“What is meat tenderizer?” is not a new question, but it is one that many people have. So if you do not know about them before or how to make tough meats softer without compromising their nutrients, taste, or texture, this post can open your mind.
The ugly truth is that some juicy and tender steak might not come at an affordable price. But there are ways to soften other tough meat cuts to fit your tight budget. And it is when a meat tenderizer shines to create many appetizing dinner dishes that your family will love.
So in this article, I will provide every detail about meat tenderizers, their types, benefits or disadvantages, and the best tenderizers on the market to help you prepare the juiciest meaty dishes without too much effort and money as well.
There are 2 main types of tenderizer: mechanical means and powdered ingredients. Let’s start with the first type with tools.
What Are They?
Many people prefer these mechanical tools as meat pounders. These tools can be made from varied materials with various styles, but there are 2 primary categories: Mallet/Pounder and Blade/Needle. And they are for manual use.
Regardless of what types you choose, they are excellent in breaking down or flattening the tough raw cuts and tenderizing them so you can cook faster or allow the marinade or seasonings to be absorbed fully.
Features of 2 Mechanical Tenderizer Styles
The next sections will outline the distinguishing characteristics of each type. Continue reading to discover which type would be best for you.
Mallet meat tenderizer has the look of a hammer, and this is the most typical type that people choose to beat the meats and make them softer. Hence, you can reduce your cooking time and increase the flavor-absorption efficiency of the flesh.
They are normally designed with 2 sides; 1 has many small pyramid-shaped points for breaking down the tough fiber, the other one has a smooth and flat surface that you can flatten your meat cuts for an even thickness.
These tools can soften any type, like beef, pork, chicken, etc., and reduce your cooking time, making them a perfect solution for busy people.
So why don’t you use it to prepare any big dinner, even at mid-week? And if you also wonder what should be prepared, try these hearty and tasty Wednesday night ideas with different meat types.
In addition, make sure you have enough room to swing the mallet. And cover your countertop or wear an apron because your food can splash out. Moreover, you should understand how to use your meat tenderizer correctly to ensure your safety.
How to use a meat mallet correctly? Check here now!
Watch this video: The Quickest Way to Tenderize Steak
These tools feature several small blades/needles that can go through 1.5 to 2-inch meat thickness. It also forms numerous tiny spaces inside the meat to increase seasoning, rubbing or marinading efficiency.
You just have to press down your tool to use it, and the blades/needles will pierce the meat cuts and break up the tough fiber.
They can also shorten your cooking time because the heat and moisture can run through the muscle and soften them faster. However, this style might not be compatible with thin cuts as it can tear them apart.
If you prefer an appliance with tiny blades, make sure you know how it operates.
Watch this video: How to Use Meat Tenderizer
In general, each of the 2 categories has different features. And you can have various choices for good-quality meat tenderizer tools, but make sure that you choose a safe and durable one.
Meat Tenderizer By Powder
The use of biochemistry to tenderize meat is another effective way. And the most popular style of this one is meat tenderizer powder.
Components In Powdered Meat Tenderizer
These meat tenderizers use the naturally derived enzyme in powdered form. Two primary active ingredients in powdered tenderizers are bromelain (derived from pineapples (1)) and papain (from papayas (2)). Some products might include ficin (from figs) as well.
These powders can be sold commercially in 2 forms: seasoned and unseasoned, also known as plain tenderizers. With the seasoned type, many manufacturers add other spices (e.g., salt and sugar) to add more flavors. Some also add anticaking components as calcium stearate.
How It Works
Technically, they are a protein-cleaving enzyme that can attack and break down the muscle fibers and collagen in meats, denature the protein, and make them tender. So just sprinkle the powder over your food and wait for the enzyme to do its job.
And that is why you cannot use a meat tenderizer or add papaya or pineapple to any gelatin-based dishes. Because gelatin is made from animal collagen, enzymes can break it down.
