I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (2023)

The product recommendations in this post are recommendations by the writer and/or expert(s)interviewed and do not contain affiliate links. Meaning: If you use these links to buysomething, we will not earn a commission.

When it's finally time to fire up the ol' grill this summer, hamburgers and hot dogs are the obvious move, but what about other foods?

Chicken, seafood, and veggies are all enticing options for outdoor grilling—and they're usually even better when you marinate them for a good while first. A high-quality marinade adds flavor and makes your grilled proteins more succulent.

If you're lucky, you already have a trusty homemade marinade recipe all ready to go. If not, your local supermarket has a whole aisle of bottled-up possibilities, from traditional American-style barbecue sauces to more worldly, mouth-watering solutions you might not even know about.

I recently rounded up seven intriguing options from local supermarkets and gathered together some of my favorite people to taste-test these flavorful food baths. Since poultry is among of the most conducive meats to marinate, I focused this taste test exclusively on chickenspecifically, chicken wings, which are both small enough to allow for ample sampling and just plain fun to grill in general. I marinated each batch of wings overnight before grilling and sampling.

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (1)

Here's how the various marinades turned out, ranked in descending order from my least favorite to the tastiest of them all.



Ricante Tropical Tamarindo Caribbean Jerk

(Video) Top 5 Best Store Bought Marinades
I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (2)

Per Serving (1 tbsp): 15 cal, 0 g fat, 100 mg sodium, 4 g carbs, 3 g sugar

Costa Rica's Ricanteis best known for its hot sauces, so I was expecting big flavors from this tropical-themed bottle, priced at $7.99 from Whole Foods. I should have known better. Most Caribbean-style jerk sauces come in a very dark, almost black color. This one looks… brownish-orange? According to the label, it'sflavoredwith tamarind, raisins, mustard, chipotle, and lime, among other things."This sauce will blow your mind when it comes to marinades and reductions,"the company claims on its website. Well, not exactly. On the wings, I found it pretty underwhelming, to be honest, with subtle notes of citrus and very mild spice.One taster totally dismissed it as "flavorless." It's hands-down the blandest sauced-wing I tried, which is why it came in dead-last on this list.

Sign up for our newsletter!


Bachan's Gluten-Free Japanese Barbecue Sauce

(Video) Steak SAUCE Experiment - A1 Sauce, Don Shula, Heinz 57 & Worcestershire!
I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (4)

Per Serving (1 tbsp): 40 cal, 0 g fat, 550 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 8 g sugar, <1 g protein

Bachan's is a popular California brand sold at Costco, Whole Foods, and other esteemed retailers. I reached for the gluten-free version of its original Japanese Style Barbecue Saucebecause, well, virtually all the other marinades made the same pledge. Plus, one my tasters can't tolerate the other stuff. The only difference in the recipe is the type of soy sauce (the original one contains wheat). Made with non-GMO tamari soy sauce and organic flavorings including garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, and toasted sesame oil, Bachan's GF OG is sticky and savory, but also quite sweet and salty—packing the most sugar and most sodium of any sauce on this list, in fact.

Yet, even with all that added oomph, this self-described "teriyaki-ish" sauce failed to impress my tasters. One called it "so light, it's almost refreshing." Another complained of an unpleasant aftertaste. It's also the highest-priced sauce I tried: $9.39 for a 17-ounce squeeze bottle at Whole Foods.Pricey, lacking punch, and a little off-putting in one case, it ranks toward the bottom, too.


Trader Joe San Soyaki

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (5)

Per Serving (1 tbsp): 40 cal, 1 g fat, 490 mg sodium, 7 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 1 g protein

Trader Joe's labels this marinade as "a unique teriyaki sauce." One thing that immediately sets it apart is the massive amount of sesame seeds floating at the top of the jar, which you don't see in the other teriyaki-style sauces I tried. Some of these seeds will cling to the meat both during and after cooking, lending a visual and textural appeal the other marinated wings lacked. More reasonably priced at $3.99, Joe's costs less than half as much as Bachan's soy-based sauce. (Warning to the gluten-averse: this one does contain wheat.)It's also lighter in sugar and sodium, yet much heavier on garlic. The listed ingredients include both garlic purée and dried garlic.

