Should You Dry A Marinated Steak Before Grilling?

Throwing a steak on the BBQ is a summer afternoon treat, especially if you’ve marinated it so it’s flavorful and juicy. But what’s the best way to grill a marinated steak – should you dry it before grilling?

To grill a marinated steak, remove the excess marinade and pat it dry. Grill the steak hot and fast, then allow the steak to rest. To reuse the marinade as a basting liquid or sauce, boil it to destroy foodborne pathogens. Never leave raw meat out of the refrigerator for more than 1 to 2 hours.

Marinating is an excellent way of adding tasty flavors to your steak, whether you’re using lime juice, olive oil, or BBQ spices. Once you’ve marinated your meat, you’re probably wondering how best to grill it. Let’s look at the best practice for cooking marinated steak.

How Do You Cook A Steak That Has Been Marinated? 

Once you have lovingly marinated your steak, there are a few steps to take before enjoying a succulent slab of seared meat.

1. Remove The Steak From The Fridge

Take your steak out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling to lose the fridge chill and encourage even cooking through the meat. You can also marinate at room temperature for short periods.

2. Dry Your Marinated Steak

The essential step is to pat the steak dry after removing it from the marinade. It may sound counterintuitive to remove the marinade, but you’re only wiping off the surface – the flavors will have penetrated the meat.

There are two reasons to remove moisture from the surface of your marinated steak:

  • If your steak has a wet surface when it goes onto the grill, the liquid will evaporate in the heat, forming steam. Instead of grilling, your steak will end up being steamed. If you have too much liquid, the steak may boil. Steaming and boiling prevent the steak from browning and forming that delicious crust or bark that characterizes a well-cooked steak.
  • Marinades that are high in sugar need to be removed because the sugar will burn on the grill and cause flare-ups before the meat is done.

Discard the remaining marinade unless you plan to boil it and use it for basting or sauce.

3. Grill The Steak Hot And Fast

Any cut of steak that needs marinating lends itself to being grilled hot and fast. Here’s how:

  • Heat half of your grill to high, with direct heat. Heat the other half to medium, also direct heat.
  • First, place your steak over high heat. Grill the steak for two minutes per side before flipping. The steak’s surface will brown and grill marks will appear.
  • Move the steak to the medium side of the grill for another four to six minutes, flipping a few times.
  • Ensure that the interior temperature of the steak reaches 140⁰F (60⁰C).

I did a post regarding the debate on whether you should season steak before or after cooking.

4. Rest The Steak

Allow your perfectly cooked steak to rest for at least as long as you grilled it. Resting allows the steak’s fibers to reabsorb any juices it has released. Resting also reduces the amount of moisture the steak will lose when you cut into it.

Do You Need To Wash The Marinade Off Before Cooking? 

There is no need to wash or rinse the marinade off the meat before cooking. Instead, shake off the excess marinade when you remove the steak from its container.

Use a paper towel to pat the steak as dry as possible as this will help the steak sear. Excess moisture can make the steak steam itself which will prevent the surface from browning and adding flavor.

Can You Cook A Steak In Its Marinade?  

Cooking a steak in its marinade is possible as long as the marinade gets hot enough to kill any bacteria. Cooking steak in liquid is known as braising and is the ideal choice for tougher cuts of meat.

According to the USDA’s guidelines for food safety, you need to heat the marinade to 165⁰F (75⁰C) to destroy any pathogens.

Caution needs to be taken because the marinade has been in contact with the raw meat, which may have contaminated it. Bringing the marinade to a light simmer may not be hot enough to destroy the germs which could cause a foodborne illness.

To cook the meat in its marinade, pour the marinating liquid into a saucepan and bring it to a rolling boil. Once it has boiled, you can add your meat and use the marinade as a cooking stock for your steak or use it as a sauce.

To get the best flavor when braising, it’s best to brown your steak in a skillet before covering the meat with the boiled marinade and allowing them to simmer together.

Braised steak in red wine marinade

Can You Use The Marinade As A Basting Sauce?

You may think you are being resourceful if you use leftover marinade as a basting sauce while grilling your steak. However, there is a chance that you will leave your friends and family with food poisoning.

To use steak marinade as a basting sauce, you have two options:

  • Make an extra portion of the marinade to use as a basting sauce that hasn’t touched raw meat, and discard the marinade used with the meat.
  • Reuse the marinade liquid by placing it in a saucepan and bringing it to a boil. This process will destroy any germs in the marinade from the raw meat.

Apply hot or cool basting liquid with a brush, spoon, or baster.

Can You Use the Marinade As A Serving Sauce?

You can use the marinade as a serving or dipping sauce for your steak. Here’s how:

  • Use the leftover marinade or an extra portion of the marinade that hasn’t touched raw meat.
  • Bring the liquid to a boil to heat it through and destroy foodborne contaminants.
  • Boiling will reduce and thicken the liquid to intensify its flavor.
  • For a thinner sauce, add additional liquid but ideally not water. Try using a liquid already present in the marinade to preserve flavor.

How Long Should Steak Sit Out Before Cooking?

Steaks should sit out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes to allow them to come to room temperature. This allows even cooking through the steak and prevents the cold interior from staying undercooked.

But there is plenty of debate in the grilling and BBQ community about whether to cook steaks cold from the refrigerator or leave them out at room temperature before grilling. Personally, I bring them to room temperature for 30-45 minutes.

Most cooks agree that you should marinate a steak for at least 30 minutes and at most 24 hours. They also agree that the marinating process should take place in the fridge. But what happens when you’re ready to grill?

Here are the two sides of the cold vs. room temperature steak argument.

Let Your Steak Sit Out For 30 Minutes

Many grillmasters recommend taking your steak out of the refrigerator and letting it sit at room temperature for around 30 minutes or more. 

The theory is that this warms the steak, allowing it to cook more evenly.

Cook Your Steak From The Refrigerator

The other argument suggests that leaving your steak out for 30 minutes allows only the outer layers of the meat to come to room temperature, with the center remaining cold.

You would have to leave your steak out for an hour or more for it to come to room temperature, which can be dangerous. Room temperature is about 70⁰F (21⁰C), which puts the steak in the middle of the “danger zone” for raw meat contamination (40-140⁰F).

Leaving raw meat out of the refrigerator puts you at risk of foodborne illnesses and poisoning. 

According to the USDA, you can leave a steak out at room temperature for two hours. And according to the USDA, if the temperature outside is above 90⁰F (32⁰C), this time reduces to only one hour.


Hopefully, you now know whether to dry your marinated steak before grilling and also a bunch of other tips when marinating. Marinating a steak is a great way to add a punch of flavor to your meat.

Remember to dry the steak before grilling to remove excess marinade and ensure a good sear. Cook the steak hot and fast, then rest it before enjoying your meaty feast. Follow food safety guidelines when reusing marinade or handling raw meat to prevent foodborne disease.

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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