However, you should carefully check the instructions to find the appropriate ratio when using. And it would take a few minutes or more based on the thickness. So for thick and tough cuts, this tenderizing process with these powders might take around 30 minutes before cooking.
Chicken, pork, or beef are ideal meat types for fondue, so whenever you want to enjoy this dish, you should use a little bit of these meat tenderizer powders and make the cuts soften enough for easy chewing.
Overall, these powders use biochemistry to soften the toughest ones without any mechanical means.
Try meat tenderizer powder and make your steak simpler to cook. You can see this video to know more:
Watch this video: Tenderize Steaks in 30 Minutes!?
Are There Other Potential Meat Tenderizers?
Besides these artificial and commercial meat tenderizers above, you can find other options to tenderize your foods effectively. And the best thing about them is these ingredients are totally natural. Let’s check the table for comprehensive information.
|Types||Reason||How To Use|
|Papaya, Pineapple, Fig, Or Kiwi||These fruits have enzymes to break down protein. This way is ideal for thin cuts||Option 1: Cut in slices, apply them on the meat surface, and let it sit for a few hours |
Option 2: Use their juice and soak foods in for hours
|Tea||The tannin in tea is a green tenderizer agent||Use 1 to 2 cups to cool strong black tee and soak the meat for up to 1 day (24 hours)|
|Coffee||The acidic compounds in coffee can act as a tenderizing component||Make a pot of strong coffee and leave it cool before immersing meat. Soak it in up to 24 hours|
|Coke||Coke also contains acid content to help soften meat||Marinate foods with this drink in at least 30 minutes or a maximum of 24 hours|
|Beer or Wine||Both have tannins and acids||Soak meats in beer/wine for a minimum of 1 hour|
|Baking Soda||Baking soda can alkalize meat surface as it is an antacid ingredient, which can break down proteins and make the cuts tender as well||Option 1: Sprinkle it on the surface, give it a little rub and allow the meats to sit for a few hours (in the fridge) |
Option 2: Mix baking soda and water, marinate meats for hours. Rinse your foods before cooking
|Salt||Salt can absorb the water out of the meat, then break down the protein cells||Sprinkle a little bit of salt over the cuts, let it sit for at least 1 hour. Rinse it with water before cooking|
|Vinegar||Vinegar contains acetic acid||Option 1: Soak meats in vinegar |
Option 2: Add 1 tablespoon to the cooking liquid
Tips: Avoid using cast-iron and metal-made pans when cooking foods with vinegar because they will react to your food and pan
|Ginger||The proteolytic in ginger is an enzyme to tender meat cuts||Slice ginger into thin pieces and place on the surface of meats for at least 2 hours|
|Yogurt or Buttermilk||Both contain acidic and calcium, which are active enzymes||Soak them in yogurt or buttermilk for hours. Rinse before cooking|
There is another way for tendering, referred to as “slow and long cooking”. The longer you cook, the softer and juicier the meat cuts, as this method will break down all the connective tissue, fibers, and fat.
This method is ideal for pulled pork dishes, which require a long cooking time. And they are perfect for cooking in a slow cooker/crockpot. So if you have this cookware at home, you should try some authentic Mexican crockpot recipes and mesmerize your beloved people.
What are the best tricks for tenderizing? You can see this video to know more:
Watch this video: Best Methods to Tenderize Steak Tested!
Using Meat Tenderizer – Yes Or No?
Let’s discuss a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages of both mechanically and biochemistry ways in softening tough cuts of meat.
Pros and Cons Of Meat Tenderizer Tools
Here are some reasons you want and might not want to use a tool to pound, flatten, stab raw meat cuts.
