Can You Marinate Your Steak In Just Hot Sauce?

If you want to add some kick to your steak dinner, you can pair your cut of choice with a spicy chimichurri sauce or cayenne-infused cowboy butter. But making an average cut of steak really shine requires a bit of preparation before it hits the grill. The most popular way to elevate a steak would be to marinate it in a potent and flavorful sauce. While a steak-lover who enjoys simple steak without frivolous sauces may shudder at the idea, marinating a steak accomplishes two things: Tenderizing the meat and adding flavor.

Classic steak marinades include an element that softens the meat and a spice or herb that elevates its flavor, per Kitchen Savvy. Sometimes, there are magical condiments and ingredients that contain both components, thus softening and flavoring the meat simultaneously. Single-ingredient steak marinades with Worcestershire sauce or tabasco can sound alluring to people who love simplicity. This is where the hot sauce comes in.

Hot sauce tenderizes and adds heat

Yes, you can definitely marinate your entire steak in hot sauce. Most mass-produced hot sauces are made up of key ingredients: vinegar, salt, and peppers (via Webstaurant Store). Aside from the obvious heat, there is always a presence of sour vinegar that hits the tongue, creating a painful yet pleasing pique. Vinegar, which is incredibly acidic, acts as a preservative for the perishable ingredients in hot sauce, per Doc Hotties. What makes hot sauce insanely good for steak is that its acidity will break down the meat's fibers, according to MasterClass. Of course, there are other ways to tenderize steak, but acid seems to be the most efficient method. Even adding ground pineapples or lemon juice can significantly soften your steak, which is why a pineapple hot sauce can be an exciting marinade.

Furthermore, hot sauce contains salt, which flavors and tenderizes meat. Kitchen Savvy notes that a saltwater brine triggers osmosis to bring salt and water into the muscle fibers. This eliminates fibers that constrict while cooking and draws moisture into the beef. A hot sauce marinade can act as a spicy version of a saltwater brine. The potency of a hot sauce marinade does require some attention to timing and measurement. Over-sauce a thin flank steak, and it might disintegrate on your grill, or the sharp spice of the vinegar might give you a less appealing flavor. Either way, hot sauces most definitely enhance steaks, but they should be used with care.