This all-purpose marinade is seriously the best meat marinade ever! It is perfect for chicken, beef or pork, and it only takes minutes to prep. Talk about a great recipe to have on hand for grilling season!

Even though I’m one of those people that stomps out to the grill in knee-high snow to grill it up even in the winter, I definitely max out my grill’s potential in the summer months.

A grilled chicken breast cut up in thick slices next to a quinoa, olive, and tomato salad.

Easily three or four nights a week during June, July and August, dinner consists of grilled chicken or pork chops (sometimes kebabs, steak, or pork tenderloin, if I’m feeling fancy) with favorite, easy side dishes like skillet zucchini and squash or a go-to pasta salad or skillet potatoes.

When garden produce is at its peak, often I just throw a handful of fresh-from-the-garden cherry tomatoes and peas on everyone’s plate (whether they are washed or not, depends on the picker) along with the grilled fare and call it good.

Summer meals are the best. Light, simple, healthy.

Two grilled chicken breast on a white platter.

If you love the simplicity of grilling but want to make it even easier with one go-to meat marinade, this recipe is for you.

This flavorful concoction of every day ingredients is the best meat marinade ever.

It works wonderfully on chicken, pork, or beef for juicy, tender meat packed with amazing flavor.

Yeah, sure, sometimes it’s fun to change things up and go for a specific flavor profile (like this lemon and garlic grilled chicken), but when you want a dinner decision that requires minimal brain power, this all-purpose meat marinade is for you.

A grilled chicken breast cut in slices next to a quinoa, olive, and tomato salad.

My friend, Bri, sent me this recipe a little while ago, and it’s quickly become the marinade I turn to most.

I’ve used it with flank steak, chicken, and pork chops. All terribly delicious! I have a feeling it would be wonderful on salmon, too.

While the recipe does require (a harsh word with no real follow-up) marinating the meat, I’m clearly not going to fire you if you choose otherwise.

But, I highly encourage planning ahead so the meat can rest in the flavorful bath for at least 8 hours.

A grilled chicken breast and quinoa vegetable salad on a white plate.

Here’s a bit of dreamy news: the meat can hang out in the best meat marinade for up to two days, which means your make-ahead heart is going to be doing a happy dance when you can prep that far in advance.

I haven’t tried it, but I’m guessing that the uncooked meat could be frozen in the marinade, as well. Take it out and thaw in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before slapping it on the grill.

I always get asked about what grill I use when I post a grilling recipe, so I’ll give a quick shout out to my beloved pellet grill/smoker.

Two grilled chicken breasts next to two small glass cups of dipping sauce on a white platter.

I have the older version of this Camp Chef pellet grill; I’ve been using this baby for a couple years, and I’d never go back to my old charcoal or propane ways.

It’s amazing. I love it. That is all.

Happy grilling season!

I mention this in the notes of the recipe, but if you don’t have a grill or just want to change it up, I’m guessing you could broil or pan-fry the meat

Tossing the meat and marinade in the Instant Pot might work a little magic, too.

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The Best Meat Marinade {Chicken, Beef, Pork}

4.72 stars (49 ratings)


  • 2 pounds meat, chicken, beef, pork, preferably in pieces, like chicken breasts, steaks, pork chops, or thin pork tenderloins
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from about 2-3 lemons
  • 1 cup soy sauce, I always use low-sodium OR 1/2 cup soy sauce and 1/2 cup pineapple juice (see note)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, or ginger paste or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper


  • Place the meat in a shallow dish or ziploc bag.
  • In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, olive oil, ginger, onion powder and pepper.
  • Pour the marinade over the meat to cover. Refrigerate for 8-12 hours (or up to two days).
  • Grill the meat, discarding excess marinade, until cooked through (exact time will depend on the cut of the meat and temperature of your grill). Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before serving to seal in the juices.


Marinade: I’ve only ever used this meat marinade for grilling, but I suspect that if you let the meat marinade, you could pour the meat AND marinade into, say, an Instant Pot and quickly pressure cook until tender. 
Saltiness: a couple of you have found this too salty even using low-sodium soy sauce. I made it again the other night using half soy sauce (still low-sodium) and half pineapple juice and it was just as yummy – so keep that in mind if you are worried about saltiness. 

Recipe Source: best meat marinade adapted just slightly from my friend, Bri (thanks, friend!)