The 10 Best Meat Tenderizers

Updated February 07, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Regardless of whether the cuts of meat you find at the market are cheap or expensive, you can ensure just the right consistency, flavor, and thickness before cooking them using one of these handy tenderizers. You can choose between manual crank operation, compact units with multiple sharp blades, and even good old-fashioned hammer-style tools to give you the desired outcome. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best meat tenderizer on Amazon.

10. Cave Tools Meat Mallet

When preparing for a big barbecue or cookout, the Cave Tools Meat Mallet makes for a reliable addition to your arsenal of kitchen tools. Made to be used on any cooking surface, indoors or out, its professional-grade silicone handle delivers an ergonomic, nonslip grip.
  • easy to store and to hang
  • comes with 25 recipes
  • tenderizing spikes are very short
Brand Cave Tools
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. iPerfect Kitchen 56

Eliminate the need for excessive pounding with the iPerfect Kitchen 56. Its narrow diameter will focus the application of pressure into specific points of your meats using only minimal downward force, allowing even low-priced cuts to achieve superior taste and tenderness.
  • built-in safety lock
  • breaks down meat fibers rapidly
  • bit of a steep learning curve
Brand iPerfect Kitchen
Model NA
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

8. Flytt Stainless Steel

The Flytt Stainless Steel is equipped with 48 extra-sharp blades that make short and easy work of even the toughest cuts of steak, roasts, or chops. It requires significantly less effort than traditional hammer-style tools, and its compact design fits right into your palm.
  • a nonslip handle
  • promotes slow marinade infusions
  • cleaning can be a hassle
Model SYNCHKG104715
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Jaccard Supertendermatic

With a plastic cover that prevents injury, the Jaccard Supertendermatic is a great, inexpensive option for beginners. It helps marinades to absorb better whether you use it with or against the grain, but it's not as easy to clean as some other models
  • reduces cooking time
  • blades are replaceable
  • tough to use on thicker cuts
Brand Jaccard
Model 200348
Weight 15.2 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

6. KitchenAid Black

With a one year, hassle-free replacement guarantee, the KitchenAid Black is a solid investment that both flattens and tenderizes. The aluminum handle is lightweight, but sturdy, and it's rated as dishwasher safe, but hand washing is recommended.
  • durable one-piece design
  • hole in handle for hanging
  • not heavy enough for some users
Brand KitchenAid
Model KC119OHOBA
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Leifheit Pro Line

Setting the multifunctional Leifheit Pro Line apart from the competition is its reversible base that provides both a flat surface for pounding down on chicken and other poultry, as well as a spiked surface for piercing beef and pork to ensure ideal chewing consistency.
  • crushes garlic and nuts too
  • compact and versatile
  • extremely durable construction
Brand Leifheit
Model 23014
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Rosle 12819

Blending elegance with function, the Rosle 12819 has been crafted from highly-polished 18/10 stainless steel with a large, tapered front and a seamless joint between its base and handle, offering you superior control over the amount of pressure placed on your meat.
  • comes with a lifetime warranty
  • does not hold flavors or odors
  • over twelve inches long
Brand Rosle
Model 12819
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Weston Prago Meat Cuber

The Weston Prago Meat Cuber is constructed with a cast aluminum exterior, a food-safe outer coating, and 31 stainless steel blades that are designed to prevent jamming while also helping to maximize the infusion of marinades into your foods during the cooking process.
  • smooth manual crank operation
  • disassembles for easy cleaning
  • two c-clamps for countertop mounting
Brand Weston
Model 07-3101-W-A
Weight 9.9 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Wusthof 4702

Maintain an even thickness and consistency of your boneless meats using the precision forged Wusthof 4702. Assembled in Germany and weighing in at just over 2.5 pounds, its rounded, smooth, and completely flat surface will ensure a uniform shape before cooking.
  • compression-riveted synthetic handle
  • dishwasher safe
  • high-quality stainless steel
Brand Wüsthof
Model 4702
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Oxo SoftWorks

With the Oxo SoftWorks, you get the best of both worlds. The textured surface tenderizes while the flat side works to pound cuts of meat to an even thickness. Its contoured, ergonomic handle is comfortable to hold, and the durable construction makes it dishwasher safe.
  • heavy-duty rubber grip
  • great for large or small hands
  • very budget friendly
Brand OXO
Model 86151
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Time, Love, And Tenderness

When I first think about striking or pounding a piece of meat, the first image that pops into my mind is the classic underdog film Rocky, watching Sylvester Stallone punch a large slab of beef during one of his many training montages. Okay, so Rocky probably wasn't doing much to enhance the beef's flavor during the movie, but his iconic actions do touch on the concept of tenderizing, at least in its rudimentary form. When enjoying a thick cut of steak, the most important qualities include its consistency, ease of chewing, and of course its flavor. Proper preparation of the food, then, is paramount to ensuring those continued success stories for your meals. That said, the tenderizer should be among your arsenal of cooking tools for making that happen.

