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Nerdy Science in the Kitchen

How to Make Your Own Homemade Meat Tenderizer Seasoning



Homemade Meat Tenderizer Seasoning

Nothing is better than a tender piece of steak that melts in your mouth. Unfortunately, meat isn’t always in this state, and you have to put in a little work to get your meat as tender as possible.

You have several options for tenderizing your meat, one of those options being to season it. Meat tenderizer seasons do double duty by tenderizing the meat and adding flavor.

In this article, we explain how to tenderize your meat using seasoning and give you five seasoning recipes so you can customize your favorite delicious savory meat dishes.

Why Meat Tenderizing is Important

Food texture matters, which is especially true for meat. For example, have you ever had a tough, chewy steak? Breaking down tough meat requires extra work on your part, and the flavor is often lost.

Tenderizing your meat prevents this from happening and ensures that you get a tender and delicious meal. What’s more, tenderizing also helps your meat lock in its flavors and juices.

There are several ways to tenderize your meat, and many methods are easy. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

How to Tenderize Meat

Tenderize Meat

The classic way to tenderize your meat is to use the manual method, which involves using a tenderizing tool, like a meat mallet or pounder. A meat mallet looks like a hammer and has spikes on each side. When you pound the steak with the mallet, it breaks down those tough muscle fibers, softening the meat.

If you don’t want to use a tenderizing tool, one of the simplest methods to tenderize your meat is salting it. Salt breaks down the protein cells, leaving the meat softer than before. Better yet, salting your meat also provides an extra layer of flavor. For best results, use kosher or sea salt.

Another tenderizing option that doesn’t require mechanical tools is to use a meat tenderizing powder. This type of powder contains enzymes that break down the meat fiber, and it is an easy way to incorporate seasoning into your tenderizing process.

How to Use Meat Tenderizer Seasoning

To season while you tenderize, you have two options for tenderizing your meat: dry rub and marinade. Let’s explore both these options.

Dry Rub

Using a dry rub is a great way to tenderize and add delicious flavor to your meat. To create a dry rub meat tenderizer seasoning, all you have to do is combine the individual dry rub ingredients and rub them deeply into the meat.

As a pro tip, using a Ziploc bag to apply your dry rub to your meat ensures that your dry rub evenly coats the meat, resulting in even tenderizing.


Marinating your meat is another option for tenderizing meat and adding flavor. The key to making meat marinades is to use acid to break down muscle fibers, not to mention that it balances the flavors.

When using acidic substances, be sure to marinate your meat in a nonreactive bowl for food safety. As with dry rubs, you can use plastic Ziploc bags to evenly distribute the marinade and ensure that you get an even coating.

For best results, whether you use a dry rub or marinade, be sure to cover your seasoned meat and leave it in the fridge overnight to give it enough time to both tenderize and absorb all the flavor from the seasoning.

Meat Tenderizer Seasoning Recipes

For meat tenderizer seasoning recipes, the sky’s the limit. There are many different seasoning combinations to try out, and the best ones depend on your flavor preference. Don’t be afraid to test different combinations to discover which ones give you the tenderness and flavor you want in your meat!

There are a few ingredients that are most effective in tenderizing meat. These ingredients include:

  • Wine
  • Pineapple juice
  • Vinegar
  • Buttermilk
  • Salt
  • Baking soda

Your meat tenderizing seasoning should include at least one of these ingredients to be maximally effective. From there, you can add a variety of other herbs and spices to create the perfect flavor profile.

To give you some ideas, here are three meat tenderizing seasoning recipes to try out and make your own!

BBQ Dry Rub

You can’t talk about meat tenderizer seasoning without considering BBQ! This dry rub will leave BBQ ribs tender and fall off the bone.


  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and rub into 2-3 pounds of ribs. Let sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

Al Pastor Marinade

This classic Mexican marinade is commonly used for pork, which is then spit-grilled. The key flavor and tenderizing ingredient in this marinade is pineapple juice.


  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 chipotle peppers
  • ½ cup of pineapple juice
  • 1 tablespoon of achiote paste
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour over 2 pounds of pork shoulder and let marinate overnight.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Marinade

Fried Chicken Marinade

When cooked right, chicken is already quite tender. But why not make it even juicier? The key to tender and flavorful fried chicken is buttermilk. Buttermilk has enough acid to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor.


  • 2 cups of buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of white or black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper

Combine the ingredients and pour marinade over chicken (recipe makes enough for one whole chicken, cut up). Let marinate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.

Meat Tenderizing Seasoning for the Best Meat

Food is about both flavor and texture, which is why you must tenderize your meat and season it well. Accomplish these tasks using a tenderizer seasoning that softens your meat and enhances its flavor.

Test out the recipes above, and don’t be afraid to adjust them to make them your own!

Kitchen Professor author
About the Author: Brock Yates

Because Brock is the tallest member of the team at 6 foot 5 inches, when he’s not thinking about food, he’s eating his favorites: pizza, burgers, tacos and burritos. He's always experimenting with the latest kitchen gadgets and exploring new techniques in the kitchen.

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