This easy steak marinade recipe is the BEST, and it will quickly add tons of flavor to any cut of beef! The mixture is a blend of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, honey, olive oil, and fresh herbs.
A juicy steak can instantly make your mouth water. It’s a meal that’s simple to prepare and cooks in minutes. An easy steak marinade can add an exciting dimension and enhance the flavor to most cuts of beef. The right combination of key ingredients like salt, oil, acid, sweeteners, and aromatics can take the taste to the next level.
This marinade recipe is a combination of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, honey, olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Each ingredient plays an essential role to make every bite of steak more tasty and tender! You can cook the steaks by grilling, broiling, or pan searing for the ultimate experience.
How a steak marinade increases flavor
The benefits of a marinade are two-fold; boost flavor and tenderness. To maximize the taste portion, I selected specific ingredients that bump up the flavor level.
- Fat: Olive oil solubilizes fat-soluble flavor compounds from rosemary, thyme, and black pepper. The oil flavors the surface and helps the ingredients stick.
- Infused Flavors: Water-soluble compounds like salt, soy sauce, onions, and garlic.
- Glutamates: Soy sauce, garlic, and onions provide unique umami flavors.
- Sweetener: A small amount of honey balances the salt and helps to encourage quicker browning.
- Acid: Worchestire sauce is a popular condiment, mainly composed of distilled white vinegar and other umami inducing flavors. A smaller ratio of acid is used because marinating too long can cause the surface of the meat to become mushy and dry, instead of tender.
Marinating makes the meat more tender
Steaks vary in the level of toughness of texture based on the location, and ultimately the cut of meat. You almost never see filet mignon marinated because the muscle fibers aren’t as actively used, yielding soft and tender pieces that are easy to eat.
On the other hand, marinating a flank steak that has more coarse muscle fibers has benefits. Also, thicker 1 1/2-inch and more massive steaks like ribeye or New York strip are great candidates for a marinade to add layers of flavor.
Salt makes a steak juicy
The best way to tenderize a steak is to add salt. It functions similarly to a brine, allowing the salty marinade to infuse into the meat through osmosis. According to America’s Test Kitchen, salt does four things:
- Loosens the meats muscle fibers making it easier to eat.
- Protein molecules in the meat restructure and create gaps that fill with water.
- Dissolves some muscle proteins and becomes sponge-like, grabbing moisture.
- Naturally enhances and seasons meat.
The final result is a more juicy, seasoned steak!
How long to marinate a steak
It often seems that the longer the marination time, the better. Right? Wrong! It’s all about balancing flavor and moisture. And the reality is, the flavors from the marinade cannot get right into the center of the meat. However, sodium glutamates and salt go pretty far. I’ve found that a minimum of 30 minutes and optimally 1 hour is just enough time to flavor the meat while keeping it moist
So how long is too long? If there is an acid present like lemon juice, or vinegar, marinated overnight over 24 hours is max. Because the marinade for this recipe is soy-based with vinegar, adding too much time can make the beef taste more cured, mushy, and dry. Imagine beef jerky. Less aggressive marinades could be used longer. However, testing is always the best way to find out.
This versatile marinade is perfect for any cuts of steak, but preferably tri-tip, flank, skirt, New York Strip or ribeye. Grilled steak, pan-searing, or reverse searing are my methods of choice to quickly cook the meat and develop a nice crust by the Maillard browning reaction. You have the flexibility to use this marinade as a base and switch up the flavors depending on your mood. Time to get cooking!
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Serve with more marinade
It’s best to apply a more salt-based marinade to the meat before cooking to make it juicer. This process attracts the most flavor to the surface with limited movement to the interior of the meat. Then after cooking, serve the meat with additionally reserved marinade but with slightly more acid to boost the flavor even further.
The Best Steak Marinade
- ½ cup (120 ml) soy sauce
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) olive oil
- ¼ cup (60 ml) Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup (40 g) minced red onion
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
- 2 tablespoons (10 g) sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 2 steaks, (ribeye, New York strip, porterhouse, T-bone, skirt, sirloin, flank, flat iron)
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together soy sauce, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, red onion, honey, green onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
- In a small bowl add ¼ cup of the steak marinade and red wine vinegar, set aside.
- Add steak to a baking dish or large resealable plastic bag.
- Pour the marinade over, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Press out the excess air if using a ziplock bag.
- Flip steak over and marinate an additional 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture from the surface.
- Discard marinade.
- Cook steaks using the desired cooking method, such as pan sear, reverse sear, or grill.
- Transfer steak to a cutting board and tent with foil for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Pour reserved marinade over the steak or serve on the side.
- Recipe Yield: 1 cup of marinade. One cup of marinade is needed per 2 pounds of steak. Increase recipe size as needed.
- Cooking the Steak: Depending on the thickness of the meat and method, you will need to adjust the cooking time.
- Grill: Preheat grill over high heat (400 to 450ºF). Carefully grease the cooking grid with the oil. For steaks 3/4 to 1-inch thick: Sear covered for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on the desired doneness. Steaks 1 1/2 to 2-inches thick: Sear as directed above, then place on the indirect heat side of the grill covered, to finish cooking for 8 to 14 minutes, depending on the desired doneness.
- Pan Sear: Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of oil and allow to heat. Sear steak for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on the desired doneness. This method is best for 3/4 to 1-inch thick steaks.
- Reverse Sear: Heat a large cast iron skillet in the oven at 275ºF (135ºC). Place steaks on a rack set in a baking sheet for 15 to 25 minutes, until it reaches 90 to 95ºF (32 to 35ºC) for medium-rare, or 100 to 105ºF (38 to 41ºC) for medium. Transfer skillet to stovetop and heat over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil, once hot, sear the steak for 2 minutes, flip and sear 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, then sear the sides for a total of 2 minutes. This method is best for 1 1/2 to 2-inch thick steaks.
- Aim for an internal temperature:
- 120 to 125ºF (49 to 52ºC) for medium-rare
- 130 to 135ºF (50 to 57ºC) for medium
- 140 to 145°F (60 to 63°C) for medium-well
- Resting Time: Allow the steaks to rest for 10 minutes to account for an increase in temperature due to carryover cooking.
- MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE: Use tamari or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.