In the simplest sense, a tenderizer is a hand-powered tool specially-designed to help bring out your meat's level of palatability for human consumption. That's a fancy way of saying that the tool helps to improve the overall consistency and quality of the cooking process for the specific cut of meat chosen, while making it that much more juicy and enjoyable when you actually sit down to eat it.

Before diving into what defines a tenderizer, we must first step back and understand what tenderness means. Some might equate the concept of tenderness to overall flavor, but flavor and tenderness are quite different things. Generally speaking, tenderness refers to a variety of factors that include the amount of chewing resistance experienced during consumption, how the meat is cooked, for how long, the impact that process has on its muscle fibers, connective tissues (like collagen) and proteins, and how much liquid is lost at high temperatures. The more liquid that is lost during cooking, the tougher a piece of meat will become. The tenderizer's job is to soften those fibers and connective tissues, thereby giving your steak a smooth consistency that's ultimately easy to chew and to digest.

Mechanical tenderizers fall into two major categories, needle (blade) and cubing (maceration) tools. The most common cubing tools resemble a hammer or mallet in shape, they are constructed from either metal or wood, and they also have short handles with two striking heads. One of the heads is typically smooth and flat, while the other is equipped with rows of pyramid-shaped points used for striking the meat's surface. A second type of cubing tool more closely resembles a potato masher, also equipped with a short handle, large metal face, and is either completely smooth or features similar pyramid-shaped points.

By contrast, needle tenderizers leverage a series of sharp blades designed to pierce various cuts of meat, such as whole rib-eye rolls, individual steaks, or roasts. These blades can cut through both muscle fibers and connective tissues. When steaks are needle tenderized, the process is often referred to as Jaccarding. Different from traditional meat mallets, the Jaccard has the advantage of allowing marinades, spice rubs, and brines to more easily penetrate a cut of beef (instead of just pounding its surface), thereby enhancing its flavor and improving one's cooking efficiency, thanks to the perforations its blades make.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Because the tenderizer comes in different styles, your main focus should be on the type or cut of meat you plan to prepare. This can often direct you to the appropriate tool. For example, if the goal of your impending meal is to produce very thin slices of various cuts for consumption, then a good old-fashioned meat mallet can do the trick, as you'll be flattening the entire piece with the head of the device without much focus on using individual points to pierce the muscles or connective tissues. That said, if you're looking to tenderize a more expensive type of steak, then a needle or crank-operated tenderizer might be best.

Needle tenderizers can significantly reduce cooking time by allowing your marinades and natural juices to seep into the cuts of beef you're preparing, while also encouraging even heat distribution and cooking in the oven. That said, if you're planning dinner parties and you want to get the most out of your expensive food items, then a bladed tenderizer can definitely be an asset. Your choice also depends on what it is you plan to prepare, how you want it to taste, and how tough or soft you prefer the food to be for you and your guests.

Next, consider the tenderizer's ease of use and cleanup factor. If you're using a meat hammer, for example, it should offer an ergonomic and textured grip of some sort, so that you always have the proper leverage when applying striking force to your raw beef and that some of the force will be absorbed by the thickness of the handle itself. Additionally, it should be relatively simple to hand wash and reuse.

If you go with a needle device, make sure there are an adequate number of blades and that they're made from sturdy materials like rust-resistant stainless steel.

A Brief History Of The Meat Tenderizer

The concept of tenderizing has been around for centuries. The idea of consuming meat stretches as far back as the first appearance of Homo sapiens one hundred thousand years ago. Evolving into a bipedal species afforded early man the ability to become a hunter, which might help to explain the logic of developing a taste for beef in the first place. Before man harnessed the use of fire, meat was generally eaten raw, which caused a new problem of figuring out how to properly preserve it. Thus began man's search for innovating new ways to keep meat fresh and flavorful for extended periods of time.

Later historical accounts tell the story of the nomadic Tatars of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries who were thought to have developed steak tartare by tenderizing beef using the weight of their horses' saddles. However, these claims were later believed to be a false interpretation of the meat's use, that the Tatars merely used thinly-sliced pieces of raw beef to soothe a horse's sores prior to saddling.

The first person to patent the tenderizer was Walter Dura in 1954, however Andre Jaccard has been widely-credited with introducing the mechanical tenderizer to the United States in the 1960's.

Since the middle of the twentieth century, meat tenderizers have continued to evolve from manual, crank-operated devices to those with more compact shapes with specialized double heads and textured handles, all of which have been built to improve user comfort as well as the taste of your meals when preparing them. Home accessibility to this simple, yet effective beef preparation tool will only help you in the long run when arming yourself to create delicious, mouth-watering steaks in the kitchen.

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Last updated on February 07, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

Gabrielle is a writer and hopeful entrepreneur who hails from a tiny town in Virginia. Earlier in her career, she spent a few years in Southern California before moving back to the east coast (but she misses LA every day). An avid and enthusiastic home cook, she is somewhat of an expert at fending off attempted food thievery by her lazy boxer.

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