Cocoa-Coffee Steak Marinade for Grilling Recipe

Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Marinating is mostly a surface treatment, so even an hour is enough to get plenty of flavor onto the meat.
  • Salt in the marinade helps the beef retain moisture during grilling.

Coffee and chocolate sound like strong flavors, but they take on a delightfully mild tone in this steak marinade. I combine them with some brown sugar, which helps the steak develop a deeper crust more quickly on the grill, and a pinch of chili powder for a subtle, spicy warmth. I go light on the chili heat, but you could add more if you want it to be more pronounced. Mostly, the coffee and chocolate add a slight bitterness that underscores that charred, grilled flavor; the chocolate contributes an additional round butteriness, presumably from the cocoa butter.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Makes: 4 to 8 steaks

Rate & Comment


  • 1 cup (235ml) hot, strong brewed coffee
  • 1/2 ounce (15g) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) kosher salt
  • Pinch chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • About 2 to 3 pounds (900g to 1.4kg) steak of your choice


  1. Stir together coffee, chocolate, sugar, salt, and chili powder or cayenne, until chocolate is fully melted and sugar and salt are fully dissolved. Let cool.

  2. Transfer marinade to a large zipper-lock bag, add steak, press out air from bag, and seal. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours. When ready to cook, remove steak from marinade, blot dry with paper towels, and grill as desired.

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