Even so, the Soyaki-soaked wings also sort of sucked.One taster dismissed them as "blah—totally unremarkable." A possible explanation: the liquid looks a lot more watered-down than other, more viscous marinades, so maybe the sauce just didn't stick to the meat. Whatever the reason, TJ's Soyaki ranks on the lower rung, as well.

(Video) Try This Delicious Beef Kabob Recipe - You Won't Believe What Happens Next!


Cleveland Kitchen Fermented Miso Jalapeño

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (6)

Per Serving (1 oz): 35 cal, 3.5 g fat, 200 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 8 g sugar, 1 g protein

Ohio's Cleveland Kitchen attracted a lot of attention at this year's Expo West with its intriguing brand of kimchi pickles. The fermentation-minded company also makes gut-healthy salad dressings and marinades, including this Miso Jalapeño variety, which you can find in the refrigerated section at upscale grocers including Wegmans and Whole Foods for about $6.

Flavor-wise, the pungent yellowish sauce skews more jalapeño than miso, delivering a "satisfying kick that leaves a bit of tingle on the lips and the back of the throat," one taster observed. It might be the most unique marinade in this group, but perhaps too unique for traditional wing-lovers. The same taster suggested it might work better as a salad dressing than a marinade. That's why I'm sticking it right here in the middle, stuck between the losers and winners.


Sky Valley Organic Teriyaki

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (7)

Per Serving (1 tbsp): 25 cal, 0 g fat, 250 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 5 g sugar

(Video) Air fried chicken?🤔let's see how it goes

Idaho's Sky Valley makes all kinds of sauces, notably including a Sriracha-style chili sauce. Comparatively, the brand's classic teriyaki might seem a little unassuming. Yet, it's deceptively good, with a rich and strikingly sweet flavor that begs for a second helping. "I would happily eat more than one wing," one taster said. At just$3.67 from Whole Foods, it's the most affordable of the teriyaki-style sauces I tried—and the most flavorful, too. Somehow it just tastes sweeter than the others, despite having an equal or even lower amount of sugar. It's also oddly lower in salt. These surprisingly positive results with fewer added ingredients catapult Sky Valley into my Top 3.


Grace Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (8)

Per Serving (1 tsp): 0 cal, 0 g fat, 360 mg sodium, 1 g carbs, <1 g sugar

Unlike the other so-called "jerk" sauce I tried, the Grace brand is legit. Made in Jamaica with a blend of homegrown hot country peppers, Scotch Bonnets, and pimento, according to the company's website, it really packs a wallop, with a bright fruity taste and electrifying heat.Funny enough, this is the "mild" version, yet it is far and away the spiciest marinade among these varied selections. In fact, the fiery flavor might be a little too overpowering for non-pepperheads, which is probably the only reason this intensely flavored product doesn't rise to the top spot.


Melinda's Peri Peri Hot Sauce

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (9)

Per Serving (1 tsp): 0 cal, 0 g fat, 90 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g sugar

(Video) 10 Indian Convenience Food

Texas-based Melinda's Foods promotes this sauce as both a condiment and marinade, which makes sense because you are going to want to put it on everything. Produced in Columbia, the peri-peri-style sauce tastes bright, fruity, and spicy, but not as burning hot as the Jamaican jerk. Mashed tabasco and cayenne peppers give thissauce its sharp piquant quality,according to the label.

Interestingly, though, the first listed ingredient is lemon juice, and the recipe also includes lemon powder. All that acidic citrus seems to have penetrated deep into every muscle fiber in the chicken, which is precisely what you want from a marinade. The wings tasted juicier and more flavorful than any of the others, and that's why Melinda's comes in first place. It's the most well balanced and delicious one of the bunch.

