A meat tenderizer is an essential kitchen utensil for anyone who cooks meat. If you cook a lot of meat, then you’d have an idea of what it means to be faced with tough meats. With this additional tool to your kitchen, you can work with any meat without much struggle.
How to Tender Meat?
There are various methods which you can use to tender meat. Below are some common methods.
Cut it Across the Grain
Kitchen utensils like a fork and a knife used on a cutting board is a great starting point in making tender meats out of tough ones. By cutting transversely, you cut up smaller pieces down the long muscle fibers to make more delicate pieces out of the meat.
Cook it to the Right Temp
If you are dealing with any piece of meat that is not as tough as brisket, you should consider cooking the meat. Brisket needs more time to cook before getting tender while other parts can quickly get tender.
Cooks it Slowly
Using cooking methods like grill roasting, stewing, or braising can soften meat as it slowly cooks while also bringing out the taste of the meat.
Meat Tenderizer Powder
In addition to the above methods, you can also use a tenderizer powder to tender meat. Most meat tenderizer powder contains bromelain or papain, which are natural enzymes that break down meat fibers.
This is probably one of the best ways of tenderizing meat. You can make the meat softer by using a meat mallet to work on the muscle fibers of the meat, like in the case of a cube steak.
What is Meat Tenderizer?
Meat tenderizers are hand-powered mechanical tools for softening or tenderizing meat. They are made from either metal or wood, in the form of a hammer or mallet with a flat, or spiky face.
How Does it work?
The face of the tenderizer is brought down to tear apart the muscle fibers of the meat to make it soft, flattened and even. The duration you will have to use the tenderizer to hit the meat depends solely on the toughness of the meat.
What Kind of Meat Should You Pound?
One common type of meat a lot of people pound is steak meat, simply because it is tough. So, a lot of us use a tenderizer to soften the meat and make sure it is well-cooked. All you have to do is to pound the tough meat using a mallet until it is soft and even. This will enable the meat to be cooked on time and also give you a delicious taste.
Uneven Thick Meat
You can also use a tenderizer to pound uneven meat also known as chicken breast. This way all parts of the chicken will cook nicely and evenly. To do that, you’ll have to take a piece of plastic wrap and put it over a chicken breast and pound-starting at the thickest part. Don’t forget to use the flat side of a meat mallet for chicken. Make sure you start from the center and then work your way out.
If there are bones in the meat, you want to avoid pounding it as the broken pieces of the bone may end up disturbing your meal.
What Makes Meat Tenderizer a Must-Have Item?
Softens Tough Meat
Tenderizing meat helps to soften the meat so that it is easier to cut and juicy to eat. Most red meats like steak take a lot of time to cook due to the fiber and muscle in the meat. So tenderizing the meat makes it more tender.
It saves time
Tenderizing your meat saves a lot of time in cooking the meat. Since the meat is already thinner and flattened, the time spent cooking the meat would be minimal.
Makes the Meat more Even
When you tenderize a piece of meat, you are making the meat to be even in size, which allows the meat to brown and cook well giving you a perfect dish. If the meat has a uniform thickness, it would be easier to work with other applications like rolling, stuffing and skewering when the meat is pounded.
How Many Types of Meat Tenderizers are There?
Here are the 4 types of tenderizing machine currently on the market. They are:
The traditional tenderizer is the first and most common type of tenderizing tool that has been around for decades now. It comes with a sturdy metal or wooden handle. The traditional style also consists of a dual head that comes in the form of a hammer or mallet. One face of the head is rather flat while the other face features rows of pyramid-shaped tenderizer.
- They are dishwasher safe
- Easier to use
- Easy to clean and maintain
- The head of the tenderizer might detach from the handle
- Require effort
The blade tenderizer is a modern type of tenderizing machine that comes with razor sharp stainless steel knives to break down the connective tissue in the meat. Their penetrating blades create tiny heat channel to reduce cooking time to a lower percent. They also reduce the time your meat needs a marinade.
- Great tenderizing machine to help reduce cooking time
- They help cook meat more evenly by reducing shrinkage
- Offers penetrating blades that cut through connective fibers and tissues that make meat tough.
- Tiny heat channels help in faster penetration of marinades
- Most of the blades are too sharp which might cut your hand while cleaning it
- Require carefulness or it may easily damage the meat
- Difficult to clean
Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer
A heavy-duty meat cuber tenderizer is suitable when you have tough meat or meat which is too broad. By passing the meat through the cuber, it breaks it down into smaller, tender cubes. It usually has blades which are used in turning the meat into cubes as it passes through.
- Ideal for making meats thin
- Great for tenderizing perfect cubed steak, or chicken fried steak.
