Can You Sous Vide With Marinade?

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Have you ever asked yourself if you can sous vide using marinade? Many people want to ensure they’re using marinade on the meat directly while it cooks to add more flavor. Others just want to know if it’s possible to tenderize the meat during this low-temperature, low-heat cooking technique. So which is it?

Can You Sous Vide With Marinade?

You can sous vide with marinade. Marinades that only add flavor to the meat, such as a dry or wet rub, are often used in this cooking technique. However, sous vide, also referred to as low-temperature, long-time (LTLT) cooking, does not go well with marinades that alter the meat, such as brine.

Marinades typically contain an acidic liquid like vinegar or citrus juice that breaks down proteins in the meat and helps tenderize it. This is great for traditional methods, though not for sous viding because these liquids can interfere with the cooking process.

Fresh meat marinated with white onions and black peppers

Types of Marinade in Sous Vide

LTLT cooking is a great way to prepare meat and fish. The process involves cooking the food in a water bath at a very low temperature for an extended period. This allows the meat to become perfectly cooked without drying out or overcooking.

There are three main types of marinades that you can use in LTLT cooking:

  • Acidic
  • enzymatic
  • oil-based

Acidic Marinades

Acidic marinades are made with lemon juice or vinegar and other ingredients like mustard, garlic, and herbs. They break down proteins in the meat, which helps tenderize it before you cook it in your water bath.

Acidic marinades should be kept refrigerated until use because they can spoil quickly if left at room temperature for too long.

Enzymatic Marinades

Enzymatic marinades consist of liquids like wine and beer that contain natural enzymes that break down proteins into smaller pieces when cooked at low temperatures for long periods.

Enzymatic marinades don’t require refrigeration before use because they don’t contain any bacteria that could spoil quickly in warm temperatures.

Oil Based Marinades

Oils can be used alone or combined with other sauces and liquids to create a thicker sauce that will penetrate deeper into the meat. This type of marination works best with cuts that have more fat running through them, such as pork belly or chicken thighs.

It does not work well on leaner cuts like steaks because there isn’t enough fat in them to hold onto the oil when cooking at low temperatures.

Steps to Follow When Sous Viding With Marinade

The LTLT cooking process is quite simple and straightforward. However, there are certain steps that you need to follow so that the results are consistent.

Step 1: Use a Vacuum Sealer

While these can be quite expensive, they are also very useful. You can use any type of silicone container or plastic bag. The vacuum sealing process helps ensure that your meat and marinade will be well sealed together.

Step 2: Prepare Your Marinade

There are many different kinds of marinades, though the most common are made with vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, wine, and spices like garlic and onion powder. You should also consider adding herbs like rosemary, thyme, and salt and pepper to your mix.

Step 3: Prepare Your Meat

Once your marinade is prepared, it’s time to prepare your meat for cooking. This can be done by simply rubbing it with oil or butter before placing it in the refrigerator overnight so that it absorbs the flavors from your marinade.

If you want even more flavor, try rubbing some spices into the meat before putting it in the refrigerator for several hours so that they can absorb into its surface as well.

A person putting marinated meat on a resealable plastic bag and silver tongs on top of a black surface

Factors to Consider When Using Marinade

There are many things you can do with it regarding sous viding. One of them is to use the marinade as part of the cooking process. However, there are some caveats to keep in mind.

Not All Marinades Are Good at the Same Temperatures

One of the main issues with marinades in LTLT cooking is that not all marinades are good at the same temperatures. Some of them will break down and lose their flavor over time when cooked at lower temperatures for long periods of time.

Tenderizing Marinades Can Be Counterproductive

The acid in the marinade can break down the protein in meat, causing it to turn mushy and lose its shape. Let your meat soak for no more than 30 minutes before LTLT cooking if you want to use a tenderizing marinade.

Not All Marinated Meats Need Tenderizing

The purpose of marinating meat is to add flavor, enhance tenderness and increase moisture. However, not all meats need tenderizing.

Meat cooked using the LTLT technique doesn’t require additional tenderizing ingredients like enzymes, acids, or salt brine.

This is because the meat cooks longer than with other types of cooking methods. It cooks long enough for collagen to break into gelatin, making the meat more tender.

Different Marinades Require Specific Timing

Many marinades or brines for tenderizing meat call for a specific amount of time. Rarely do these times correspond with the cooking time for the meat. As a result, either the marinades or LTLT processes have to give, and the result will be less than optimal.

Fresh meat being marinated with herbs in a clear bowl on a marbled countertop

Related Questions

Should I Sous Vide Chicken With Marinade?

Adding a marinade to the sous vide chicken bag will result in a far more delicious dinner than you could have imagined. It’s also useful for people who are often on the go.

Is It Possible to Use Wet Marinade While Sous Viding?

It is possible to use wet marinade while sous viding. Wet marinades are easier to apply and cook than dry marinades that require hours or days to marinate. The marinade should be brushed on the meat before cooking. It will be delicious and tender!


Sous viding only works with marinades that add flavor to the meat and not with marinades that alter the meat. To use sous vide with marinade, prepare your marinade, apply it to your meat, and put it in the vacuum sealer before inserting it in your cooking machine.

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. He is a contributing chef at Mashed, and his recipes and contributions have been featured in Tasting Table, Edible Arrangements, Insanely Good Recipes, and The Daily Meal.