Why Your Marinade Could be Wasting Your Money

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If you don’t want bland meat, marinate—we all know that. Some bad news: it’s not exactly true.

Early in your cooking journey, you were taught that if you soak meat in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, onions, or sugar, you help the meat absorb those flavors. In practice, it doesn’t turn out that way.

Most flavors don’t penetrate meat.

On a molecular level, imagine a flavor compound as an elephant trying to jump into a manhole—it's just too big to fit inside the tiny gaps in between meat fibers. So when you marinate, all those sauces you threw in end up stuck on the outside, unable to crawl their way into the meat’s tight crevices. If you’ve wondered why the 50 cloves of garlic you threw in the marinade seems to never make a difference, now you know why.

“But I’ve always marinated and my food always turned out great.” Yes, that’s because there’s one ingredient that actually goes all the way in: salt.

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