The Only Marinade You'll Need This Grilling Season

July  1, 2016

I looked out Amanda Hesser's kitchen door at one of my very first Food52 photo shoots, and there Merrill was: Out on the deck, wrangling a very hot, flaming grill. Badass.

This was back when we shot everything we put up on the site in Amanda's house—and on her nightstand, as it happens—and Merrill was grilling chicken for this noodle salad. (I'd suggest you make it soon.)

I learned early that Merrill knew her way around grilling season, and well. In case you didn't, or still don't know, her all-purpose grilling marinade should help with that.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Mix up a jar of this now and stash it in the fridge—it'll keep well, and you can use it for all of the random meats and proteins (and hey, also vegetables) that guests bring over this weekend. Then do it all again the next.

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Here's Merrill:

Combine 1/2 a large onion, 6 cloves garlic, half a bunch of parsley (or cilantro or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand), a spoonful of Dijon, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and a good few glugs of olive oil in a blender. Blend until smooth and just a tad loose—then slather your meat (I like to use spatchcocked chickens) with 2/3 of it and refrigerate for 6 hours. (Save the remaining marinade to brush on during grilling.) I've also coated thick strips of firm, white fish with the marinade and grilled them; it would work well with lamb, beef, and pork too.

And in case you need a hand lighting your grill this weekend—here's Merrill on that beat, too:

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • ErinM724
  • Josie Adams
    Josie Adams
  • Адил Сабиров
    Адил Сабиров
  • AntoniaJames
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


FrugalCat May 29, 2023
Add a little vinegar (I like white balsamic) and it's also a great dressing. Thicken it up with Greek yogurt for an amazing dip.
ErinM724 June 29, 2017
Would this work for chicken wings? (I don't see why it wouldn't but I don't really cook a lot of meat, so wondering what others think!)
Josie A. May 22, 2017
Why is onion+garlic harmful to one's health?
Адил С. May 16, 2017
Onion + garlic is harmfull for health. Refer to the eastern medicine
AntoniaJames July 7, 2016
You say that it "keeps well," and that it's the only marinade I need this summer, which suggests I should make a large batch to keep on hand. Can you be more specific, as in the number of days that it's still good? Thank you. ;o)
Kenzi W. July 8, 2016
It should keep for a week in the fridge, but you can also freeze it.
AntoniaJames July 14, 2016
This is good stuff. I've made an Indonesian cousin of this for 20 years , and as anyone who's seen my Not Recipe cheat codes can attest, I make quite a few other marinades. This is quite similar to the Zahav pargiyot onion marinade, which I'd been meaning to try. Always looking for ways to "prep once, cook twice" (or more) I made a double batch, putting what I didn't use today in the freezer for next week. I used it this evening on boneless chicken thighs, which grill quickly (helpful on evenings when we hike /run in the nearby redwood forest before dinner), especially when done this way: Also, for the record, I blitzed this up on Sunday and froze the cut thighs in the marinade. So easy. ;o)