With barbecue season coming up you want to find a kitchen tool that gives you the most tender and delicious meat around. Everyone loves a barbecue, but there is a difference between a good barbecue and a great one. For seasoned pros, the best meat tenderizers are the surest way to make your cookout the talk of the town (and maybe beyond), and ensures everyone will leave fully stuffed and satisfied.
A meat tenderizer is excellent for making beef jerky comparable with what you’ll find at the store, and if you like to marinate your meat before serving it up, it enhances the flavor like you never thought possible. It can also speed up the cooking time so you can serve everything piping hot at the same time and transforms your cuts of chicken, beef, pork, and more so much it melts in your mouth.
Anybody who’s serious about grilling needs a top-quality meat tenderizer in their life, and even if you’re not serious about grilling, having a meat tenderizer might change your mind.
The Best Meat Tenderizer
The Jaccard Supertendermatic Tenderizer is a superb product and for many, it is the go-to option for meat tenderizing. It boasts 48 blades, an ergonomic design, and reliable mechanisms to ensure high quality performance whether you want to tenderizer meat, chicken, pork, or even crocodile.
The stainless steel blades ensure durability, and the simple to use design means even novice cooks will find it straightforward. However, you cannot disassemble it, which makes it difficult to clean as strands of gristle may get stuck in the blades.
Reduces cooking time
Cuts through connective tissue
Creates tiny heat channels
- Weight2 pounds
Stainless steel blades
Tenderizes all quality cuts
Easy to use
Cannot disassemble for cleaning
Going the more traditional smashy route, the OXO SoftWorks Meat Tenderizer is perhaps the best mallet tenderizer available. It has a soft, contoured handle to ensure comfort when battling the toughest meats around, and the non-slip design ensures it won’t fly out of your hand, through the window, and crack your neighbor on the skull. Phew.
The dual sides allow you to both pound and tenderize, making it easy to switch between if you get bored, while the heavy duty construction ensures effectiveness. However, while other hammer-style tenderizers make the most of steel or aluminum heads, this plastic one feels a little unreliable and almost if you can’t get too much heft behind it.
Smooth side for pounding
Textured side for tenderizing
- Weight14.4 ounces
Plastic hammerhead feels a little unreliable
With 56 blades, the Koncle Professional Needle Meat Tenderizers is the most plentiful option we’ve selected. These blades are stainless steel to guarantee excellent quality and performance, while the sturdy construction delivers almost unrivaled satisfaction from a needle-style tenderizer.
The lockable parts keep it safe, and it demands hardly any pressure compared to tenderizers of a similar style. The compact design also makes it easy to store, and you’ll also find it’s easy to clean to prevent a buildup of bacteria.
- Weight8.8 ounces
Suitable for tenderizing and marinating
Speeds up tenderizing and pounding process
Easy to clean
Blades are very sharp
A combination of both needle and mallet styler options, the Norpro Meat Tenderizer is quick, convenient, and easy to use making it perfect for kitchen novices and more experienced chefs alike. There are 24 prongs which are thicker than other needle-point products that flatten the mean similar to that of a meat hammer while also improving the texture and enhancing the flavor.
The heavy duty spring ensures longevity and also provide a controlled action so you get consistent flatness throughout the cut and prevent any accidents that could occur as you pound away. The tenderizer isn’t dishwasher safe, though, but it should be simple enough to wash by hand.
Heavy duty spring
- Weight6.4 ounces
Thick blades flatten the meat
Enhances flavor when marinating
Not dishwasher safe
If you’re after a no-nonsense meat mallet, the KitchenAid Textured Aluminum Meat Tenderizer can give you just that. It doesn’t come with any fancy features and requires no bells nor whistles to convince you to buy it. Instead, all it needs to do is showcase how effective it is.
On one side, you’ll get a textured surface, on the other, a flat one for even pounding, but the tenderizing teeth are a little on the small end, so it might demand more effort to achieve your desired tenderness. The mallet balanced but still lightweight so there’s little chance of fatigue (unless you’re tenderizing a whole meat section of the grocery store), while the handle is comfortable and simple to grip.
