There are several ways to tenderize steak, each suitable for a particular type of cooking.

Steak tenderization requires careful handling. The fat and connective tissue that gives your steak its unique flavor shouldn’t be destroyed, and it requires some skill to extract all of its flavors.

Start with the basic techniques and increase your level of risk-taking as you gain experience with challenging or unusual recipes.

What is tenderizing?

The inner fibers are broken down during the tenderizing process to make a piece of meat easier to eat and digest. This method is useful when cooking tough steaks or dishes that call for a thin slice of meat, like veal Milanese or chicken cutlets for chicken Parmesan.

Meat can be tenderized in various ways, such as marinating, slow cooking, and pounding. While you can tenderize meat with a meat mallet or rolling pin at home, some manufacturers perform the process using mechanical tenderization, which entails slicing through the connective tissue of the flesh with sharp blades.

Juicy red, raw steak tenderized with salt on a brown wooden cutting board.

Why is tenderizing my steak necessary?

Steaks are not all made equal. While some steak cuts, such as strip loins and tenderloins, are very tender, others might be tough.

Regular exercise will make a muscle stronger than one that is rarely used. As a result of their extensive “work,” shank and brisket need to be cooked for a very long time. These muscles are also very strong and, therefore, tough.

Ways to tenderize steak

Pound your favorite cut

The toughest steak cuts, such as flank, round, skirt, chuck, bottom sirloin, and strip, are often so tough that they require physical tenderizing.

Although you would have assumed that all this pounding was doing was preparing the meat for a traditional carpaccio, the process distributes the fibers to make the steak easier to chew.

Do not be reluctant to ask for these tough cuts at the butcher counter. As a reward, you can pound your heart’s content and make delicious, tasty recipes. All you have to do is buy a metal tenderizer at your neighborhood shop.

There is a flat side and a studded side to these meat hammers. While flattening the meat, use the studded side to break it down. A flat side is a fantastic tool for spreading it out, cutting fresh filets, and fast cooking them over high heat.

You should trim off extra fat even when you are tenderizing the steak. Additionally, it’s better to refrain from pressing the steak so hard that the connective tissue is destroyed.

Another tip is to use plastic wrap on both sides of a wooden cutting board while pounding the steak. The meat is less likely to be damaged when plastic wraps between the hammer and the steak.

Beated fresh beef slices

Meat tenderizing powder

Many companies sell a ready-mixed steak tenderizer that you rub on it. The enzymes in pineapple and papaya, respectively, and salt, are typically added to mixes.

As these enzymes work to break down proteins, your steak will become less chewy. Tenderizer is available both with and without extra seasoning.

Moisten the meat for adhesion, sprinkle on the tenderizing powder, prick the steak several times with a fork, and you are ready to use it. It is easy to use and largely successful.

Salt to tenderize steak

As a result of the moisture being drained from the steak by the salt, a straightforward brine is produced. Place the steak on the counter and generously sprinkle salt over it. Repeat after flipping the steak over on a piece of plastic wrap.

The steak should be properly wrapped and placed in a sealed storage bag before being refrigerated for at least one hour and up to 24 hours. A natural brine will form due to removing so much moisture from the salt coating. At this stage, you can add herbs and spices to the brine to further tenderize the steak before cooking.

All cuts of steak benefit from salting since it brings out the meat’s inherent flavors.

Marinade and steak sauce

When you know how to make a basic marinade, learning how to make steak tender doesn’t require anything complex. A marinade is a sauce that has not yet been cooked; unlike brines, marinades do not contain salt.

Once the cooking is finished, you can add some or all of the remaining marinade to a skillet with the steak scraps. You can have a great sauce to serve on the side by allowing the mixture to simmer and adding heavy cream.

Start your marinade with an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar. Apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar are common options. Place the steak in a bag that can be sealed, add enough vinegar to cover approximately half of the steak, and season to taste (including lemon or lime juice, herbs, and spices).

Allow the steak to sit in the marinade for two hours before cooking. Put the steaks in the refrigerator to stay sealed and have a greater chance of soaking up the seasonings. However, if you marinate your steak for an extended period, it could become too mushy and disintegrate in the pan.

Try to relax and rest your steaks.

Why is it important to rest the steak? It’s all about the flavor.

When using a brine, marinade, or other flavors that absorb into the flesh, many people believe resting a steak is not essential. Although the concept is almost right, there is more to it.

If you don’t rest your steaks, the flavor you’ve worked so hard to produce will be lost when you cut into them because the meat’s internal juices will escape.

According to traditional wisdom, a steak should rest for at least five to 10 minutes before being carved. We’ve always found the five-minute-per-inch rule useful if you’re looking for more detailed instructions. Five minutes for a steak that is an inch thick, ten minutes for a steak that is two inches thick, and so on.

Tenderized beef tenderloin - Tenderloin steak marinated in three peppers served with ratatouille

Cook low and slow

Cooking “low and slow” is the best advice. Because you don’t have to watch over the meat as it cooks, the process results in the most delicate meat possible.

Here is a quick recipe for low and slow-cooked steak:

Your steak should be sliced and seasoned before being placed in a baking dish with marinade liquid, covered with foil, and the oven preheated to 275 degrees.

You can use a dry rub in place of the marinating liquid.

Bake it for four to five hours at that temperature. When you uncover the foil, the steak will swim in a hearty sauce and condensation on the underside.

This cooking is also possible on a grill using the lowest setting for the burners. Alternately, place the steak in a small pot with butter and spices, cover it with a lid, and check on it in an hour or so.

Low and slow cooking produces a flavorful, crunchy outer layer that caramelizes as it cooks.

By poking

A similar method to pounding, except you, repeatedly stab the steak.

The task is made easy and quick by commercially available tools having rows of small spikes at the end of a handle. These are both amazing ways of venting your anger.

Tenderizing tools

There are several tools you can use depending on your tenderizing method:

  1. Meat tenderizer: A meat tenderizer resembles a hammer with blunted spikes and is sometimes referred to as a meat mallet or pounder. The muscular fibers in the steak can be broken down by pounding it with the mallet.
  2. Meat cuber: Large portions of meat can be tenderized with a meat cuber, a meat processing tool with a crank. Insert the meat cut into the device and spin the handle to tenderize the meat using internal spikes.
  3. Meat tenderizer powder: Instead of using a mechanical tool, use a meat tenderizer powder that includes enzymes that break down the muscle in the cut.


It’s easier than you think to learn how to tenderize a steak the right way, and it has nothing to do with the price or cut of the meat. You can apply any of these tips to make the tastiest steak recipes. Anyone can cook great steak without exerting too much effort or requiring formal culinary training.

Last update on 2024-04-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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