Can you eat marinade sauce without cooking it?

In this brief guide, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat marinade sauce without cooking it?”. We will also elaborate on the health benefits of marinade sauce, how the marinade sauce alters the food product, and what are the major ingredients added to marinade sauce.

Can you eat marinade sauce without cooking it?

Yes, you can eat the marinade sauce without cooking if it has not touched the raw meat. Otherwise, you can not consume marinade sauce without cooking it.

What is marinade sauce? 

Marinating is a phenomenon related to cooking in which we use spices and seasoned liquids to soak raw meat. These spices and seasoned liquids used for marinating make the marinade sauce. 

Marinade sauce is often composed of a variety of ingredients such as acids like citrus or vinegar juices; enzymes such as that of kiwi fruit, mango, or papaya. 

The aim of using these spices and acids is to increase or sharpen the flavor and taste of recipes. Furthermore, these ingredients also alter the texture of the raw meat. Many studies demonstrated that using sodium chloride, polyphosphates, organic acids in beef, pork and chicken increase tenderness, moisture retention, juiciness and palatability (1).

People often think that if we let the meat sit for marination for a long time, it will provide more taste and flavor, this is not right. A prolonged period of marination will alter the texture of meat in a way that it will look like a dry piece of meat with a tough and mushy surface.

Marination is considered complete when it has a perfect quantitative combination of spices and acids along with the desired time of marinating, which will intensify both the texture and flavor of the raw meat.

The main purpose of marination is to increase the water retention capacity of the meat and thereby its tenderness. Marination involves introduction of an acidic or alkaline solution into meat to alter the pH. Increasing and decreasing the meat pH improves the water-holding capacity by moving the meat pH further from the isoelectric point (about 5.2–5.3 in red meat). As the pH moves further from the isoelectric point, the water holding capacity increases due to an increase in the amount of negative charges on the meat protein that can bind water (1). 

Why is marination required?

Marinade sauce is a must when we desire to eat meat in grilled form or barbecue. Marinade sauce is used for marinating the meat to get the desired flavor and taste of spices and acids. Also, in marination, enzymes that are used, change the texture of meat that will benefit the meat to be grilled easily. 

Solutions prepared with salts, such as sodium tripolyphosphate, calcium hydrogen phosphate and sodium chloride, and acid solutions, such as with citric acid, fruit juices and vinegar are used efficiently to reduce cooking losses, increase tenderness and water holding capacity of meat (1).

In addition, studies show that some marinades are able to reduce the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in cooked meat. Structurally, heterocyclic amines found in food are in the form of amino carbolines and amino imidazo azaarenes. While amino carbolines are described to form from amino acids and protein pyrolysis at high temperatures (>300°C), amino imidazo azaarenes form readily at lower temperatures via aldol condensation of pyrazines or pyridines with aldehydes and creatinine. The ingestion of these compounds is related to higher risk of various types of cancer (2).

Some basic reasons because of which we prefer marinating the raw meat are described below:

  • A large number of carcinogenic components are produced when we cook the meat at higher temperatures that could greatly affect our health. While there should be no compromise on health, you should prefer to use marinade sauce which will greatly reduce the large content of Carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Studies show that fruit juices marinades could have an important impact on the formation of HCAs due to the presence of radical scavengers but also the effect of sugars, pH and the aqueous environment that will affect the transport of HCA’s precursors within meat (2).
  • Marinating the raw meat could decrease the chances of carcinogenic compounds up to 99 percent. So, you will get a safe healthy product.
  • Rosemary, which could also be an ingredient of the marinade sauce, is highly effective against cancerous chemicals. 
  • Marinade sauce also acts as a blocking component against high temperatures or heat.
  • Marinade sauce is also capable to retard the proliferation of harmful bacteria such as Listeria but still, this effect of marinade sauce on cancerous components is not cleared yet. 
  • The marinade sauce consists of natural acidic ingredients such as vinegar and citrus juices, these acidic ingredients are capable of tenderizing the meat, making the protein easily digestible. 
  • In addition, the marinade sauce helps to keep moisture preventing the meat from drying out and toughening up.
  • To keep the calories within the limit, it is best to add one half-cup of the marinade for each one pound of meat. This would be sufficient to cover the meat entirely while cutting down on extra calories.
  • Avoid marinating meat at room temperature. Though marinade sauce can slow down the multiplication of dangerous bacteria, it can never destroy them entirely, so always remember to marinate the meat in the refrigerator.
  • Avoid reusing raw marinade sauce. If you are making marinade sauce, boil the remaining sauce to destroy bacteria (the safest option for sauce is to keep aside a part of the marinade prior to adding the raw meat).
  • As per the United States Department of Agriculture, chicken and other poultry should be consumed within 2 days of marination while beef and other kinds of meat can be consumed within 5 days.

Overall, numerous natural products, including rosemary, garlic, onion, grape seed, wine pomace, pepper (red, black, or chili), thyme, cumin, oregano, ginger, capsaicin,, pineapple, carvacrol and lemongrass, have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, prevent meat oxidation, and exhibit iron scavenging activities, and these antioxidative activities can reduce potential carcinogenic substances, by regulation of the Maillard reaction during heat exposure, as HCAs are produced during the Maillard reaction. The antimicrobial activities of natural products can inhibit the formation of biogenic amines produced by microbial growth (3).

What are the positive effects of marinade sauce on health?

You would get a good healthy life by choosing those ingredients which are beneficial for your health while discarding those ingredients which are harmful to your health. Like marinade sauce reduces the harmful chemicals like carcinogenic and heterocyclic amines produced while cooking the meat at high temperatures. 

Other FAQs about Sauces that you may be interested in.

How to open a pasta sauce jar?

Can you use pasta sauce for pizza?

What can I use instead of soy sauce?

Can you freeze spaghetti sauce in glass jars?


In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat marinade sauce without cooking it?”. We have also elaborated on the health benefits of marinade sauce, how the marinade sauce alters the food product, and what are the major ingredients added to marinade sauce.


  1. Önenç, A., Serdaroğlu, M. & Abdraimov, K. Effect of various additives to marinating baths on some properties of cattle meat. Eur Food Res Technol, 2004, 218, 114–117. 
  2. Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Rosa Busquets, and Mohammad Azam. Blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry extracts reduce the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in fried camel, beef and chicken meats. Food Cont, 2021, 123, 107852.
  3. Lee, Seung Yun, et al. Overview of the effect of natural products on reduction of potential carcinogenic substances in meat products. Trend Food Sci Technol, 2020, 99, 568-579.