Cooking with beer, wine, and liquors can offer you a whole range of flavor possibilities otherwise inaccessible. Beers and wines can add rich, caramel-like flavors or lively, floral notes, all with relatively minimal cooking time. They can also accentuate alcohol-soluble flavor compounds in foods like tomatoes. One of the most effective ways to cook with beer, however, is to use it as a tenderizing marinade. Beer contains enzymes that help break down tough fibers in meat, making it more tender and flavorful at the same time. The guide below outlines the steps in learning how to tenderize meat with beer.

Steps

  1. 1
    Choose a beer to use as the marinade. All beers contain potentially tenderizing enzymes,[1] but the style of beer you select will have a dramatic impact on your food's flavor.
    • Very light beers, such as pilsner, light lagers, and some pale ales, tend to add very little flavor to foods. Very intense beers, like porter and stout, tend to add an unpleasant bitter, smoky, or burnt taste to your dish.
    • Instead, aim for a beer with a "middle-of-the-road" flavor profile, both in terms of hops and malt. Amber ales, nut browns, and extra special bitters (ESBs) are great choices for marinating and cooking foods.
  2. 2
    Construct your meat marinade. Of course, you can simply soak the meat in beer alone to tenderize it.[2] However, to further boost the flavor of your meat you can choose herbs, spices, and other flavorings to add to the beer marinade. Soy sauce and ginger could be added to an Asian-style marinade, for example.[3] Fresh or dried rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano could be added to an Italian-style dish.
  3. 3
    Place the meat and the beer marinade into a plastic bag.[4] Zip-top plastic bags are ideal for marinading meat, because they allow you to push unnecessary air out and minimize the amount of marinade needed to contact the meat.
    • Begin by seasoning your meat with salt and black pepper, and then add it to the plastic bag. Pour your beer marinade carefully into the bag and over the meat.
    • Zip the plastic bag closed, pushing as much air out as possible before sealing it. Swish the bag around a bit to ensure that the beer marinade is contacting the meat across its entire surface area.
  4. 4
    Allow the beer to tenderize the meat. You will notice some improvement in the meat's tenderness after only 15 minutes. If you have more time to prepare your dish, however, let the marinade soak for at least an hour.[5] You can also allow the meat to marinate overnight, but be aware that very long marinade times tend to lend an unappealing gray color to the meat.
  5. 5
    Cook the meat as desired.[6] After marinating your meat in beer, you can cook it using any preparation. If using a braise or stew method, consider pouring the entire contents of your plastic bag into the cooking liquid.[7] If sautéing or frying the meat, you may want to pat it dry before cooking to remove excess moisture.[8] Adding moist meat to hot oil can cause dangerous and messy splatters.
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Community Q&A

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  • Question
    Can you use cola or 7up for marinade for steak?
    Community Answer
    Yes. Either will work to flavor and tenderize the meat.
  • Question
    Can I reuse a beer marinade for a second portion of beef?
    Community Answer
    No, this would not be a good idea. You should discard all used marinades and make a fresh batch to reduce the chances of getting food poisoning.
  • Question
    Is Heineken beer good for tenderizing meat?
    Community Answer
    It has to be good enough for drinking in order for it to be good enough for marinating, so it depends on your taste in beer. If you enjoy Heineken, then yes, it would be a good one to use.
  • Question
    How do I cook a large turkey?
    Community Answer
    Breast side down, stuffed with oranges, spices and the like. Turn breast side up for the last hour of cooking.
  • Question
    Can I marinate rabbit and roast it?
    Community Answer
    Of course you can. Cut the rabbit in pieces, marinate in wine, garlic, honey and spices to your liking. Cover and leave in fridge over night. In a large oven dish cover the bottom with slices of onion and place rabbit on top, cover with tin foil and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can uncover it for the last 15 minutes.
  • Question
    Can I substitute wine for the beer and, if so, how much?
    Community Answer
    No, you can't. Wine has acidity which will toughen the meat instead. Beer is the best way to go.
  • Question
    Could I use non-alcoholic beer as a steak marinade?
    Michael Bozeman
    Community Answer
    Absolutely you can. Non-alcoholic beer goes through the same process as regular beer, the alcohol is just removed in the final stage of the process.
  • Question
    Can I cook with beer on the ribs in an oven?
    Michael Bozeman
    Community Answer
    Yes, you can add beer to your ribs. Put them in a covered pan and bake at 325° for 2 hours, or until tender.
  • Question
    Do I need to refrigerate the steaks after putting them in a marinade bag?
    Community Answer
    Yes, allow them to remain at a cool temperature while marinating because they will spoil at room temperature.
  • Question
    Would beer make oven-roasted ribs tender?
    Michael Bozeman
    Community Answer
    It helps to tenderize the meat and give a rich flavor throughout the rib. I add a bottle of beer to the marinade.
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Unanswered Questions
  • Can I marinate chicken breasts in beer and then bake them in the oven?
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      Tips

      • Light beers also make a light and airy batter for frying fish and poultry. Full-flavored beers like stout can be used in baking, where they pair especially well with chocolate or coffee.
      • Marinating meat in beer or wine is especially useful for grilling, because the beer or wine can reduce the amount of carcinogens formed during cooking.[9]

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      Things You'll Need

      • Beer
      • Herbs and spices
      • Meat
      • Plastic bag
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      About This Article

      wikiHow Staff
      Co-authored by
      wikiHow Staff Editor
      This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards. This article has been viewed 343,321 times.
      14 votes - 96%
      Co-authors: 13
      Updated: May 29, 2020
      Views: 343,321
      Categories: Featured Articles | Meat
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      Reader Success Stories

      • DM

        David Martin

        May 31, 2016

        "It helped me decide what beer to use. I ended up using Faxe Amber and ESB mix. Threw in the herbs first, then poured in the beer, then put the steaks in large casserole bowl. 1 1/2 hours later bbq and boom! Delicious."..." more
      • CG

        Chuck Green

        Jun 6, 2016

        "I was searching for a quick marinade recipe and came across this one. I tried it and the flavor was amazing. If I had never seen this article I would not have had the great flavor. Very useful, thank you!"..." more
      • MW

        Mary Weir

        May 18, 2016

        "I didn't know how using different kinds of beer to marinate steak could change the flavor. Thank you for that info."
      • JW

        Jackie Williamson

        Jul 4, 2017

        "I will be doing my own BBQ for the 4th and don't have a grill. With your help, I can have some great flavor."
        Rated this article:
      • BB

        Barthelomew Bgoya

        Sep 18, 2016

        "This has really helped me a whole lot because I am starting my business in east Africa."
      • BB

        Belinda Brooks

        May 31, 2016

        "I have tried this with stout beer and it worked."
      • PG

        Paulette Griffith

        Jul 3, 2017

        "I learned a lot, things I didn't know."
        Rated this article:
      • JS

        J. Sanderson

        Jul 27, 2016

        "Awesome!"
      Share your story

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