9 Best Meat Tenderizers: Become a Pro With This Tools

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Last Updated on October 6, 2021

Experienced grill masters know that not every cut of meat is made equal.

Where a properly seared tenderloin will practically melt in your mouth, cooking a flank steak without some SERIOUS tenderizing is just asking for a mouth full of shoe leather.

Did you know that there are cuts of meat that you should tenderize even when they’re not tough, though? Far from just improving the texture, a well-designed meat tenderizer can even out the cooking area of chicken breasts and other poultry, ensuring an even temperature all the way through.

Tenderizing tough cuts of meat can be hard work, though… Unless you equip yourself properly. The Leifheit Pro Line Meat Tenderizer Tool is easily our #1 pick, making quick work of even the toughest cuts of meat with its compact design and 2-sided pounding disk.

What’s more, we’ve put together this review of the 9 best meat tenderizers available today, with examples to fit every need and budget. So when you’re ready to put in a little elbow grease to get the most out of every cut of meat, read on!

Jim Bob
A long-time contributor to GrillBabyGrill. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
delicious smoked ribs

How to Choose the Perfect Meat Tenderizer?

If you haven’t spent much time working over a tough cut of meat, how can you know what to look for in a meat tenderizer?

Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered! After years of making even the toughest cuts of meat into juicy and delectable finished dishes, we’ve decided on 3 things that make for a really great meat tenderizer:

#1: It’s Gotta Be Comfortable!

No matter what style of meat tenderizer you go for, it absolutely has to be comfortable in your hands. You’ll be putting a fair bit of effort into tenderizing those cuts, so don’t make it harder on your hands than it needs to be!

That’s why we’ve included a variety of styles in this review. You’ll be able to look them over and decide on which one looks right for the size of your hand, or avoid the issue altogether with a hand-cranked machine.

#2: Choose Dishwasher Safe

Tenderizing meat can be messy work. The last thing you’ll want to do after putting in the effort of pounding out a fresh cut is work through a sink full of dishes… So do yourself a favor and go for dishwasher safe tools to make cleanup a breeze.

#3: Higher Price = Less Work

Sure, it might be tempting to get the cheapest meat tenderizer that you can find on a grocery store shelf… But trust us when we say that any money you save, you’ll be paying for with sore wrists and hands.

Simply put, the more expensive models of meat tenderizers cost more because they’re heavier, more efficient, and more ergonomically designed. That’s why we recommend choosing a tenderizer that’s at the top end of your budget if you plan on using it even semi regularly.

Our Top Choice

  • Comfortable, ergonomic design.
  • Reversible pounding disk.
  • Dishwasher safe
The Process

Image

Product

Price

Leifheit Pro Line Meat Tenderizer

Leifheit Pro Line Meat Tenderizer

BEST CHOICE

  • Made of stainless steel.
  • Handle is ergonomically designed.
  • Dishwasher safe.
Check on Amazon

Norpro Grip-EZ Meat Pounder

Norpro Grip-EZ Meat Pounder

RUNNER UP

  • High quality and good hefty weight.
  • Comfortable to hold and use.
  • Heavy stainless steel and well made.
  • Check on Amazon

    OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer

    OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer

    VALUE CHOICE

    • Heavy enough to do the job.
    • Comfortable to use.
    • Good quality and durable.
    Check Price on Amazon

    Top 9 Best Meat Tenderizers Reviews of 2021

    1. Best Overall – Leifheit Pro Line Meat Tenderizer Tool

    Why you’ll love this:

    This is an excellent, handy meat tenderizer in an exceptionally usable design. The reversible design makes this tenderizer great for not just crushing meat, but all sorts of things around the kitchen. Garlic, nuts, and everything else falls before this mighty tenderizer, which doubles as a mortar in a pinch.

    What We Liked

    • Affordable price.
    • Versatile for multi-purpose use.
    • Comfortable and easy to handle.
    • Dishwasher safe.

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Some reviewers say the stickers are difficult to remove before first use.
    • Not the heaviest on our list.

    Of all the designs of meat tenderizers available today, we think that this hand-stamp style tool is the most versatile and suitable to all sorts of different people. No matter which way you grip it, it’s comfortable and puts very little stress on your wrists.

