When you have a lively evening at your favorite steakhouse, the meat has to fit the bill for three things: it has to be juicy, it has to be succulent, and most importantly, it has to be tender! But what about when you make the same steak at ?
For the perfect roast chicken and grilled steaks, you need the best meat tenderizers. A meat tenderizer is a superb kitchen tool that breaks down the protein bonds, brings out the juice, and helps the meat cook more tastefully.
But you can’t just buy any tenderizer! You need to look out for the multipurpose and versatile use of it, as well as its safety and maintenance. And there’s more we’ll be talking about here!
Our Top Pick of Best Meat Tenderizers
- Best Cuber – Weston Manual Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer
“Now you can make your favorite beef or chicken steaks with the best manual meat cuber and tenderizer thanks to Weston.”
- Best Overall – KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer
“You can easily thrash the pieces of meat now that you have something lightweight to tenderize it to perfection!”
- Best Value for Money – Checkered Chef Meat Tenderizer
“An inexpensive meat tenderizer that works for both left handed and right handed, passionate steak makers.”
- Best Dual-Spiked Mallet – Aliglow Meat Tenderizer Hammer
“With the right swinging motion and its own weight, the mallet will tenderize thick cuts of meat effortlessly with both the sides for a perfect steak.”
- Best Grip – XSpecial Meat Tenderizer Tool
“For beginners who require excellent and comfortable grip from their meat tenderizers, this is the solution.”
- Piece Hammer – OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer-Best One
“Do you want succulent pieces that break and melt in the mouth? OXO Meat Hammer delivers juicy cuts each time you take a bite!”
- Best Blades for Marination Absorption – Jaccard 48-Blade Meat Tenderizer
“Just the right number of blades to have the marination seep into your meat, for your most succulent roast chicken till date!”
- Best Balanced Mallet – Aliglow Meat Tenderizer Hammer Tool
“A great option for arthritis patients who have issues keeping the strength in their hands but still need pounding.”
- Best for Flavors – CCFoud Meat Tenderizer
“Now you can taste your marinades as well as the meat in a juicy combo and get a pack of flavors, thanks to this meat tenderizer.”
- Best Innovative Design – Norpro Meat Tenderizer
“A tenderizer that not only promotes innovation, but also keeps the meat intact in shape and flavors after you cook it.”
- Best for Convenience – XSpecial Kitchen Meat Tenderizer Tool
“The most convenient tenderizing tool that works on different cuts of meat and is very easy to use.”
Best Meat Tenderizers in a Video Review
Product Reviews on the Best Meat Tenderizers
Here is a collection of 11 of the best tenderizers in the market that we reviewed and tested. See if it fits your kitchen needs!
- Sturdy: The base and crank handle are both heavy-duty, meaning that the construction of the tenderizer is made to last long. You can prepare a lot of steaks before it breaks down, thanks to the rigid cast aluminum construction!
- Safe: You will not have to worry about the food getting unhygienic with the use of this tool as it comes with a food-safe coating. What’s more, it comes with stainless steel tongs that help you pick up the pieces and enter them safely.
- Tough: You got tough cuts of meat from the market? No problem! The 31 blades work through the toughest connective tissues to tenderize multiple pounds of meat. You and the cuber can easily handle meats as much as 5 inches wide and 1 ¼ inch thick.
How would it be if we told you you could tenderize pounds and pounds of meat with just the turn of handles? And more than that, the stainless steel combs on the machine will prevent any sort of jamming? This manual cuber from Weston promises just that!
Also, do you know how it becomes tough to clean kitchen appliances when you just can’t take them apart? Having dirt and debris stuck in your tenderizer is such a nightmare. But since this tenderizer comes off easily, you can clean it up and assemble it before your next task, thanks to the easy assembling feature.
- Lightweight: Lightweight does not mean this mallet is fragile. In fact, since this is made of aluminum, it is durable, strong, and high-performing besides being just lightweight. This portability ensures that you can take it with you to outdoor steak grilling and enjoying.
- Multipurpose: The dual surfaces on the mallet allow to tenderize and flatten meat. But what else can you do with it? The flat side can be used to crush nuts and spices too! So with the same tool, you can process your marinade as well as the meat.
- Easy storage: You’ll find it very easy to store in multiple situations. The ergonomic handle comes with a hole. So you can decide to either keep it in the cabinet or hang it from a hook easily.
How would it feel if your meat tenderizer is so heavy that you need to warm up before using it? Not acceptable!
So when we give you something that is lightweight, will last you many recipes, can be used in preparing more than just meat, and will be a delightful addition to your kitchen, what shall we call it? One of the best steak tenderizers, obviously!