- Offer thinner, softer foods to chew easier
- Ensure the same thickness for even cooking
- Reduce cooking time
- Save your money because these tools can well-treat cheaper steak, which might be tougher than other expensive cuts
- Help meats absorb flavors from marinades or seasonings quickly and effectively
- Some heavy mallet/pounder can affect the meat’s structure and moisture during operation
- Or some products can tear the cuts, especially the thin ones
Pros and Cons Of Powdered/Enzymatic/Acid-based Meat Tenderizer
Like manual tools, these biochemical types also have pluses and minuses that you have to consider before using.
- Soften foods ideally without using any physical effort
- Many commercial meat tenderizers can reduce a significant preparation and cooking time
- Some seasoned powdered can also add more flavors to your dishes
- Improve the texture for even and easy cook, cut, and eat
- There is a temperature limitation for enzymatic tenderizers as they can only work at room temperature (from 140 to 160 degrees F)
- Those meat cuts that were treated by enzyme-based tenderizers might result in slimy surfaces
- Some people also claim acid and enzyme can only work on the surface, not into the meat core
Combine a tool and enzymatic meat tenderizers to soften your pork chop for the best result.
Watch this video: How to Tenderise Pork Chop? Baking Soda?
Some Other Fun Fact About Meat Tenderizer
In fact, this part mainly focuses on powdered/enzyme-based tenderizer types. And I guess you are also surprised with their fun facts in terms of other benefits for you and your fur babies.
Good Treatment For Jelly/Bee/Warp Bites
The papain enzyme in the meat tenderizer prevents swells and itches from these bites. This ingredient will break down the proteins causing pain.
For the best result, you should use a non-seasoned type, mix it with water, then apply it to the affected skin and leave it on for 15 to 20 minutes (3).
Ideal Solution For Dogs That Like Eating Their Feces
Sounds so interesting, right? How can it work to prevent this issue? Some dogs have this manner as they are suffering from “coprophagia”. They can eat their own waste or other dogs’ as these feces might contain undigested nutrients.
With the papain enzyme, meat tenderizers can promote full digestion and make their feces unappetizing, reducing the chance of poop-eating in dogs. So all you have to do is add it to the dog’s food. And do not worry about any side effects to your 4-leg babies; it is totally safe.
Best Products Of Both Styles Of Tenderizer
Below are 4 worth-trying products which include 2 items for tenderizer tools and 2 for powdered style.
The dual sides (one is for flattening and one is for tenderizing) will not limit your prep job for any type of meat. Also, as this product is constructed with sturdy aluminum, its durability is undoubted.
So if you are seeking the best and easy-to-use tool to support in preparing dinner for your family in no time, you should definitely try this product.
Can you believe that with only a few bucks, you can have versatile kitchenware that not only improves the texture and flavor of your foods but also shortens your cooking time? Well, its 24 stainless steel needles can handle the toughest fibers and connective tissues efficiently.
Just 1 teaspoon of McCormick for each pound of pork, beef, or chicken, and let it do the magic in 30 minutes. Indeed, this is a high-quality mixture of salt, dextrose, bromelain, and calcium silicate to tenderize and add flavor to the food at the same time.
Including sea salt, extraction of pineapple fruit, and sugar, this unseasoned tenderizer is perfect for your dishes. Plus, no MSG is contained, which means better for your health when used.
If you still have other worries about using meat tenderizer, this section will clear things up in the shortest way.
Can I Add a Meat Tenderizer to My Gluten-Free Recipes?
Most unseasoned meat tenderizer is gluten-free. But be aware of some seasoned tenderizers as they might include gluten. It would be better to check the label before using it.
Are There Any Side Effects of Powdered Meat Tenderizer?
Besides containing active enzyme agents, most meat tenderizers also have sodium and monosodium glutamate (MSG), resulting in high blood pressure, nausea, headaches, or flushes on the body if you overuse it.
How Much Should I Add to My Dog Food?
Sprinkle a small amount on your food dog on every meal. Keep checking your baby’s behavior until they stop eating their feces.
How Does Meat Tenderizer Impact DNA?
The enzyme (proteases) will break the bonding between proteins and DNA. For more information, proteins surround DNA, so DNA is easier to access when the enzyme removes these proteins.
