The simplest 4-ingredient marinade for winter vegetables is sweet and savory

Embrace the season with winter vegetables and a bright, flavorful marinade

By Michael La Corte

Deputy Food Editor

Published January 1, 2023 4:30PM (EST)

Group of multicolored fresh organic roots, legumes and tubers (Getty Images/carlosgaw)
Group of multicolored fresh organic roots, legumes and tubers (Getty Images/carlosgaw)

It's officially winter. Let's welcome the season with a wintery marinade and winter vegetables, shall we?

Marinades are a simple go-to technique for many. While some may often automatically assume marinades are only for proteins like chicken, pork or beef, vegetables are also an excellent vehicle for a marinade. Marinade flavor and ingredient inclusions can go in so many different directions; one marinade may be ten ingredients while another (like this one!) is much more minimalist. Of course, it's important to note that marinating does take some pre-planning time, but don't feel like marinating on the whole is a multi-day ordeal or something. For example, this recipe calls for less than an hour of marinating time. 

Or, you can feel free to get really kooky and even marinate some fruit!

Unsure of what exactly constitutes as a marinade? Derrick Riches at The Spruce Eats defines a marinade as "a liquid solution in which you soak foods, particularly meats, before cooking."

Depending on the type of acid used and the protein or vegetable opted for, there is also a level of tenderizing that marinating imparts, in addition to more thoroughly flavored proteins and produce. Riches continues, noting that "the breakdown [of the marinated item due to the acidic elements in the marinade] allows fluids and seasonings to enter the meat [or vegetables or fruit] so it will maintain its moisture ... and not dry out as quickly." 

Lauren Salkend at Kitchn details further, noting that each marinade should contain standard components: acid, enzymes, fat, salt, aromatics, herbs and spices and sugars and other sweeteners. Of course, not all marinades need every single one of these inclusions, but a good mix-and-match is a great way to get creative, use ingredients you may not often use, or try out a new flavor profile. 

Some general marinating notes:

  • Don't over-marinate! While it may seem like it would be wise to allow the marinating item to get a really luxuriating bath, this can actually be counter-productive and result in a soggy, unappetizing final product. 
  • Keep timing and components in mind. Certain marinated items may benefit from a simple marinade, then some garnishes once it's finished cooking. Other marinated items may benefit from a really robust, intense marinade and then a simple cooking process. Some marinades may need to be tweaked based on cooking preference (i.e not grilling with a marinade with a ton of sugar, which may result in burning). 
  • Swap flavors. Don't have a particular vinegar, herb, or oil on hand? Simply alternate for whatever you may have in your fridge or pantry at that time. It's really no big deal at all if you're swapping dried oregano for dried parsley, or agave for honey, or canola oil for vegetable oil. 
  • Be super mindful of cook time and medleys. Most vegetables must be cooked for different lengths to be sufficiently coked through, tenderized, or charred. Don't just mindlessly chop up whatever you have, toss it with a marinade and throw it in the oven. This may result in undercooked cauliflower, burnt garlic and soggy zucchini. Prevent this by thinking about cooking times at large, the density or toughness of the vegetable on hand and the overall cook-time that you're used to with certain produce. This also may come in handy when differentiating between fresh, canned or frozen produce. 

Heavier proteins often call for a few hours of marinating (or even overnight), but most vegetables only require about 30 minutes to be sufficiently marinated, though tougher or denser produce can be marinated a bit longer, perhaps an hour or 90 minutes.

  • Use leftover marinade. In this case of using vegetables, boil down your remaining marinade to turn it into a rich, thickened sauce. I love this method for vegetable marinades, but always be super careful with protein marinades. If raw meat has hung out in a liquid for an extended amount of time, that liquid will obviously need to be properly cooked down to ensure it's safe for consumption. With marinated vegetables, though, you don't need to worry about that.
  • Think of your vessel. I'm a fan of using a plastic food storage baggie of sorts for marinating, but feel free to use glass bowls or food storage containers. Always marinate in the refrigerator, not at room temperature on the counter. 

Heavier proteins often call for a few hours of marinating (or even overnight), but most vegetables only require about 30 minutes to be sufficiently marinated, though tougher or denser produce can be marinated a bit longer, perhaps an hour or 90 minutes.

Miso-Maple Marinated Winter Vegetables
06 servings
Prep Time
 30 minutes
Cook Time
45 hours minutes


1 to 2 pounds of your favorite winter vegetables (such as fennel, cauliflower, celeriac, rutabaga, parsnips, carrots, turnip, winter squash, radicchio, radish, beet, jicama, or kohlrabi), peeled (if necessary), cored (if applicable) and cut into manageable, bite-size cubes or chunks

2 tablespoons white miso

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup neutral oil of your choosing 

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Freeze-dried chives, for garnish

Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Toasted sesame oil, for garnish





  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a very large glass bowl or food storage baggie, combine miso, rice wine vinegar, oil and maple syrup until well mixed. 
  3. Be sure to opt for vegetables that have a similar cook time so that the cooking process is consistent and even. If that's not a possibility, feel free to throw in a marinated vegetable that has a long cook time (i.e beets) first, wait a half hour and then add a vegetable with a lesser cook time (i.e radish). 
  4. Add your desired assortment of vegetables to the bag and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least a half hour.
  5. Remove marinated vegetables from refrigerator and carefully transfer to your largest sheet pan, trying your darnedest to leave the bulk of the liquid in the baggie itself. 
  6. Transfer to oven and cook until vegetables have cooked as desired, whether that be just-tender or completely charred. 
  7. Remove vegetables from oven and while still hot, garnish with chives, sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil. 

Cook's Notes

You may have notice that this is the first recipe I've published with absolutely no salt. This is because the miso is already quite salt-forward and some vegetables don't need as much salt as a protein like chicken might call for. If you want to taste test before pulling the vegetables out of the oven, though, please feel free to do so! It won't hurt to add a sprinkling of salt towards the end of the cooking process, or even to add a sprinkling along with the other garnishes.

By Michael La Corte

Michael is a food writer, recipe editor and educator based in his beloved New Jersey. After graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, he worked in restaurants, catering and supper clubs before pivoting to food journalism and recipe development. He also holds a BA in psychology and literature from Pace University.

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Marinades Recipe Vegetables Winter Cooking