How to Make Homemade Marinades

by Clare Fairs, July 26, 2017

A marinade is a great way to tenderise and add flavour to any meat, but shop-bought versions are often underwhelming and relatively unhealthy. Nothing beats fresh, homemade marinades, especially during barbecue season, so we’ve put together our top tips for making your own.

Sticky Marinated Duck

Why make your own marinades?

Marinades are a quick and easy way to add flavour to meats, and are great and tenderising too. They can contain a range of ingredients, such as:

  • Acid, like lemon juice
  • Salts, like sea salt or soy sauce
  • Fruit, such as pineapple
  • Dairy, such as natural yoghurt
  • Herbs and spices
  • Fats, like hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil

The ingredients in marinades work in different ways to add flavour and change the texture of meat. For example, acids break down the protein on the surface, which makes the meat seem more tender. Some ingredients are best suited to red meats, white meats or fish, and the best way to find out is by experimenting with your own combinations (or getting inspiration from our marinade recipes).

Is there a magic formula for the perfect marinade?

Making a marinade is fairly simple. Within just a few minutes, you can whip together a tasty, cost-effective marinade that lasts well in the fridge or freezer. From dry rubs to cook-in sauces, there’s lots of scope – and best of all, you can try different combinations depending on which flavours you like best, or what you have in your cupboards.

Although there’s no magic formula for the perfect marinade, we do have a few tricks up our sleeve to make sure your homemade marinades are spot-on.

Start off with honey and cold pressed rapeseed oil

We’re big fans of honey as a key ingredient for our marinades here at hillfarm, as it’s really good at binding and doesn’t generally burn. A dash of cold pressed rapeseed oil is also a must, as the fats help the meat to retain moisture. If you’re partial to a summertime barbecue, this is especially important to stop the meat from drying out!

Raid your garden for fresh herbs

Fresh chopped herbs can be really great in marinades. They’re usually found in a rub, and protected by a film of oil or honey which ensures they keep their colour and flavour. Hardy herbs such as rosemary or thyme should be finely chopped to release their flavour, and to reduce the need for a toothpick during the meal!

Go big on your favourite ingredients

Marinades should be big on flavour, so don’t be afraid to add plenty of your favourite ingredients. If you’re too cautious the flavour may be washed out during the cooking process, so it’s a case of go big or go home.

Spatchcock chicken

Increased the surface area for more flavour

If you want lots of flavour, you can increase the surface area of the meat by pounding, spatchcocking or butterflying the flesh. This is also a good time-saving technique, as you won’t need to marinade the meat for quite as long.

Choose cold pressed rapeseed oil over olive oil

The oil used in a rub or marinade ensures you get good coverage, and helps to create a cooking sauce. Hillfarm rapeseed oil is a better option than olive oil, as it has a higher burn point and retains its flavour when used in the oven, or introduced to a hot barbecue. 

Our favourite oriental salmon marinade

With big flavours that work superbly with fish, this marinade is one of our family favourites here on the farm. Try it yourself, or use it as a base, experiment with extra flavours and let us know how you get on!


  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hillfarm honey
  • 4 tbsp hillfarm cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp light brown muscovado sugar

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, coat the salmon and leave it to marinade for at least 2 hours in the fridge, bringing to room temperature for around 30 minutes before cooking.

Try your own homemade marinades!

The best way to get started with making your own marinades is by getting stuck in and having a go! Discover your own trademark marinade base (I love rapeseed oil, chilli and garlic), and then add different combinations of flavours and ingredients. Let us know how you get on!


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