There’s nothing quite as decadent as enjoying a perfectly seasoned, thick, and juicy steak for dinner.
A properly cooked steak is something that all home cooks should master since it can be so expensive to regularly enjoy these meals at a restaurant.
One of the tricks to a tender, flavorful, and perfect steak is to marinate it before grilling or cooking.
The liquid marinade gently starts the breakdown process of the meat so that flavors can penetrate the inside and it will stay moist and juicy as you cook it.
But what happens if you decide you want to have a steak for dinner, but you need to both thaw AND marinate it before you can eat it? Is it possible to combine the two processes to save time and get your steak on your plate faster?
So, can you marinate frozen steak? Absolutely, you just need to give the steak time to thaw as it marinates and make sure that you don’t expose it to any high temperatures that could allow bacteria to grow. I suggest marinating frozen steak in the fridge overnight for best results.
Read on to discover tips for the best way to freeze steak so it stays fresh, what a marinade is, how to marinate frozen steak, how long it takes to marinate a steak, and how to make the perfect marinade!
How Do You Properly Freeze Steak?
A great way to save money in the kitchen is to stock up on pricey items like steak when they’re on sale. You can store the steak in the freezer for about 4-12 months, though the sooner you use it the better the quality will be.
Follow these steps to perfect store your steak so it stays fresh and delicious:
- Remove your steak from the package and separate it into individual pieces.
- Place each piece of steak into its own freezer bag.
- Gently press all of the air out of the freezer bag and seal it. You want as little air in the bag as possible since it can cause freezer burn over time.
- Take a piece of masking tape and write the date and contents on it. This step will help you remember when you froze the steak so that you can eat it before it loses its quality.
- Place the bags of steak in the freezer.
- Thaw and eat your steaks within 4-12 months for the best quality.
Can You Defrost And Marinate Steak At The Same Time?
Once you’re ready to enjoy the steak that you froze, it’s time to start thawing. Depending on the thickness of your steak, it can take a while to thaw.
The recommended time is anywhere from 12-18 hours in the fridge. So what if you want to take your steak out and eat it within the day?
Can you thaw and marinate your steak at the same time? You definitely can! In fact, since both thawing and marinating can take quite a while, doing both at once is a great way to save some time.
Just remember that the marinade won’t start to sink in until the outer layers thaw.
For the safest results, I recommend marinating and thawing your steak in the fridge overnight. This process will prevent the steak from getting too warm and allow bacteria to thrive and multiply.
What Is A Marinade?
Before we get into the particulars of how to properly marinate a steak, we should probably understand what a marinade is.
Generally, it is a liquid that you soak different foods in, generally meats, to give them more flavor and to tenderize the texture.
A marinade helps to tenderize meat because technically it is slowing starting the breakdown of the cellular structure, which is achieved thanks to the addition of an acid of some kind. Some popular types of acid to use in marinades include:
- Vinegar: balsamic, apple cider, red wine, champagne, rice, etc. there are so many kinds of vinegar that you can use for your marinade, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
- Citrus: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are a flavorful and delicious acidic addition to a marinade.
- Wine: choose your favorite and let the wine do the work of flavoring and tenderizing your meat.
Fruits and foods with enzymes: papaya, pineapple, guava, and ginger all contain enzymes that break down the bonds in meat to allow the flavors to enter the meat.
Once you’ve chosen your acidic component of the marinade, you can add salt, spices, sugar, and other seasonings to load up your meat with lots of complex and delicious flavors.
Another great reason to use a marinade is that it prevents the meat from drying out as you cook it, especially if you’re cooking over high heat like on a grill.
The moisture from the marinade keeps the meat tender and juicy so your final result is packed with flavor and mouth-watering delicious.
Since your marinade has an acidic component, it’s best to avoid marinating your steak in metal or pottery dishes.
The acid can react to the metals or glazes and leave some weird flavors. Make sure to marinate your steak in a glass container or food-safe plastic or freezer bag (such as this container).
It’s also super important to marinate your meat in the fridge to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. And make sure that you throw away the leftover marinade since your raw meat has been sitting in it.
What’s The Best Way To Marinate Frozen Steak?
Now that you know what a marinade is and how it works to flavor your steak, it’s time to get into the specifics of how to best marinate a frozen steak.
The first thing you’ll want to decide is what flavor profile you’re looking for in your final product and find a recipe online that works.
Make sure the recipe you choose has at least one acidic component (check the list above), some salt, and any herbs or spices that you enjoy.
Once you’ve chosen your marinade recipe, you will want to make a nice big batch of it. It’s important that you mix all the ingredients together before you apply it to your steak so that the flavors evenly coat the meat.
Next, choose the container that you want to marinate your steak in. For frozen steaks, I recommend marinating them right in the freezer bag they were stored in.
If you didn’t store your steak in a freezer bag, use a shallow baking dish (glass or ceramic).
How To Marinade In A Baking Dish:
- Pour a little bit of the marinade into the bottom of the dish then place the steak(s) inside. Pour the rest of the marinade over the tops of the steaks.
- Press a piece of plastic wrap gently on top of the steaks and then move the whole thing to the fridge.
- Let the steaks marinate until thawed, flipping after about 6 hours so that both sides are evenly marinated.
- Remove the steaks from the baking dish, discard the leftover marinade, and cook your steak to your liking!
How To Marinade In A Freezer Bag:
- Open the freezer bag and pour the marinade inside to coat the steak.
- While holding the bag with the zipper or sealing side faced up, gently press some of the excess air out of the bag and then seal it shut.
- Give the bag a gentle shake to move the marinade around.
- Place the freezer bag on a plate and put it in the fridge for about 12 hours. You may want to flip the steak every few hours so that it is evenly marinated.
- Once the steak is thawed, remove the bag from the fridge, take the steak out of the bag, and cook as desired. Throw out any remaining marinade.
How Long Should You Marinate Frozen Steak?
Since steak is a tougher, heartier type of meat it can hold up to a longer marinating time. Generally, you will want to marinate your steak for about 4-12 hours.
You don’t want to go too much longer than that or the acidic breakdown could leave you with a tough or mushy piece of meat.
If you are marinating a frozen steak and it is a thick cut, you might want to wait a couple of hours before adding the marinade if you think it will take longer than 12 hours to defrost.
That being said, the marinade doesn’t really sink in much until it starts to thaw, so go with what is easiest for you.
Super Simple Steak Marinade
If you want to make a simple and delicious steak marinade, try this recipe! It makes enough for about 1.5-2 pounds of steak.
- 1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1.5 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- Combine all ingredients and pour over your steak.
- Let marinate for 4-12 hours.
- Cook your steak as per your preference.
Here’s a handy video from Joshua Weissman if you’re new to cooking steak and need a few tips on how to get a perfectly cooked cut of meat!
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