The 5 Best Meat Tenderizers of 2024

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see our affiliate policy.

Credit: Amazon


 

Tender, juicy, and perfectly flavored meat is the secret to achieving rockstar status in the kitchen. You could always splurge on an expensive filet mignon or cut of Wagyu beef for a special occasion, but for budget-conscious meals during the week, having one of the best meat tenderizers is your best bet for breaking down dense tissue and fibers to take everyday meats from chewy to melt-in-your-mouth.

From traditional double mallets to more modern models with retractable blades and safety locks, Meggan and I researched the top meat tenderizers on the market. Together we looked at each of the three different types of tenderizers, noting features like efficiency, construction, size, and ease of use. We then compared them side by side and rated them on ease of use, durability, ease of cleaning, and overall value to come up with our list of the best meat tenderizers.

Our Top Picks 

  1. What’s in Meggan’s Kitchen: Oxo Steel Meat Tenderizer – $20.99 at Amazon
  2. Best Bladed: Jaccard Meat Maximizer Tenderizer – $21.31 at Amazon
  3. Best Mallet: KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer – $14.97 at Walmart
  4. Best Hand Crank: Weston 2-in-1 Slicer and Cuber – $126.94 at Amazon
  5. Easiest to Use: Oxo Good Grips Easy-Clean Bladed Meat Tenderizer – $22.95 at Amazon

Reviews of the Best Meat Tenderizers

1. What’s in Meggan’s Kitchen: OXO Steel Meat Tenderizer

Credit: Amazon

The OXO Steel Meat Tenderizer has been Meggan’s go-to since she bought it back in 2009. It has two surfaces to pound out and tenderize meat. She uses the heavy-weight mallet for pounding out chicken cutlets, beef, pork, and other things that need to be broken down. “I use it mostly for pounding chicken cutlets for Chicken Milanese and Chicken Schnitzel or to flatten pork for Pork Schnitzel,” Meggan says. “I love that it pounds meat well, is heavy enough to do the job, but not hard to maneuver either. It’s also great for smashing things to crumbs from graham crackers, regular crackers, cookies, pretzels, or candy canes.” With a comfortable grip, it’s sturdy and durable without being oversized or hard to lift. It’s also dishwasher-safe, so cleaning up is easy.

The Specs:

  • Style: Mallet 
  • Material: Stainless steel, plastic 
  • Weight: 4 ounces 
  • Dimensions: 3″ L x 2″ W x 4.5″ H

The Pros:

  • Comfortable grip 
  • Dishwasher-safe 
  • Has a safety lock

The Cons:

  • Hard to clean

What Others are Saying:

OXO Steel Meat Tenderizer has a rating of 4.8 on Amazon from more than 1,5000 reviews. 

Buy the OXO Steel Meat Tenderizer: 

2. Best Bladed: Jaccard Meat Maximizer Tenderizer

Credit: Amazon

The Jaccard Meat Maximizer Tenderizer is a model that many professionals reach for. Rather than beating up the meat, the thin blades create small holes to lower cooking time and absorb marinade better.  It has 48 stainless steel blades that are double-sided and razor-sharp, so you don’t have to apply a lot of pressure to cut through tougher meats like venison without cutting pieces off. For safety purposes, it has a case to protect your hands from the blade. When you’re done using it, you can toss the whole thing on the top rack of the dishwasher, so cleanup is easy, too. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Bladed 
  • Material: Stainless steel, plastic 
  • Weight: 10.6 ounces 
  • Dimensions: 4.5” L x 2” W x 6” H

The Pros:

  • Double-sided blades 
  • Easy to operate 

The Cons:

  • Hard to take apart

What Others are Saying:

The Jaccard Meat Maximizer Tenderizer was named meat tenderizer with blades by The Spruce Eats. It also has a 4.8 rating on Amazon from more than 1,500 reviews.