Bonus: it pairs really well with blue cheese, too, just like a good spicy-sauced wing should.

I Tried 7 Store-Bought Marinades & This Is the Best One (10)


What is the best bottled marinade for steak kabobs? ›

Reviewers claim that Sweet Baby Ray's is the best store-bought steak marinade you can find, packed with the robust flavors of onion, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. Though we think it tastes best as a steak marinade, users also recommend this flavorful sauce for marinating poultry, seafood, veggies, and more.

What are the basic types of marinades? ›

Different types of marinades are classified as acidic, enzymatic, or oil-based.

Can you use steak marinade as a sauce? ›

If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat or poultry in it. However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.

What is the best bowl to marinate chicken in? ›

Safety Tips for Marinating Chicken

Place the marinade and chicken in a closed, non-reactive container (glass or ceramic dishes, and large resealable plastic bags). Don't use aluminum containers; they can create gross metallic flavors. Marinate chicken in the refrigerator.

What is the best meat for tender shish kabobs? ›

Fillet mingon (or beef tenderloin)- this is the best cut for beef shish kabobs, it's a tender and leaner steak and will not require too much work. But, it is not as robust in flavor as other cuts of meat, that's why I still like to marinate it for a couple of hours in the fridge.

What tenderizes meat in a marinade? ›

Marinating Agents

Acidic marinades tenderize meats by unraveling the proteins in muscle, which results in a “netting” of the marinade flavors. Enzymes: These are found in roots and fruits such as gingerroot and papaya. Papain (the active tenderizing agent in papaya and pineapple) is a common ingredient in marinades.

What are the 3 main ingredients when marinating? ›

A typical marinade is made up of three essential components: an acid (such as vinegar, wine, or citrus), an oil (such as olive oil or sesame oil), and a flavouring agent (such as herbs and spices). These elements work together to transform the taste and texture of your dish in different ways.

What is a simple marinade that tenderize and add flavor? ›

Acids like citrus juice, pineapple juice, vinegars, wine, buttermilk, yogurt are great marinade ingredients to help break down the cell structures of foods and tenderizing as well as adding flavor.

What is the key to a good marinade? ›

A great marinade is carefully balanced and made of three basic components – acid, fat and seasoning. Acids, such as wine, vinegar, citrus juice, buttermilk, and enzyme-rich fruits like papaya or pineapple, work to soften the meat's surface by weakening proteins allowing for slight absorption of flavoring.

Can you use store bought marinade as sauce? ›

Using Leftover Marinades

Frugal cooks can put the leftover marinade to use as a sauce, but it must first be boiled for five minutes to destroy any harmful bacteria. This boiling process will render it useless as a tenderizing marinade, but it can still impart some flavor as a sauce.

How do you use Lawry's marinade? ›

Usage Tips

Simply pour Lawry's Signature Italian Marinade on chicken, pork or seafood. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer. Pour marinade over boneless chicken to coat. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

What steaks don t need marinade? ›

More expensive steaks, like ribeye, strip steak, and filet mignon, end up juicy and tender without the help of a marinade. Plus, many of the high-priced steaks are also full of flavor, so they don't need any help in that area, either. Filet mignon is one exception to the full-of-flavor rule.

Does poking holes in chicken help marinade? ›

It is recommended to prick the surface of the meat with a fork or score it so that the marinade penetrates the meat as deeply as possible resulting in a more moist meat, but you don't have to. You can still marinate your chicken even if you don't poke holes in it and it will still turn out delicious.

What do Chinese soak their chicken in? ›

How do Chinese Restaurants tenderise chicken? There are actually a few different ways to tenderise chicken the Chinese restaurant way: marinating in a cornstarch/cornflour sludge then deep frying or blanching in water before proceeding to cook in the stir fry.

Should you marinate chicken in the fridge or on the counter? ›

Make sure the container of marinating food is fully covered. Place it on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator (at or below 40°F), not on the kitchen counter. This will keep food out of the temperature "danger zone," which is the temperature range where bacteria multiplies and may reach unsafe levels.