- Sometimes, the meat might be stuck in the blades
- Difficult to clean
Scrolling Meat Tenderizer
A scrolling meat tenderizer is made in the form of a roller attached to a handle. The roller usually has sharp points or blades which work on the meat as it is rolled over it. As it moves over the meat, the roller blades tear through the surface of the meat to break down the muscle fibers which make the meat tough. This works faster and is quite easy.
- Easy to handle
- Soften meats and make them even
- Require much effort
- Not so effective
- Hard to clean because of the sharp points
- It can cause injury and should keep out of reach from children
How to Clean Meat Tenderizer?
A variety of tenderizers come with their various cleaning methods. Here are few ways you can clean different models of tenderizers
Clean Traditional Meat Tenderizer
You can easily clean traditional meat tenderizers by using a brush and soapy water. You can also apply this method on scrolling meat tenderizers. If you are dealing with a traditional meat tenderizer that comes with a stainless material, consider using a dishwasher. However, we do not advise you using dishwashers for materials like wood and aluminum as this may damage the tenderizer.
Blade Tenderizer and Cuber Tenderizer
You can clean Blade tenderizers and heavy duty Meat Cuber Tenderizers with hot soapy water and brush. The good thing is that you can disassemble them for easy cleaning. With that said, you have to be careful of the blades as they might cause you injury.
Can we Clean Meat Tenderizer with Dishwasher?
You can clean any stainless aluminum meat tenderizer with a dishwasher. As earlier said, if your meat tenderizer is made of regular aluminum or wood, you should avoid using a dishwasher to clean it.
A dishwasher can cause wood to crack while in the case of aluminum, it is quite sensitive to the detergent used in dishwashers. This may cause deposits of white powder on the aluminum while it causes it to corrode. You should hand wash aluminum or wood tenderizers to ensure they last longer.
How to Choose the Right Meat Tenderizer for You
Despite the fact that a meat tenderizer is not a complicated utensil, selecting a good one also need relevant information. Here are few tips you should consider before purchasing a meat tenderizer in order to choose the right one for you.
Consider the Type of Meat Tenderizer
When selecting a meat tenderizer, you should know the exact type that fits your needs. Are you going to cube the meat? Or do you need a tenderizer that can easily penetrate the meat? Or the one that can flatten the meat? These are few things you have to keep in mind when choosing a tenderizer for your needs.
Consider the Teeth/Blades of Tenderizer
When picking a tenderizer, the teeth should not be too sharp or too long. This prevents excess penetration that may shred the meat while working on it.
Consider the Dimension of Tenderizers Top
If you want to tenderize your meat comfortably, then you have to consider the dimension of the tenderizer. The dimension of the top helps you to know the size of meat you can effectively work on.
Consider the Material
The material determines if the tenderizer will be affected by the type of food it works on. It is also a factor in determining how long the meat tenderizer will last and what method you should use in cleaning the tenderizer. To get the best quality from a tenderizer, you should go for a tenderizer which is made using stainless steel as the material. This is more durable than aluminum or wood.
An excellent meat tenderizer should not wear you out after a short time. You want to pick the one that comes with the right weight that is comfortable for you.
What Are the Best Meat Tenderizers on The Market?
OXO SoftWorks Meat Tenderizer
The number one Tenderizer on our list is the OXO Softworks. No question, the OXO Meat SoftWorks is the best meat Tenderizer you can ever use. Everything about this kitchen tools screams high quality at every corner.
Whether you are making steak dinner for all the family or chicken Pacata for someone special, the OXO SoftWorks Meat Tenderizer allows you to flatten the meat, giving it the right thickness. Apart from that, this amazing kitchen tool is perfect to flatten chicken breast and make them cook more evenly without having any uncooked part.
The Tenderizer is a dual-purpose tool to flatten chicken cutlet and lets you tenderize your meat perfectly.
The flat side is perfect for pounding uneven meats for cooking while the textured side is ideal for tenderizing the tough cut meat. The solid metal construction is coated with Teflon, which makes it extra sturdy and soft to handle. Of course, it won’t slip even when your hands are wet or oily.
- Perfect weight size
- High-quality performance
- Works amazingly flattening chicken breasts
- Easy to use
- Comfortable to handle even with wet hands
- Require much effort
Cave Tools Meat Tenderizer Mallet Tool
This meat tenderizer is made from stainless steel and has a non-slip silicone handle, so it’s completely dishwasher safe. With the Cave Tools meat tenderizer, you can quickly break down connective tissues on every piece of meat. The smooth side is used to flatten chicken and the pyramid side to break down tough cuts of steak.
But the cave tool meat tenderizer is not just for tenderizing meat alone. It is one of the most useful kitchen tools you can have because you can also use it to crush nuts, garlic, hard candy and anything else around the kitchen with ease.
