Smoky Mesquite Marinade

Grilled ribs with sauce

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  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: 3/4 cup

Mesquite smoke flavors this marinade for meats and poultry. When you want to a natural smoky flavor to meat, you can prepare this marinade, smoking it on the grill. Now when you marinate the pork loin, short ribs, flank steak, chicken, or other meat you will be giving it a head start towards having that mesquite flavor.

The marinade itself is made with a combination of oil, wine, vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and garlic. Use it as you would any other. If you are going to be grilling the meat itself over mesquite, you have a head start. But this will really be valuable if you will be cooking the meat in the oven or on a gas grill when you can't add smoke.

Note that you will need mesquite wood and a covered grill to smoke this marinade. You'll also need an open pot that can be placed on the grill.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup red wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon or lime)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Combine the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, red wine, garlic, lemon or lime juice, sugar, salt, and pepper.

  2. Heat one side of the barbecue grill and place a chunk of soaked mesquite wood directly on hot coals (or lava rocks when using a gas grill). Adjust the heat to keep the wood from flaming. You want ​to smoke it and not fire.

  3. Place the marinade in an open pot on the opposite side of the grill and close the lid of the grill. Let it smoke for 20 to 25 minutes. The smoke will flavor the marinade.

  4. Remove the pot and add additional red wine to replace the liquid lost by evaporation.

  5. Cool it to room temperature, then refrigerate if not using immediately. Be sure to keep it in a tightly closed container to keep the delicious smoke in the marinade and not flavoring everything else in your refrigerator.


  • When using the marinade on meat, let the meat sit in marinade at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. If you plan to use it on fish or seafood, marinate only 30 minutes. Poultry should also be marinated for a shorter time period, an hour should be long enough. Then let meat come to room temperature before grilling.
  • Discard the marinade after removing the meat, poultry, or fish and do not use it as a sauce. The contact with bacteria in the raw ingredients will make it dangerous to use as a basting sauce or to serve with the meat.

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