Marinades, rubs and basting

Marinades, rubs and basting are an essential part of summer cooking. Photo: Mary Payne Moran

LOS ANGELES, June 3, 2011 — The grill is ready to go and it’s time to start cooking. 

Herb rub on a pork tenderloin

Marinades, rubs and bastes are an essential part of summer cooking.  We all want our meats to taste restaurant quality with layers of flavor and have a delicious mouth feel.  Mastering the grill is only half the battle. 

Marinades are used on tough pieces of meat like tri tip or flank steak.  The proteins need the acid to help break down the muscle.  Marinades work best if they’re left on for two to three hours and, if you have something that is really tough and large, you can leave it to sit for up to two days. 

The flavor of the marinade will penetrate deep into the meat, giving you restaurant quality flavor.

Rubs are a mixture of seasonings and help to layer in flavor.  Rubs are best used before grilling with any type of proteins (chicken, beef, or fish) but can also be used with vegetables. The key to rubs is to use a little bit of oil and rub the seasonings into the meat. It will create a nice, crusty layer.

Basting is a liquid like barbecue sauce, honey mustard or a reduced orange juice that seals in the juices of the meat.

Bastes are used toward the end of cooking; they can have a lot of sugar in them and if you baste meats too early the sugars can flare the fire and end up burning your perfectly cooked meats.  When you baste at the end, it reduces and caramelizes onto the meat leaving a delicious outer layer of flavor.

While you’re grilling you can use all three of these techniques. The flavors should be similar or complementary to prevent your taste buds from fighting.  


A few examples to use all three, a marinade, rub and baste,  together.


Marinades- Orange juice, beer, olive oil, water, parsley, onion

Rub- paprika, salt, orange zest, dried parsley

Baste- reduced orange juice, soy sauce and honey mustard, lemon juice

Herbs of Provence-

Marinade- white wine, onions, garlic, leeks, lemon juice

Rub- Herbs of Provence, salt and pepper

Baste- juice from grilled lemons and oranges, and Dijon mustard


Marinade- onions, barbecue sauce, garlic

Rub- Creole seasoning

Baste- barbecue sauce


Happy Grilling!

Chef Mary


For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from Chef Mary, visit her blog. To learn more about Chef Mary, check out her Hail Mary’s, Inc. website. Email questions for Ask Chef Mary Fridays to or click the Ask Chef Mary link above. 

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The information provided is general information about healthy eating. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment that may have been prescribed by your physician or other  healthcare provider. Always consult a physician before starting any new diet or regimen. 


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Mary Moran

Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica.  Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events.

In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others.    Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly.

Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients.  She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating.  Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger.

Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.

Contact Mary Moran


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