The meat tenderizer is actually the secret tool that famous chefs use to make the most delicious recipes. It’s 100% dishwasher safe, and it is incredibly easy to store the device. It fits perfectly in any size drawer where you can use the hook to hang it up in your pantry.
- Easy to handle
- Very simple to use
- 100% dishwasher safe
- Versatile tool
- Fairly heavy
Norpro 18/10 Stainless Steel Ultimate Meat Pounder Tenderizer
Next on our list is the famous Norpo Ultimate. When it comes to using an elite meat pounder to flatten chicken breast, chicken-steak or veal scallops and make sure everything cooks evenly, the Norpo Ultimate Meat Pounder Tenderizer comes to mind.
Featuring 26 ounces in weight and 3-¼ inches in diameter in size, the Ultimate tenderizer is stylishly designed for quick work with easy maneuvering. This grippy tenderizer delivers an attractive stainless steel coupled with a santoprene handle that provides a firm grip even when the tool is wet.
Our test revealed that the Ultimate Meat Pounder Tenderizer offers unmatched qualities when it comes to pounding meat. While other meat tenderizers would pound the meat with holes in it, the Ultimate flattens that meat without holes and ensures that all parts of the meat are well cooked. With shiny chrome and a smooth surface, the Ultimate is very easy to clean and maintain.
- Well-made pounder with trippy handle
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Very easy to handle
- Require much effort
Weston Manual Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer
If you want to decrease your cooking time and maximize the effectiveness of your meat marinades, then the Weston Manual Heavy Duty tenderizer is the exact fit for you.
The Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer prepares large piece of household meats and steaks with just a twist of the crank handle.
It does a superb job by softening your tough steak to ensure it cooks on time. The Heavy-Duty is skillfully constructed with a stripper blade to prevent the meat from wrapping the rollers.
The functions of the two rollers enable the 31 stainless steel blade to effectively slice through meats up to ¾ thick. After that, it hand-cranks the tenderized steak or cutlets by dropping the steak into the highest point of the device.
- High-quality performance
- Easy to clean
- Works perfectly for cubing chicken fried steak
- Simple and straightforward to use
- The device isn’t dishwasher safe
Bodyguard 56 Stainless Steel Blades Meat Tenderizer
If you are looking for a reliable meat tenderizer that will decrease your cooking time by 50%, and at the same time making it tastier, then the Bodyguard is a good fit for you. The Bodyguard is one tenderizer that is packed with a lot of quality features for both home and commercial use. It is suitable for hotel, restaurant, and professional Chef.
The Bodyguard is skillfully constructed with a solid stainless steel blade and ABS plastic material to professionally increase the taste of different types of meat like turkey, beef, etc.
It also did a superb job by offering stainless steel needles used to puncture the meat directly to reduce cooking time and marinating. The built-in safety lock protects the blades of the tenderizer as well as the cap making it safe to use, portable and easy to store.
The device also comes with a dual protective cover head, which can withstand dust and prevent you from injury. The gripping handle was carefully designed to give you much convenience handling the tenderizer.
The Bodyguard also comes with a Lock feature that allows you to open the device as well as an unlock feature that lets you close the device when you are not using it. Just like other meat tenderizers, the Bodyguard is easy to clean, but make sure you wash it immediately to so it wouldn’t be difficult to clean.
- Offers quality stainless steel
- It’s dishwasher safe.
- Easy to use and clean
- The sharp blades make work easy
- Perfect weight
- The blades are stiff and too sharp
X-Special Meat Tenderizer
Another great Tenderizer on our list is the X-Special Meat Tenderizer. If you want a top of the line Tenderizer that lets you Cook meat, embeds seasonings into your meat and also allows the marinade to soak better into the meat, then the X-Special is exactly what you are looking for.
The X-Special is one of the best Tenderizer that does an excellent job of loosening and also flattening the tissue in the meat without damaging or distorting the meat. We have tested this tenderizer by using this on steaks, and it did make a huge difference with its stellar performance.
It comes with a high-quality, durable ABS plastic and a classic stainless steel Razor Knives Blades to withstand rust, and discolor. Another nice feature is the protective cover that prevents accidental harm or cuts from the blade.
- Makes marinating simple
- Reduce your cooking time to 45%
- Tenderizes the meat without losing its juice
- Safe to use
- It’s BPA free and Dishwasher Machine Safe
- It can damage the counter top.
- The blades are very sharp. So, use it with caution
Having a meat tenderizer can save you a lot of time and troubles when trying to soften your meat using other methods like braising or grilling. They also provide a means of turning your meat into a cube shape, especially for those who like it that way.
By cubing meat yourself, you can get the desired measurement you want and also tenderize it which reduces the risk of exposure to infections when buying mechanically pre-tenderized meat on the market.