21 Recipes to Marinate (Now!) So You Can Cook in a Jiffy Come Labor Day

August 31, 2016

Be you dockside, mountainside, city-bound, or stuck in traffic this Labor Day weekend, there's a good chance you're looking forward to not worrying too much over what you're cooking. (Yes, even we feel this way sometimes.) In such cases—when the need to press pause, dig deep into the wiles of a good book, or simply sleep off a raucous summer night trumps the desire to spend all weekend in the kitchen—turn to the marinade.

The beauty of a marinade, all fats and acids and spices and herbs, is that it works on the ingredients while you do not. A quick flash in the skillet (or on the grill) later, and dinner is served. Here are 21 recipes to start marinating in advance for a weekend of relaxing—and quick cooking.

If you'd prefer to marinate in advance, and then cook the day of:

If you'd rather get the cooking out of the way up front:

If you'd rather wait to start any marinating at all until the day of the meal:

Plus, a few tips for marinade-making, should you feel need some brushing up...

...and a handful of bottled marinades and rubs from our Shop (we taste them all, so you know they're good!):

Tell me: What's your favorite secret ingredient in a marinade? (I like a little soy sauce.)

Order Now

Any Night Grilling is your guide to becoming a charcoal champion (or getting in your grill-pan groove), any night of the week. With over 60 ways to fire up dinner—no long marinades or low-and-slow cook times in sight—this book is your go-to for freshly grilled meals in a flash.

Order Now

Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • fontshell
Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Smaug September 4, 2016
Is liquid smoke a secret ingredient? An unjustly maligned product, it makes a great addition to marinades. I usually use maple syrup for sweetness, but so do a lot of people. I usually add some sort of oil, though I'm not at all convinced that it serves any useful purpose. Different sorts of fruit juices make subtle differences- preferably something very aromatic, like tangerine juice. Ancho chile powder is something of a cliche (though a good one), but other powdered chiles- New Mexico, Guajillo, Negro etc. and, of course, Chipotle, can be used to good advantage. Fresh garlic- I refuse to recognize garlic powder as a food.
fontshell September 1, 2016