Essential Grill Guide: Marinating & Grilling Times for Meat and Proteins

marinating grilling times for meat

Pictured Recipe: All-American BBQ Chicken Breast

Here is a no-frills, essential quick-cooking guide to help you grill meat, poultry, seafood or even tofu. Pick one of these lean, quick-cooking proteins and follow the marinating times, cooking times and temperatures for perfect results every time you grill. Keep this guide on the refrigerator to enjoy grilled foods all summer long. All cooking times based on medium-high grill temperature and cooking with the grill lid closed. 

Related: Healthy Grilling Recipes

Poultry

Chicken breast boneless, skinless 

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 6-8 minutes per side; 165°F

Nutrition info: 122 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 55 mg sodium.

Chicken thighs boneless, skinless 

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 6-8 minutes per side; 165°F

Nutrition info: 164 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 76 mg cholesterol; 21 g protein; 63 mg sodium.

Chicken thighs bone-in, skinless

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 15-25 minutes, turning occasionally; 165°F

Nutrition info: 165 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 76 mg cholesterol; 21 g protein; 63 mg sodium.

Duck breast boneless, skinless 

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 4-8 minutes per side; 150°F

Nutrition info: 139 calories; 5 g fat (2 g sat, 1 g mono); 87 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 65 mg sodium.

Meat

Flank steak

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 6-8 minutes per side; 140°F for medium

Nutrition info: 157 calories; 7 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 45 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 45 mg sodium.

Strip steak bone-in, 3/4"-1" thick 

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 4-5 minutes per side; 140°F for medium

Nutrition info: 174 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 59 mg cholesterol; 24 g protein; 48 mg sodium.

Pork chops bone-in, 3/4" thick 

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 3-4 minutes per side; 145°F

Nutrition info: 170 calories; 7 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 69 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 51 mg sodium.

Pork tenderloin

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 14-16 minutes, turning occasionally; 145°F

Nutrition info: 131 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 45 mg sodium.

Lamb loin chops

Marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 5-6 minutes per side; 145°F for medium

Nutrition info: 184 calories; 8 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 81 mg cholesterol; 26 g protein; 71 mg sodium.

Seafood

Shrimp

Marinating time: 15 to 30 minutes  

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 2-3 minutes per side

Nutrition info: 84 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 166 mg cholesterol; 18 g protein; 191 mg sodium.

Scallops

Marinating time: 5 minutes

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 3-4 minutes per side

Nutrition info: 95 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 45 mg cholesterol; 20 g protein; 225 mg sodium.

Salmon fillet

Marinating time: 30 minutes 

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 3-5 minutes per side

Nutrition info: 127 calories; 4 g fat (1 g sat, 1g mono); 57 mg cholesterol; 22 g protein; 73 mg sodium.

Mahi-mahi

Marinating time: 30 minutes to 1 hour

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 5-6 minutes per side

Nutrition info: 93 calories; 1 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 80 mg cholesterol; 20 g protein; 96 mg sodium.

Vegetarian

Extra-firm tofu (see Tip, below)

Marinating time: 30 minutes to overnight  

Cooking time/doneness temp.: 2-3 minutes per side

Nutrition info: 84 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 0g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 9 g protein; 9 mg sodium.

How to Prep Tofu for the Grill

Pressing tofu gives it a firmer texture and helps it absorb marinades. Start with a 14- to 16-ounce package of tofu.

1. Cover a cutting board with foil and place it so one end extends over the sink. 

2. Prop up the other end so the board slants slightly toward the sink. Place tofu on the board. 

3. Cover tofu with a second sheet of foil.

4. Place another cutting board or a baking sheet over the foil and weight it with heavy cans or books. 

5. Let stand for 30 minutes; excess water will drain into the sink. 

6. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. 

Pressed tofu can be refrigerated, wrapped, for up to 24 hours before using.

Note: Nutritional analysis is for the standard 3-ounce “cooked” portion of meat, fish or poultry listed as a typical serving in MyPyramid.gov. Although the recipes call for 4 ounces per serving uncooked, 1 ounce of water weight is generally lost during cooking. 

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A handy chart with marinating and grilling times for chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, salmon, tofu and more popular proteins.
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