    With a reversible screw-in disk, Leifheit’s tenderizer offers both a flat side for general use, and a spiked side for particularly tough cuts of meat. It’s equally well suited to crushing garlic for use in marinades, and completely dishwasher safe.

    In short, our # 1 pick combines ease of use with fantastic ergonomics and multi-purpose versatility, all in one dishwasher-safe package. While it’s not the heaviest option on our list, its combination of all these great qualities in a reasonably priced package have easily made it our favorite.

    2.  Runner Up – Norpro Grip-EZ Stainless Steel Meat Pounder

    Why you’ll love this:

    This flat headed tenderizer is great for pounding small cuts of meat that don’t need perforation to be tamed. With a  comfortable handles and small, lightweight design it’s perfect for smashing chicken breasts, pork cutlets, and other small cuts of meat as well as garlic and similarly smashable herbs and vegetables.

    What We Liked

    • Hefty and durable.
    • Comfortable for all users.
    • Dishwasher safe.

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Lacks a studded or sharp side.
    • Not suitable for the toughest cuts of meat.

    Now, this one was a close race indeed! 

    Similar to our #1 pick, the Norpro boasts an exceptionally comfortable design that’s tailor-made for all sorts of different users. Its slightly longer handle and wider base make it maybe even a little bit easier to use than the Leifheit listed above… But, that comes at the price of having just one flat pounding surface rather than a reversible spiked surface.

    About a quarter pound heavier than our #1 pick, it will make short work of just about any cut of meat. Heavy enough for quick work but featuring precise handling as well, it does a fantastic job on all except the toughest cuts of meat. For things like beef shank, you NEED something with teeth to really break up those tough muscle fibers.

    What the Norpro lacks in spiked teeth, it more than makes up for with an affordable price. So, if you’re going more for tenderizing chicken rather than the most difficult cuts of meat to work with, we highly recommend this tenderizer.

    3. Best Value – OXO Good Grips Meat Tenderizer

     Z GRILLS ZPG-7002E

    Why you’ll love this:

    OXO brings us a comfortable hammer style meat tenderizer with two great sides. One flat for easy smashing of thinner cuts of meat, and the other textured for larger and tougher things like steaks, roasts, and other more cumbersome meat cuts. Even better: this tenderizer is exceptionally cheap.

    What We Liked

    • Extremely affordable.
    • Heavy enough for quick work.
    • Dishwasher safe.
    • Non-slip handle.

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Design puts more stress on the wrist and hands.
    • Not as attractive as other options.
    • Takes up more space than other options.

    OXO is a well-known name in bargain-priced cookware, and their meat tenderizer doesn’t disappoint!

    Designed in a classic “claw hammer” style, it definitely isn’t as easy on the wrists and hands as our previous picks — but what it lacks in ease of use, it more than makes up for in versatility and value

    Equipped with both a flat and a toothed side, it’s suitable for every cut of meat that you might want to tenderize. Soft, non-slip grips make it easy to hold onto as well as completely dishwasher safe. 

    At just over 13 ounces, it’s on the heavier side of tenderizers on our list — but having this weight centered in the head can make it feel unwieldy at times. For the price, though, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better tenderizer.

    4. Best Bladed Tenderizer – Jaccard Original Super 3 Meat Tenderizer – 48-Blade

    Why you’ll love this:

    Bladed meat tenderizers bring the ultimate in meat tenderizing power, turning even the toughest cuts into veal like morsels with extreme ease. If you’ve somehow ended up with a  piece of meat that feels like it could double as boot leather, Jaccard’s bladed tenderizer can easily turn it into a meal worth remembering.

    What We Liked

    • Crazy efficient.
    • Very easy to use.
    • Dishwasher safe.
    • Vastly reduces cooking time.

    What We Didn’t Like

    • Very difficult to clean completely.
    • Easy to overwork softer cuts of meat.

    Bladed tenderizers have been a secret weapon of professional chefs for years, now… And Jaccard was one of the early names in the field. By making a meat tenderizer that creates tiny perforations and requires minimal effort, they claim to be able to cut cook time by up to 40%. 

