Ever had a meal where the meat was too tough? It’s probably more times than you care to remember. There are a few reasons why meat comes out tough, but one main cause is large individual muscle fibers. This happens with muscles that get exercised a lot. While these cuts of meat are less expensive, they may need some tenderizing. The goal of tenderizing is to break down the big fibers in the muscle. This results in more tender and flavorful cuts of meat.
Let’s find out about some of the best and most popular meat tenderizers available on the market today.
The KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer is a very affordable, traditional hammer style device. On one side is a spiked face and on the other, a flat face. This device is made of lightweight aluminum construction, and yet it is strong and durable. It measures 11 inches in length.
The spiked side is great for tenderizing. It tears the connective tissue in meat, breaks fiber bonds, and in the process makes your meat softer and easier to marinade. The flat side is handy for flattening out your cutlets, making them very thin so you have a shorter cooking time. You can also use this tool for cracking shellfish, nuts, hard candy, peppercorns, spices, and other foods.
The soft, ergonomic, silicone rubber handle has a hole, so you can hang up the tenderizer for storage.
This tenderizer is easy to clean, although the spiked face requires a more work to get the pieces of meat out. Simply wash by hand using a dish sponge and soapy water.
One drawback is the handle is quite thick, which makes it somewhat uncomfortable. Also, this tenderizer is lightweight, so it requires a lot of power when pounding your meat.
- Spiked face on one side and flat face on other
- Soft, ergonomic, silicone handle
- Easy to clean with soapy water
- Handle is thick and can be uncomfortable
- Lightweight so requires a lot of power when pounding your meat
The OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer is a very affordable hammer-style device. It is a two-in-one tool with a flat side and a spiked side for flattening or tenderizing your chicken, pork, and beef.
The spiked side has pyramid-style teeth that help break down the strong fibers in your meat, to prepare it for marinating and cooking. The smooth, flat side has a large surface area which allows you to flatten your meat quickly for even cooking.
It is made from impact-resistant plastic that is free of BPA, and measures 9.5 x 2.5 x 2 inches.
It has a strong, sturdy handle that is easy to grip, soft, comfortable, and safe to use. The handle is non-slip, which is great when you are using it with wet hands. It is angled so that you can wield maximum force without becoming tired. The head is heavy enough to do a good job of tenderizing your meat.
This handy gadget is easy to clean and washes up nicely. It is also dishwasher safe for sanitizing.
One drawback is some users find the teeth in the spiked side of the tenderizer are too small and tend to accumulate little bits of meat. Also, the angled head makes this device a bit awkward when trying to control where to strike.
- Two-in-one tenderizer and flattener
- Spiked side has pyramid-style teeth to break down fibers and prepare for marinating
- Made of impact-resistant, BPA-free plastic
- Handle is strong and sturdy yet soft and easy to grip; also, non-slip
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
- Some users find the teeth are too small and accumulate bits of meat
- Angled head may make it awkward to use
The Spring Chef Meat Tenderizer is an affordable tool shaped like a hammer, with a spiked side and a flat side. It measures 11.4 x 3.3 x 1.5 inches.
The spikes on one side of the device penetrate meat well with their pointy tips. They break up the fibers of the muscle quite well, resulting in a tender, juicy, and flavorful cut of meat. Say good bye to dry chicken breasts!
The other side helps you flatten out your meat so it cooks evenly and quickly.
You can do all sorts of other things with tool, such as crush garlic, hard candy, and nuts. You can also loosen garlic skin, make bread crumbs, and break up ice cubes with it.
The handle is easy to grip and quite comfortable to use.
Although it has a weighted head, overall this device is lightweight with its chrome plated aluminum construction. This poses a challenge in that you need to wield considerable force in order for it to tenderize properly. However, the light weight makes this tool easy to control.
This tool is easy to clean once you remove all the meat from the spikes. It is safe to use in the dishwasher.
One drawback of this device is the spikes tend to accumulate pieces of meat while you are pounding, so you need to clean it out every once in a while during your tenderizing session. Also, when using the flat side, the edges may tear off pieces of meat when you actually want it to smooth out and flatten.
- Hammer-like with spiked side and flat side
- Spiked side breaks up muscle fibers well, making meat tender and juicy
- Handle is comfortable and easy to grip
- Light weight makes this tool easy to control
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
- Bits of meat may accumulate in the spikes while you are pounding
- When using flat side, the edges may tear off pieces of meat
The Norpro Meat Pounder is a flat, heavy disk with an offset handle. The flat shape is used to flatten out cuts of meat like chicken breasts, for faster and easier cooking. You can use it to flatten your cutlets into uniform thickness which makes it simpler to cook your food evenly. It is made of a durable, chrome-plated zinc alloy.
