I've always been told you can't reuse marinade, so I always throw it out. But this evening, I marinated chicken, and then I took the chicken out (this was around ten minutes ago). Can I put a piece of fish in? It hasn't been sitting around, it hasn't been out of the fridge, and I haven't let it sit at all. Or am I still in danger?

  • Fish is usually cooked pretty lightly, often not all the way through. It's possible you would cook your fish for too short a time (let's say 2 minutes each side) to have killed off all the surface bacteria you put on it, i.e. by dipping it in marinade that had previously been the home of raw chicken. Salmonella in chicken. Since chicken gets cooked much more thoroughly, I would imagine doing it the other way around would be okay (marinate fish first, then chicken)--but I still wouldn't risk it myself.
    – Ming
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 4:12
  • Not recommended for personal use. This is a form of cross-contamination, and I want to say this is not permitted from a commercial stand point. If a patron gets sick let's say. If you buy chicken from one purveyor and fish from another, who's the culprit?... the person marinading fish in chicken juice?
    – Chef_Code
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 6:32

1 Answer 1


The reason to not reuse marinade is not because "it has been sitting around", it's because it would be cross-contamination, as Chef_Code said. It doesn't matter how long you have used it. The moment the chicken touched it, the bacteria on the chicken surface - and there are lots of them - were also in the marinade. If you now dump fish pieces in it, you'll add chicken bacteria to the fish bacteria. This is a big no-no in food safety.

The "direction" of reuse does not matter either. Your food is only proclaimed safe when you have been doing everything possible to minimize the risk. Introducing new bacteria (even though you assume they will be cooked dead afterwards) is unsafe behavior. So both chicken -> fish and fish -> chicken reuses, as well as any other possible kind of meat, is not safe.

In short, "don't reuse marinade" means exactly what it says on the label, just with all other food safety rules.

  • 1
    Out of curiosity: is it safe the other way around (e.g., first fish, then chicken in the same marinade) since chicken is cooked longer than fish?
    – Erica
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 13:19
  • It doesn't matter if the bacteria die or not, food safety isn't about that. Food safety is about 1) being easy to follow without reasoning and 2) avoiding all possible risks, and reducing the unavoidable ones. It is not safe to introduce new contamination to your chicken, even if you are going to kill it off later.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 13:26
  • I asked because of comment on the question that was in part, "I would imagine doing it the other way around would be okay" -- which didn't really sound like a good idea, and therefore explicit clarification is always useful :)
    – Erica
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 13:29
  • @erica Good point, thanks. I added a paragraph about it in the answer.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 13:34

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