    Made of plastic and stainless steel, this Jaccard tenderizer’s looks are certainly nothing to write home about. No, this tool is all about function over form: It can completely tenderize even the toughest cuts of meat in no time at all.

    So why isn’t this our obvious first choice for a meat tenderizer? Two reasons: 

    First, it’s a real pain to clean. Even though it’s dishwasher safe, little bits of meat have a terrible habit of getting caught in-between those tiny blades. 

    But second, it’s almost too much for many smaller cuts of meat. With things like chicken breasts and other poultry, you run a definite risk of overworking the meat… And ending up with chicken pulp instead of a chicken breast.

    So, if you’re looking for the fastest, most efficient option at a great price, consider this Jaccard bladed tenderizer.

    5. Runner Up for Best Bladed Tenderizer – Norpro 7032 Meat Tenderizer

    green mountain davy

    Why you’ll love it:

    This small, maneuverable bladed tenderizer is great for tough cuts, while still being fairly gentle on smaller, more delicate cuts of meat. Extremely lightweight and compact, it fits easily into your silverware drawer, providing all the power of the Jaccard with marginally less speed. An excellent complement to another flat tenderizer, like the Norpro Grip-EZ.

    What we liked

    • Highly affordable.
    • Quick and efficient.
    • Less danger of overworking meat than many other bladed tenderizers

    What we didn’t like

    • Hand washing recommended.
    • Difficult to clean.

    Where the Jaccard in the previous review sets the gold standard for bladed meat tenderizers, Norpro has made a fantastic model that combines an easy use handle with a more moderate selection of blades.

    24 stainless steel prongs are much more manageable than the 48-blade capacity of our previous review item, eliminating most of the danger of overworking your meats. Just like the Jaccard, it significantly reduces cooking time.

    While the plastic and stainless steel construction may be dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand-washing because of the spring mechanism that controls it… Which, for us, is almost a deal-breaker. If it weren’t for the incredible price and hand-friendly design, we might have had to pass on this one.

    In short, if you want the fastest tenderizer available at the most affordable price, go for this one from Norpro. Sure, you’ll need to hand wash it — but that’s not so bad for the value.

    6. Premium Choice – Wusthof Gourmet Meat Tenderizer

    PRO SERIES 22

    Why you’ll love it:

    You may already know how crazy we are about Wusthof knives… But did you know that they make a range of kitchen accessories, all with the same crazy attention to detail of their knives?

    This gourmet meat tenderizer is a fantastic example of how dedicated Wusthof is to making only the highest quality kitchen equipment. Is it expensive? You betcha! But is it worth it, too? Without a doubt.

    What we liked

    • Heavy weight makes quick work of any cut.
    • Perfect balance takes all the stress off of your hands.
    • Can be used as a grill weight.
    • Slip-resistant synthetic handle.

    What we didn’t like

    • It’s expensive.

    No other tenderizer on our list is as easy to use as this one from Wusthof. You may be able to tell just from looking at its totally different design that this tenderizer is made for heavy duty work. 

    Indeed, Wusthof tools are popular in professional kitchens — where they may be tenderizing hundreds of pounds of meat in a day. This calls for maximum efficiency, and Wusthof delivers!

    Weighing nearly 3 pounds, each one of these stainless steel forged meat tenderizers takes A WHOLE DAY to manufacture. They’re perfectly flat and immaculately balanced, making quick work of even the toughest cuts of meat.

    7. Best Heavy Duty Tenderizer – Weston Manual Heavy Duty Meat Cuber Tenderizer

    Cookshak

    Why you’ll love it:

    So, maybe you’ve been looking at the products we’ve reviewed so far and thinking “man, that looks like a lot of work…”? I mean, aren’t there any other options besides hand-held tools? But of course — and that’s where the Weston Manual comes in.

    This tenderizer is so darned efficient that if you run a steak or chop through it a second time, it cubes the meat! With a few easy cranks of the handle, you can do away with the whole process of hammering out individual cuts… And get right to the good stuff of grilling.

    What we liked

    • Requires almost no physical effort.
    • Sturdy and durable.
    • Easy to use.
    • Has options for jerky cutting blades (sold separately).

