6 Steak Marinades To Buy And 5 To Avoid

While steak is delicious on its own, why not spruce it up a bit for your next steak night? From sweet and tangy barbecue sauces to classics like Worcestershire, there is a nearly endless list of different ways you can marinade your favorite cut and cook your steak to perfection. You can even turn to the authentic flavors of different cultures, like Korean bulgogi, Italian herbs and spices, or Japanese teriyaki sauce if you're looking for a little inspiration in the kitchen.

But when it comes to pre-bottled marinades, not all are created equal. While most packaged marinades pack a flavorful punch, you need to dig a little deeper to determine if a product is worth it for your next meal. After some comparing and contrasting, we've rounded up a few steak marinades that should always be stocked in your pantry or fridge — and also identified a few that you should stay away from next time you're perusing the shelves of your local grocery store or browsing online. By evaluating the ingredients, nutritional content, and flavor, we've determined the best buys and worst picks. Read on to find your favorite.

Buy: Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos

This sweet-and-salty marinade is a healthier — but still tasty — alternative to traditional soy sauce. Unlike soy sauce, it's soy-free, has less sodium, and has only 3 grams of sugar per tablespoon. It's also keto-friendly, gluten-free and USDA organic, making it ideal for those with dietary restrictions. It gets bonus points for being Whole 30-approved as well.

In addition to its nutritional benefits, Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos also adds the perfect Asian-inspired flavor to your steak. Made from fermented coconut blossom sap, it has a similar umami flavor to soy sauce that is delicious on meat, vegetables, or even noodles. If you want even bolder flavors for your next meal, consider opting instead for the garlic or spicy varieties. Whichever flavor you prefer, Coconut Secret brand is widely available in-store and online from retailers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon, making it easy to get your hands on this healthy marinade for your next steak dinner.

Avoid: Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce

There's no denying this delicious, sweet, and umami teriyaki marinade tastes delicious. But if you dive deeper into the nutrition facts, you may change your mind about using it for your next steak dinner. Only one tablespoon of this gingery and garlicky marinade contains 580 milligrams of sodium, which is a whopping 25% of the daily recommended intake. It also has 7 grams of added sugars per serving, or 13% of your recommended daily value. That means that even if you only use a quarter-cup of marinade, that already accounts for 100% of your daily sodium intake and over half of your daily sugar intake.

Besides the less-than-stellar nutrition facts, this marinade also uses vegetable, soybean, or canola oil instead of healthier oil alternatives like olive or avocado oil. The first ingredient is also water, which some reviewers have noticed, complaining that their recent purchases taste diluted compared to previous bottles. Reviewers also didn't care for the large amount of sesame seeds that not only overwhelm the flavor, but also negatively impact the texture of the marinade itself.

Buy: We Love You Korean Original Bulgogi Sauce

Filled with flavorful ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, sesame, onion, and ginger, this marinade brings delicious Korean flavors to any steak dish. Founded by two Korean American sisters, We Love You marinades are inspired by their Korean roots and each purchase helps support a small, AAPI-owned business.

Perfect for traditional bites like bulgogi or kalbi, this marinade can also be used to infuse flavor into your favorite chicken, pork, fish, tofu, or even vegetarian dishes. Besides being straight up tasty, the Original Bulgogi Sauce is also non-GMO Project verified, kosher, certified gluten-free, vegan, and free of high fructose corn syrup.

Though, like many bottled marinades, this sauce is a bit high in sodium per serving (likely thanks to soy sauce being the first listed ingredient). However, the flavorful spices and other ingredients like vinegar, garlic, and sesame oil mean you don't need to use much to pack a big punch.

Avoid: Ken's Steak House Italian Dressing & Marinade

Classic Italian dressing flavors like apple cider vinegar, onion, and garlic may ensure this dressing tastes delicious. But with 17 grams, or 22%, of fat per 2-tablespoon-serving (plus 5% of your daily saturated fat) it is a dressing that you may want to avoid. If you must keep this product in your rotation, consider using it to dress a side salad or veggies instead of as a marinade, so you can limit the quantity needed.

Canola oil is also the primary ingredient in this dressing, and so know that this refined oil is highly processed and may contain trans-fat. While canola oil isn't inherently bad, it does contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lead to an imbalance causing unwanted inflammation. If this is a concern, canola oil intake should be monitored.

In addition to canola oil, this product also contains monosodium glutamate, or MSG, along with other preservatives like disodium inosinate and calcium disodium EDTA. Opt instead for more natural marinades that are free of these additives.

Buy: Primal Kitchen Balsamic Vinaigrette & Marinade

This classic balsamic marinade will infuse your next steak dinner with a hint of sweetness and tanginess. This well-reviewed marinade is made with organic balsamic vinegar, avocado oil, and organic lemon juice, so it's filled with healthy ingredients you can feel good about. Like all Primal marinades, it's free of soy, canola oil, gluten, and GMOs, and it's also vegan, Keto-certified, and Whole 30-approved.

While it does have a high fat content thanks to the avocado oil, it's free of added sugars and only has 125 milligrams of sodium per two tablespoons. In addition to steak, you can use it on other meat, veggies, or even as salad dressing. Try marinating your favorite cut of steak, grilling it up, and pairing it with a strawberry and feta salad to complement the tangy balsamic flavor with a hint of sweetness for a deliciously decadent pairing.