You may have seen certain tenderizers working better on poultry. Again, other tenderizers are good for beek but act too heavy on chicken and all. But with this one, you can work your way into a variety of meat types without ruining the shape.
- Soft handle: Whether you are right-handed or left-handed, you will find the design of the handle easy to use and operate with any hand you like. Since it is made of rubber, it is also comfortable to hold and will absorb the pressure from all that pounding you will be doing!
- Easy cleaning: You can easily clean it in your dishwasher. There will be absolutely no case of metal powder or black spots on your meat cuts after using it in the dishwasher!
- Safe coating: Sometimes, you may have seen metals replicating spots on your meat cut. This totally ruins the meat. But since this mallet is protected with a safe and non-toxic layer, it protects not only the meat, but also the metal itself inside the dishwasher.
There are people who want an aesthetic and sleek look in every item they own. Are you one of them too? Do you need to replicate your personality in your kitchen tools?
Then you would love the sleek black design of this tenderizer, as opposed to the regular silver outlook of the KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer, But other than just the design, what makes it the best beef tenderizer?
Because it is not light and airy, and neither is it heavy for you to not be able to raise and hit with it, you will find it very easy to work with. The weight of the mallet will do its work with the help of gravity, so your hands won’t get tired.
- Great quality: This tenderizer is made of zinc alloy. The sturdiness of the tool lets you do anything from tenderizing meat, defrosting and departing vegetables by pounding, cracking open the crab shells, and a lot more! You get juicier steaks that are both easy to chew and digest.
- Ergonomic design: The design of the tool is such that you will strike the right balance between weight and control of the handle. Your hand will combine the support of the mallet and gravity to build the steak of your dreams!
- Swinging motion: For those of you who like to use a nice grip when swinging your mallet like a hammer, this one is a winner. It lets you pound those pork chops for the perfect frying fun.
Much like the Checkered Chef Meat Tenderizer, this tenderizer is easy on the wallet. Imagine having to break the bank all because you need a good meat tenderizer.
Well, not anymore, with Aliglow! For a multipurpose and multi-use tenderizer that works on a variety of meat cuts, this tool is very handy.
And the special thing? Since this one has two textured sides, you get a lot of durability from it. Imagine this; you can use one side of the tenderizer on your meat for many recipes.
When this side becomes blunt, you can work with the other side without needing to buy a new one too! But this of course, will require you to maintain the mallet for such longevity.
- No pulverizing: When the needles on your mallet are placed wrongly, they cause your meat cut to become squishy as you pound and beat it for the steak. But this one prevents any such damage to the beautiful cut of meat that delivers succulent results each time!
- Easy Cooking: XSpecial is especially known to cut down your cooking time by making sure things are even and uniform. So with 40% less time, preparing meals for lunch and dinner becomes hassle-free.
- Better Flavor: As the 48 needles break through the tough connective tissues on the meat, you get easier to chew pieces that are also packed with seasoned flavors and make you ask for more!
If you are a beginner in this steak cooking at home business, then you need to be careful. Because many times, out of excitement or haste or things like that, users have gone out their way and hurt themselves with the tenderizer.
This is why having a tenderizer that, in the least, ensures that you have a safe grip is important. Just like the Checkered Chef Meat Tenderizer, XSpecial gives you that too, but the latter is pricier!
And if you are not a fan of hammering your meat, you will love this handheld option where you can press down instead of thrust the force on the meat cut. This allows you to have better control on the meat and how you like it!
- Dual Side: Unlike Aliglow Meat Tenderizer, which had no flat side, this one comes with both the flat side and bladed side. Hence, like the very best mallets, it comes with a dual tenderizing and pounding side, so you don’t have to use a different utensil to flatten the meat.
- Single Construction: The entire hammer has one-piece aluminum construction. This is why you do not have a mixture of different metals, making some parts of the tool more durable than the others. Instead, the entire tool is strong and long-lasting.
- No-slip handle: All hammers promise a comfortable grip, But how many can help you maintain your control when your hands become wet from the continual pounding? To help your wet hands, the handles on this tenderizer are made safe from slipping.
What is more annoying than taking a bite of your steak and having the whole thing hang from your mouth? We don’t want chewy pieces!
And that means we definitely want a tool that can give us tender pieces that break and melt in the mouth. What do you think can help us? The best meat tenderizing hammer from OXO!
And you know how applying a hammering force on the meat sends back the force to your hands? If you have a poorly made handle that can’t bear the impact, it will hurt you and make the pounding process tiring. But OXO saves you by having not only a non-slip grip but also an impact-bearing grip!