    What we didn’t like

    • Takes more time to set up.
    • Takes more time to clean.

    It’s durably constructed with cast aluminum and stainless steel, and even comes with a one year warranty.

    Now, this is a little bit more of an elaborate setup than a simple hand-held tool; but even after breaking it down, the two-piece housing is really quite easy to disassemble and clean. It’s not “throw it in the dishwasher” convenient, but more than makes up for this with how quickly it works through pounds of meat like pork cushions.

    Buy this tenderizer if you want the least manual labor, and you’ll be glad that you did.

    8. Best Multi-Purpose – REMIHOF Meat Tenderizer and Pounder 4-in-1

    Louisiana

    Why you’ll love it:

    Looking for a meat tenderizer that can double as a self-defense weapon? Look no further than this 4-way hammer from REMIHOF! With flat, spiked, grooved, and battle axe sides, you’ll be ready for anything that the world can throw at you.

    What we liked

    • Extremely versatile.
    • Dishwasher safe.
    • Only option on our list for separating bones.

    What we didn’t like

    • No non-slip handle.
    • Hard on the wrists and hands.

    All joking aside, this meat tenderizer really can do just about anything. While it may look like something out of medieval times, the bladed end is perfect for separating bones in whole chickens. Combine that with sides for pounding, tenderizing, and flattening, and you’ve really got a total package meat tenderizer solution.

    We only wish that this multipurpose tool had a few more features to make it easy on the hands. With a long handle and heavy head, it’ll put plenty of pressure on your wrists during use… And without a non-slip handle, you’ll have to keep an extra tight grip.

    9. Best to Give as a Gift – Seven20 Marvel Thor Mjolnir Hammer Meat Tenderizer

    Memphis Elite

    Why you’ll love it:

    Behold! The power of the gods, right in your very meat tenderizing hands! What grizzled beast of a cut could possibly stand in your way with the strength of lightning behind you?

    Do you need a meat tenderizer that gives you the power of a Norse god? Probably not. But if you’re like us, you definitely want one after taking just one look at this super awesome tool.

    What we liked

    • Non-slip handle.
    • Stainless steel double-sided tenderizer for great versatility.
    • Looks awesome.
    • May give you the power to control lightning.

    What we didn’t like

    • Hand wash only.
    • May not give you the power to control lightning.

    Perhaps surprisingly for a piece of officially licensed Marvel merchandise, this cool gadget is actually a darned good meat tenderizer. It has a heavy head, double-sided functionality, and a non-slip handle. You’ll need to hand wash it to keep the decorative message looking nice, but that’s to be expected.

    With an inscription reading “Whosoever holds this hammer, if they be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”, this meat tenderizer makes a perfect gift for any lover of Marvel comics or norse mythology.

    FINAL VERDICT

    Any one of the meat tenderizers on this list could be just right for you. By choosing based on your preferred grip style, budget, and desired amount of physical labor, you can end up with the perfect tool for long-term use in your kitchen.

    If you want to cook only the tastiest, most tender meats possible, we strongly recommend buying one of these meat tenderizers today. Also consider what butcher’s block or cutting board to use the tenderizer with because if you’re going to tenderize meat, you’ll need a durable platform for the task. The investment you make will more than pay for itself in delicious meals in the future.

    Thank you for reading today, and good luck in all of your cooking adventures!

    Tenderizing Your Steak

    Throwing the meat away is certainly not an option, and of course, you do not want to face the embarrassment of serving your guests meat that’s not chewable. This means you have to struggle with cooking the meat until it becomes soft enough to eat. 

    The good news is with the emergence of various tenderizing techniques, you can now soften your tough cuts easily within minutes. 

    As the name implies, tenderizing is the process of breaking down the muscle fibers and collagens in the cuts of meat to soften the texture and make them chewable and tasty.

    Complete guidelines on how to tenderize steak.Table of ContentsHow to Choose the Perfect Meat Tenderizer?Our Best ChoiceTop 9 Best Meat Tenderizers Reviews of 2021Tenderizing Your Steak

    The ProcessHow We Test Our ProductsOur Editorial ProcessWhy Should You Trust Us?

    Further reading: Tool for perfect ground meatmaking pulled pork and cold cuts.