It’s hard to imagine summer without the sweet aroma of barbecue sauce-smothered meat cooking on a backyard grill. While marinades definitely make protein taste great, the packaged varieties are typically void of any healthy nutrients. This summer, toss the bottled steak sauce, put on your chef hat, and mix up the homemade variety. Not only will a sauce made from scratch add flavor without excess calories or fat, but the right recipe may also cut down on the potentially cancer-causing substances that form in meat cooked over an open flame.
Previous research found that marinades that contain herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, mint, and sage help minimize the number of potentially carcinogenic compounds that form in meat when it’s grilled. Now, more recent research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reveals that marinating meat in beer before throwing it on the grill can also reduce cancer-causing chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Don’t have any sauce recipes up your sleeve? No problem. We’ve teamed up with some of America’s top chefs to bring you mouthwatering, healthy marinades that all contain ingredients that help keep you healthy.
Malted Pineapple Marinade
Serve with: Chicken or pork tenderloin (covers 1 1/4 pounds of meat)
Recipe courtesy of: Rocco DiSpirito, nutrition consultant for ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss and New York Times bestselling author of The Pound a Day Diet
● ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated fresh pineapple
● 2 tablespoons monk fruit sweetener (such as Lakanto)
● ¼ cup stout (such as Guinness)
● 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium, gluten-free soy sauce (such as San’J)
● 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
● Freshly ground black pepper and salt, to taste
1. Mix the pineapple and monk fruit together in a small bowl until the monk fruit has dissolved.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and a few cranks from the peppermill.
3. Marinate portions of meat cut into 5-ounce portions for 1-6 hours. Season with salt and grill while brushing with remaining marinade.
Party Chicken Marinade
Serve with: Boneless, skinless chicken breast (covers 1 pound of meat)
Recipe courtesy of: Devin Alexander, chef on NBC’s The Biggest Loser and New York Times bestselling author
● 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
● 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
● 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
● 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
● 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
● 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
● 1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
● 3/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, rosemary, sage, honey, pepper, and salt.
2. Place meat of choice in a resalable plastic container, add the marinade, and toss.
3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight, turning the chicken at least once.
4. Preheat grill to high and cook until done.
Lemon Oregano Marinade
Serve with: Lamb loin chops (covers 1 3/4 pounds of meat)
● 3 tablespoons olive oil
● Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
● 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
● 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
● 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, and rosemary together.
2. Transfer marinade to sealable plastic bag and add meat. Seal the bag, press out the air and turn bag to coat the meat.
3. Put in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, turning occasionally.
4. Grill to your liking.
Mexican-Style Beer Marinade
Serve with: Lean flank steak and your favorite fajita ingredients (covers 1 pound of meat)
Recipe courtesy of: Cheryl Forberg, R.D., nutritionist for NBC’s The Biggest Loser and New York Times bestselling author
● ½ cup fresh lime juice
● ½ cup beer of choice
● ¼ cup chopped cilantro
● 1 tablespoon grape seed oil
● 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
● 1 teaspoon chili powder
● 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
● ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
● Fresh cilantro
● Lime wedges
1. In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients.
2. Pour into a large sealable bag and add meat of choice.
3. Seal and shake well.
4. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
5. Grill to your liking and garnish with cilantro and lime.
6. If making fajitas, combine with vegetables and whole grain tortillas.
Beer and Garlic Marinade
Serve with: Short ribs or pork (covers 1 pound of meat)
Recipe courtesy of: Chef Thomas Ferlesch of Pilsener Haus in Hoboken, New Jersey
● 1 liter amber or dark beer
● ½ tablespoon of chopped marjoram
● 1 chopped white onion
● 5 cloves of chopped garlic
● 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
● Salt and pepper to taste
1. On a cutting board, finely chop the garlic cloves and use a knife to mix together with salt until it is almost puréed.
2. In a bowl, combine garlic, onion, caraway seeds, and marjoram with the beer and stir.
3. Clean and trim meat, place in bowl, and pour marinade over meat so it is barely submerged.
4. Cover bowl with foil or plastic wrap.
5. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
6. Grill to your liking.