Best Container For Marinating Meat (Materials, Shapes, Safety)

Marinating meat is a classic way of adding extra flavor and tenderness to your food. You can marinate meat, chicken, fish, and even vegetables, but it helps if your container is the right size and shape. When marinating meat, you need to ensure that the marinade covers the food completely, but what are the best containers to use?

The best container for marinating meat is made from food-grade plastic, glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. A suitable marinade container should be sealable and preferably wide and flat for easy use. To avoid cross-contamination from raw chicken, you can use ziplock bags for disposable marinade containers.

I recommend this large, collapsable marinade container from Amazon that can fit larger cuts and ribs.

If you’re new to marinading, you’ve probably used whatever handy container you have in the kitchen. However, some containers do better than others. Let’s explore the best containers for marinating safely and all your other questions.

Best Containers And Ones To Avoid

Whether you are marinating in one of these zesty fruit juices or tenderizing buttermilk, getting a great container is a real help.

But what makes for the best containers? I’m sure you’ve seen recipes recommending marinating meat in zip-lock bags, while others only mention sealable containers.

So what is best when it comes to the different types of containers, what materials should be used, and which should be avoided?

The consensus is that food-grade plastic containers are acceptable for marinading, as are glass containers and ceramic. Some glass containers have a plastic lid, but you can seal them with plastic wrap (not foil).

You want to avoid using containers that leave your meat exposed to the air and possible contaminants, and you do not want to use aluminum containers. It’s better to avoid metal containers altogether when marinating meat because of the higher acid content in marinades.

Besides safety concerns, you’ll also want a container with enough space to hold all your meat and enough marinade to cover the food completely. 

Sometimes, using a sealable bag over a plastic container might be better, but I’ll go through the different containers to see which gives better results and increases food safety. We’ll also look at what container is easiest to use and what other kitchen equipment can help you marinade your meat.

Is It Ok To Marinate Meat In A Plastic Container?

Plastic containers are excellent for marinating meat and, along with glass and stainless steel, are recommended by the Department of Agriculture for marinating.

Personally, I would recommend using food-grade plastic and glass containers with plastic lids over steel containers.

You want to buy containers that are big enough to lay all your pieces of meat or chicken down flat so that the marinade can completely cover the meat. If parts of the meat are left uncovered, you will not get the full tenderizing and flavoring effect.

It is safer for all meat to be wholly immersed, as the acid in the marinade also helps prevent bacterial growth to a degree.

You want your containers to have a sealable lid to help prevent spills and avoid anything landing on the meat and marinade, possibly contaminating it.

Suppose you’re looking for a plastic container big enough to marinate chickens but is also space-saving when not in use. In that case, this Cuisinart Large-Capacity Collapsible Marinade container is perfect.

The marinade container is made from BPA-free plastic and has a snap-seal lid to prevent spills. It can take at 12-lb bone-in pork shoulder or a 9-lb standing rib roast, making it excellent for marinating large roasts for the BBQ.

Because it’s collapsible, it will take up less space in your kitchen cupboards.

What Type Of Container Should Not Be Used For Marinating Meat?

While cuisine-grade stainless steel is acceptable for marinating meat, you should never use aluminum containers. The acid in your marinade can react with the metal in some containers, so it’s preferable to use glass, plastic, or ceramic.

If you use a plastic bag to marinate your meat, you should avoid thin plastic bags that are not explicitly designed for use with food.

If you prefer to use metal containers to avoid cracks and breakages, you will have to ensure that you only use stainless steel.

I like this Navaris Stainless Steel Food Storage Containers set because they come with locking lids, are dishwasher safe, and are just the right shape and size to marinate meat. They can even go in the oven, making them highly versatile pieces of kitchen equipment.

Is It Safe To Marinate In Ziploc Bags?

You can use food-grade ziplock bags to marinade meat cuts, which are very useful for completely coating every piece. If you choose sealable bags, you’ll need to use them only once and discard them afterward.

Because of this, ziplock bags are not the most eco-conscious choice, but some people prefer to use them to avoid any chance of salmonella cross-contamination from raw chicken.

Sealable food-grade bags are also an excellent way to save space in your fridge when marinating meats.

You can get 24 half-gallon sealable food-grade bags which are perfect for marinating chicken and red meat.

While food-grade bags are acceptable for marinating, they should not be used for boiling or cooking the meat, as the BPA plastics could break down and leach at high temperatures. If you need bags suitable for cooking, these will be much pricier.

Is It Better To Marinate In A Bag Or Bowl? 

It’s always best to marinade meat in a container that you can seal – either a plastic container with a lid or snap-seal plastic bags. The lid keeps your meat safer and slows the growth of bacteria. It also helps to prevent any spills or splashes.

If you do not have a lid, you can seal a bowl with cling plastic wrap for added protection, but never leave the meat open. If you have no shrink wrap, I would choose a sealable bag over a bowl for safety’s sake.

The shape of a bowl can also make it challenging to cover the meat completely, whereas, with a plastic bag, you can massage the marinade around the meat and remove excess air before sealing.

Does Vacuum Sealing Help Marinade?

If you have resealable vacuum bags, this is a great way to speed up the marinade process and keep your food safer.

The vacuum creates extra pressure on the contents, which makes the marinade enter the meat faster and ensures every piece is thoroughly coated and submerged.

Using a clean, dry vacuum seal bag, fill the bag with meat cut into appropriate sizes, and top with your marinade seal. Use your vacuum sealer to seal and compress your marinade bag.

For softer meat like chicken, you can cut your marinade time to as little as thirty minutes. Leave tougher cuts such as pork and beef for two hours or longer.

Avoid vacuum-sealing marinaded fish, as the marinade times are already very short, and you don’t want to make your fish soggy and unappetizing.


The best containers for marinating meat will be wide and shallow, allowing the meat to lie flat and have a sealable lid. Always use food-grade plastic, ceramic, or glass containers, and avoid any metal except stainless steel. Using food-grade sealable bags is an excellent way to save space and prevent contamination, and if you vacuum seal them, you can significantly reduce marinade times.

Have any questions? Ask me in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Tom Hambly

Tom Hambly is the founder of Boss The Kitchen. With a background in cooking and building websites, he enjoys running this site to help other cooks improve. About Tom Hambly.

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