- Handheld: If you prefer the power of your fist and fingers to work into the meat, this handheld tool is the right choice for you. Pounding with it lets the marinade absorption increase by 600% while reducing cooking time by 40% (the latter being the same we witnessed from XSpecial Meat Tenderizers!).
- Sharp Blades: The design of the tool is such that it has double-sided knives made of stainless steel. 48 of these blades go through the tough connective tissues and tendons and work their way to make the perfectly tender meat for you!
- Commercial-grade: If you are a professional chef who needs to work with steaks and roast chicken in the kitchen, then you will love the professional-grade build of the tenderizer.
Don’t think that we are only discussing tenderizers’ suggestions for home chefs here! If you wanted something professional grade that could go in your restaurant, you would really love this meat tenderizer from Jaccard.
But besides serving professional chefs and home cooks, why else is this considered one of the best for steak? The answer lies in the features.
Since this is made of premium quality metal, the workmanship is above par, making it one of the best stainless steel meat pounders. So it makes sure that the expensive cuts you bought don’t go to waste while pounding.
- Balanced weight: The new and improved design of the mallet will help you a lot. The handle is thin and light, so it doesn’t put pressure on your hands. On the other hand, more of its weight is concentrated on the hammer end. So with a little swing and little effort, you get a heavy pounding on the meat without spending much energy!
- Easy cleaning: Unlike rectangular mallets, this one had rounded edges. So when you are doing the cleaning after use, there’s going to be less chance of getting hurt from the sharpness.
- Multifunctional: Whether you want to tenderize thick cuts of meat or make thin pork roll-ups for friends by flattening the fillets, you can do both with this tool!
Aliglow made it to the list again! And this time, we are blessed with both the sharp side of the mallet and the flat side, unlike the previous Aliglow Meat Tenderizer that didn’t have any such flat side.
For the users who have issues of arthritis that leave them with less grip and little strength in the hands for pounding meat, this is an optimum choice.
So, for those who are intimidated by a tenderizer and how it will work, all of you can use this tool. The sturdiness ensures that it will last long for many steak recipes, and it is also great at crushing different cuts quickly and without a fuss.
- Convenient cooking: It does not change the shape of the food in a bizarre way. This is why you can cook without worrying about poorly made shapes and reduced/shrunken meat. You can also cook faster with it, as it helps to cut down the cooking time as well.
- Quality design: With its 48 blades that have a tough texture, that prevent rust and corrosion, and have sharp edges on both sides, the design of this tool will set you in the mood for making steaks. Even the ABS handle is easy to press down and pound with!
- Safety: Since it comes with a protection cover, it is very safe to use. When you press it down, the blades will deploy on their own. So, less chance of accidents when making a steak meal for yourself!
If you were planning a picnic with friends and you wanted to do the whole steak cooking thing outdoors, then the portability of this tool will allow you to do the tenderizing in the forests!
Just hunt down or take the meat cuts with you and enjoy the convenient carrying and pounding abilities of this tenderizer.
And as you know, for some time, we have been raving about how Jaccard 48-Blade Meat Tenderizer is our top choice when it comes to the perfect marinade absorption into your steaks. But if we were to find a tough competitor, do you know where we would look?
At CCFoud! But what makes their tools one of the best meat tenderizers for marinade? Let’s find out!
- Spring action: You’ll find that this tenderizer is spring-loaded at the bottom of the disk plate. Every time you press it down, the handle springs up for the next thrust. This smooth operation means that you will have more control as you continue to tenderize the meat and pack it with flavors and seasoning.
- Better flavor: You can pierce the meat into multiple tiny holes that take all the juice in a while marinating and take all the butter and heat in during cooking, ensuring a bloom of flavors on your steak!
- Easy usage: You don’t need to do the thrashing motion of the hammer or thump with your fist. Since the shape of it matches an everyday hand-blended, it goes easy on the palm to hold and is easier to use too!
Do you want to cook a professional steak at home, or at least learn how to prepare it professionally? You must be thinking that it comes at a great price, but actually, no!
Now you can make great steak at home with a budget-friendly tenderizing tool from one of the most innovative brands of kitchen appliances–Norpro. So let’s have a look at this tenderizer from them.
There are 24 blades in the tool. These prongs break through the tissues and fibers.
So you are left with a juicier slab of meat than you previously had! And this is since, professionally built, the tendering process happens uniformly over the surface and inside the meat cuts.
