Mexican Marinade

Mexican Marinade

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
62 Calories
6g Fat
2g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 62
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 336mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 3mg 13%
Calcium 17mg 1%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 43mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When you are preparing a Mexican-style dish, this marinade can be used for any type of meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. The lime and cilantro flavor blend well together and is not too overpowering. While it has some spice, you can adjust the heat level by using more or less of the ancho chile powder. While many people love cilantro, it has its detractors, as well. Check with your guests about whether to include it or not.

Marinades such as this one tenderize and enhance flavor. An acid is used (in this case, white vinegar, and lime juice) to help break down tougher tissues. But left for too long, the meat or seafood can become overly tenderized and end up mushy. As well, this tenderizing action allows the tissues to bring in more fluid, so it won't dry out as rapidly when grilled. The salt, spices, and herbs add flavor.

You should marinate in a container made of glass or food-grade plastic (including sealable plastic bags). Don't marinate in a metal container as the acid can act on it and it can result in off-flavors as well as possibly etching the container.

Store marinade in a plastic or glass container with a lid. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to five days after preparation.


  • 1/3 cup white vinegar

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

  • 1/3 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 tablespoon cumin

  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Mexican Marinade ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. Combine vinegar, oil, cilantro, water, garlic, lime, salt, pepper, and spices.

    Combine vinegar, oil, cilantro, water, garlic, lime, salt, pepper, and spices

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Marinating Times

The times to marinate depend on the type of food.

  • Marinate beef, lamb, and pork for about 6 to 12 hours. It can remain in the marinade for up to five days.

  • Marinate poultry for up to 4 hours. It can remain in the marinade safely for up to two days.

  • Marinate fish for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  • Marinate shrimp for 15 to 30 minutes. Do not marinate longer or they will get mushy.

Marinade Safety

The marinade will be contaminated by bacteria from the meat, poultry, fish, or seafood and it isn't strong enough to kill the bacteria. You must always keep food refrigerated while it is marinating. If you will be grilling away from home, keep it well-iced in a cooler.

It is safest to discard the marinade once it has been in contact with the raw food. Don't use the marinade to baste meats or vegetables on the grill or use it as is for a sauce. Keep the contaminated marinade away from items you will serve uncooked.

However, you can make the marinade safe by placing it in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. You can use it over sliced meats or add it to rice.