The Best Makeshift Steak Marinade Recipes—Straight from Pro Chefs

Don’t have time to go shopping? Not a problem. Here's how to improvise.

The Best Makeshift Steak Marinade Recipes—Straight from Pro Chefs

Don’t have time to go shopping? Not a problem. Here's how to improvise.

We’ve all been there: You’ve got some steak in the fridge and decide tonight you’re going to cook it up. But the steak marinade recipes you’ve got in your book call for exotic ingredients you’ve never heard of, or that would require an extra trip to the grocery store. Forget all that. When it comes to creating a terrific marinade, chances are that you’ve already got all that you need.

“The best part of a marinade is when you are the one creating it out of your very own kitchen ingredients,” says Nicole Meyer, cookbook author and founder of Nibbles by Nic. “If that Guinness Stout at the back of your fridge is calling your name, think how downright delicious it would it be doused all over your brisket? Or ketchup, a not-so secretive ingredient. Add a touch of brown sugar and dab of mustard and you’ve got the best Homemade BBQ Sauce ever.”

Meyer speaks from experience—her Meet Mr. Drunken Brisket recipe combines Guinness with ketchup to create something surprisingly delicious. But maybe you’re more of a light-beer man, or prefer soft drinks. Whatever your taste, you’re likely to find a satisfying and simple marinade recipe below. And for more ways to eat the best possible steak, here is our guide on how to Cook a Steak at Home Like a Pro.

1
Whiskey Marinade

Every self-respecting guy has a bottle of whiskey at his disposal, and this super-simple steak marinade is a great way add an extra kick to the meat.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup whiskey (Jack Daniels, Maker’s Mark, or Johnny Walker are all solid choices)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

What to Do 

Mix liquids together in a bowl. Combine with steak in a Ziplock bag and place in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, remove steak from fridge. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high in grill pan. Grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Once cooked to your desired doneness, slice and serve.

2
Ketchup Marinade

Another ingredient you’re guaranteed to have in your fridge is a bottle of ketchup. This impressively versatile condiment can make for a terrific steak marinade, whether barbecuing or cooking on the stove.

What You Need 

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1⁄2 cup ketchup
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 1⁄4 cup vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1⁄2 cup onion
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground pepper

What to Do 

Mix ketchup, water, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Dice onion finely and add it to the bowl, stirring until completely mixed. Place steaks in a shallow glass cooking dish and pour marinade over the top. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 8 hours (or better yet, overnight).

When ready to cook, remove steaks from fridge. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high in grill pan. Grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides.

While steak is cooking, in a separate small pot, pour the marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fairly thick. Use reduced marinade as baste for steak or as sauce served on the side.

3
Dark Beer Marinade

If you’ve got a bottle of brown ale or amber in your fridge, this is a great use of it. The nutty and caramel flavors perfectly compliment the meat, combining well with the brown sugar and soy sauce in the recipe.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

What to Do 

In a bowl, combine beer, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Place steaks in a shallow glass cooking dish and pour the marinade over them. Place in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, preheat grill for high heat.

Remove steaks from marinade. Sprinkle the steak with garlic powder as well as salt and pepper on each side. Pour marinade into saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking for several minutes until liquid has been slightly reduced.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill steaks for 5–7 minutes on each side (depending on desired level of doneness). As they finish grilling, baste the steaks with reduced marinade. Slice and serve.

4
Heineken Marinade

 

If you’re more of a fan of lighter beers, that can work well too. This marinade is a bit more light and spicy with a citrusy undercurrent, and works as well with chicken as well as steak (but for the purposes of this roundup, we’re sticking with beef).

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1 cups Heineken beer
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

What to Do 

Combine all marinade ingredients into a bowl, stirring until completely mixed. In a shallow glass baking dish or Ziploc bag, combine marinade and steak. Place in refrigerator for 1 to 3 hours.

