Marinating meat, other proteins, or vegetables can be one of the easiest (and tastiest!) ways to add flavor without adding many calories. And at just 5 calories per serving and plenty of vitamin C and lycopene, Member’s Mark salsa offers the perfect base for all types of marinades.

Below we discuss some of the key elements of a good marinade and provide three tasty salsa marinade recipes to help you get started.

Standard Salsa Marinade with Lime
Tequila Salsa Marinade
Spicy Salsa Marinade with Paprika

What Does Every Marinade Need?

Every good marinade has three key elements:

  • Salt, to provide flavor
  • Fat, to help the marinade coat the meat
  • Acid, to help the marinade penetrate the meat

This means that most marinade bases will feature some combination of olive or vegetable oil, an acid like lemon juice or vinegar, and salt, plus spices to taste. Some marinades may add onion, garlic, or sliced bell peppers to enhance flavor.

Ready to whip up some fresh, healthy, and delicious marinades? Let’s get started!

Standard Salsa Marinade with Lime

This marinade is endlessly customizable. If you’re not a fan of lime juice, you can substitute lemon juice or apple cider vinegar; if you don’t like cumin or garlic, you can leave them out or substitute with a spice you do like.


  • ½ cup Member’s Mark Fresh Salsa
  • ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsp) fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced or grated
  • 2 teaspoon (tsp) cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper


First, in a bowl or baking dish, mix together the salsa, lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Next, slowly whisk in the oil until the mixture is fully emulsified and there are no longer large oil droplets.

Finally, marinade your meat, tofu, or other items:

  • Place the meat in a large plastic bag, then pour marinade over it, seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours; or
  • Pour the marinade over the meat in a glass baking dish, cover it, and let it marinade in the refrigerator.

The longer you marinade your meat, the longer the marinade will have to penetrate it. However, marinating for just an hour or two should be enough time to give you all the flavor you need.

Best of all, any leftover marinade can be poured over the meat before grilling or baking, enhancing the flavor even further.

Tequila Salsa Marinade

This mouthwatering marinade has the strength to stand up to steak or pork but is also great on chicken, tofu, and vegetables. By adding tequila to the mix, you’ll give your grilled or baked items an extra kick of flavor.


  • ½ cup Member’s Mark Fresh or Cilantro Salsa
  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp tequila
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano


Again, you’ll begin by mixing together the non-oil ingredients: salsa, lime juice, tequila, garlic, cumin, and oregano. Slowly whisk in the oil until the mix has emulsified, add whatever you’d like to marinade, and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Spicy Salsa Marinade with Paprika

With red pepper flakes, chili powder, and smoked paprika, this marinade has a spicy kick that makes it the perfect complement for tacos, fajitas, and enchiladas. You may also want to try it when grilling chicken for sandwiches or salads.


  • ⅓ cup Member’s Mark Fresh Salsa
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp paprika (preferably smoked paprika)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Red chili pepper flakes (to taste)


First, mix together the dry ingredients: cumin, chili powder, chili pepper flakes, and garlic.
Next, add in the red wine vinegar and salsa and mix to combine.
Finally, add in the oil and stir until emulsified.
If you’ve read the other recipes, you know the drill! In a plastic bag or baking dish, make sure your marinated items are fully coated in marinade, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Marinade Tips

Never marinated before? Here are some tips to help you make the most of the process.

  • Lime juice and red wine vinegar are designed to tenderize the meat and allow the flavor to develop. The fresher the lime, the more acidic the juice; although concentrated lime juice will do just fine, fresh juice is ideal!
  • If you’re marinating meat, poke it with a fork or make diagonal scores with a knife before adding the marinade. This helps the marinade get deep into the meat to maximize flavor.
  • While you can brush the leftover marinade onto your meat just before cooking, be careful when using a marinade that has raw meat in it! Since marinade recipes can be easily multiplied, it’s safer to make some extra marinade for basting, then set it aside in a separate container before adding meat.

Now that you know all the basics of marinating with salsa, time to create some recipes of your own!