How to Make Barbecue Sauce (+3 more easy marinades) July 12, 2017

by Eat

Master the art of the quick and easy marinade to add some pizzazz to your favorite summertime staples. 

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Barbecue season is in full swing, which means we’re tossing everything possible on the grill: corn, meat, fish, potatoes, even romaine lettuce. But what kind of grill masters would we be if there was no mention of marinades? Now that would just be cruel. So we rounded up our four favorite easy homemade recipes — classic BBQ, creamy yogurt mint, chimichurri, and zesty Cuban.

Not only do these marinade sauces add flavor, but they also reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds produced when food is cooked at high temperatures. And because acidic ingredients are particularly effective at preventing the formation of these compounds, tenderizing the meat, and locking in moisture, we added a squeeze of lime (our all-time favorite citrus fruit) to each.

To get the most bang for your buck…

  • Marinate your meats in a large, resealable bag. Thinner cuts will soak up the flavors of the sauce in as little as 30 minutes whereas larger, denser cuts of meat require a few more hours.
  • As a rule of thumb, add a half cup marinade for every pound of meat.
  • Remember — never marinate at room temperature! Your fridge is the way to go.

Looking for some stylish and handy measuring tools? We recommend this All-Ingredient Measuring Set from Pyrex and Joseph Joseph.

1. Classic BBQ Sauce Marinade

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The classic gets a tangy upgrade with a squeeze or two of lime. We recommend slathering this sweet, finger-licking sauce on ribs and chicken.


  • 1.5 Cups Ketchup
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • Tabasco (to taste)


  1. Add all ingredients to a pan over medium heat.
  2. Bring to a boil and simmer about 2 minutes.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf.

2. Yogurt Lime Marinade

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Dairy and mint are the perfect pair, as evidenced by mint chocolate chip ice cream and Turkish haydari sauce — just to name a few. We recommend pairing this creamy marinade with chicken and lamb or using it as a sauce for grilled veggies.


  • 2 Cups Plain Yogurt
  • 2 Handfuls Fresh Mint, chopped
  • 2 Limes, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil


  1. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Chimichurri Marinade

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Thick, herby chimichurri is to Argentina what ketchup is to the United States. In other words, a staple. We recommend using this sauce to marinate grilled beef and fish.


  • Large Handful Parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 Shallot, finely chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • Olive Oil


  1. Add parsley, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, lime juice, shallot, and garlic to a bowl.
  2. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking, to reach desired consistency.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Zesty Cuban Marinade

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Double the citrus, triple the herbs, and a whole lot of flavor. We recommend marinating pork with this zesty, Cuban-style sauce.


  • 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Orange Zest
  • 3/4 Cup Orange Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Lime Juice
  • Large Handful Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Small Handful Mint, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 8 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For more saucy inspiration, check out these four colorful hot sauces.

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