Last Updated on March 15, 2021
At ButcherBox, we know that having a freezer full of delicious meat is the ultimate meal prepping superpower.
But with great power comes great responsibility—and sometimes, well—we fall short of our planning goals to defrost the meat, prep a marinade, and give it adequate time to soak.
Fortunately, we’ve got a life hack for that: Premixing and freezing marinades.
Meal Prep Marinating Problems? We Got You
The make-ahead marinade is a no-mess solution to all your scheduling (and remembering what meal you had actually planned) problems.
Just mix your ingredients in a sealable, Ziploc-type bag, squish to mix, label, then pop in the freezer so they’ll be ready when you need them. The best thing about throwing together a freezer marinade is how endlessly adaptable they are. All you need is some kind of fat, some kind of acid, something salty, and whatever additional flavors you most enjoy.
The Freezer is Your Friend
Once your marinade is prepped, simply lay your zip-top bag flat to freeze. If you’re the batch cooking type, you can prep a whole stack to create a leaning tower of marinades. When you’re ready to defrost your cut of meat, take the meat and its matching marinade out of the freezer.
Place your meat in a glass container, and balance the frozen slab of the marinade on top. Place in the refrigerator to defrost. As the meat defrosts, the marinade will slowly melt over it, basting the cut and infusing it with flavor.
By the time you’re ready to cook dinner, you’ll have a delicious meal waiting for you!
Here are some of our favorite basic recipes to get you started on your freezer marinade journey:
Start with a small container of Greek yogurt (about half a cup). Add two cloves of grated garlic, two inches of grated ginger, and two tablespoons each of lemon juice and olive oil. Next, add a teaspoon each of cumin and paprika, half a teaspoon of coriander and turmeric, half a teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of cayenne.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. If you want to save time you can pick up premixed tandoori seasoning either online or at your local Indian market. This marinade works especially well with chicken thighs: When you’re ready to cook, roast marinated bone-in thighs in the oven at 425°F for about 35 minutes. Serve with jasmine rice and sliced cucumber salad.
For this punchy marinade, start with a quarter cup of gochujang, a deliciously spicy-sweet Korean fermented pepper paste. Mix in two tablespoons each of neutral oil (we like avocado oil), rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Finish with one tablespoon each of dark sesame oil and honey, plus two cloves of grated garlic and one inch of grated ginger.
We love this marinade with boneless pork chops: Bake in a 400°F oven for 25-30 minutes (or until the meat registers 145°F) alongside some sliced acorn squash for an easy sheet pan meal.
This salty-sweet mix is kid-friendly and super-simple to make. Mix together a quarter cup of low sodium soy sauce and two tablespoons each of water and brown sugar. Grate in two cloves of garlic and one inch of ginger, then add a tablespoon each of sesame oil and Worcestershire sauce.
This one works perfectly on flank steak! Pop the steak under your broiler for 3-4 minutes on each side so the inside gets a nice char while the inside stays juicy. Serve with steamed broccoli or cauliflower.
In a zip-top bag, mix together a tablespoon each of lime and lemon juice. Add one tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Stir in two tablespoons of olive oil and two grated cloves of garlic, plus a quarter cup of whatever finely chopped herbs you have on hand. Scallions, cilantro, parsley, and basil are all excellent places to start.
We like this one with salmon. Line a sheet pan with parchment and roast the marinated fish at 400°F for about 8 minutes. Pair with a delicate vegetable like asparagus or thin-sliced zucchini.