Buy the Jaccard Meat Maximizer Tenderizer: 

3. Best Mallet: KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer

Credit: Amazon

This mallet-style meat tenderizer by KitchenAid improves the texture and taste of meats and fish with little to no work on your end. The cast aluminum is durable, so it’s not only the last mallet meat tenderizer you’ll ever need, but most likely the only meat tenderizer you’ll ever need because it has two sides. The ridged side of the mallet has spikes to make meat softer and the flat side pounds meat to a super thin diameter to ensure even cooking. Just be sure to cover the meat with plastic wrap or wax paper and then start in the middle, working your way out toward the edges. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Mallet 
  • Materials: Aluminum, plastic 
  • Weight: 10.4 ounces 
  • Dimensions: 2” L x 3.5” W x 9.5” H 

The Pros:

  • Large surface area 
  • Non-slip handle 
  • Double-sided 
  • Lightweight 
  • Durable

The Cons:

  • Hand-wash only

What Others are Saying:

The KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer was named the best overall meat tenderizer by Bob Vila. It also has a 4.6 rating on Amazon from more than 1,800 reviews.

Buy the KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer: 

4. Best Hand Crank: Weston 2-in-1 Slicer and Cuber

Credit: Amazon

The Weston 2-in-1 Slicer and Cuber is on the pricier side, but the versatility it offers is worth the sticker price, especially if you plan to use it a lot. It is operated by a hand crank that gives it incredible power with minimal effort from you, can be mounted to the counter, and can take on meats as seriously as a butcher. It works like a pasta roller: Simply place the meat at the top opening, crank the handle, and let the 31 stainless steel blades do the rest. It disassembles easily, but note that it should only be washed by hand. 

The Specs:

  • Style: Hand crank 
  • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel, plastic 
  • Weight: 9.86 pounds 
  • Dimensions: 6.75” L x 13.5” W x 13.75” H

The Pros:

  • Versatile 
  • Easy to crank 
  • Attaches to table 
  • Sturdy

The Cons:

  • Expensive

What Others are Saying:

The Weston 2-in-1 Slicer and Cuber has a 4.6 rating on Amazon from more than 3,000 reviews. Additionally, The Spruce Eats said it was the best cuber.

Buy the Weston 2-in-1 Slicer and Cuber: 

5. Easiest to Use: OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Bladed Meat Tenderizer

Credit: Amazon

It doesn’t get much easier to tenderize meat than when you do it with the OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Bladed Meat Tenderizer. Similar to the Jaccard, it has 50 razor-sharp blades that perforate through the fibers of tough meat with ease to create little spaces for sauces and spices to marinate. The top has a non-slip grip with an ergonomic contoured shape that fits comfortably in your hand so you can tenderize a lot of meat without getting tired. Just place it on the meat and push down with your palm. 

Keep in mind that the tight spaces around the blades can make it tough to clean if you don’t rinse it out right away, but as long as it’s rinsed you can throw all the individual parts in the dishwasher. Because the blades are so sharp, the recessed toggle lock to keep them covered is a great feature.

The Specs:

  • Style: Needle 
  • Materials: Stainless steel, plastic 
  • Weight: 4 ounces 
  • Dimensions: 2” L x 3” W x 4.5” H

The Pros:

  • Razor-sharp blades 
  • Safety lock for blades 
  • Lightweight 
  • Non-slip grip

The Cons:

  • Hard to clean

What Others are Saying:

The OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Bladed Meat Tenderizer has a 4.6 rating on Amazon from more than 1,000 reviews.

Buy the OXO Good Grips Easy-Clean Bladed Meat Tenderizer: 

More Meat Tenderizers to Consider

Norpro Grip-EZ Tenderizer and Pounder

Overall, the Norpro is priced right and it does the job. The handle is easy to hold and has a nice weight that pounds meat to uniform thickness. Its small size is great for maneuverability, storability, and control. It didn’t make the cut as one of Meggan’s favorites because she prefers a mallet for the most power. The Norpro Grip-EZ Tenderizer and Pounder is available at Amazon for $23.88.

