1. Pampered Chef Meat Tenderizer
The best meat tenderizer on our list, Pampered Chef is built in the form of a giant stamp designed to make flattening and tenderizing meat much easier by keeping your hand in a natural striking position at all times. Its two-part construction features an ergonomic handle and a reversible disc with a smooth and textured side.
The entire tool is made of zinc alloy with a reliable chrome plating. The diameter of the reversible disc is 3.25 inches and the handle is 4 inches long. The tool weighs 1.95 pounds, which is the perfect weight for optimal performance, preventing fatigue when flattening or tenderizing large batches of meat.
Pampered Chef Meat Tenderizer can also be used to crush cereals, spices, and cookies or mash potatoes in a pinch. The tool comes with Amazon’s general 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best For Uneven Meat Cuts
2. Jaccard Meat Tenderizer
Jaccard Supertendermatic is an exceptional handheld meat tenderizer that features 48 razor-sharp blades designed to reduce the overall toughness of the meat by piercing its connective tissue. Apart from minimizing shrinkage and reducing the overall cooking time by as much as 40%, this handy tool can increase heat absorption by 600% and thus prevent both overcooking and undercooking.
The tool’s grip and base are made of high-quality ABS plastic, known for its toughness and resistance to mechanical stress. Jaccard provides a very comfortable, non-slip grip and is also resistant to animal, vegetable, and mineral oils. The 48 blades are made of 301 stainless steel with 48 Rockwell hardness and arranged into columns supported by two beams for extra stability and safety.
The tenderizer measures 4 x 5.8 x 1.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 1 pound. Jaccard Supertendermatic comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
Best For Extremely Tough Cuts
3. Weston Meat Tenderizer
Weston 07-3101-W-A is a hand-operated meat tenderizer specifically designed to handle the toughest cuts of meat. It features 31 stainless steel blades with accompanying stainless steel combs designed to prevent meat from wrapping around the blades and getting caught in them.
Its simple two-part construction is made of cast aluminum with a proprietary food-grade coating for extra durability and safety. The heavy-duty base with two legs provides extra stability and prevents the tenderizer from wobbling or sliding during operation. The hand-crank is very solid and remains comfortable even when tenderizing large batches of meat.
Note that the tenderizer is 13.7 inches tall, which could be a problem in smaller kitchens. It weighs 10 pounds, which guarantees optimal stability. The tool also comes with two C-clamps used to mount it to your table or countertop as well as stainless steel tongs. Weston Meat Tenderizer comes with a limited 1-year warranty.
Best For Thick Cuts
4. OXO SoftWorks
OXO SoftWorks Meat Tenderizer is a more complex version of the company’s well-known Good Grips meat mallet designed for optimal meat flattening and tenderization. Comfortable, easy to use, and dishwasher-safe, it works well on all kinds of meat, from beef and venison to fowl and chicken.
The tenderizer is entirely made of steel with the head coated with polypropylene-like plastic and the handle featuring a rubber overmold. The head features one smooth and one textured side and the handle provides a comfortable non-slip grip. The rubber absorbs most of the impact force, preventing it from transferring to your hands.
The overall length of the mallet is 10 inches and the head measures 2 x 2.5 inches. The tool weighs 0.9 pounds, which is still pretty light given its robust construction. OXO SoftWorks Meet Tenderizer is extremely budget-friendly and comes with Amazon’s general 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best For Chicken
5. KitchenAid Meat Tenderizer
KitchenAid Tenderizer is a very simple but versatile meat mallet constructed out of a single piece of aluminum with an ergonomic handle for maximized comfort. Its aluminum construction provides it with top-tier anti-corrosive properties, reasonable durability, and tensile strength.
Since aluminum is less dense than stainless steel, the tool is very lightweight as well. Having said that, aluminum is not our first choice for a kitchen tool that comes into direct contact with food. Moreover, KitchenAid Meat Tenderizer does not feature a protective food-grade coating, which would make things much more acceptable and food-friendly.
The appliance is 11 inches long and its head measures 3.8 x 2.2 inches and comes with the usual smooth/textured surface combination. It weighs 0.7 pounds, which is pretty light but not much lighter than its stainless steel counterparts. KitchenAid Meat Tenderizer comes with a 1-year replacement guarantee paired with a limited lifetime warranty against any defects in materials and workmanship.