Avoid: Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce

This thick, sweet, and tangy barbecue sauce is a classic option found in many pantries and refrigerators. Perfect for marinating beef or pork ribs, steak, and chicken, it is a flavorful concoction thanks to ingredients like garlic, tamarind, and pineapple juice.

But upon closer inspection, the nutrition content of this product may cause you to think twice. The first listed ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which contributes to the whopping 16 grams of added sugar per 2-tablespoon serving. This is nearly 1⁄3 of your daily sugar intake — in just 2 tablespoons. While high fructose corn syrup isn't inherently worse than other sweeteners, it's best to limit your intake — which can be hard to do when using this marinade with such a high concentration. The sauce also has preservatives and additives, like caramel color and sodium benzoate, near the top of its ingredients list. You may want to avoid those.

Buy: Stubb's Soy, Garlic & Red Pepper Beef Marinade

This flavor-packed marinade is perfect for those who want a delicious steak meal without a lot of unhealthy additives. At only 10 calories per serving with 0 grams of fat and only 1 gram of added sugar, it's a delicious option that doesn't have many downsides. It's also gluten-free and steers clear of unhealthy processed oils like canola or vegetable. Just keep an eye on the quantity you're using because of the sodium content — with 370 milligrams per serving, you don't want to use too much per meal.

Reviewers slather this marinade on several different cuts of beef, from steak tips to ribeyes, and love the results. They cite the robust flavor and the one-hour marinating time as some of their favorite benefits. The crushed red pepper, onion, and ingredients like tamari sauce, whole yellow mustard seeds, and lime juice help deliver bold flavor fast. The only downside is that the marinade can be difficult to find in stores, so it may require an online order.

Avoid: A.1. Chicago Steakhouse Marinade

A.1. is an instantly recognizable steak sauce and marinade thanks to the robust flavors of tomato, bell pepper, and spices. But when you dig a little deeper, this marinade could be doing more harm than good. With 4 grams of sugar and 250 milligrams of sodium per a single tablespoon, it will quickly eat up your recommended daily allocation of salt and sugar — especially since they recommend using ½ cup of marinade at a time. That's equivalent to 2,000 milligrams, or 88%, of your daily sodium intake in a single sitting.

Besides the nutrition facts, the ingredients themselves also pose several concerns. The second ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, and further down the list are preservatives like potassium sorbate and calcium disodium EDTA. But if you love the flavor and consider it a must-have for your next steak night, opt instead to use more conservative amounts as a dipping sauce as opposed to a marinade to limit your overall intake.

Buy: G Hughes Parm Peppercorn Marinade

All G Hughes marinades are free of added sugar, artificial preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup, making them a perfect health–conscious option for steak lovers. The parm peppercorn variety in particular is delicious with steaks to infuse it with a cheesy, tangy kick. It can also be used on chicken, pork, seafood, or even veggies to add extra mouth-watering flavor.

Made with water, distilled vinegar, parmesan cheese, and dried spices, this marinade has only 110 milligrams of sodium (which is nearly unheard of among bottled marinades) along with 0 grams of sugar. At only 10 calories per tablespoon, it's a product you can use liberally without drastically upping your caloric intake. It's also free of artificial preservatives and made in the U.S. The only downside? It is made with canola and/or soybean oil, but luckily, it's an ingredient that's fairly low on the list.

Avoid: Lawry's Signature Steakhouse Marinade

With notes of garlic, onion, red bell pepper, chili powder, and cumin, this Lawry's marinade is designed to complement rich meat like steak, burgers, and pork. While at first this 15-minute marinade may seem like a healthy option thanks to only 10 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon, these metrics are masking a bigger sodium issue: 350 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. And with a recommended half-cup of marinade per pound of meat (plus extra for basting) you'll hit your daily sodium intake — and then some — in no time.

Lawry's Signature Steakhouse Marinade also isn't labeled as vegan, gluten-free, kosher, or compatible with Keto or Whole 30 diets unlike many other steak marinades on the market. Considering it can't accommodate these dietary restrictions and has high sodium levels, we recommend avoiding this option when prepping for your next steak night. For an alternative, Stubbs Soy, Garlic & Red Pepper Beef Marinade has a similar flavor profile.

Buy: Lea & Perrins The Original Worcestershire Sauce

While Worcestershire sauce is often mistaken as just one of many ingredients in a steak marinade, you can actually use this versatile condiment solo to infuse your favorite cuts with a lot of flavor. That's because this classic concoction is made up of white vinegar, molasses, sugar, garlic, anchovies, onions, and chili powder, serving as its own mini marinade of sorts. And there's no one more well-versed in Worcestershire than Lea & Perrins, the original inventors.

With only 5 calories, 65 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of sugar per serving, it's also a relatively healthy alternative to high-sugar, high-sodium prepackaged marinades. It's also fat free, gluten free, and free of preservatives. Beyond steak, you can also use this beloved ingredient to prepare pork, fish, chicken, or even in unexpected ways like cocktail-making. Once you have a bottle in your fridge or pantry, you'll turn to this tangy, salty, sweet sauce again and again.