Farberware Professional Dual-Sided Meat Tenderizer

The smooth plastic on the handle of this model by Farberware is comfortable to hold and offers great balance. Additionally, the heavy-duty case aluminum head is easy to clean but it’s recommended to wash it by hand. Each of the two sides perform well, but it’s not as much of a standout as Meggan’s OXO. The Farberware Professional Dual-Sided Meat Tenderizer is available at Amazon for $17.32.

Williams Sonoma Reversible Meat Tenderizer

The heavy-duty design of this tenderizer works more like a stamp than a hammer. One side flattens, and the other tenderizes. The handle is easy to hold, but there is no non-slip plastic, so it could get slippery to hold. It’s dishwasher-safe and easy to store. All Recipes named it the best overall, but Meggan thinks the less expensive options above perform just as well. The Williams Sonoma Reversible Meat Tenderizer is available at Williams Sonoma for $42.95.

Why You Can Trust Us

I’m Belle, an award-winning content creator and an adjunct professor who works in restaurant PR in the Midwest. Over the course of 20 years, I’ve held almost every position imaginable in various restaurants, including ownership of a Korean-concept hot dog cart (that was named after my dog’s teeth). My writing and on-camera work can be seen on the Better Homes & Gardens website. 

Pounding chicken cutlets thin under plastic wrap.
Credit: Culinary Hill

Meggan is a classically-trained chef, professional writer, and the Editor-in-Chief of Culinary Hill. She’s created hundreds of cocktails and other drinks, and she knows what tools make the job easier and more fun. 

To create this guide for the very best meat tenderizers out there, I worked with Meggan to hear which models she personally loves and to learn what qualities she would consider when picking out the best meat tenderizer. I then researched highly recommended models and read hundreds of online reviews to find the best options out there. We also compared different types of meat tenderizers side by side and rated them on ease of use, durability, ease of cleaning, and overall value to come up with our list.

Everything to Know Before Buying a Meat Tenderizer

Pounding pork cutlets thinly for schnitzel.
Credit: Culinary Hill

What to Consider Before Buying a Meat Tenderizer

Buying a meat tenderizer can greatly enhance your cooking experience by making tougher cuts of meat more tender and flavorful. The main consideration is the type of meat tenderizer you buy. There are three types of manual tenderizers: 

  • Mallet: A mallet is the most traditional tool most commonly found in kitchens. It has two sides for tenderizing: one side that is smooth and flattened and one with small, pyramid-shaped points that pounds and breaks apart the muscle fibers of the meat.
  • Needle: Needle meat tenderizers have a set of razor-sharp metal needles that puncture the meat. The needles tear apart the muscle tissue and make little pockets for seasonings, rubs, and marinades to soak into. Because of the pockets they create, needle meat tenderizers also reduce cooking time.
  • Blade: Blade tenderizers are similar to needle meat tenderizers because the piercing blades also tear through muscle and create pockets in the meat. The advantage of blade tenderizers is that they handle large, thick cuts of meat with more ease.

If you have small children at home, Meggan suggests storing your meat tenderizer somewhere locked and safe, such as with your dangerous chemicals and matches, so they stay out of reach of little hands. Additionally, consider the grip of the tool you buy. You want a comfortable, ergonomic one so you don’t get blisters.

Meggan also doesn’t think you need different tenderizers for different kinds of meat if you have a double-sided tenderizer, which really is a pounder/tenderizer combo like the OXO one she recommends. She suggests using a mallet because it can do both jobs. 

Does Baking Soda Tenderize Meat?