- Express Cooking: As the meat breaks down, more channels and tiny holes are created. When the flame passes through these, you get an evenly cooked steak meal like never before. And it also remains juicy!
- Extra long knives: The knives are not only made to penetrate through the tissues and fibers of meat but also to reseal and lock the meaty flavors in. So when you raise the flame and put it on the grill, it blooms out and elevates the taste of the meat.
- Construction: You will see and hear complaints about a lot of tenderizers breaking and going out of use after little use as they are made with cheap products. But this one features a combination of rust-proof stainless steel and high-quality plastic that gives excellent strength and a comfortable grip so that you can use it for a long time.
The main functionality that any kitchen appliance should serve is convenience. What is the purpose of getting a tool if it isn’t convenient? You don’t have to worry about this bit when you have XSpecial tenderizers! Just like the previous model, this one promotes no pulverizing, great flavors, and much more!
And you know how many tenderizers have this bad habit of causing the meat cut to be so bent out of shape that when you cook it?
But here, the tissues bounce back, and it turns into a reduced/shapeless slab of meat. To save you from the woe, this one makes sure that your meat is tenderized without sacrificing your hard work of flattening the meat.
What is Called a Meat Tenderizer?
A meat tenderizer is essentially a kitchen tool that helps you to prepare the meat.
As you know, there are 3 steps to making the perfect meal at home: the selection of the right, fresh cuts of chicken, beef, pork, or lamb; an ardent preparation with the right spices; and soulful cooking with some patience and your gammy/mom’s recipes. A meat tenderizer is what you use in the second step, and so it naturally impacts the third step of your cooking.
The tool may be sharp or blunt headed, and is used to tenderize/soften the meat and bend it out of shape. You can use it to pound your slab of meat before you cook it.
In terms of usage, it can be used by home chefs or professional chefs. While it is not mandatory to use a tenderizer everytime, you cook meat, tenderizing your meat softens it a lot and makes the meal delicious. So why not!
How Does a Meat Tenderizer Work?
You learned the definition of a tenderizer. But how exactly does it work?
Technically, a tenderizer contains sharp blades (or blunt heads) that help the bonds in the meat, including the fat, to break.
As these protein bonds break and the meat loosens, your hard slab of meat becomes comparatively softer. If you use a sharp-bladed tenderizer, the meat is left with a lot of tiny holes. Again, if you use a blunt-headed tenderizer, you get tiny dents and a thinner slab of meat.
This allows moisture and marination to penetrate the meat easily. So the spices and herbs enter the pieces of meat better.
Also, did you know, this not only helps the pre-cooking part but also during the cooking? After you have marinated the meat, when you put this tenderized meat on your flame grill, the holes ensure that the heat and the oil also reach and evenly cook the meat.
And that is when you hear the sizzle and get the mouth-watering smell!
Types of Meat Tenderizers
In this article, we will be discussing the tool tenderizers: blade, needle, and the mallet. But there are ways in which you can tenderize meat even when you are not using any three of these tools. More on this later!
When you need to tenderize thick cuts of chicken, turkey, or beef and pork, you traditionally use a mallet tenderizer. The method of using a mallet is the same as a hammer, except for one major difference.
When you pound with a hammer, you use one side only. The other side is used to carve out nails. But in a mallet hammer, you use both sides to thrust force! One side has tiny pyramids to make blunt cuts, while the other side (the flatter side) is to flatten the meat into an even thickness of shape.
Not a fan of blunting your meat slab? You can go deeper with the sharp needles on a needle meat tenderizer! These needles go as deep as 2 inches into thick meat slices, giving you beyond optimum marination.
When you need to whip up a steak quickly for the guests, a needle tenderizer can vastly cut down your cooking time. But remember, this one needs a lot of safety to operate.
Blade meat tenderizers are needle tenderizers but with thicker needles, made for the cuts of meat that are the chewiest and hard. You know these sharp blades allow you to break through the tissue barriers, the tendons, and everything in between; and lets the seasoning and spices shine through the flavor of the meat.
But beware, these need maximum precaution when using.
Different Ways Of Tenderizing Meat
There are different ways in which you can tenderize your favorite poultry or red meat. In order to do so, you need to follow any of the following techniques!
- Using Salt: If you want to concentrate the flavors on your meat cut, then you have to salt it heavily. After salting for an hour or so, you have to shake off the salt, which will have absorbed all the moisture by then. After that, you can cook it!
- Slow Cooking: Cooking the meat slowly and for a long time breaks down the connective tissue, collagen, and fiber, giving you soft, tender meat.
- Blades and Needles: When you want beef tenderizers, you opt for these! They make deep cuts in the meat, and so your cooking time cuts down by nearly half!
