Learn About Meat Tenderizers

Author: Chef Sydney

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What is a Meat Tenderizer?

A meat tenderizer, also called a meat pounder or meat mallet, is a handheld tool used to help break down tough cuts of meat.

What are Meat Tenderizers Used For?

A meat tenderizer pounds down tough parts of meat to improve upon its texture.  It turns chewy or hard meat into soft, tender meat.  Meat tenderizers also help smooth out uneven parts of meat after they have been pounded out.  This tool works well with most cuts of meat.  Using a meat tenderizer helps to unify cooking time by pounding different sizes of meat to similar size and thickness.  Meat tenderizers also help to prevent gristles.

Learn About Tenderizer

A hammer-shaped meat tenderizer flattening meat.

What are the Different Types of Meat Tenderizer?

  • Hammer Shaped
  • Blade
  • Masher Shaped

Hammer Shaped

Hammer shaped meat tenderizers are the most popular kind.  They resemble a hammer, with small spikes on one flat end and a smooth side on the other at the head, and a handle that comes from the middle of the head.  The head end is usually heavier to help swing the hammer with ease.  Hammer shaped tenderizers are usually made of stainless steel and often have a cushioned handle, but some are also made of wood.


Blade meat tenderizers are often used commercially.  Blade meat tenderizers have a curved or flat handle, usually with a lipped edge, and blades that come out of the bottom of the handle.  There is a piece of flat material that comes about halfway up the blade.  The handle of blade tenderizers is usually made of a thick, sturdy plastic while the blades are usually stainless steel.

Masher Shaped

Masher shaped meat tenderizers have a long handle that leads down to a rounded end, like a potato masher.  The blades stick out of the end of some masher shaped tenderizers.  The body can be made of plastic or metal, but the blades are usually made of stainless steel.

Recipes Using Meat Tenderizers

Breaded Chicken Tenders

Watch our Kids Are Great Cooks Breaded Chicken Tenders video cooking lesson where we use a kitchen hammer to flatten and tenderize the chicken breasts.

breaded chicken tenders video
Breaded Chicken Tenders Cooking Video

Swiss Steak

Begin this recipe with a round steak. Using a blade or hammer shaped tenderizer, pound the meat to about half an inch thick. Then, place meat in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. Brown steak in a dutch oven, add onions, carrots, garlic, canned tomatoes, and tomato paste with the steaks, then simmer for about 3 hours. Finish with fresh oregano and parsley.

Country Fried Chicken

Start by placing chicken breasts in a plastic bag, remove all air, and seal. Use a hammer shaped tenderizer to pound the chicken to about half an inch thick. Mix eggs and milk together in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Coat the chicken in the egg mixture, then coat in breading mixture. Place chicken in hot oil in a cast iron skillet and fry until the chicken is cooked. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Grilled Flank Steak

Use a blade tenderizer to pound flank steak to about half an inch thick. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, maple syrup, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Marinate flank steak for several hours or overnight. Grill flank steaks until cooked the way you like.

Seasoned Chicken Steak

Make a delicious seasoned chicken by using a meat tenderizer. Start by butterflying the chicken breast and open it. Place chicken in a plastic bag, remove all of the air, and seal. Use a hammer shaped tenderizer to pound the meat to between a quarter and half an inch thick. In a bowl, combine fresh parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Rub the herb mixture on both sides of the chicken, reseal the bag, and use the tenderizer to pound the chicken. Cook chicken in a preheated skillet until cooked through.

Chicken Parmesan

Use a hammer shaped tenderizer to flatten chicken breasts to about a half an inch thick. In a shallow bowl, beat eggs. In a separate shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and salt. Dip chicken in the eggs, then the bread crumb mixture. Fry breaded chicken in a preheated skillet. Transfer chicken to a baking dish, top with marinara sauce, mozarrella cheese, and provolone cheese. Bake until cooked and serve with strand pasta.

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