How Do I Choose the Best Teriyaki Beef Marinade?

Meg Higa

Teriyaki, the sweet soy sauce flavor of Japan, has spread throughout the world. Bottles of it in a variety of brands are likely available in most markets near you. There are several criteria to choosing the best teriyaki beef marinade preparation. The first evaluation should be color and consistency. A quick look at the bottle’s front label will eliminate some of your choices, and a detailed study of its back list of ingredients is your final determinant.


Many people enjoy grilling with marinades, and teriyaki is a good choice for it. It’s not traditional, but beef teriyaki can also be prepared in a pan on the stovetop, as well as in the oven. Choose your favorite cut of meat, but also choose how it will be cooked. Look for bottles with labels explicitly stating its use for “marinade.”

One of the ingredients in a teriyaki beef marinade is some type of sugar. Sugar, however, has a tendency to burn quite easily. Grilling a thick cut of beef over hot charcoal to “well done” might give it a burned crust. Thin slices on a stovetop pan over low heat is more likely to produce a soft, chewy meat with no char. The traditional sugar component is a sweetened rice wine called mirin, but you can try other ingredient sources of sugar such as pineapple juice, honey or an artificial sweetener.

There is one necessary step when cooking with marinades. You have to marinate the beef before cooking, letting the meat soak in the liquid seasoning for a time. A teriyaki beef marinade is especially good for this because of its second main ingredient, soy sauce, which contains quite a bit of salt. Salt pulls liquid out of the beef tissue, replacing it with the liquid of the marinade.

In addition to injecting flavor deeply into meat, the second purpose of a marinade is to tenderize it. The essential ingredient is an acid of some type. In a teriyaki beef marinade, this is usually vinegar, but any acid will do. The acid dissolves and breaks down beef’s tough muscle tissue. Follow the bottle’s stated recommendations for marinating duration, and then double the time if it is not specified when using beef.

Along with the three main ingredients, two spices are almost always found in a teriyaki beef marinade: onion and ginger, usually powdered. If they are freshly pureed, or there are other whole ingredients such as toasted sesame seeds, the bottle must be refrigerated after opening. Combining all of the typical ingredients, it’s also easy to concoct your own homemade marinade. The only experimental issues will be sweetening and spicing to taste, and reducing over heat to thicken.

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