It has a nice mirror finish but can be prone to scratches so take good care of this tool. It has a professional style and looks like a piece of art.
The head is heavy. In fact, if you have weak wrists, this tool could cause them to become sore. If you hold the handle at the end, the head of this tenderizer will come down hard on your meat without you having to extend much effort. This tenderizer is quite affordable and offers great value.
The flattened disk on the head is large and round. This spreads out the force of the hammering on your meat, which leads to less tearing.
Its handle extends to the side to make the pounding easier on your knuckles. The handle keeps your hands away from the meat and cutting board. The handle is large, though, and may be difficult to hold and grip if you have small hands.
It is easy to clean. Simply hand wash with soapy water. There is one spot on the underside where the handle meets the flat head where food can accumulate so make sure to pay close attention to that area when cleaning.
- Attractive, made of chrome-plated zinc alloy
- Heavy, flat, disk-shaped head flattens out meat effortlessly for easier cooking
- Large round shape of disk spreads out force of hammering on meat
- Handle keeps your hands away from the meat and cutting board
- Easy to clean, simply hand wash in soapy water
- Heavy head could cause strain to wrists
- Large handle may be hard to grip if you have small hands
The Jaccard 48-Blade Meat Tenderizer is a different type of tenderizer. It is a handheld tenderizer with 48 needle-like blades. They are arranged in three rows of 16. The blades are double sided, razor sharp, and made of stainless steel. They cut effortlessly through muscle fibers and connective tissue to make the meat less tough. You can use this device on any type of meat.
With the large handle at the top, you can push the device down into your meat in order to tenderize it.
This high quality, durable device is lauded by professionals and home cooks alike as it reduces cooking time almost in half and allows the absorption of marinades more deeply than with other tenderizers. The meat will retain its natural juices and flavor very well.
It is easy to control both positioning and depth with this tool. Needless to say, its users have given rave reviews about its performance as a tenderizer.
This tool is easy to clean. It is dishwasher safe on the top rack for sanitizing, especially if you have been tenderizing raw meat.
One drawback it is seems to come with no instructions, causing confusion for some new users. It is quite simple and intuitive to use, though. Some users have found the blades get stuck in the meat. Also, some find the spring action makes it hard to push down the handle.
- High quality and durable
- Hand held tenderizer with 48 needle-like blades in three rows
- Blades are double sided, razor sharp stainless steel
- Cuts effortlessly through all kinds of meat, making them absorb marinades beautifully
- Easy to control both positioning and depth
- Easy to clean, dishwasher safe on top rack
- Blades may get stuck in the meat
- Spring action makes it hard to push down the handle
What to look for when choosing a meat tenderizer
Now that you have seen some of the most popular brands of meat tenderizers on the market today, let’s find out what to look for when purchasing this tool for your kitchen.
To a large extent, your budget will determine which type of tenderizer you buy. Choose one that meets your needs but stays within your price range.
There are a few different styles of meat tenderizer to choose from.
The spiked pounder is the traditional tenderizer. It is often a hammer shaped tool with a head that contains spikes. When you strike your meat with the spiked end of the tool, it breaks up the muscle fibers and enhances marinade absorption. This leads to more juicy and flavorful meat.
A flat pounder is sometimes included as part of the meat tenderizer. A flat pounder is used to flatten out your meat so it can be cooked faster and more evenly. A flat pounder is also handy to have around to crush ice, smash garlic, or shell nuts.
A crank tenderizer clamps to your table. You push your meat through the crank. The spikes cut the meat fibers and rollers crush them. This type of machine works fast. It is quite popular with people who hunt.
A needle tenderizer has many small blades all attached to a spring loaded handle. The blades break up the muscle fibers by making dozens of small cuts all over it. This is not the type of tenderizer you can bring on a camping trip, as you will need a dishwasher in order to properly clean it.
Pay attention to the handle. It should fit well in your hand. Look for a handle that is ergonomic and non-slip. This will make the tenderizing process so much easier.
Some meat tenderizers have razor sharp blades. Keep this in mind, especially if you have small children. Some needle tenderizers have a protective safety guard which fits over the blades to help prevent accidents.
By taking into account the various types of tenderizers, their price points and reviews that examine their features, you will be sure to find the tool that is right for you and your family. Happy shopping!