Remove steaks from marinade. Pour marinade into saucepan and bring to a boil, cooking for several minutes until liquid has been slightly reduced.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill steaks for about 5 minutes on each side (depending on desired level of doneness). As they finish grilling, baste the steaks with reduced marinade. Slice and serve.

5
7-Up Marinade

 

For those who are partial to soft drinks over whiskey and beer, the fizzy, lemon-lime flavor of 7-Up makes for a surprisingly delicious base for a lighter steak marinade. Ginger and garlic give it a bit more complexity.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1 cup 7-up
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped

What to Do 

Mix all steak marinade ingredients in a bowl. Combine with steak in a Ziploc bag or glass baking dish. Place in refrigerator and marinate 1 hour to overnight.

When ready to cook, remove steaks from fridge. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high in grill pan.

Grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides until they are at your preferred level of doneness. Slice and serve.

6
Coffee Ancho Steak Rub from LongHorn Steakhouse

This recipe comes from Jens Dahlmann, corporate executive chef and vice president of culinary development at LongHorn Steakhouse. Though this is a rub, rather than a marinade, it makes for a great option for those cooking at home who don’t have time to run to the store (or one of LongHorn’s 480 locations).

What You Need 

  • 1/2 cup ground coffee beans
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

What to Do 

Mix all dry ingredients together, preferably using a whisk. Place into airtight container and store at room temperature.

Generously sprinkle on your steak before placing it on the grill.

Quarter-turn your steak every 2 to 3 minutes to prevent burning or bitterness from the coffee and sugar in the rub.

7
Lemon and Soy Marinade

Here’s another super-simple steak marinade recipe with few ingredients but lots of flavor. This uses the taste that’s produced by lemon and soy sauce—a citrusy, succulent flavor that will get your mouth watering as it’s cooking. It’s also versatile, working well with fish and chicken, as well as steak.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

What to Do 

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together and combine with steak in a shallow glass baking dish. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 1 to 3 hours.

When ready to cook, remove steaks from fridge. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high in grill pan.

Grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides until they are at your preferred level of doneness. Slice and serve.

8
Yellow Mustard Marinade

Alright, yellow mustard is only a small part of this recipe (comprising just about one fifth of the whole marinade), but its flavor gives the meant a big boost. Particularly when combined with Worcestershire sauce and garlic, the simple taste of mustard suddenly turns into something pretty spectacular.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

What to Do 

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together and combine with steak in a shallow glass baking dish. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours to overnight.

When ready to cook, remove steaks from fridge. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high in grill pan.

Grill the steak about 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred on both sides until they are at your preferred level of doneness. Slice and serve.

9
Dijon Mustard Marinade

If you prefer your mustard with a bit more sinus-clearing spice, this is a good marinade you can put together without needing to buy more ingredients than hat you probably already have around the house. The garlic and onion round out the Dijon flavor nicely, making your steak really taste like something special.

What You Need

  • 16 ounces skirt or hanger steak
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

What to Do 

Combine mustard, garlic, and onion powder into a bowl, mixing thoroughly. Add in vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce. In a Ziploc bag or shallow glass baking dish, place the steaks and pour the marinade over top. Marinate overnight.

When ready to cook, remove steaks from fridge and add olive oil to skillet, turning heat to medium-high. Remove steaks from marinade and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on preferred level of doneness.

Remove from skillet and serve.

10
Tobasco Sauce Marinade

There’s a good chance that you’ve got a bottle of Tabasco sauce in your cupboard, and this recipe comes directly from the good folks at the hot sauce company.

What You Need 

  • 1 boneless beef top loin steak, about 1 pound
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

What to Do 

In a mixing bowl, combine Tabasco sauce, salt, garlic powder, thyme, and allspice. Place steak in a baking dish, using the back of a spoon to cover both sides with the marinade Refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight. at least 1 hour or overnight.

When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator and preheat a grill or broiler.

Place steak on grill or broiler pan and cook 4–5 minutes on each side, until it reaches desired doneness.

Next up, steak lovers, check out our list of The 50 Best Steakhouses in America.

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