Tenderizing beef is a great way to use high heat cooking methods such as grilling for those not so naturally tender steaks. Using one of the tenderizing methods allows you to still enjoy tougher meats and not spend a fortune on naturally tender cuts. Described below are some simple steps to tenderize even the toughest cuts.



Meat mallets are utensils used to pound thin slices of meat into even thinner slices. Pounding the meat breaks up some of those tough fibers and connective tissues that make your meat tough to chew.

Flattening beef slices allows them to still stay tender after being grilled, broiled, or sautèed. Cooking the beef quickly with high heat is an important factor in keeping the meat tender.

Commercial Powders

Tenderizing powders are available at most grocery stores. They are made of a powdered substance that contains enzymes that help break down fibers and connective tissues throughout the meat. Most often, the enzymes are produced from papaya and pineapple extracts. To use, lightly sprinkle tenderizing powder over tougher cuts of beef.


Marinating is a common way to tenderize meat. Soaking selected cuts of beef in marinade is a great way to add flavor and tenderize at the same time!

Marinades are made up of an acidic ingredient as well as herbs and spices. The acidic ingredient is important because it is necessary to soften the tissues of the meat.

Fresh pineapple juice is an excellent ingredient to use when marinating because it contains bromelin, one of the most powerful natural tenderizers. Only fresh pineapple contains this enzyme, so be sure to purchase fresh and not canned. Once heated, the bromelin is destroyed, so be sure not to use any already cooked marinade for marinating purposes.

Other acidic ingredients include wine, vinegar, and olive oil. Citrus fruits can also be used to provide the acidic ingredient in any marinade.

Other important factors to remember when using marinades are:


The marinade should completely cover the meat to be marinated properly.

Soaking Time:

Tougher cuts of beef should be soaked for several hours. Soaking overnight is recommended for maximum tenderness. For more tender cuts of beef, a soaking time for 2 hours or less is recommended since the marinade is mainly used for flavoring purposes.


Never marinate beef at room temperature. Always place the beef in a glass baking dish, plastic dish, or Ziploc bag along with the marinade and seal tightly with foil, a tight fitting lid, or completely zipping the bag. Place dish or bag in refrigerator until completely marinated, turning the meat every few hours.

Proper Containers:

Glass dishes, plastic bowls, and zip-loc bags are recommended for marinating. Metal dishes can react with the acidic ingredients in marinades so avoid using metal containers for marinating.


All marinade should be discarded after use. It could contain bacteria that may be present from having contact with the raw meat. If it is essential to reuse the marinade, it must be boiled thoroughly and used as a basting liquid of part of a sauce for the meat.

The marinade should not be reused for any other purpose because of the bacteria that may be present from having been in contact with the raw meat. The only way the marinade can be reused is to boil it thoroughly and used as a basting liquid or dipping sauce.


Rubs consist of a dry mixture of herbs and spices and are applied to the beef when raw. Letting the rub to sit on the raw beef overnight allows the mixture to permeate the meat and adds flavor to the cut.

When using rubs to tenderize beef, sprinkle the meat generously with selected mixture and allow to sit for at least 12 hours.


Wrapping thin layers of beef fat or bacon around cuts of beef is known as barding. This is a tenderizing method that adds moisture and flavor to the meat as well as serving as a natural tenderizer. Once the meat is cooked, the remaining bacon can be removed.