How To Tenderize Beef?

Few things are more disappointing than going to the store, choosing a gorgeous steak, coming home, and ruining it. Although there are undoubtedly many inexpensive steak options, beef is typically a more expensive meat protein and should be included in a balanced diet. So, getting your moneys worth is key.

Naturally, the more expensive steak cuts tend to be the tougher ones. Although cuts like the ribeye or filet mignon are naturally more tender, not everyone has the money to buy them on every trip to the butcher counter or grocery store. Additionally, if you do spend money on a premium cut of beef for a special occasion, you want it to be as tasty as possible, and a good steak’s tenderness is perhaps its most distinguishing feature.

Fortunately, there are a lot of preventative measures you can take to avoid making a steak that could be flavorful, juicy, and tender into one that is tough and dry. The tips below will enable you to maximize the flavor of your steaks and produce steakhouse-caliber results right in your own kitchen.

Pounding your steak is the most popular method for tenderizing it, and for a very simple reason. The muscle fibers that contract when exposed to heat are broken down when meat, including steak, is pounded. These muscles won’t become tight if they have previously been broken down and kept loose. Therefore, the final product will be more tender.

One of the more practical methods for tenderizing steaks is to pound them. Although a dimpled mallet is a common and useful kitchen tool, nothing special is really required to pound out a cut of beef. Other kitchen implements like a rolling pin, an empty wine bottle, a large skillet, or even just your fists can be used.

Another crucial point to keep in mind is that pounding steaks doesn’t necessitate using a lot of force. Instead, smaller, more frequent thumps will work just as well. Additionally, always remember to wrap your steaks in plastic wrap before pounding them, as failing to do so will make cleaning your tenderizing tool difficult.

Should You Tenderize Steak?

Tenderizing helps break down the fibers in tougher steak cuts with a lot of connective tissue, making the meat simpler to cook, cut, and consume.

Cuts of Steak that Benefit from Tenderizing

Tenderizing is beneficial for certain steak cuts with a lot of connective tissue. Because they are worked the most, cuts of meat from the cow’s shoulder or leg tend to be the toughest, but they also tend to be the most flavorful. Steaks that benefit from tenderizing include:

  • Brisket
  • Chuck
  • Bottom round
  • Flank steak
  • Hanger steak
  • Tri-tip steak
  • Skirt steak
  • London Broil.

7 Ways to Tenderize Steak

By pounding steaks with a meat mallet (or kitchen mallet), you can soften and tenderize the meat. Simply pound the meat before cooking by sandwiching it between pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can also use a heavy kitchen tool, such as a skillet, saucepan, or rolling pin if you don’t have a meat mallet. A meat mallet has two sides, flat and spiky. You can cook steak quickly over high heat by cutting the connective tissue and muscle fibers with the spiky points. You may occasionally see small, thin cuts of beef (typically top round or sirloin) labeled as cube steak at the grocery store because the spiky points create indentations in the meat that resemble small cubes. The steak will cook more evenly if the flattening side of the mallet is used to create a uniform thickness. For dishes like The Best Chicken Fried Steak or Steak with Beer-Braised Onions, where the goal is to make the meat thin and tender, the pounding technique is ideal.

served raw beef steak, vegetables, and herbs against a rustic wooden board backdrop. Close up. Selective focus. Copy space.

Up to an hour before cooking, most steak cuts benefit from being salted, but especially tougher cuts. Salt helps break down proteins and tenderize meat in addition to seasoning steaks. Before cooking, liberally salt the steaks for up to an hour. After that, follow your recipe. In this recipe for Strip Steak with Spiced Salt, the NY strips have plenty of time to absorb the spiced salt mixture as the grill heats up. Strip steaks are seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides 30 minutes before cooking in this oven steak recipe.


To assist in breaking down tough connective tissue and muscle fibers, prepare a marinade with acidic ingredients like citrus juice, buttermilk, yogurt, wine, vinegar, or soda. On thin, tough cuts like flank steak, hanger steak, tri-tip steak, skirt steak, or London broil, merely add one of these acidic ingredients to a marinade (which should also include oil and seasoning). Depending on the cuisine and cut, different marinades use different acidic ingredients. Citrus is a prominent flavor, as seen in dishes like this Chinese-inspired Tangerine Beef with Scallions, which uses tangerine juice to break down tri-tip steak, and these Steak Fajitas with Onions and Peppers, which lean Tex-Mex. Lime juice is crucial for tenderizing skirt steak in both of these dishes. While this Grilled Korean-Style Skirt Steak uses cola as its primary source of acid, these Grilled Skirt Steak Gyros use Greek yogurt.

Using baking soda to tenderize a cheap cut of beef for stir-frying

Prior to cooking, the Chinese technique of “velveting” involves marinating meat in a slurry made of cornstarch. Typically, the cornstarch mixture is made with equal parts of cornstarch, soy sauce, and sesame (or vegetable or peanut) oil. Flavoring agents like rice vinegar, Shaoxing wine, or oyster sauce are also added. For stir-fried dishes, beef is frequently velveted to make it more tender. Examples of this include the sliced beef sirloin in this Spicy Beef Stir Fry and this Beef and Mushroom Stir Fry. In addition to helping the meat become more tender, velveting creates a coating that encourages even browning and makes it easier for the sauce to stick to the meat.

Top view of beef bourguignon in a white soup bowl against a black stone wall. Stew with carrots, onions, mushrooms, bacon, garlic and bouquet garni. The dish is served with fresh thyme.

Low-and-slow cooking releases collagen and dissolves connective tissue, producing supple, shreddable meat. Braising, grilling, and sous vide (cooking proteins in a vacuum-sealed bag submerged in warm water) are examples of slow cooking techniques. The best methods for cooking tough cuts like brisket, chuck, and bottom round are braising and grilling. Make Texas BBQ Braised Beef Brisket, Slow Cooker Brisket, or Slow Cooker Pot Roast, which all benefit from an overnight dry brine. Try this Sous Vide Steak Dinner if you have a sous vide cooker to turn NY strip steaks into a meal fit for a restaurant.


Some fruits, such as kiwis, papayas, pineapples, and Asian pears, have enzymes that can help soften tough meat. Simply add fruit to your marinade—about 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup of marinade—and watch out for exceeding the recommended 12-hour marinating time because the enzymes can turn the meat mushy. This technique, like other marinades, works best with leaner cuts like hanger or skirt steaks.


Scoring meat involves cutting shallow slits into its surface. Cutting the meat severing the long fibers that make it difficult to chew is helpful for tenderizing tougher steak cuts, such as flank.

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How To Tenderize ANY Meat!


What is the best way to tenderize beef?

To soften and tenderize meat, use a meat mallet (or kitchen mallet) to pound steaks. Simply pound the meat before cooking by sandwiching it between pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can also use a heavy kitchen tool, such as a skillet, saucepan, or rolling pin if you don’t have a meat mallet.

What is the fastest way to tenderize beef?

Step 1: Dissolve baking soda in water to wet brine meat to tenderize it For every 12 ounces of meat, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 cup of water. Step 2: Let the meat soak in the mixture for at least 15 minutes. Step 3: Remove meat and rinse thoroughly. Step 4: Cook as desired.

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