We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How Do I Choose the Best Yogurt Marinade?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated Feb 23, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A good marinade for meat, fish, or vegetables includes an acidic base that helps break down connective tissue to make the food more tender along with one or more flavoring agents. While many cooks regularly tenderize cuts of meat using vinegar or wine, not everyone knows that yogurt-based marinades are a wonderful way to prepare foods for outdoor or indoor grilling. Yogurt’s sassy zing combines well with any number of flavor enhancers from garlic and ginger to lime and curry. The ingredients added to make the best yogurt marinade largely depend on the type of food and cooking style.

The length of time a food should marinate is generally determined by what it is. While beef can handle an overnight soak, chicken and fish are more delicate, and a strong, acid-based marinade can turn them to mush if they remain in the bath too long. Yogurt marinade, however, is gentle enough to allow poultry to soak up its flavors for eight hours or more. Not only does yogurt break down connective tissue, but it also suffuses meat so that, when it is grilled, it doesn’t dry out so easily.

Lamb and yogurt have been paired in Mediterranean cooks’ kitchens for eons. Lamb chops or chunks cut for shish kabob can take a nice long swim in a yogurt-based marinade to which mint, garlic, and lemon have been added. Instead of lemon, wine vinegar or white wine can stand in.

A favorite quick meal for cooks around the globe is tandoori chicken. This Indian dish features yogurt marinade that includes garlic and ginger, a splash of vinegar, and seasonings such as garam masala powder or paste as well as ground cumin. The marinade protects the roasting chicken, which means it can be cooked in a very hot oven or grill without drying out.

Fish steaks such as tuna or swordfish benefit from a deep sea dive into a fragrant herbal yogurt marinade. This one adds equal parts mayonnaise, a splash of milk, and tarragon to the mix. For extra pizzazz, lime zest kicks in a nice high note, or a drop or two of hot sauce can be used instead.

Coconut milk added in a 2:1 mix to yogurt marinade is another way to go. This marinade lends a Thai sensibility to chicken, fish, or meat. Ginger, curry paste, or powder and garlic deepen the flavors, and some fresh cilantro sparkles it up a notch. A little peanut butter adds an amazing richness, particularly to chicken, without overwhelming it.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By burcidi — On Jul 17, 2012

Yogurt marinade is great, but if you use too much of it, or use very watery yogurt, the food doesn't come out as well. I made that mistake one time. The yogurt marinade was too much and turned into curd while the meat was being cooked. Not the most pleasant result. I learned later that I only need several spoonfuls, or one spoonful of yogurt marinade per piece of meat.

The yogurt marinade I've had the best result with so far is the marinade for yogurt kabob. It's made with thick Greek yogurt rich in protein, garlic, tomatoes, butter and oregano. I cook the tomatoes and garlic in butter with oregano first. Later when it's cool, I add the yogurt, mix in the meat and marinate overnight. You can make this with beef, lamb or even chicken. I promise you, it will be the best kabob you have tasted.

By ZipLine — On Jul 17, 2012

@simrin-- Chicken marinated in yogurt is very popular in Southeast Asian cuisine. My family is from India and many of the chicken dishes we cook at home is marinated that way.

My grandmother makes an amazing chicken dish marinated in basically the same recipe you described. The only difference is that I don't think she adds any lemon. She does put onion, nuts, oil, and lots of spices like cinnamon, chili and turmeric though. She also uses full-fat yogurt because it's more tasty.

Have you ever made a yogurt marinade with fruit before? For some reason, I think that the combination of fruit and yogurt would be really good for a marinade. I'm familiar with the use of onions, garlic and scallions in yogurt marinades, but I've never heard anyone use fruit.

By SteamLouis — On Jul 16, 2012
I love yogurt marinades. I feel like they do a much better job than marinades based entirely on oil and lemon juice. For some reason, yogurt absorbs really well into meats. I also completely agree with the article that it particularly does wonders on chicken.

I made tandoori chicken with yogurt marinade once in the oven and it turned out really well. I've even marinated chicken meant to be cooked on the stove in this yogurt marinade a couple of times and it worked that way too. The recipe I use is really simple. It's finely chopped onions in plain yogurt with a splash of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. The rest is dry spices.

I keep the chicken in this marinade overnight in the fridge and cook it the next day. The result is a juicy, soft, flavorful chicken dish.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.