Smooth side included
- Weight10.4 ounces
Hang or place in drawer for storage
Easy to clean
Small tenderizing teeth demand more effort
Sometimes, you just want a product that brings you the most basic functions at the cheapest price, and for the best value around, the Spring Chef Meat Tenderizer is perfect. It does everything more expensive tenderizing mallets do but costs less than $10 for the budget-minded chef that’s somewhere in all of us.
Constructed of aluminum with a chrome plating, it’s not the stainless steel you find with other options, but for casuals, you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference, while the soft handle is one of the easiest on the wrist around. It’s a little heavy, but it’s supposed to be, sand despite this weight, you’ll still find it easy to use.
Reduces cooking time
Textured and smooth sides
Comfortable soft handle
Aluminum with chrome plating
- BrandSpring Chef
- ModelMeat Tenderizer
- Weight10.4 ounces
Reduces strain on your wrist
Heavy but easy to use
Not as durable as single-piece options
Easy on the wrist and long-lasting, the XSpecial Meat Tenderizer Tool is one of our favorite options in the whole selection. It boasts 48 stainless steel blades that are sharp, but not too sharp, to deliver optimal tenderizing without pulverizing the meat and losing that precious flavor.
It comes with a protective cover crucial for storage and prevents the blades dulling when not in use while also keeping your hand safe as you rifle through the utensil drawer. You can take it apart, making it easy to clean and prevent a buildup of meat residue, and it’s suitable for beef, pork and chicken, among other options if you want to experiment with more exotic meats.
48 stainless steel blades
Protective cover for storage
- Weight9.8 ounces
Doesn’t pulverize the meat
Safe to use
Water may get trapped in casing when washing
The Weston Manual Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer is the only option we could have selected for our premium choice. This is the perfect pick for butchers and people tenderizing swathes of meat at once and would suit and serious kitchen comfortably.
It boasts 31 stainless steel blades which will accept meat up to 1-1/2 inches thick for tenderizing, and to do this, there’s a sturdy crank handle to help you get to work. It is also mountable to keep it from shifting during a big job, and you can take it apart to ensure an easy clean without risking a buildup of bacteria.
31 stainless steel blades
Accepts meat up to 1-1/2 inches thick
- Weight9.8 pounds
Disassembles for easy clean up
Compact for simple storage
Stainless steel combs to prevent jamming
Manual operation means it can be labor intensive
The KLEMOO Meat Tenderizer Tool comes with a remarkable 48 blades which are ultra sharp to make your meat the most tender it has ever been and will be. These blades make it a marvel for reducing cooking time while also increasing its ability to soak up marinade so you’re transported to a different world of flavors in your dining room.
It’s suitable for both dishwasher and hand washing, while the protective case keeps the blades sharp when in storage. As for using it, the top casing is ergonomic to ensure it minimizes wrist strain to keep you tenderizing like the best of us.
48 ultra-sharp blades
Reduces cooking time
Easy to control
- Weight10.4 ounces
Dishwasher and hand washing safe
Speeds up marinade time
Sharp blades make it too easy to cut yourself
Our final pick of the day is the Norpro Grip-EZ Tenderizer/Pounder comes with changeable heads and a comfortable design for a satisfactory experience as you prepare dinner.
One head is the tenderizer, while the other is the pounder and both allow the meat to cook more evenly while also allowing the flavor to explode as soon as you take your first bite. These heads are well-weighted, which makes it easy to use while still offering enough weight to be effective.
Allows meat to cook more evenly
- Model NOR-7035
- Weight1.25 pounds
Easy to use
Simple storage options
Versatile application for a variety of meats
A little expensive for what it is
Meat Tenderizer Buying Guide & FAQ
How We Chose Our Selection Of The Best Meat Tenderizers
With such a range of excellent products, picking the best meat tenderizers wasn’t as easy as we’re used to but we’re never ones to back down from a challenge. By taking our tried and trusted selection method, we found a selection of spectacular meat tenderizers to ensure every steak, fillet, and chop you have from now on is the best you’ve tasted, at least until next time, anyway.
Brand - We’ve selected brands ranging from the premium to the budget to ensure no matter how much of a pro chef you consider yourself, you’ll find something to suit your kitchen. Premium brands are great for professionals and hobbyists, but if you only cook a steak once a year, we understand you don’t mind smaller brands.
