Here's How Much Of A Difference Marinating Overnight Really Makes

It's possible there are more enchanting myths, legends, and tall tales in the culinary world than there are inside of a bookstore. We've all heard about the way culinary legends once cooked and how awe inspiring it must have been to see the best tricks for baking, frying, and sautéing come to life. Time and again, we've referenced these commandments that have survived through decades of emerging trends and kitchen hacks that have forever changed the way we feel about cooking. Yet, we cannot bring ourselves to steer away from our old habits. 

Although a sense of inevitable guilt might set in whenever we decide to skip out on these old tricks, have you ever actually questioned whether or not some of these go-to practices such as overnight marinating are worth it? Whether it's chicken, meat, or seafood, chances are that overnight marinating has more than likely been the center of many recipes you've come across. There are quite possibly thousands of ways to marinate poultry and meat, but how effective is it? The truth is, it's a bit complicated.

Allow the truth to sink in

It's likely that you've probably thought about putting chicken or meat inside a plastic bag overnight — bathed in lemon or wine — to give it some added flavor. However, the reality is this technique might not do much. In fact, according to Lake Geneva Country Meats, food scientists discovered that even after eight days of marinating, liquid marinade was only able to penetrate less than 1/8" into the meat (via San Antonio Express). Not to mention, acidic marinades can turn the outermost layer of meat mushy, rather than tender, per Cooks Illustrated.

Ultimately, whether you soak, dip, or brush it, the truth is that the marinade will only scratch the surface of your chicken or meat, but that doesn't mean you can't use the marinade as a way to spice things up. The Spruce Eats suggests using the marinade as a medium to help dissolve flavors of other ingredients like flavorful herbs and spices and then adding it to your food. Easy to do and saves you the overnight hassle.