The Secret to Kid-Friendly Meat? Easy Marinades — Get the Recipes

One mom shares two tried-and-true marinades for simple, flavorful meat that her children adore.
By: Foodlets
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When it comes to cooking with small kids underfoot, I’m always looking for dinner ideas with that magical combination of flexibility, simplicity, big flavors and tender meat. Our kids are 1, 3, 4 and 6, and the whole crew has varying amounts of teeth at any given time, so tender meat is a must. Plus, it’s delicious — no matter what age you are.

So I rely on two delicious marinades that I know by heart to put on anything from flank steak to chicken strips to roasted whole chickens. One is a tangy blend of lime and cumin; the other is lemon and garlic. Even though they’re both citrus-based, they’re full of totally different flavors. Our kids LOVE them, and, as a bonus, you can double any batch of marinade and throw a second dinner in the freezer while you’re making the first. The meat will just keep soaking up more flavor while it thaws later on.

Smoky Lime Marinade

This variation of a marinade from Real Baby Food is perfect for flank steak, London broil or chicken strips. Save half the uncooked marinade to serve as a dipping sauce at the table.

1/2 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 4 limes
1/2 sweet onion (about 1/3 cup)
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until uniform. The marinade will be thick (that’s the onions), and should smell fresh and fruity (that’s the limes.).

Lemon Garlic Marinade

This is awesome as a rub for roasting a whole chicken or as a marinade for chicken strips. You also can pour the entire marinade into a baking pan along with the chicken. If you’re doing the latter, add 1/2 cup of water and cook at 375 degrees F, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (about 25 minutes for boneless strips, and 30 minutes for boneless breasts and thighs), then serve over rice, couscous or quinoa.

6 tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest of 3 lemons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon diced fresh herbs such as oregano, basil, parsley (optional)

Combine all ingredients, throw on the chicken and marinate for up to 3 days in advance.

Charity Curley Mathews is the mother of four small kids (truly small; they are 1, 3, 4 and 6) and the founder of, a site about trying to raise kids who eat (and love) real food. Happily. Together. Most of the time. The whole crew lives in North Carolina.

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