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Is Tenderizing Meat Worth It? Plus, How to Marinate and Tenderize Steak Perfectly Every Time

Here’s why pounding a tough cut of meat is a great method for achieving tender results—plus, our favorite juicy steak marinade recipe.

3 min read

Before we break down why it's important to tenderize meat(Opens in a new window), first, let’s discuss what it is. Tenderizing meat is the process of either beating or slow cooking meat to make it easier to chew or cut. Think about how soft slowly braised short ribs get—that’s them getting tenderized.

But what makes meat tough? When you’re eating either beef, lamb, veal or pig, you’re eating the muscle of the animal. When animals move and exercise, this tightens their muscles, which leads to tougher cuts of meat. In order to get a tender result, which is more flavorful, juicy and less chewy, we want to break up those muscle fibers.

What is the Best Way to Tenderize Meat?

Beating a tough cut of meat is a great method for achieving tender results. The best way to do this is by using a hammer-style Meat Tenderizer(Opens in a new window). The flat side is perfect for pounding chicken(Opens in a new window) or veal cutlets(Opens in a new window) flat and the textured side works great for tougher cuts. The Bladed Meat Tenderizer has 50 sharp blades that create pockets for meat to quickly absorb marinades and retain its own juices. This also promotes uniform cooking.

The results? A more juicy, flavorful piece of meat. So, yes, it's worth it.

OXO Grilling

How to Marinate Steak

One of our favorite marinades to use for skirt steak comes from Alton Brown(Opens in a new window), which you can freeze ahead of time if you're grilling for a group(Opens in a new window). Read below to make your own or tenderize your meat in a matter of minutes with this marinade flavor injector(Opens in a new window).


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • cup soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, washed and cut in ½
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
  • 2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into three equal pieces


  1. In a blender, add oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar. Puree together.
  2. Put pieces of skirt steak in a container(Opens in a new window) and pour in marinade.
  3. Seal container. Allow steak to marinate for one hour in refrigerator.

Want to know more about cooking meat? Learn how to use a meat thermometer(Opens in a new window), a marinade injector(Opens in a new window) and the best temperatures for grilling(Opens in a new window) better chicken, steak, turkey and pork.


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