Lemon Garlic Marinade + The Meanings of Marinade and Macerate

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Lemon garlic marinade is perfect for chicken, shrimp, beef, pork, and other meats! This blend of lemon, garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs makes a fresh and healthy marinade.

And if you’re wondering about the difference between marinate, marinade, and macerate in cooking, read on!

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Greek lemon marinade in a bowl

The Difference Between Marinate and Marinade?

Marinade, marinate, and macerate are three similar-sounding culinary terms. They are often confused with each other, but they have three different definitions.

So is it marinade or marinate? It’s both! Essentially, marinade is a noun, and marinate is a verb. You marinate the meat in a marinade.

The basic idea of a marinade is to tenderize a tough cut of meat, or just give it flavor.

Depending on what “country” you want to travel to, adding various herbs and spices to your marinade helps propel flavors up to the next level.

Cumin is found in both Mexican and Indian cuisines, add cinnamon and allspice for a Middle Eastern twist.

My favorite marinade is Greek-inspired; with lots of garlic, oregano or rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil.

I use it on Greek chicken, lamb, beef, shrimp, or as a pork belly marinade.

My lemon garlic marinade recipe is my go-to when I’m doing a round of Whole30, as it’s compliant with the diet. The lemon garlic marinade is also gluten-free and low-carb, making it perfect for just about everyone!

Grilled chicken with lemon and herbs on a serving plate.

How Long Should You Marinate Chicken and Other Meats?

The amount of time you marinate meat generally depends on what you’re marinating.

Shrimp or fish need the shortest marinating time; anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to soak up the juicy flavors.

Chicken can be marinated for several hours, and beef does best if marinated overnight.

The goal is to let the meat soak up the flavors in the marinade and become tender. Most recipes recommend marinating meat and poultry for 6 – 24 hours.

If you marinate food for too long, it can cause the texture to become mushy, and in extreme cases, the marinade and meat mixture can grow bacteria if it’s left marinating for days.

What Can I Use in a Marinade?

As long as you have something acidic, like wine, citrus juice, or vinegar, you can make a marinade out of just about anything. 

There are many types of marinade. I use this lemon juicer for getting fresh lemon juice.

The acidity does a great job of enhancing flavors and it helps the meat soak up the food since it breaks down the food’s surface.

Lemon marinade in a bowl with a whisk and herbs.

Can You Freeze Marinated Meat?

Freezing marinated meat is easy and you can do it! I often do meal prep and prepare a double batch of marinade.

I pour the lemon garlic marinade over my shrimp, chicken, beef, or pork and then freeze in zip lock bags. As the meat defrosts, it will continue to marinate.

The frozen marinated meat will stay good for up to nine months!

What Does Macerate Mean?

The term macerate is applied more to fruit, and the term infused gives a good idea of what macerating does.

You can macerate fruit in alcohol, sugar, and herbs (lavender, mint, etc) to infuse the fruit with flavor.

One of the best ideas is macerated cherries! You can throw them on top of ice cream for an elegant dinner party dessert.

The Strawberry Fool or Lemon Posset are other delicious desserts using macerated fruit.

Macerated strawberries in liqueur

Lemon Garlic Marinade Recipe (Whole 30 Compliant)

Whenever possible, I give measurements for the ingredients in my recipes, but since everyone’s tastes are different, this recipe does not have exact measurements.

Usually, I just add the ingredients until it “tastes right”. What’s tasty to my palate, might not be to yours. If my cheeks pucker, I add more olive oil.

I recommend buying some kosher salt too. It’s just better. I like Morton’s (it’s cheap!) and keep it in a little ramekin next to the stove.

Greek Marinade

Lemon-Garlic Marinade

Lemon, garlic,olive oil and fresh herb marinade.
5 from 64 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Marinade
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 12 people
Calories 85 kcal



  • Whisk it all together. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should be flavorful like salad dressing.
  • Marinate chicken 20 minutes to several hours. Shrimp marinates for up to 1/2 hour. Beef, lamb and pork can be marinated overnight.
  • Timesaving tip: pour marinade into a zip-lock bag with meat. Freeze. While meat defrosts overnight, it will also soak up the marinade and be ready to cook.
  • Bake, broil or BBQ meat as desired.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 85kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 0.2gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 582mgPotassium: 26mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 17IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 17mgIron: 0.4mg
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Lemon garlic marinade pin, whole-30!

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  1. This marinade is so useful in many recipes, lemon and garlic my favourites. btw I like your plate too:)

  2. That is such a lovely marinade and I need different ones for tofu. I am really looking forward to taking advantage of this one.. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    Thanks for clearing up those 3 very different, but confusing terms! I also prefer a Greek type of marinade, love those lemon and oregano flavors!

  4. 5 stars
    I will have to make that lemon garlic marinade, marinate my chicken, then have macerated strawberries for dessert … 🙂
    Great explanation!!

  5. Great advice, although I thought berries were macerated only with sugar? I’m not challenging you, i just think the sugar itself is what creates the juice. Who know?!!! I made pickled vegetables yesterday and put a ton of salt on jalapenos and carrot slices. After one hour there was a ton of juice!

    1. Yes Mimi, sugar is definitely part of the maceration process, but liqueur can be used in addition, especially for a dessert preparation.

5 from 64 votes (54 ratings without comment)

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