Today I am excited to share a recipe for The Best Steak Marinade. It’s one that gives you tender, juicy and flavorful meat every single time. It’s a great main dish to go with those favorite summer sides: macaroni salad, potato salad or the classic iceberg wedge. With one of my favorite things to make every summer on the menu, bring on the summer barbecues!
The Best Steak Marinade | Easy and Versatile
So happy to be sharing this steak marinade recipe with you today! It is based on a recipe I remember my mother-in-law making one summer afternoon before a big family BBQ. It yields steak that is super tender, salty, yet slightly sweet that has a little smokey flavor from the grill. A fail-proof, easy recipe that works on just about any cut of beef.
Main Ingredients Needed
All of these listed ingredients are important for different reasons. Try not to skip any if possible. Don’t forget increments and specific directions are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. I’ve also listed some substitutions if you’re in a pinch.
- Meat- I used ribeye steak, trimmed off the excess fat and cut into cubes for kabobs. See my notes below about using different cuts of beef.
- Coca-Cola – this adds the sugar we need to give sweetness to this marinade and it also helps the meat caramelize on the grill.
- Soy Sauce – this brings a savory and umami note to the flavor while bringing out the natural flavors found in meat and it tenderizes the meat by breaking down a tough protein found in meat (Myosin).
- Lemon Juice – the acid helps break down the meat which tenderizes it like crazy.
- Canola Oil – helps the meat not stick to the grill as much; canola oil has a high smoke point.
- Worcestershire Sauce – for tangy, savory, sweet and salty flavor that adds umami and depth of flavor!!
- Garlic – Adds such delicious flavor that comes with fresh garlic. Yum.
Other Beef Cuts– Other cuts of beef are totally acceptable with this marinade. Other good choices would be tri-tip, flank, skirt or sirloin. Honestly, any cut of beef that you’d grill would be a great candidate for this steak marinade.
Root Beer, Dr. Pepper or Sprite- You use soda pop in a meat marinade simply for its delicious flavor and all that liquid sugar. It is able to penetrate the meat so deliciously! If you find yourself in a pinch, you can use Root Beer, Dr. Pepper or even Sprite in place of Coca Cola. Steer clear of diet sodas- they don’t taste the same after being grilled. I’m talking about you, weird after taste.
Lime Juice or White Distilled Vinegar– You can substitute lime juice if you don’t have lemon juice on hand. You can use it as a one-to-one replacement.
Vegetable Oil- If you don’t have canola oil, vegetable oil or any light colored oil with a higher smoke point will work just as well.
How to Make and Use This Steak Marinade Recipe
So as with most marinades, you throw some ingredients together, add meat and let it sit in the fridge. This recipe is no exception. For full recipe directions and ingredient measurements see the printable recipe card below in this post.
Whisk All Ingredients Together
Start by whisking all the marinade ingredients together. I used a 9×13 baking dish because it had a tight fitting lid, but any large ziploc bag would be fine. Just be sure to set the bag into another container incase the bag springs a leak.
Add in your meat and stir to coat. I cut my ribeye into cubes to create more surface area. More surface area means more space for the flavor of the marinade to penetrate. No need to cut up a flank or skirt steak because it already has a lot of surface area being a long and skinny piece of meat.
Marinate Up To 24 Hours
Once your meat is covered, refrigerate 24 hours. Of course, you don’t need to wait the full 24 hours, but the longer you let it sit the more delicious the meat becomes. 8-12 hours is acceptable too. Minimally, I’d suggest marinating your steak for 6 hours.
How Long Should I Marinate my Steak?
If you are short(er) on time and don’t have a full 24 hours to marinate your steak, a minimum of 6 hours would be ok. You also don’t want to marinate your steak beyond the 24-hour mark. The acid from the soda and the lemon juice starts to break down the meat and change the texture. It works similarly to how acid would ‘cook’ a ceviche if it sits too long.
Skewer and Grill
After your steak has marinated, remove from the fridge and skewer. I like skewering my meat first, then preheating the grill so my steak comes to room temperature. This helps it stay tender.
Grill or cook your meat to desired doneness. Because the meat will be discolored from sitting in the marinade for so long, it will be hard to tell by cutting into it. I would highly recommend using a meat thermometer for taking the internal temperature. (I love this instant-read one. It’s insanely accurate.)
Once the meat is finished cooking, rest 10-15 minutes covered in foil, then serve and enjoy.
Storing Leftovers and Reheating
Store any leftover steak in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat steak without drying it out- remember “Low and Slow”. Place the steak in a shallow baking dish and place in a preheated oven at 200-250 degrees until its warmed through….roughly 20-30 minutes.
Steak Grilling Tips
- To grill, soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour, then skewer meat onto wet sticks. This is to help prevent burning during the cooking process.
- Of course metal skewers work just as well and require no prep time whatsoever.
- I own a really great gas grill that is easy to control temperatures with. If you’re using charcoal, you’ll want to keep that thermometer handy. Generally, the beef takes anywhere from 1-6 minutes per side, depending on your preferences and how hot your grill is.
- If it’s winter time or you don’t own a grill, check out my basic tutorial for how to cook steak on a stove.
Can I Use This Marinade for Chicken or Pork?
Yes, this marinade works for beef, chicken and pork! Best applications are with boneless, skinless chicken breasts (bone-in ok, but will take longer to cook) and 1/2-1-inch thick pork chops.
Be aware, they will look a little discolored after they have been marinating for several hours, but this is totally normal thanks to the soy sauce and soda. Once you get the meat on the grill, it will look more ‘normal’. Just be sure to use that meat thermometer for doneness.
What to Serve With a Grilled & Marinated Steak?
Oh, the possibilities are endless, and just about anything tastes delicious with steak Here are some of my favorites:
- Oven Roasted Asparagus Recipe
- Twice Baked Potatoes
- Roasted Cauliflower Recipe
- Classic Coleslaw Recipe
- Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Famous Butter Rice
Other Steak Recipes You Might Like:
- How To Cook Steak On The Stove
- Garlic Herb Steak
- Cast Iron Steak with Bourbon Pepper Cream Sauce
- Swiss Steak Over Mashed Potatoes
I hope you enjoy this marinade! I bet it’ll quickly become a favorite in your home too! Have a great day, friends!
The Best Steak Marinade Recipe
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 18 oz. Coca-Cola I used the mexican version made with cane sugar and would recommend to not use diet soda for this. Ever ever ever
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 lbs meat I used ribeye steaks that I trimmed the extra fat from and cut up into cubes; tri tips would also be great!
- In a large a Tupperware container, whisk together all ingredients of meat marinade. Add in the meat and stir to coat all of it in the marinade. Cover tightly with a lid and marinate 24 hours.
- To grill, soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour, then skewer meat onto wet sticks. Grill anywhere from 1 minute to 6 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is and how you like your meat cooked. Remove from the grill to a clean plate, cover with foil and rest 5-10 minutes before serving.