Price - Much like the brand, the price you want to pay depends on what you need the tenderizer for and what you can afford. To ensure we appeal to as many chefs as possible, we selected a range of prices so that whether you’re in the kitchen all day, every day or for just two hours at the weekend, you can find the most affordable tenderizer for you.
Reviews - Using reviews, we whittled down our selection from the good to the great. These reviews told us everything we needed to know about durability, effectiveness, weight, and quality to guarantee we’re picking only the very best products for you.
Features To Look For In A Meat Tenderizer
We’re sure that by now you’ve already decided which meat tenderizer is the best one for you, but before you go, make sure you’ve picked the one that will make the cut in your kitchen by checking out these key features.
Blade Style - Needle tenderizers boast different blade styles for achieving different levels of tenderness. You will find the needles are somewhere between razor sharp and regular sharp, almost blunt blades with flat ends. Tenderizers with sharp blades will have more blades in the mechanism, whereas you will have fewer blades when they are more blunt.
Protective Guard - When working with anything sharp, a protective guard is essential for both safety and storage. You won’t find this guard with mallet-style tenderizers as there’s no need for them, but needle-style products require such protection to keep the blades from blunting during storage and also protecting the user from cutting their hands. Remember, the only thing that should be pierced is the meat itself.
Handle - The handle of your meat tenderizer tool should be comfortable enough for long tenderizing sessions to prevent fatigue and strain on the hand, wrist, and arm. Also consider the length of the handle and whether the tenderizer is one-piece or several pieces connected. A single piece will enhance durability and is often better quality.
Types Of Meat Tenderizers
Not all meat tenderizers are the same and depending on your preference you can select which type you think will suit your kitchen best.
Mallet-style Meat Tenderizer - When someone says meat tenderizer, a mallet-style is the first thing you think of. This style of meat tenderizer works like a hammer, and you bash the meat with either the textured of smooth side to achieve your desired tenderness.
Typically, they have a short handle and are made from aluminum, stainless steel, or wood with a loop at the bottom of the handle for hanging storage. They are also compact enough to keep in your drawer. The mallet is mostly easy to clean, but you might struggle to get meat juices and residue out of the gaps in the textured pyramid side.
Needle-style Meat Tenderizer - Those of you not totally clued in to the world of meat tenderizers might look at the needle style and wonder what the heck is going on. Have no fear, though, this style is still highly effective and requires less effort to operate. However, if you can’t disassemble the unit, it's difficult to clean.
Unlike the smash and pound of traditional mallet tenderizers, needle-style tenderizers use thin, sharp blades (usually around 48, but there are variations). These needles puncture the meat at a rapid pace into the fibers of the muscle, softening them and making the meat easier to eat and digest.
Meat Tenderizer FAQ
Q: How important is this meat tenderizer tool?
A: A meat tenderizer tool isn’t essential, and before today, it’s likely most of you have gotten through life just fine without using one. However, if you’ve ever struggled with tough, stubborn cuts or just like your meat to be extra-easy to gobble down, a meat tenderizer is the answer.
This is because tender cuts of meat are more expensive than the standard packaged cuts you can find at the supermarket. Instead of your tender meat addiction sending you spiraling into a world of hazardous, albeit delicious, debt, you can tenderize your meat yourself at home with the only extra cost being the tenderizer. Doing this will save you money and also allow you to find the right tenderness for you and your dinner guests.
Q: What is the best way to tenderize meat?
A: There is no definite best way to tenderize meat, and each tenderizer will claim their way is number one. Like most things, the optimal method comes down to what is preferable to you and which way you feel is most effective.
If you find it cathartic to bash at the meat with a heavy hammer, then go for it. Likewise, if you find the needle-type more ergonomic and comfortable, especially if you’re tenderizing a lot of cuts at once, then this option is more ideal.
If you’re short on time and/or energy, an electric meat tenderizer is the way forward, as all you need to do is set it, sit back, and relax. Most serious chefs prefer to get in there and do it themselves, though, and there’s something about tenderizing using hand tools that further inspires your love of being in the kitchen.
- How Does a Meat Tenderizer Affect Meat - Livestrong