Citrus-Chile Blender Marinade

published Jun 30, 2021
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Citrus-Chile Blender Marinade

This easy marinade is made with orange and lime juices, canned chipotle peppers, onion, and garlic.

Makes1 1/2 cups

Prep5 minutes

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marinade in mason jar
Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

This citrus-chile marinade was born out of a need to impress my friends (spoiler: It worked!). A large group of us were on vacation together, and it was my night to cook. What could I feed 12 people in a rental kitchen on a budget? The answer, of course, was tacos — and this easy marinade infused my flank steak with acid, heat, smoke, and a little sweetness. It made for a delicious meal that wowed absolutely everyone.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

A 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Marinade

What’s especially great about this marinade is that it’s made with ingredients you likely keep on hand: onion, garlic, orange and lime juices, and a can of chipotle en adobo sauce. Feel free to play around with different types of citrus, or just use one. If you have them, you can soak dried chiles in hot water and add them to the blender in place of the canned chipotles. Taco seasoning also works in a pinch.

Credit: Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Using This Marinade on Your Favorite Protein

This is a very versatile marinade. I suggest using it on the protein of your choice and then making tacos or fajitas, but you can also serve the protein as is with a variety of sides. Here are a few guidelines to help you, depending on what you’re marinating.

  • Fish and shellfish: Due to the citrus juices, this marinade is moderately acidic, which means it can cook or toughen tender proteins like fish or shellfish. Marinate them for just 10 to 15 minutes, or try brushing the marinade on the fish as it cooks. You can also poach fish in the marinade, or pour a splash of the marinade in a foil packet as it cooks on the grill.  
  • Chicken: Chicken can marinate a little longer than fish (up to 30 minutes) — just keep an eye on the flesh to make sure the acid isn’t “cooking” the chicken. 
  • Beef and pork: Marinate for up to 1 hour.
  • Tofu and vegetables: Marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight, or brush it on as they’re cooking. If you’re cooking tofu, be sure to press it before marinating.

Citrus-Chile Blender Marinade

This easy marinade is made with orange and lime juices, canned chipotle peppers, onion, and garlic.

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 1/2 cups

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 1

    canned chipotle en adobo

  • 1 tablespoon

    canned chipotle en adobo sauce

  • 1/2 cup

    orange juice (from 1 to 2 oranges)

  • 1/4 cup

    lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)

  • 4 cloves


  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Coarsely chop 1 small yellow onion and place in a blender. Add 1 canned chipotle en adobo and 1 tablespoon of the sauce, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 4 garlic cloves. Blend until smooth. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Recipe Notes

Gluten-free: To make this marinade gluten-free, make sure the chipotles en adobo are wheat-free.

Storage: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen up to 2 months.