unnecessary sugar and other processed ingredients. Dates provide the sweetness you enjoy from other BBQ sauces, but provide WAY MORE nutrition that simple sugar and, of course, high fructose corn syrup!

I think that's enough to get you started with marinating and loading up your meats with flavor before you through them on the grill. We'd love to see what you come up with. Use #ftgrilling on social media to share your creations!

*Recipes courtesy of Peter and Sarah Servold, Paleo Magazine June/July 2015


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