The Best Meat Tenderizer for Melt-in-Your-Mouth Meals
Skip the tough, chewy steak in favor of beautifully flattened cutlets and juicy softened steak with these simple and effective tools.
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- Best OverallKitchenAid Gourmet Meat TenderizerCheck Latest Price
- Runner-UpJaccard 200348 48-Blade Meat TenderizerCheck Latest Price
- Best DesignMercy Shopping Meat TenderizerCheck Latest Price
It’s incredibly disappointing looking forward to a fragrant and delicious-looking steak—only to bite into a cut as seemingly tough as shoe leather. Meat tenderizers can save cooks from this unfortunate experience. These tools take several forms, the most common being the hammer- or mallet-style tenderizer, which looks much like a two-sided hammer. Each side of the head has a grid of points to break up the fibrous strands in the meat.
Meat tenderizers also come in blade form, in which a handle supports a rack of sharp pins that are forced into the meat to aerate and break up the fibers. These tenderizers are also called marinators: the holes pressed into the meat have the added benefit of allowing marinades to permeate deeply into the meat. Pounder tenderizers are a third option, which appear as a large round stamp with either an offset or centered handle. A cook slams the round flat surface against the meat, and these tenderizers are generally used to even out the thickness of the meat.
Choosing the best tenderizer for your needs will be based mostly on comfort and preference, with some consideration for the types and cuts of meat you cook most often. Bearing these elements in mind, check out our high-performing recommendations below.
Our Top Picks
Ergonomics, level of precision and comfort, and your meat preferences will help you choose the best meat tenderizer for your kitchen.
BEST OVERALL: KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer
The KitchenAid meat tenderizer is a mallet-style tool featuring one flat side for pounding cutlets and one heavily grooved side for tenderizing a variety of meats. The head of the mallet is flared from the center to give the user weight on the swing without making the head too bulky. Made of durable and lightweight aluminum, the KitchenAid tenderizer has an easy-grip handle for secure swinging. The tool is weighted well to reduce the effort needed from the user and is conveniently dishwasher safe.
RUNNER-UP: Jaccard 200348 48-Blade Meat Tenderizer
The Jaccard meat tenderizer has 48 razor-sharp blades that create channels in meat to break up tough fibers and let marinade sink in. Each blade is double sided and made of tough stainless steel. The Jaccard tenderizer promises to cut cooking time by 40% and increase the rate of marinade absorption up to 600%. It works on all cuts of steak and beef, pork, and veal, and particularly well on boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which are notoriously difficult to tenderize. The blade channels allow the meat to be cooked more evenly and reduces shrinkage as it cooks. The succulent meat that results from the Jaccard’s performance is worth the disassembly and reassembly required to clean it.
BEST DESIGN: Mercy Shopping Meat Tenderizer
The Mercy Shopping Meat Tenderizer features 48 stainless steel blades pressed into the meat to sever the connective tissue that can make meat tough. The blade-style tenderizer has a unique raised handle with finger grooves that allows users to grip the handle and press down, keeping fingers well away from the meat and the blades. A spring ensures that the blades retract as the tenderizer is pulled back up. The channels created by the blades allow marinade to seep into the meat faster, cutting down on marination time and getting your meat to the grill or oven faster. Since the blades are affixed to the handle, the Mercy Shopping tenderizer is dishwasher safe, unlike other models in its category.
ERGONOMIC PICK: OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer
The OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer features a wide, soft, textured grip so users can confidently swing the mallet-shaped tool down onto the counter, even with wet hands. Its handle absorbs some of the shock when the mallet strikes the meat, so this choice ideal for cooks with grip strength concerns or joint problems. One side of the OXO Good Grips tenderizer is flattened for pounding meat to an even thickness, while the other is texturized to break down the meat muscle fibers to make the piece more tender. The OXO can also be used to crush ice or break up candy bark and is dishwasher safe for sanitary use.
MOST PORTABLE: Norpro Grip-EZ Meat Tenderizer
The Norpro Grip-EZ Meat Tenderizer is a blade tenderizer, but this tool is designed to travel or fit easily in a drawer. A rounded ergonomic handle tops a set of 24 double-sided stainless steel blades arranged in a 2-inch circle. Cooks press down on the handle to force the blades into the meat or fish to break up the muscle fibers and create channels for marinade. A spring action assists the cook in pressing the blades down and aids in their retraction. Ideal for cooks without a lot of storage space or who want to take their blade tenderizer to a picnic or barbecue, the Norpro is also highly functional and durable.
MOST VERSATILE: HIC Dual-Sided Meat Tenderizer
HIC’s Dual Meat Tenderizer is a pounder-style tenderizer. Its ergonomically-shaped handle is meant to be held in the cook fist and pounded straight down onto the surface of the meat. Weighing in at nearly 2 pounds, the HIC allows the weight to do a lot of the work for you. Most pounder-style tenderizers only feature a flat side for pounding ticker cuts of meat into cutlets, but the HIC has a surprise: its head is reversible. Cooks can affix the head with the flat side down for pounding or flip it over to reveal the second side, covered with small spikes for breaking apart the tough parts of the meat, making this tenderizer a two-in-one tool for cooks who prefer the pounder mechanism. Made of chrome-plated zinc, the HIC is fully dishwasher safe.