ATK Kids

Marinate Your Steak in Cola

It’s the secret to more tender, flavorful beef.

Published Mar. 24, 2023.

Here at ATK, we’re always on the lookout for one-ingredient wonders. Think: sun-dried tomatoes (you can toss them in a salad and cook with their oil) and store-bought pesto—it can replace the garlic, Parm, and even the egg in red-sauce meatball recipes.

But for a powerhouse ingredient that might surprise you, head to the soda aisle.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

When James Beard Award–winning chef Ken Oringer is grilling up steak tacos, he marinates the meat in cola (along with a few other ingredients).

Why cola? According to Ken, there are three reasons.

  1. Flavor. "Cola is full of flavors, such as citrus, caramel, vanilla, and even a hint of cinnamon," he says. It's an easy way to add a lot of flavor without a lot of extra ingredients.
  2. Sugar. Because the cola is sugary, it adds some sweetness to the marinade.
  3. Acidity. “Cola is acidic, and marinating in acidic ingredients helps make meat, such as our steak, nice and tender," Ken says.

Ken adds the cola, along with onion, olive oil, garlic, and tamari (or soy sauce) to a blender jar and blends everything up until it’s nice and smooth. Then, he adds the marinade to skirt or flank steak and lets it sit for at least an hour and up to 24 hours—the longer, the better!


Cooking with My Dad, the Chef

Get 70+ kid-tested, kid-approved (and gluten-free!) recipes for young chefs from James Beard Award–winning chef Ken Oringer and his daughter Verveine.

You can find Ken’s full steak taco recipe in the latest cookbook from ATK Kids, Cooking with My Dad, the Chef, which was written by Ken and his daughter Verveine with gluten-free eaters in mind. 

Serve these tacos with Ken and Verveine’s homemade charred tomato salsa, your favorite taco toppings, and perhaps a glass of cola?

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