Benefits Of Using A Meat Tenderizer
In order to properly grasp the advantages of using a meat tenderizer, you need to be familiar with the relevant biological composition of meat. Namely, each cut of meat consists of muscle fibers held together by protein filaments called collagen. Tenderizing a meat cut simply means breaking long muscle strands and softening collagen by turning it into gelatin. Unlike collagen, gelatin is soft and soaks into the meat, which makes it juicier by adding moisture. Whether this is accomplished through physical means or chemical reactions caused by powdered meat tenderizers or marinades, the underlying principle remains the same.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about some inherent benefits of using a meat tenderizer to serve protein-rich meals, especially those made of inexpensive and tough cuts of meat. Since the only thing that makes expensive cuts naturally tender is the marbling of fat (intramuscular fat) found throughout the muscle fibers, this means that less expensive meats tend to be leaner, which makes them a much better choice for your waistline and cholesterol levels.
However, leaner cuts also tend to be more challenging when it comes to preparation and cooking. Meat tenderizers allow you to turn leaner, budget-friendly cuts into delicious protein sources and save a lot of time during the preparation process. Without pre-tenderizing meat cuts, they usually require more than an hour of braising to break down the muscle fibers and gelatinize the collagen. The tenderizing process works exceptionally well when broiling or searing particularly intense cuts of steak. When it comes to flavor, you may taste the lack of fat, which can be solved by wrapping a strip of bacon around your cut.
Finally, tenderizing your meat makes it easier to chew and digest, which is especially important if you have stomach problems or need to make your protein intake fit a particular budget every month.
Types Of Meat Tenderizers
There are many ways to tenderize a piece of meat and the main binary division encompasses mechanical and chemical mediums. We can tenderize meat chemically by using the naturally occurring enzymes found in papaya (papain), pineapple (bromelain), and kiwi (actinidin), marinating it in wine, vinegar, buttermilk, lemon juice or yogurt, brining it in a salt solution, dry-aging it at 32 to 36°F, using sodium bicarbonate, and velveting it.
However, in this list of the best meat tenderizers currently on the market, our focus is on mechanical tenderization, which includes pounding and piercing. With that in mind, there are three types of mechanical meat tenderizers. The most common tenderizing tool resembles a mallet or hammer, usually made of metal (you should avoid wooden mallets) with dual heads and a short handle. One face of the hammer is usually smooth for pounding and flattening while the other features rows of pyramid-shaped spikes used for tenderizing.
The second type resembles a hand stamp or a potato masher and features a short handle paired with a fixed or removable disc-shaped metal face that can either be smooth or equipped with the aforementioned pyramid-shaped tenderizers. More advanced models feature a double-action disc with both smooth and textured surfaces.
Finally, the third type relies on a series of nails or double-edge blades designed to pierce meat and cut into muscle in order to create heat tunnels and break down the tough fibers. These appliances come in the form of a hand stamp or a hand-crank tool with two bladed cylinders.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing The Best Meat Tenderizer
Here are some of the most important features to keep in mind when looking for the best meat tenderizer to fit your personal preferences and culinary style:
Meat tenderizers are primarily designed to deal with tough cuts of meat and their construction needs to reflect this purpose. In other words, all of the components need to be tightly fitted and the handle has to provide a good non-slip grip for extra safety. Additionally, the bladed tools need to implement adequate security measures in order to prevent potential injuries.
Everything that comes into direct contact with your food should be made of stainless steel. Other alloys can only work if they are covered with a sturdy chrome plating. You should avoid tools made of aluminum since prolonged exposure can alter the taste of your food and even its appearance in some cases.
Depending on your personal culinary goals and preferences, some types of meat tenderizers perform better than others. You also have to take into consideration whether you just want to tenderize a cut of meat or you also need to flatten it for a particular dish.
Subpar meat tenderizers can overwork the meat and turn it into mush instead of just breaking down the web of tough muscle fibers and making the cut more malleable. Therefore, it is very important to only purchase tools coming from reputable manufacturers.
Apart from tenderizing meat cuts, these tools can serve a variety of purposes and be of great help in the kitchen. Some of the alternative applications include cracking nuts, crushing spices, cookies, cereals, and crackers, and more. It goes without saying that your tool needs to be able to handle both the leanest and the toughest pieces of meat.
The overall construction quality of a meat tenderizer dictates how durable it will be. Gauging the durability of any given tool is rather easy once you learn what makes a solid design. Mechanical meat tenderizers are developed to perform physically intense tasks, so purchasing a well-built tool guarantees years of optimal usage.
Meat tenderizers, especially mallets, are pretty simple tools, which makes them very easy to clean and maintain on a regular basis. Overly intricate designs with flashy but ultimately unnecessary components are likely to complicate the maintenance process, so the general rule of thumb when it comes to meat tenderizers is to keep it as simple as possible.
The overall simplicity of the design is also reflected in the price of these tools. In other words, meat tenderizers should be pretty cheap. Therefore, you should look past all the commercial tactics and ploys implemented to inflate the price and identify unnecessary features that only hinder the original function of the tool.