As the name suggests, a meat tenderizer is used to increase a slab of meat’s tenderness. The more tender a piece of meat is, the easier it is to cut and chew, which usually means that it’s more enjoyable to eat.
Buying Guide for Meat Tenderizers
Why buy a meat tenderizer?
Tenderness is considered to be a desirable quality in meat, which means that naturally tender cuts of meat tend to be more expensive. Meat tenderizers can help save you money long term, as they allow you to buy less expensive cuts of meat and make them more tender yourself. This not only softens and flattens the meat, but also makes it more receptive to marinades and other seasonings, allows it to better retain its natural flavor and juices, and helps reduce its cooking time. Meat tenderizers are especially useful for tough cuts and for recipes requiring broiling, frying, widening, or thinning out meat. They can be used on any type of meat, from beef to pork to chicken and other fowl, or even fish. Plus, you can use them to crush nuts for your baked goods or salads. A meat tenderizer is a great tool to have in your kitchen.
What should you look for in a meat tenderizer?
- Handle: The handle of your new meat tenderizer might not seem like an important feature, but it’s one that’s well worth giving some consideration to. If you opt for a mallet tenderizer, look for an ergonomically designed handle, preferably with a nonslip grip. This not only reduces your hand fatigue while you’re using it but helps to protect you as well. Some models have a small hole at the end of the handle so that you can hang them for easy storage. If you want to buy a needle or blade tenderizer, look for a spring-loaded mechanism in the handle. This will give you better control over the device and also reduce hand fatigue. The snugger the grip or handle fits in your hand, the better, as this prevents the tenderizer from moving around while you use it.
- Safety: Besides a comfortable, ergonomic handle, there are a couple of different safety features that you can look for in a meat tenderizer, specifically in the blade and needle models. A model with a plastic guard cap protects the blades from being accidentally damaged during storage and reduces your risk of cutting yourself by mistake. Retractable blades or needles are much less likely to become exposed when the tenderizer isn’t being used. A model with a lock feature is even better since it keeps the blades or needles securely closed in storage and makes sure that they stay open as you work to tenderize your meat. Blade and needle tenderizers with a linear, rather than a circular, arrangement also tend to be safer as well as more effective, as they offer more control over your device.
What are the different types of meat tenderizers?
You ultimately have two primary design options: mallet tenderizers that look like double-sided hammers and blade or needle tenderizers that puncture the meat with built-in blades or needles. There are also electric tenderizer machines, but these are usually just used at restaurants to tenderize larger amounts of meat more quickly and easily. Each type of tenderizer offers different benefits. For example, double-sided mallets allow you to apply more force and pound meat into thinner pieces, whereas needle tenderizers create small holes in the meat to make it more receptive to marinades and flavor.
Our Picks for the Best Meat Tenderizers
KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer
A reliable meat tenderizer that's great for both professional and amateur chefs.
Pros: Made of lightweight yet durable aluminum, this meat tenderizer is strong enough to hold up under daily use but still light enough not to cause strain on your hands or wrists as you’re using it. The handle is ergonomically shaped to make it more comfortable to use, while the hole at the end makes it convenient to hang up for storage.
Cons: The spikes on the double-sided mallet are very sharp, which means that you need to be careful while using the tenderizer. Otherwise, you could end up injuring yourself. Also, you can damage the spikes if you pound the tenderizer too vigorously.
Bottom Line: This classic, double-sided mallet meat tenderizer can tenderize, pound, and flatten. One side is smooth for flattening meat cutlets, while the other side is grooved with slightly pointed spikes to tenderize meats. It offers incredible versatility, so you can certainly make use of it whatever your cooking style.
Jaccard 48-Blade Meat Tenderizer
This meat tenderizer offers incredible ease of use, and you can store it almost anywhere in your kitchen.
