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Marinating: Basic Gluten-Free Ingredients

July 2, 2015

Marinating: Basic Gluten-Free Ingredients

NFCA Blogger Ambassador Annette Pugliese of Best Life Gluten-Free shares her tips and recipes for the tastiest summer marinades.

Whether you’re marinating chicken, beef, pork or shrimp, there are basic ingredients you will probably need on hand. Depending on which protein you’re preparing, you’ll need to add various items for flavor, but most of the time, these items will be called for in a recipe. Have them on hand, whether you’ll grill outdoors in the summer or on a grill pan in the kitchen while the snow falls.

First, let’s understand why we marinate! Marinating meats in a liquid is done to soften or tenderize some cuts of meat. It usually consists of an acidic base (vinegar, wine, lemon/lime juice) and the flavors we add (spices, herbs, oil). Don’t overdo one ingredient more than another. It’s a balance of all of the items that works, so sticking to the recipe you’re using is key.

If your beef is too thick, marinating won’t really tenderize it, but crevices in the outer part of the meat will absorb it and retain flavors. It’s a good idea to score the outside of a thick piece of beef with a sharp knife. Not too deep, just a few X lines sliced into it if the meat is a really thick cut.

Pork tenderloin is the tenderest cut for pork. A loin, pork or roast will be tougher and less successful in marinating. So, go with a pork tenderloin and slice it as medallions when serving.

Chicken is the easiest to marinate, since it can absorb a marinade and the flavors you’re providing very well.

When it comes to marinating, don’t leave it out on a countertop. It must be refrigerated. After mixing a marinade, place it in a sandwich bag, add the meat or shrimp, press out as much air as you can, place on a large plate and refrigerate for the amount of time your recipe calls says. Try to turn the bag over occasionally to get all sides coated.

Marinades cannot be served at dinner-time as an extra sauce or dip. They must be discarded as they hold bacteria from the raw item in which it was sitting. Washing instruments that touched the marinade and your hands is also very important.

So, for our gluten-free needs, always be sure you are using the proper types of ingredients. Regular soy sauce is notgluten-free, unless it is marked as such. I recommend Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. It’s a natural gluten-free liquid made from soy protein.

Always read every label when purchasing anything, even spices and jams. It’s a habit we all must retain, even if we’ve purchased a certain product in the past. And please remember, when in any doubt, ask your doctor or a registered dietitian before any new diets are begun. These recipes are meant to provide information on a cooking level, never as a medical advisory.

So, here we go! Here’s a list of the top 8 ingredients that will usually serve as a base for marinades for beef, pork, chicken and shrimp. Keep these on hand and then add certain other flavor enhancers for each different protein.

  • Extra virgin olive oil (I always prefer light blend)
  • Garlic (Buy fresh. It keeps in the fridge very well)
  • Pepper (Get a peppermill grinder, freshly ground is great. Markets sell a small one in spice section)
  • Salt (Not sea salt. Kosher or regular table salt)
  • Dijon mustard
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • Vinegar (Each recipe featured below calls for either apple cider, white wine or balsamic vinegar)
  • Lemon and lime

Above are the basic ingredients. Here are the optional items, something from this list will be in most marinade recipes:

  • Fresh rosemary
  • Fresh thyme
  • Shallot
  • Light brown sugar (sometimes honey will do)
  • Fresh ginger
  • Orange marmalade
  • Tequila/wine

Here are two marinades to get you started! For more recipes, visit my blog Best Life Gluten-Free.

Chicken Marinade


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • ¼ cup apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • Dash of salt, small amount black pepper
  • Juice of ½ a fresh lime


  1. Add all the ingredients together. Place in a sandwich bag, add chicken cuts of your choice, squeeze out any air, and sit in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours. Grill to an internal temperature of 165 degrees when taken away from a bone.

Pork Marinade


  • 1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp. rosemary (Fresh is best, chopped, no stems)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper (Freshly ground is best if possible)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (Fresh squeezed would be best)


  1. Add together, rub all over Pork tenderloins. Place in a sandwich bag and refrigerate for several hours. Discard marinade when ready to cook meat. Grill on an oiled rack. Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing to keep juices inside.

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