For more flavorful, tender meat, the best meat tenderizers quickly transform any cut. Meat tenderizers typically come in three forms — mallets, blades, and powdered (or seasoning) tenderizers. To help you choose the type that best suits your cooking style, let's walk through what you need to know.
- Mallet tenderizers are used like a hammer with a long handle and a textured head to pound meat and are typically made of aluminum or stainless steel, sometimes with a nonstick coating. If the mallet head has a smooth side, this type can also flatten meat for evener or thinner pieces.
- Blade tenderizers are handheld devices, typically plastic (look for ABS plastic for food safety and durability), with dozens of stainless steel blades or needles that puncture meat to tenderize. This option can be a bit easier to maneuver for some home cooks than the mallet.
- Powdered or seasoning tenderizers are simply sprinkled over meat to help break down tough fibers with salt and active enzymes, often bromelain, which is typically found in pineapple and breaks down tougher meat fibers.
I've included one crank-powered tenderizer that's a close cousin of the blade tenderizer. It can also cube meat and is great for high-volume needs, especially for major events where you're entertaining for family and friends.
Check out my highly-rated picks below, all of which will undoubtedly help make your meat more tender.
1. The Best Mallet Tenderizer
The OXO meat tenderizer is a mallet tenderizer made of solid aluminum with nonstick coating and a soft, comfortable grip around a steel handle. Reviewers love that it's conveniently dishwasher safe and that it has one textured side for tenderizing and a smooth side for flattening meat. They also note it has a good weight — not too light and not too heavy.
Fans say: “I’m in love with this meat tenderizer. I intentionally sought out one that was dishwasher safe. I’ve had it for about a month now and have run it in the dishwasher at least once a week, during the first week probably three times, mainly because I was a little enamored with my new purchase. [...] The product has a good weight, it’s not too heavy, but it’s still heavy enough where I don’t have to really exert myself to use the product. It helps to tenderize the meat under its own weight, which is a really big plus if you don’t have much arm strength.”
2. The Best Blade Tenderizer
The Jaccard blade tenderizer is highly rated after more than 2,000 reviews, including one shopper who calls it a "game changer." The ABS plastic handle encases 48 sharp, stainless steel blades that penetrate meat to reduce cooking time by nearly half, resulting in juicier, tastier meat. The razor-sharp blades create tiny heat channels within the meat, which also allow for better absorption of marinades.
Fans say: “Alton Brown showed this type of tool on one of his shows, and being a kitchen gadgetaholic, I had to try. I am so glad I did. This tool works GREAT. Not only does it tenderize the meat, but because of the little holes created by the blades the marinades and rubs penetrate the meat deeper resulting in a better flavor.”
3. The Best Powdered Meat Tenderizer
The McCormick powdered meat tenderizer has salt and bromelain, an active enzyme found in pineapples that breaks down tough meat fibers. It's easy to use and can be stored along with your spices. No extra tools to clean here, just moisten the meat, sprinkle the tenderizer over the cut, then prick with a fork and get it cooking.
Fans say: “This is the one that I am constantly seeking out. It makes my grilled meats zing. I have been using McCormicks Seasons meat tenderizer for more than 35 years...I highly recommend it. I Pierced the meat with a pair of forks after I have sprinkled on the seasoned tenderizer. Try it you will be hooked.”
4. A Meat Tenderizer That Also Cubes Meat
With 31 stainless steel blades in rotating jam-proof combs, this heavy-duty, food-safe meat cuber and tenderizer is perfect for tackling a lot of meat. Here's how it works: secure the base to a countertop with the included pair of C-clamps and feed a piece of meat into the machine by cranking the handle. Then, if you'd like to cube the meat, run it through once more. This tenderizer is made of sturdy aluminum and disassembles for easy cleaning. This set also comes with tongs to ensure your safety while using the device.
Fans say: "This will change the way you prepare meals! I originally purchased it for pork chops but have since used on beef and chicken, works great! Will give you nice tender cuts of meat, I have run meats up to an inch through with no problems, highly recommend"
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