- Pounding/Mallet: Using heavy force to thrash the meat? Then you must be using a mallet steak tenderizer.
- Enzymes: If you want something cheaper than tools but more creative than salting and slow cooking, you can cook with meat softening enzymes such as pineapple and other acidic powders.
Advantages of Using the Best Meat Tenderizers
Why would you want to use a tool like a meat tenderizer? The main reason is the comfort and convenience of cooking. But wait, there’s more:
Think of it like this, you have a rock, and you have a sponge. Now rocks can hold some amount of water, but sponges can hold much more. When you use your marinade on a regular slab of meat vs. a tenderized and treated meat, the difference is just like this! Tenderized meat has a lot of tiny holes in it, and that means more herbs, spice, lime, and yogurt mix can get into this meat! This is why you get more flavorful meat from using a tenderizer.
Because you pound your meat and make holes in it with a tenderizer, it cooks faster and more evenly.
Think of it like this; a chicken thigh has highs and lows of meat. Unless you are boiling, frying this piece, or grilling, it will require different levels of heat, as some parts will cook faster than the others. But once you take out the bone and pound it to an even thickness, it will cook in the same set time. Also, it will cook 50% faster!
In terms of texture, a tenderizer makes your meat cut easier to chew, softer to taste, and easier to digest. And if you don’t look into it as some creative cooking technique, this also has thoughtful value as it helps senior citizens without teeth or weaker gums to chew on their proteins easily. Not to mention that the meat comes out juicy each time!
Features to Consider When Choosing the Best Meat Tenderizer
Now that you know quite some things about meat tenderizers don’t think you know it all! Before you set out to buy one for your kitchen, here are things you need to know:
Meat tenderizers can be classified into two different types when it comes to their function. With one type, you can perforate the cut of meat, while with the other, you can thrash and break the connective tissues and protein bonds.
Again when you consider styles, there’s a mallet, and there’s the needle/blade type. Mallets are good when you are trying to work with smaller cuts of chicken. The moment you buy thick beef cuts and want to tenderize a whole chicken, a mallet is no longer effective.
If you are a beginner and need a strong balance, we suggest you move out of the mallet category unless it comes with a comfortable grip from the non-slip handle.
The needle/blade style is great when you want to tenderize tough cuts of meat and hate meat shrinkage! These are also safer to use. How? Because the disk at the bottom of the tenderizer helps to retract the needles back. So they’re not all time exposed and are great for beginners.
When it comes to the blades, you have to pay attention to two things. Now you may think, what’s more important than the blades being sharp? They also have to be durable! If they are not durable, you will find that after a couple of pounding sessions, the tool is breaking or not functioning well. And if they are not sharp, they’ll stick to your cut of meat.
Further, you have to be careful about the number of blades or needles on the tenderizer. If there are too many needles, the smaller cuts of meat will be shredded instead of being tenderized. Usually, there are 16, 24, 48, or 56 blades.
Also, be careful about how you can clean the blades. While some can be chucked into the dishwasher, others need to be hand-washed.
The handle of the tenderizer should give you good control. You can pick from horizontal handles or vertical ones. While the horizontal ones need to be swinged only, the vertical ones require you to press it down and use the force from your fist.
Although it is not very common, the handle may have a locking feature that can help you ensure more safety.
Whether you are a beginner or a pro, being safe with your meat tenderizer needs you to have safety features like retractable blades, guards on the handle, as well as a handle lock feature.
Safety also comes from the ease of use.
We have already talked about cleaning a little. But make sure that when you are putting the tenderizer inside the dishwasher, there isn’t raw meat stuck into the blades of the tenderizer. Always brush off the excess debris.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As you see, we are done with the hunt for the best meat tenderizers! As you would expect, we covered the different types of needle, blade, and mallet tenderizers that can help you in the kitchen to break down your chewy protein chunks into readily digestible pieces.
If we were to pick a favorite, it would definitely be the KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer that is lightweight, strong, durable, and gives you juicy and tender pieces pre-cooking, and is the easiest to clean afterward! Also, for those who want cubing safely, the Weston Manual Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer is a great option. Last but not least, we would recommend the XSpecial Meat Tenderizer for its zero-pulverizing, arthritis-friendly, and flavor-packed delivery of succulent and juicy meat.
So, you could have your pick from any of these or refer to our guide to pick your favorite tenderizer from the market. And while you’re at it, do check out the other different ways you could tenderize the meat by salting, enzyme treating, and slow cooking it to perfection before you get the perfect tenderizer for your kitchen!