Are There Other Ways to Tender Steak Without Tools or Powders?
You can use a regular hammer, but make sure you cover the meat before pounding it. Or get a cast-iron and rolling pin to perform it.
Chinese people also have a great technique called velveting, which means marinating meat in the mixture of egg white (or soda) and cornstarch for a soft texture.
What Type of Salt Is Ideal for Tenderization?
You can use coarse sea salt or kosher salt to tender steak, pork, chicken, etc. However, if you use too much, your dishes will become too salty.
Is MSG a Meat Tenderizer Agent?
MSG (Monosodium glutamate) is a flavor people usually add to their food, but it does not perform as a meat tenderizer. It just increases the umami taste of the meat.
How Do You Think About Using Meat Tenderizer?
At this point, I believe you grasped everything about these useful tricks to make your favorite foods softer and juicier, even if they are not expensive meat cuts.
So, what types of meat tenderizer do you prefer? And can you tell me more about why you choose it in the comment part? I look forward to hearing your feedback regarding this subject. If you like this post, do not forget to click like and share.
- En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Bromelain.
- En.wikipedia.org. 2022. Papain.
- Hopkinsmedicine.org. 2022. Insect Stings.
Table of Contents
- Meat Tenderizer By Mechanical Tools
- What Are They?
- Features of 2 Mechanical Tenderizer Styles
- Meat Tenderizer By Powder
- Components In Powdered Meat Tenderizer
- How It Works
- Are There Other Potential Meat Tenderizers?
- Using Meat Tenderizer – Yes Or No?
- Pros and Cons Of Meat Tenderizer Tools
- Pros and Cons Of Powdered/Enzymatic/Acid-based Meat Tenderizer
- Some Other Fun Fact About Meat Tenderizer
- Good Treatment For Jelly/Bee/Warp Bites
- Ideal Solution For Dogs That Like Eating Their Feces
- Best Products Of Both Styles Of Tenderizer
- KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer
- Norpro Meat Tenderizer
- McCormick Unseasoned Meat Tenderizer
- Adolph’s Unseasoned Tenderizer
- How Do You Think About Using Meat Tenderizer?
A meat tenderizer pounds down tough parts of meat to improve upon its texture. It turns chewy or hard meat into soft, tender meat. Meat tenderizers also help smooth out uneven parts of meat after they have been pounded out. This tool works well with most cuts of meat.What is the meat tenderizer used for quizlet? ›
What is the meat tenderizer used for? The meat tenderizer contains enzymes that digest and remove the proteins that DNA wraps itself around.What's the best tenderizer for meat? ›
- 1) Tea. Tea contains tannins, which are a natural tenderiser. ...
- 2) Coffee. Coffee adds flavour and acts as a natural tenderiser. ...
- 3) Cola. The acid content of cola makes it a great tenderiser. ...
- 4) Pineapple, pawpaw, figs, kiwis. ...
- 5) Ginger. ...
- 6) Baking Soda. ...
- 7) Vinegar. ...
- 8) Beer or wine.
Answer: I usually marinate beef overnight, in the refrigerator. Question: Do I need to wash the powdered meat tenderizer off the beef before cooking? Answer: No.How much meat tenderizer powder to use? ›
Usage Tips. Just before cooking, moisten surface of meat with water. Sprinkle tenderizer evenly over meat (1 tsp. per 1 lb.).What is the main ingredient in meat tenderizer? ›
Papain-a plant enzyme obtained from the papaya-is the active ingredient in most commercial tenderizers. The pro- teolytic action of the enzyme cleaves or breaks apart the muscle fiber proteins and connective tissue of meat by hydroly- sis-in a manner similar to that of di- gestion-which makes food more ab- sorbable.What does meat tenderizer do to your body? ›
Much the same way enzymes in the human body help you digest food, tenderizing powder acts enzymatically to break down the rubber-like elastic fibers that make less tender cuts of meat hard to swallow.What is meat tenderizer used for medical? ›
How it works: Meat tenderizer contains papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins (like the ones in your T-bone steak). But papain can also break down toxins from bug bites and cut back on itching, Schaffran says. Note: Use tenderizer only on mosquito bites, bee stings, and nonpoisonous spider bites.How long should you leave meat tenderizer on? ›
Cook immediately. When preparing thicker cuts of meats, let stand 30 minutes before cooking.Is meat tenderizer just baking soda? ›
Baking soda acts as a meat tenderizer by changing the physical composition of meat fibers. It raises the pH levels on the surface and makes it tougher (pun intended) for the proteins in the meat to bond.