What is the best cheap steak for shish kabobs? ›

Choose the Best Beef Cut for Kabobs

Relatively tender, without a need for extensive marinating, Sirloin (from top to tip) is lean and fits into a balanced diet — plus, it's budget-friendly . Other good beef choices for kabobs are Flat Iron or Strip Steak and even Tenderloin.

How much steak per person? ›

When cooking something like steak, chicken, or pork, where meat is the main feature of the meal and paired with a few side dishes, we recommend about 1/2 pound (eight ounces) per person, or up to 3/4 (12 ounces) pound for bigger appetites and those who love leftovers.

What steak is best for shish? ›

What Is the Best Beef Cut for Shish Kabobs? Top Sirloin is your best choice for shish kabobs as it's both flavorful and juicy. If you are looking for more options, sirloin tips, strip steak or even chuck steak also work great.

How do Chinese make their meat so tender? ›

In Chinese cooking, proteins like beef, pork or chicken are velveted first before stir-frying them. There are several ways to velvet, but at its most basic level, it involves marinating meat with at least one ingredient that will make it alkaline. This is what tenderizes the meat, especially cheaper, tougher cuts.

What is the secret ingredient to tenderize meat? ›

Whether hosting a holiday cookout, serving up some stir-fry or tackling game meats, baking soda is the go-to meat tenderizer to help make your steak, chicken or turkey silkier, juicier and yummier.

Do you tenderize or marinate first? ›

You'll still want to follow the rule of cutting against the grain and if you want the full benefit of the marinade, even flatten and tenderize the steak with a meat mallet before marinating.

What are 2 common marinades? ›

Technically, there are just two types of marinades - dry or wet marinades. As the name suggests, wet marination involves liquid ingredients. It is said that this type of marination should be done for a short period of time and it should always be left to marinate in the fridge.

What is the basic marinade formula? ›

The rule -of-thumb ratio for marinades is 3-to-1, three parts oil and 1 part acid. For example, you would mix 1 cup oil (olive, canola, or vegetable) and ⅓ cup acid such as a vinegar, lemon or lime juice or other citrus, or wine. You also need to consider what you are marinating.

What are 2 rules for safe marinating of meat? ›

Tips for Safe Meat Marination
  • A marinade consists of acid, oil and spices or flavorings. ...
  • When marinating, allow the sauces to sink as deeply as possible into the meat. ...
  • A marinade should be thin enough in consistency to penetrate the meat; otherwise, the flavor desired will not be reached.

What are the two 2 methods used for marinating a food item? ›

The liquid in question, the marinade, can be either acidic (made with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice, or wine) or enzymatic (made with ingredients such as pineapple, papaya, yogurt, or ginger), or have a neutral pH.

What gives flavor aroma and taste to the marinated meat? ›

Marinades often use an acid (like vinegar or citrus juice) or an enzyme (like mango, papaya, or kiwi fruit) to enhance flavors and change surface texture. The acid or enzyme in a marinade causes the meat's tissue to weaken on the surface, but it must be used minimally and not for extended periods.

What do you think is the best type of marinade to be use and why? ›

Using kiwi, papaya, pineapple and other fruits that contain papain or bromelain are perfect marinades. These proteins break down the meat to make it more tender. Keep in mind that using this type of marinade may make your meat dry and tough if left to marinade too long.

What is the ratio of meat to marinade? ›

A general rule of marinade-to-meat ratio is one-half cup of marinade per pound of meat. Times vary depending on the type, cut and size of the meat. Denser meats such as pork and steak can marinate for 24 hours or even longer. A lighter meat like chicken can marinate between 2 hours and 24 hours.

How do you make marinade more flavorful? ›

Additionally, the single-best thing you can do to build flavor in your marinade is to kick start the aromatics. That means bruising herbs, toasting spices, smashing garlic cloves, and chopping alliums.

