I'm currently letting some wild turkey (the bird, not the whiskey) marinate in some plain yogurt. I saw this somewhere on TV or online. Does anyone know what's actually going on chemically when the meat is marinating in the yogurt? Since it's a base I can't imagine that it will have much of an affect on breaking the meat do, although I could see the yogurt working its way in between muscle fibers. Anyone with experience marinating with yogurt care to comment?

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    Yogurt is very acidic not basic. Marinating in yogurt is similar in function to other acidic marinades. Sep 25, 2012 at 22:22
  • Ah, silly me. I was waffling between buttermilk and yogurt marinade and I got mixed up when I was typing this. Thanks for the correction. Sep 25, 2012 at 22:24
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    Isn't buttermilk acidic too? And you can edit your question to correct things like that.
    – Cascabel
    Sep 26, 2012 at 3:46
  • The cultured stuff sold in the supermarket under the name "buttermilk" is certainly acidic, varied from 4.3 to 4.6 last time I measured it. The OP may have looked up data concerning the wheyish liquid left after making non-cultured butter (the original meaning of buttermilk), I think it could be basic.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 26, 2012 at 10:44

1 Answer 1


The two general purposes of marinating is to tenderize and add flavor. What is happening is that the acidic elements are penetrating the meat and breaking down connective tissue. This causes the meat to become tender. Depending on your marinating liquid it also infuses flavors into the meat. I make a tandoori chicken recipe that calls for plain yogurt and spices. The flavor change will be minimal if you are using only plain unflavored yogurt. Here is an article that I found that goes into a little detail. Marinade Science Article

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