Yes, Meggan says that baking soda changes the pH level of the surface of meat, breaking the bonds between some proteins and preventing new bonds from forming. The process is called “velveting meat” and it’s very easy to do — though you’ll have to prep in advance for it. Here’s how to do it:

  • Step One: Rub baking soda sparingly on your meat, making sure to cover all sides.
  • Step Two: Place meat in a container and store in the refrigerator for anywhere between 3 and 5 hours.
  • Step Three: Rinse meat thoroughly and blot dry with a paper towel.
  • Step Four: Tenderize the meat with a tenderizer and then cook as desired.

How Do You Use a Meat Tenderizer?

It’s relatively easy to use a meat tenderizer, just remember to always follow the proper technique to ensure your safety. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use one: 

  1. Choose the Right Protein: The best meat tenderizers work great on tougher cuts of meat like steaks, roasts, or chops. Some even work on fish. Mallets are specifically useful for chicken cutlets or pork tenderloins.
  2. Prep your Workspace: Grab a sturdy cutting board or plastic cutting sheet. Wrap your meat in plastic wrap or wax paper so it won’t stick to your meat tenderizer.
  3. Start Pounding: Hold the tenderizer in your dominant hand with a firm grip and hold the meat steady on the cutting board with the other. Once you have your fingers clear, use controlled force to start pounding the meat from the center and work your way outward. Avoid any bones.
  4. Flip and Pound the Other Side: This will ensure even tenderizing on the entire piece.

How Do You Tenderize Stew Meat?

The best way to tenderize a tough chuck or round is to use a marinate or salt brine and then pound it out with a tenderizer. Choose a marinade with acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus juice or add salt to water to create a brine and let the meat sit in the liquid for a few hours. If you choose to brine, you’ll want to rinse the salt off before pounding it out with your meat tenderizer so it doesn’t get stuck to it.

What Can You Use as a Meat Tenderizer Substitute?

If you find yourself in a pinch and don’t have a meat tenderizer, you can still use a marinate or salt brine to soften the muscle fibers, then use a rolling pin to pound and flatten it out. Using the tines of a fork to pierce the meat’s surface will also help break up muscle fibers a bit.

The Best Recipes to Use a Meat Tenderizer

Chicken Milanese on a gray plate with a side of greens.

Buying a meat tenderizer can greatly enhance your cooking experience by making tougher cuts of meat more tender and flavorful. Once you choose the best meat tenderizer for your kitchen, try your hand at Meggan’s favorite recipes to get you started:

Prices were accurate at time of publication.

+ posts

Belle DuChene is an award-winning digital content producer who has a passion for all things lifestyle including food, fashion, and French culture. (And French wine, of course!) Over the course of 20 years, she's held almost every position imaginable in various restaurants and has eaten her way through the side streets of more than 20 countries. Always a student, her kitchen looks like a library of culinary school textbooks and she will sit for the level one sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers this summer. Belle owns an award-winning content creation agency, teaches communications at three colleges and universities, and tutors in French. In addition to Culinary Hill, her writing and on-camera demonstrations have been published on BHG.com.

Quick & Easy Meals in Under 30 Minutes!
15 simple recipes for busy weeknights.

You May Also Like

Questions and Comments

Thank you for your comments! Please allow 1-2 business days for a reply. Our business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 am PST to 5:00 pm PST, excluding holidays. Comments are moderated to prevent spam and profanity.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. Hi, this is a question not related to the subject above. I want to make my own Italian sausage or make my own ground beef or turkey or pork.
    1. Do you have any suggestions on what brand of meat grinder to get? It doesn’t have to budget wise as long as I get a quality one.
    2. Can you tell me what cut of beef is best to use for ground beef?
    3. Do you have any recipes for ground Italian sausage?

    1. Hi Toya, thank you so much for your comment and questions. I have how to make sausages on my list to develop. (I’m quite excited to take this on one day.) I’ve used the attachment for my Kitchen Aid standing mixer, and it works quite well. I recommend making sure everything is chilled well, meat including the meat and bowls, otherwise the grinder will become gummed up. I will write back once they’ve been developed. I hope this helps and thanks again. Take care! – Meggan