How do you use store bought marinades? ›

Marinades can also be used to season and add flavor to other meals. Add a small amount to soups, stews, veggie dishes, mashed potatoes, and other side items to give them a little extra burst of flavor! You can even add a splash of marinade to add some depth to your favorite Bloody Mary recipe!

Can I cook chicken in its marinade? ›

After raw chicken has marinated in any kind of liquid, that liquid is as unsafe to consume as raw chicken is. However, you can baste the chicken very early in the cooking process, because the marinade will get cooked through along with the chicken.

Can you use Lawry's marinade as a dipping sauce? ›

The marinade gave the meat plenty of flavor and was good drizzled over the cabbage. It also makes a good dipping sauce."

Do you rinse after marinade? ›

Remove Marinade Before Cooking: To prevent flare-ups on the grill and ensure properly browned meat when sautéing or stir-frying, wipe off most of the excess marinade before cooking.

Can you marinate for too long? ›

Information. Most recipes for marinating meat and poultry recommend six hours up to 24 hours. It is safe to keep the food in the marinade longer, but after two days it is possible that the marinade can start to break down the fibers of the meat, causing it to become mushy.

Should you put salt and pepper in a marinade? ›

Whereas most marinades don't do much for tenderizing or anything for moisture, salt does. It will help the flavors in the marinade penetrate and remain behind after cooking. And of course, salt is a flavor enhancer by and of itself.

Which should be avoided when marinating? ›

  1. Don't use too much salt. ...
  2. Don't reuse marinades or use marinades as a sauce after cooking. ...
  3. Don't marinate in metal containers. ...
  4. Don't over marinate fish. ...
  5. Don't freeze meats in their marinade. ...
  6. Don't be afraid to experiment with new flavors and ingredients.
Dec 28, 2022

Is a rub or marinade better for steak? ›

Both Give You a Burst of Flavor

If a strong flavor like ginger or teriyaki is what you're going for, then a marinade may be your best bet. However, if you want something that complements your steak with an underlying flavor then a quick rub is the route you should take.

What does poking chicken with fork do? ›

Chicken thigh meat - poking holes with a fork

Skin shrinks when cooked. Use a fork to poke holes in the skin to prevent shrinkage and to further permeate the flavors of seasonings.

Should I pierce meat before marinating? ›

Marinades do not penetrate the meat deeply. Most of the tenderizing effect of a marinade will occur on the surface. Piercing the meat before marinating will give the greatest tenderizing effect.

Why do you squeeze lemon on chicken? ›

The lemon juice not only provides flavor and acidity, but also helps tenderize the chicken. This works especially well for leaner cuts like chicken breast. The result is super flavorful, vibrant, juicy, and tender chicken.

Why is restaurant chicken so soft? ›

They cook it slowly and take it out at the proper temperature, which is usually around 165 or so. Then they let it sit to continue cooking for five minutes before serving. While sitting the enzymes in the membranes will break down, making the meat more tender.

What is the white stuff that is put on chicken? ›

It's actually protein. In some cases, when chicken is processed, a low-salt solution (less than 1 percent salt) is added to the meat to retain moisture and tenderness, and avoid the possible negative effects of overcooking. Sometimes, proteins are dissolved into this salt solution, and end up cooking out.

Should I leave my chicken marinating in a bowl or a bag? ›

DO marinate in re-sealable plastic bags, rather than in bowls or other containers. They cut down on cleanup and allow you to evenly distribute the marinade. But you can marinate in plastic, stainless steel or glass containers too.

Is it better to marinate in the fridge or room temperature? ›

Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter. Some older recipes call for marinating at room temperature. DO NOT FOLLOW THIS PRACTICE. Marinating at room temperature causes the meat to enter the “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F), where bacteria multiply fastest.

Can you eat raw chicken after 3 days in fridge? ›

Storing Chicken in the Fridge

No need to stash it in the freezer — it's OK to store raw chicken (whole or in pieces) for 1–2 days in the fridge. If you have leftovers that include cooked chicken, you can expect those to last in the refrigerator for 3–4 days.