Pros: This device’s body is made of high-quality ABS plastic and is equipped with double-sided stainless steel knives to cut through tough meat with minimal effort. Those blades also create tiny heat channels in the meat during tenderizing without altering its appearance and allowing marinades to seep in, soak, and flavor it with greater ease. If you mainly cook just beef, poultry, or pork, you can buy this tenderizer in versions specifically designed to tenderize each of those, or you can stick with the more versatile version.
Cons: This particular tenderizer is more valuable for preparing specialty meats than everyday cuts. It’s also not a great option for busy commercial kitchens.
Bottom Line: This handheld meat tenderizer is great for chefs of varying levels, and, in its basic form, it’s suitable for multiple types of meat. Use it on veal, pork, chicken, venison, and much more to help it better retain its natural juices and flavors.
ZXZ Meat Tenderizer
A tenderizer that effectively breaks down some of the tougher cuts of meat.
Pros: The nonslip grip makes this tenderizer both easier and safer to use, even for the elderly. The transparent protective cover and automatically retracting steel needles when not in use also work to both protect the tenderizer and help keep it clean. This meat tenderizer is also anti-scratch and safe to wash, either with a cleaning brush or in the dishwasher. Thanks to the tiny heat channels that this device creates in the meat or fish as it tenderizes, your protein won’t just increase its flavor and seasoning absorption without getting rid of its natural juices, but it can also help save you the time and trouble of marinating your meat for long lengths of time.
Cons: It’s not easy to clean since the blades create crevices that are tricky to access and cleanse. It can also get stuck in the meat sometimes, which is a bit annoying. Just make sure that you’re careful while using it.
Bottom Line: This powerful, heavy-duty handheld meat tenderizer is designed to handle even the toughest and thickest cuts of meat. The anti-rust, integrated stainless steel blades are incredibly sharp and won’t lose their edges or angles even with daily use. They’re also designed to cut through and soften even connective tissue without forcing the meat out of shape or chopping it into tiny pieces. This device is also simple to use. All you have to do is press it down a few times against the meat or fish that you want to tenderize.
VBENLEM Commercial Meat Tenderizer
A meat tenderizer that is ideal for commercial kitchens.
Pros: This commercial-grade meat tenderizer comes equipped with several premium features. This includes a powerful electric motor that eliminates the need to tenderize your meat by hand and 34 rotating knives to puncture the meat. The device is also made of durable stainless steel. It’s easy to clean and maintain, and you can tenderize large amounts of meat at a single time.
Cons: This meat tenderizer is more suitable for commercial kitchens because it helps save time and allows you to process more cuts of meat in a shorter amount of time. If you’re just a home cook, you’ll want to look elsewhere for a handheld tenderizer, as you very likely won’t use this electric one often enough for it to be worth the money or the space that it requires.
Bottom Line: This premium meat tenderizer is the ideal option for commercial kitchens that require extra efficiency and precision. You can tenderize several cuts of meat in a short period of time, making it easier for you to serve a restaurant full of hungry patrons. Simplify your tenderizing approach with this device.
Checkered Chef Meat Tenderizer
This affordable meat tenderizer delivers high-quality results.
Pros: This mallet is double-sided: One is textured for tenderizing meat, and the other is flat for pounding meat thinner for faster cooking times. The soft, rubberized handle makes the mallet comfortable to grip and helps to absorb pressure and shock waves during the hammering process. And the sleek, nonstick coating protects the mallet while also ensuring that it’s safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Cons: Although it’s dishwasher-friendly, it will eventually begin to discolor over time. Also, food residue is often more difficult to remove on double-sided tenderizers, so you might have to spend more time cleaning it.
Bottom Line: This ergonomically designed meat tenderizing mallet is great for beating steaks, chicken breasts, and other tough cuts of meat. It strikes the right balance between weight and comfort, and it’s light enough that you won’t harm or strain yourself during use, yet heavy enough to achieve its intended task. You only have to apply minimal force and let gravity and the mallet’s weight do the rest.
Ultimately, having a meat tenderizer will allow you to make your meals more appetizing and flavorful. You can easily transform inexpensive cuts of meat into delicious, mouth-watering entrées with the help of a quality meat tenderizer.