Can You Marinate Steak For Too Long?

Steak can be more enjoyable when marinated. However, it isn’t advisable to do it for too long.

steak on grill

Although people think that marinating for days is the best way to add more flavors and makes it tenderer, it isn’t. 

Can you marinate steak for too long? Yes, you actually can marinate your steak for too long. Marinating a few hours can give your meat an excellent taste and texture. But doing it for days will have counter effects like over-powering the flavor of the meat, making the meat mushy or changing the meat’s color.

How Long is it Safe to Marinate Your Steak?

For better results, marinate your steak for 6-24 hours. This means you shouldn’t do it for more than a day. Although some people marinate for up to five days, it’s not advisable.

Usually, leaving your meat in sauce for several days doesn’t do it any favors. Although you may think the marinade will penetrate well past the meat’s surface, it won’t. No matter how long you do it, the marinade will only add flavor to the outer layer of your steak.

Therefore, marinate responsibly for not more than 24 hours.

Is it Bad to Marinate Steak for Too Long?

The answer is yes. Leaving your meat in the marinade for more than a day isn’t good due to the following reasons:

  • Some marinades are too salty or strong. Leaving your steak in it for days will make it over-flavored.
  • Some of them contain papain and bromelain, which are digesting enzymes. Therefore, leaving your steak in such sauce for more than 24 hours will make it mealy and mushy.
  • When left in a marinade containing alcohol and acid for too long, your steak can also lose its flavor. Generally, these components can chemically cook your meat.
  • You should use the ones made of citrus juices for only two hours. The acidity in these marinades can make the meat change its texture, taste, and color if used for too long.

How Can You Ensure Your Marinating is Successful in a Few Hours?

Tenderizing meat and enriching it with flavors doesn’t mean that you have to marinate the meat for a long time. You can achieve a lump of delicious and tender meat by having enough flavors, little salt, safe ingredients, and by using enough marinade.


You can take hours preparing marinade that won’t help you achieve your meat’s preferred taste and softness. This is if you don’t use enough flavors. Normally, if the flavor isn’t there, even if you marinade for hours or days, the result won’t be appealing.

Therefore, toast spices, garlic, and herbs for a savor that’s anything but boring. However, be wary of how the flavors in your ingredients can interact in the process.


Salt in your marinade is as important as other flavors. Too little salt won’t help a thing. In the same way, you shouldn’t go crazy while adding it. Typically, too much salt drains your ingredients moisture. This makes your meat dry and unappetizing. It’s advisable to use a little salt in the marinade as you can add more while cooking.

The Ratio of Marinade to Meat

Some people use a little marinade to soak their meat. But even if they do it for days, nothing will be accomplished. Therefore, it’s always good to be generous with the sauce. Usually, the ratio should be a pound of meat to half a cup of marinade. With this ratio, the outcome will be far better even if you soak for a few hours.

What Should You Keep in Mind While Marinating?

There is a science in the marinating process. Every ingredient in the sauce has an important role to play in the whole process.

Can You Marinate Steak For Too Long?

Check out our recipe (which has a simple marination method) for a Delicious Pan-Seared Ribeye Steak on the Stovetop.

That’s why you should keep in mind the following of what you should do vs. should not do if you want to make your steak safe, tender, and flavorful:

Should Do:

  • Ensure you include acidic ingredients in your marinade. They include buttermilk, yoghurt, vinegar, citrus juice, and wine. Their acidity helps in infusing the flavor deeper and tenderizing the meat.
  • If marinating for hours, ensure you turn your steak each hour. This helps in maximizing the flavor and ensuring all surfaces are well marinated.
  • Marinate in a refrigerator for a safe steak. Normally, doing it at room temperature makes it susceptible to harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne diseases when consumed.
  • Ensure your marinade contains high smoke point oils like soy, safflower, and peanut. These ensure the flavor penetrates deep into the fatty tissue.
  • Ensure you add a little salt to your marinade. Generally, too much salt makes your meat to dry out and prevent your steak from absorbing flavor.

Should Not Do:

  • Don’t marinate fish and other kinds of seafood for more than an hour as they become mushy. Also, three hours is too much time for pork in this sauce. You should marinate it for 30 minutes. Also, you shouldn’t leave other meats in the sauce for more than 24 hours.
  • Don’t reuse marinades as they may contain detrimental bacteria. Usually, most marinades contain raw ingredients. This makes it susceptible to harmful bacteria. Therefore, you should not reuse it as a sauce after cooking. Consider getting rid of it instead.
  • Don’t marinate your steak in metal containers, as they may react negatively with the acids in the sauce. This chemical reaction can give your meat an unpleasant flavor. Use resealable plastic or glass containers instead.
  • Don’t put your meat in the freezer while in their marinades. The ice crystals and acids may make your meat mushy, especially if it’s frozen for long.

Final Thoughts

  • Your steak is more enjoyable when marinated. However, do not do it for long as it can mess it up.
  • To have a safe and delicious steak, don’t marinate it for more than a day. You should do it for around 6-24 hours. 
  • It’s bad to marinate the steak for too long as it can become mushy, over-flavored, and unsafe for consumption.
  • You can ensure the result is alluring by making your marinade with enough flavors and reasonable salt. Also, ensure the ratio of the marinade to meat is half a cup to a pound, respectively. 
  • While marinating, the do’s include; doing it in a refrigerator, turning your steak after every hour, and adding a little salt to your marinade.
  • The don’ts include; not using metal containers, not reusing marinades, and not marinating seafood for too.