Do you season kabobs before grilling? ›

Don't choose the wrong seasoning and marinade ingredients.

Seasoning kebabs before cooking is essential. Rubs and spice blends are ideal for this, since they keep the exterior of the ingredients dry which is great for searing and color.

Should I marinate vegetables for kabobs? ›

Try to cut the vegetables in a uniform size so that they cook evenly. Marinate for at least 15-20 minutes, up to overnight. The longer you marinate, the more flavor the kabobs will have. If you choose to not marinate the veggies on the skewers, you'll need to soak the skewers so they don't burn.

What container do you marinate meat in? ›

Use a non-reactive container for marinating.

Stainless, steel, glass, and re-sealable plastic bags are all great. Stay away from aluminum containers because aluminum can react with acids, changing the color and flavor of the food.

What is the best meat for grilling kabobs? ›

Choose the Best Beef Cut for Kabobs

Relatively tender, without a need for extensive marinating, Sirloin (from top to tip) is lean and fits into a balanced diet — plus, it's budget-friendly . Other good beef choices for kabobs are Flat Iron or Strip Steak and even Tenderloin.

How long to soak wood for kabobs? ›

While 30 minutes is the minimum, it's best to plan ahead and soak your bamboo skewers overnight in water. It takes a long time for the skewers to soak up the water, but well-soaked skewers, which are slow to give up their moisture, will last longer on the grill without burning up.

Why do you put baking soda in kebabs? ›

adding some baking soda into the meat mixture will help bind and lighten the density of the minced mixture.

Do you close the lid when grilling kabobs? ›

When you first place your kabobs on the grill, you'll keep the lid open to sear the food, usually for a couple of minutes. After that, lower the lid and close the bbq to keep the heat inside and continue cooking.

What is the trick to grilling kabobs? ›

All Rights Reserved.
  1. 1: Don't forget to soak those skewers!
  2. 2: Cut ingredients into similar sizes — but position them smartly, too.
  3. 3: Don't shy away from cooking veggies and meat on the same skewer.
  4. 4: Don't overstuff your skewer.
  5. 5: Get some help from aluminum foil.
  6. 6: Grill over direct heat for a nice sear.

What vegetable is best for kabobs? ›

Aim for a variety of color and for veggies that will hold their shape well. Some of my favorites for kabobs are: bell peppers (any color), zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, onions (I like red onions, but yellow onions or shallots are great too), and tomatoes (smaller cherry or grape tomatoes).

Do you use red or white onions for kabobs? ›

What Kind Of Onion Do You Use for Shish Kabobs? We like to use sweet onions for kabobs, Texas Sweet and Vidalia are very good. A general yellow onion or purple onion also works. I tend to avoid the white onions, they are MUCH stronger and while we LOVE them, sometimes guests aren't that fond of strong onions.


1. Seekh Kabab Biryani | The best biryani you will ever eat | Khana Banana Asan
(Khana Banana Asan)
2. I tried ONION JUICE on my hair FOR 7 DAYS & THIS HAPPENED! *before & after results*
(Doro Cubillo)
3. Team Medium Rare or Well Done? #shorts
(Max the Meat Guy)
4. 6 EASY CHICKEN MARINADES | amazing chicken breast recipe + freezer friendly meal prep
5. How to make the BEST VEGAN BURGER [MUST TRY]
6. What's The Best BBQ Sauce? Taste Test
(Good Mythical Morning)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Last Updated: 10/09/2023

Views: 5501

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (66 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Gov. Deandrea McKenzie

Birthday: 2001-01-17

Address: Suite 769 2454 Marsha Coves, Debbieton, MS 95002

Phone: +813077629322

Job: Real-Estate Executive

Hobby: Archery, Metal detecting, Kitesurfing, Genealogy, Kitesurfing, Calligraphy, Roller skating

Introduction: My name is Gov. Deandrea McKenzie, I am a spotless, clean, glamorous, sparkling, adventurous, nice, brainy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.