Here are five common household items that work just as well in a pinch.
- A rolling pin. Makes sense. ...
- An empty wine bottle. ... ...
- A really heavy novel. ...
- A large Pyrex or other shatter-proof measuring cup. ...
- A cast iron skillet or other heavy saucepan. ...
- An actual hammer. ...
- Canned food.
- Pounding. Using a meat mallet (or kitchen mallet) to pound steaks helps soften and tenderize the meat. ...
- Salting. Most cuts of steak benefit from being salted up to an hour in advance of cooking, but especially tougher cuts. ...
- Marinating. ...
- Velveting. ...
- Slow Cooking. ...
- Enzymatic Application. ...
Most fine restaurants age their beef to intensify the flavor and improve the tenderness of the cut. Aging is done by letting the meat sit (in very controlled conditions) for several days or weeks.How much vinegar do you use to tenderize meat? ›
Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to your cooking liquids and your roasts, stew meats, and steaks will come out tender and juicy every time. Another option is to pierce your meat all over with a fork and then soak it in vinegar for 1 to 2 hours before you cook it.How do Chinese make their meat so tender? ›
Velveting is a Chinese method of marinating which keeps delicate meat and seafood moist and tender during cooking. The velveting technique is very easy and gives amazing results.Do you put meat tenderizer on both sides? ›
A: Just one side. The blades go all the way through. Put a piece of plastic or wood under meat before tenderizing. Helpful?How long does meat Tenderiser take to work? ›
How Long Do You Leave Meat Tenderizer On? Powdered meat tenderizer works very quickly, so you should only need 30 minutes when using an enzyme. If you are using citrus or other acidic ingredients, it can stay on for a few hours. Salt by itself can go as long as 24 hours.Can you add meat tenderizer after cooking? ›
When the meat becomes too tough, you need to know how to tenderize cooked meat. Tenderize a tough roast that's already cooked by pounding it, cutting it against the grain, adding some marinade or commercial tenderizing agents or braising the meat.Does Worcestershire sauce tenderize meat? ›
Does Worcestershire Tenderize Meat? Yes, Worcestershire sauce is a great meat tenderizer. It has vinegar in it, which breaks down the meat fibers. It's highly concentrated, so it penetrates deep into the steak for more flavor.What does soaking meat in vinegar do? ›
Acidic ingredients like vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt and wine weaken collagen and protein in meat. Once the proteins are broken by acid, one loose protein can bond with another and trap liquid in the meat, making it juicy and tender.
