Basic Beef Marinade for Roasts, Steaks, and Kebabs

marinated steak
L Alfonse/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • 5 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1/2 cup (1 portion)
Ratings (4)

Marinade is all about flavor. It's a misconception that its purpose is to tenderize meat — in fact, it can do just the opposite in some cases and toughen it instead. This often happens with highly acidic marinades.

The trick is to keep the acidic ingredients to a minimum, and this Greek steak marinade does just that. It's a simple oil and vinegar mixture that's a Greek favorite with beef. Use it for marinating steaks, kebabs, and other cuts to be broiled or grilled. 

What You'll Need

  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Greek oregano (
  • rigani)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

How to Make It

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the marinade slowly over the beef, making sure to cover it completely.  
  3. Refrigerate the beef and marinate for at least 4 hours before cooking.

Tips and Variations: 

  • This recipe yields enough marinade for up to 1¼ pounds of meat. If you're cooking more beef, you can double or triple the recipe as long as you increase the quantity of all ingredients equally. For example, you'd use 8 tablespoons of vinegar and 8 tablespoons of olive oil to double the recipe for 2½ pounds of meat.
  • Flank steak does very well with any marinade that contains vinegar or other acidic ingredients. The marinade adds surface flavor but doesn't penetrate deeply enough into the meat to toughen it. 
  • Highly acidic marinades break down the protein bonds in meat and effectively make them unwind. They can then tangle together, trapping water molecules. This has the effect of tenderizing meat, provided that it's cooked immediately. But by definition, a marinade is something your meat steeps in, gathering flavor, for a substantial period of time. After a while, the protein bonds will begin tightening again and squeeze those water molecules out. Your guests will be chewing hard and long as a result. This is particularly true with shellfish like shrimp. Depending on the cut of meat you use, if you find it's toughened up after marinating, increase the olive oil gradually up to four times the quantity of the vinegar the next time you make it. 
  • Add a little Dijon mustard — about 1 teaspoon — for a variation. This isn't an authentic Greek touch, but I've tried it and it's delicious. 
  • Another version of this marinade calls for lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar. Lemon is a staple ingredient in Greek cooking, so you can't go wrong if you make this switch. It's really just a matter of personal taste. 
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 695
Total Fat 55 g
Saturated Fat 8 g
Unsaturated Fat 39 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 28 mg
Carbohydrates 46 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Protein 9 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)