Tenderizing Beef & Enhancing Flavor

Garlic and Thyme Steak Rub

Marinades and rubs can easily be used to build dynamic flavor in your next beef meal. Create zest and tenderize a tougher cut with a marinade or choose a rub to seal in the juice and form a delicious crust on your roast or steak. 


A marinade is a mixture of seasonings and liquid ingredients that add flavor to beef, and may even help tenderize depending on the ingredients.

In general, steak cuts from the chuck, round, flank and skirt are excellent candidates for a tenderizing marinade. To make such a mixture, you’ll need acidic ingredients (lemon or lime juice, vinegar or wine) or a natural tenderizing enzyme (found in fresh ginger, pineapple, papaya, kiwi and figs.) These ingredients will not only make the beef more tender, but will also add interesting flavors.

Helpful hints for making marinades:

  • Allow ¼ to ½ cup of marinade for each one to two pounds of beef.
  • To tenderize - marinate for at least six hours but no more than 24 hours.
  • Tender cuts such as tenderloin, only need to be marinated for 15 minutes to 2 hours to soak up the flavor.
  • ALWAYS marinate in the refrigerator, NEVER at room temperature.  Be sure to use a food-safe plastic bag, non-reactive glass or a stainless steel container.  Turn or stir the beef occasionally to allow even exposure to the marinade.
  • NEVER save and reuse a marinade.  If you’re planning to use the liquid later for basting or to serve it as a sauce, reserve a portion of it for later before adding uncooked beef.
  • Remove beef from marinade and pat dry with a paper towel before cooking to prevent steaming and encourage browning.


A rub is a mixture of seasonings rubbed onto the surface of meat before cooking. They are commonly used on roasts, steaks and ground beef. Rubs not only add flavor, but they can also help seal in juices and form a delicious crust. Rubs will not tenderize your beef.

  • Make your own dry rubs by combining your favorite fresh or dry herbs, spices and other dry seasonings.
  • Add additional zing and spice to your favorite cut with a paste rub.
  • To make a paste, you combine dry seasonings with oil. You can use your favorite oil that’s infused with garlic, red pepper or lemon, or any other oil of your choice.
  • You can also add small amounts of finely chopped garlic or onion, or seasonings such as mustard, soy sauce or horseradish that will help bind the mixture.
  • The goal is to maintain a consistency that can be spread thickly on your beef.
  • Rubs can be applied just before cooking. For more pronounced flavor, apply rub to beef, then refrigerate for several hours.