Tenderizing is the process of softening a cut of meat by breaking down its interior fibers to make it easier to eat and digest. This process is helpful when cooking tough cuts of steak or recipes that involve a thin slice of meat, such as chicken cutlets for chicken Parmesan or veal Milanese.How do you use meat tenderizer seasoning? ›
To use the powder, moisten the cut lightly with water. It helps the tenderizer absorb into the meat. Sprinkle lightly on the meat, and pierce all over with a fork, or a meat tenderizing piercer. This helps to break down the fibers and at the same time provides a way for the tenderizer to get into the fibers.Why do you not use salt with meat tenderizer? ›
Most meat tenderizers contain salt, so no salt should be added to tenderized meat, or it will taste too salty.Does meat tenderizer have enzymes? ›
Commercial meat tenderization is usually achieved using exogenously added proteolytic enzymes from plants, such as papain, bromelain, and ficin, as well as bacterial collagenase (Abdel-Naeem & Mohamed, 2016.How long do you leave baking soda on meat to tenderize it? ›
Tenderizing with a baking soda solution is faster than using a saltwater brine. Meat only has to sit in a baking soda solution for 15 to 20 minutes, but a brine solution can take at least 30 minutes to start working.What does cornstarch do to meat? ›
Combined with egg, cornstarch is an important ingredient in meat and fish marinades. When passed through the oil, cornstarch helps to seal in the juices of the protein and make it crispier.How do you make strong meat tender? ›
- Physically tenderize the meat. ...
- Use a marinade. ...
- Don't forget the salt. ...
- Let it come up to room temperature. ...
- Cook it low-and-slow. ...
- Hit the right internal temperature. ...
- Rest your meat. ...
- Slice against the grain.
After adding your seasonings and spices, spread a tablespoon or two of sour cream all over your chicken breasts and marinate it briefly before searing it. This helps add a subtle tangy flavor, and the acidity in the sour cream helps to tenderize the chicken.Does Coca Cola tenderize steak? ›
Cola's high acidity and caramel flavor makes a surprisingly good meat tenderizer. Cola typically has a pH of about 2.7—for comparison, lemon juice has a pH of 2—making it acidic enough to break down some proteins without dissolving your meat.How does Texas Roadhouse make their sirloin so tender? ›
What does Texas Roadhouse do to make their steaks so tender? The key to making the steak tender is to let it rest after seasoning the steak. This lets the seasoning penetrate into the steak which helps to break down the muscle fibers. Let is rest for at least 30 minutes.
What sets Texas Roadhouse Chicken Critters apart is that they use an airy batter that's kept light with club soda. Soaking in buttermilk tenderizes the chicken and makes it so much more flavorful.Should you put olive oil on steak before grilling? ›
On The Grill
Season the steak one hour before cooking, using extra virgin olive oil, fresh ground black pepper, and kosher or sea salt. Leave it at room temperature until cooking. Brush each side with 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil.
Balsamic vinegar is a good marinade for red meats because it helps to tenderize them. The acid in the vinegar helps to break down some of the protein and fat in the beef, which makes it softer. The balsamic vinegar also adds a sweet flavor while tenderizing, without having to add any sugar.Is apple cider vinegar a good meat tenderizer? ›
Marinating your meats in apple cider vinegar can work to tenderize them, as long as you don't add too much vinegar and don't marinate them too long (it's very acidic, so prolonged exposure can break down the fibers in the meat and turn it to mush).Does olive oil tenderize meat? ›
Olive oil does not actually tenderize meat, but it does provide an excellent base for marinades containing protein-dissolving enzymes that do. Even though olive oil isn't a natural tenderizer, it can help keep the meat moist. So, olive oil alone doesn't tenderize meat, that job is for acidic liquids.How do you use a meat tenderizer rub? ›
- Wet your meat. A quick rinse should do.
- Apply the seasoned meat tenderizer to both sides of your meat, right before cooking. A tablespoon per pound is the general rule of thumb.
- Poke your meat with a fork. Holes should be 1/4 inch apart. This helps with penetration.
Yes, there are scientific reasons to back up the fact that slow cooked meat is better. Tenderness in meat comes from the melting of collagen – the connective tissue protein present in meat. When collagen melts, it turns into gelatin, a rich liquid that gives meat a lot of flavour as well as a silky texture.What are the two sides of a meat tenderizer for? ›
Use the spiked side to tenderize the connective tissues and fibers in tough meats and the smooth side to flatten them to make them more uniform for cutlets. Works like a charm to flatten pork loin or chicken breasts too! Pound and flatten meat to tenderize and even out its thickness, in preparation for cooking.