How to Tenderize Ground Beef with Baking Soda for the Most Tender, Juicy Meat

Ground beef is a versatile ingredient that can be used in everything from burgers to tacos to meatloaf. However, it’s easy for ground beef to turn out dry and tough when cooked. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for keeping ground beef tender – baking soda!

Adding just a small amount of baking soda when cooking ground beef helps it retain moisture and prevents the meat proteins from toughening. Read on to learn the science behind using baking soda as a tenderizer and how to properly use it to transform your ground beef dishes.

Why Baking Soda Tenderizes Meat

Baking soda, otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, is a mild alkali that can raise the pH of ingredients it comes into contact with. When added to ground beef, the baking soda makes the meat slightly more alkaline.

This higher pH environment inhibits the meat proteins from binding too tightly together as the beef cooks. If the proteins bond too much, they squeeze out the natural juices in the meat, resulting in dryness and tough texture.

The baking soda helps the proteins stay looser, allowing them to retain more moisture. This keeps the ground beef tender and succulent instead of dry.

In addition, baking soda promotes better browning and searing due to the Maillard reaction. This reaction between amino acids and sugars occurs more quickly in more alkaline environments.

How Much Baking Soda to Use on Ground Beef

When tenderizing ground beef with baking soda, less is more. Too much baking soda can give the beef an unpleasant soapy or chemical taste.

The recommended amount is:

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda per 1 pound of ground beef

To distribute the baking soda evenly, it helps to dissolve it first in a tablespoon of water before mixing into the beef.

Let the seasoned ground beef sit for about 15 minutes after adding baking soda to allow it to penetrate the meat before cooking.

Step-By-Step Guide to Tenderize Ground Beef

Here is a simple process for using baking soda to keep ground beef tender:

1. Make a Baking Soda Solution

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda to 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.

  • Stir to fully dissolve the baking soda.

2. Mix into Ground Beef

  • Place 1 pound of ground beef in a large bowl.

  • Add the dissolved baking soda solution.

  • Mix thoroughly with your hands until combined.

3. Let Sit for 15 Minutes

  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

  • This pause allows the baking soda to evenly permeate the meat.

4. Cook as Usual

  • Cook using your regular ground beef recipe. Whether skillet, oven, or grill, the pre-treated beef will turn out more tender.

  • For skillet cooking, be sure to sear over high heat for a nicely browned crust.

And that’s it! With just a bit of advance prep, you’ll get juicy, tender ground beef texture without any extra effort.

Types of Ground Beef to Tenderize with Baking Soda

Baking soda works its tenderizing magic on all types of ground beef:

  • 80/20 or 85/15 ground chuck – The higher fat content keeps these blends juicier. Baking soda enhances the tenderness.

  • 90/10 or 93/7 extra lean ground beef – Lower fat beef dries out more easily. Baking soda helps retain moisture.

  • Ground sirloin – Lean like 90/10 beef but pricier. Baking soda stops it from becoming dense.

  • Ground bison or buffalo – Inherently lean meats that benefit from the tenderizing effect.

  • Ground veal – More delicate than beef so baking soda helps keep it tender.

No matter the exact fat ratio or cut, all ground beef gains a boost in tenderness with a baking soda bath before cooking.

Ground Beef Dishes That Benefit from Baking Soda

Because baking soda improves the texture of ground beef, it’s ideal for beef dishes where texture and moisture are important:

  • Burgers – Keep patties tender and juicy, preventing dry hockey pucks.

  • Meatballs – Lighten up dense, heavy meatballs for a more delicate bite.

  • Meatloaf – Avoid dry loaves, creating a more tender, sliceable result.

  • Tacos – Ground beef filling stays moist instead of crumbling into dry bits.

  • Sloppy Joes – More tender meat allows the sauce to penetrate better.

  • Chili – Prevent chewy bits of ground beef in the thick chili sauce.

  • Lasagna, Cottage Pie, Shepherd’s Pie – Softer ground beef with better moisture in baked dishes.

Any recipe that uses a pound or more of ground beef is a great candidate for baking soda tenderizing.

More Tips for Tender Ground Beef

Using baking soda is a quick, easy way to guarantee tender results with minimal effort. But here are some additional tips for keeping ground beef tender and juicy:

  • Don’t overmix – Gently mix just until combined to avoid denseness.

  • Don’t overcook – Cook just until no pink remains. Ground beef overcooks quickly.

  • Avoid pressing into a pan – Pressing squeezes out juices; use a spatula to break up and stir instead.

  • Let rest before serving – Letting cooked crumbled beef sit a few minutes allows juices to reabsorb.

  • Add breadcrumbs or oats – Binder ingredients help retain moisture in meatballs and loaves.

  • Use 80/20 ground chuck – The fat provides insurance against dryness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use baking soda with beef stew meat?

Yes, baking soda works on cubed stew meat too. Use 1/4 tsp baking soda per pound of stew meat.

What about marinated or seasoned ground beef?

Mix in baking soda before adding any other ingredients like marinades or seasoning blends for even distribution.

Is baking powder the same as baking soda?

No, baking powder contains baking soda but also has other acid ingredients. Use baking soda only.

Can I skip the water and just add baking soda directly?

It’s best to dissolve it first to prevent clumping. The water helps distribute it evenly.

How does baking soda compare to meat tenderizers?

It performs a similar function more mildly and naturally, without added flavorings.


Baking soda is an inexpensive, kitchen staple ingredient that has the power to transform ground beef texture for the better. By slightly raising the pH, it inhibits meat proteins from binding too tightly and forces them to retain more moisture.

Follow the easy process of making a baking soda solution, mixing into raw ground beef, and letting it sit before cooking. This draws out the full tenderizing and juiciness potential of ground beef in any recipe. Get ready for more flavorful burgers, meatballs, chili, and so much more!

I tried BAKING SODA on $1 Steak and this happened!


Does baking soda make ground beef tender?

Baking Soda is an Easy Meat Tenderizer Baking soda helps prevent ground beef from drying out, allowing those burger patties to keep their moisture and brown quicker for the most flavorful cookout. Not to mention, baking soda is the ideal ingredient for getting the most out of your Thanksgiving bird.

How much baking soda do I need for 1 pound of ground beef?

Here’s the tip: For every pound of ground beef, a good rule of thumb is to add about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and to let the meat sit for about 15 minutes before cooking. From there, you can throw the ground beef in a hot, dry pan and cook it up.

Do you need to rinse baking soda off meat?

Allow the meat to soak in the baking soda solution for 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the liquid and briefly rinse the meat in plain water to strip off the baking soda solution (or as much of it as possible). Cook as desired.

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