The 10 Best Meat Tenderizers
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* Last update of prices was on 2019-01-18 10:12:22 via PA API. Prices or conditions may have changed in the meantime.
11 Best Meat Tenderizer Alternatives
Meat Tenderizer Buying Guide
Keep reading to find out how you can turn even inexpensive cuts of meat into tender, juicy entrees that your family and guests will love.
Why You Need a Meat TenderizerAnimals have lean muscle fibers and sturdy connective tissues that keep them strong and healthy in life. Meats of all kinds, including pork, beef, chicken and lamb, get even tougher when you cook them. The dense protein bonds in muscles get significantly firmer and shrink from the heat. Meats also lose moisture in the cooking process, especially at high temperatures.
What’s the solution?
The way that meat is treated before cooking usually overrides the texture or quality of the cut. Taking the time to tenderize your meat makes all the difference in texture and flavor. If you’ve never used a meat tenderizer, you’ll also be amazed by the way this handy tool reduces cook time and shrinkage.
The goal of tenderizing is to weaken the sturdy protein bonds that make meat tough. Breaking up the connective tissue is also beneficial. It contains collagen, which will melt faster during cooking to permeate the meat with moisture and flavor. Your steak or chicken breast will be juicy and tasty, and every part of it will get done at the same time.
You could think of a meat tenderizer as a tool that starts the work of chewing before the finished product ever hits the plate.
Design and QualityMeat tenderizers are specifically designed for diverse cuts and cooking methods. Here’s a rundown of the most common models:
- Meat mallet
This tool resembles a small hammer. It might be made of wood, rubber or stainless steel. Most models have a dual head with two different pounding surfaces. One surface is flat, and the other is covered with rows of dull spikes. They look a little like tiny pyramids. Meat mallets come in a variety of weights.
A mallet is the least expensive option, and it’s a very versatile tool. You can use the spiked side for breaking down muscle fiber in coarse-grained cuts. Pounding with the flat side results in uniformly thin pieces of meat for dishes like pork schnitzel, chicken-fried steak or veal piccata.
The only downside to it is the limited size of its two heads. Using it to tenderize a thick cut of meat with a large surface area could prove tiring.
- Meat pounder
This design looks something like a cross between a potato masher and a standing holder for paper towels. The base, or pounding surface, is large, circular and smooth. The handle is thick and short for enhanced grip and greater control.
Pounders can handle larger surfaces, and they usually come with an interchangeable spiked head. Since they are heftier and require more materials than mallets, they are generally more expensive.
Pounders and mallets are ideal tenderizers for tough cuts like skirt or flank. They can also be used to crush garlic, olives, nuts, toffee and other foods.
- Bladed tenderizer
Unlike the first two options, this tenderizer pierces the meat and easily cuts through tough fibers. Bladed tenderizers are best for cuts that should retain their thickness. They're ideal for steaks and roasts.
The gadget has a handle positioned over a cartridge that secures a row of sharp, thin blades. Most brands can be easily disassembled for hand-washing or throwing into the dishwasher. Replacement cartridges are available if the blades start to dull over time.
Bladed tenderizers have several advantages. Using one is not as physically demanding as using a mallet or pounder. The punctures allow spices, marinades, rubs and brines to permeate the meat. Since heat can freely flow through the holes, cooking time is significantly reduced. The finished dish is still appealing; puncture marks aren’t visible after cooking.
Models have anywhere from 15 to a few dozen blades. Choose according to the surface area of the meat cuts that you most often prepare.
Your tenderizer should have a comfortable grip and feel balanced in your hand. Stainless steel is probably the most durable material, and it’s rust-resistant. You may prefer a more lightweight substance like wood or rubber, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, hand-washing those materials is usually recommended, so keeping your utensil clean and sanitized will require a little more work.
A quality meat tenderizer can last for years.Safety
A meat tenderizer must be thoroughly cleaned and allowed to dry between uses. If it has more than one piece, disassemble it completely before running it through the dishwasher. A stiff brush is recommended for hand-washable items as meat particles can get stuck between blades or spikes. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Prevent cross-contamination. If you’ve used the tenderizer on meat, it must be washed and sanitized before you use it on another type of food. If you tenderize your meat on a cutting board, don’t use the same board for produce or other foods until it’s thoroughly cleaned.
One way to help prevent cross-contamination is to line your work surface with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Wrap the meat in plastic before you pound it out. This also keeps meat from drying out while you work.
Do not wrap the meat, though, if you’re using a bladed device.
If you have children, keep these utensils out of reach. Look for models with a safety lock on the cover.
Love Me TenderHere are a few products that consumers seem to love:
Westmark German-Made Double-Sided Meat Tenderizer
Westmark makes some of the finest kitchen products in the world. This utensil is fitted with an ergonomic handle and is dishwasher-safe. It comes with a five-year warranty.
- JC-Harbour Convenient Meat Tenderizer HammerThis is a simple, quality product that won’t set you back more than $15 or so. It’s constructed of heavy, environmentally friendly materials and designed to provide a safe, comfortable grip. There’s also a hole for hanging the tool when it’s not in use.
Paderno World Cuisine 4.5-Pound Meat Pounder and Tenderizer
That’s a lot of stainless steel, so make sure that your biceps are up to pounding with this one. For such a sturdy, functional piece it’s especially attractive and is sure to wow your guests. That may account for the $85 price tag.
Jaccard Simply Better 45-Blade Meat Tenderizer
Jaccard products are known for outstanding quality and ease of use. Jaccard has long been the leading manufacturer of bladed tenderizers, and many fine restaurants don’t buy any other brand. You’ll spend around $30 to $40 for this model, but you may never have to replace it.
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