How To Beat Meat: 13 Quick And Easy Ways To Soften Meat

Brisket, chuck roast, hanger, and flank steak are tough beef cuts. These cuts are very flavorful. If you know how to beat meat and make it tender, you will not only be saving up with these cheaper cuts, but you will also be adding more flavor to your meal.

These cheaper cuts contain a lot of fiber, which makes them tough. You need to break down these fibers to make the meat soft and chewable. Also, a loose fiber network will make the meat more penetrable for spices, bringing out the best flavors.

This article contains a list of effective methods to beat meat and get it soft for meals.

What does it mean to beat meat?

Beating meat is a process that breaks down tough muscle fibers and gelatinizes collagen in tough meat cuts. This process makes it easier to chew these meat cuts and enhance their flavor.

Cuts such as brisket, flank, short ribs, shank, top round roast, bottom sirloin, etc are tough cuts. Their toughness is due to how they are used. These parts act as support or a propeller for the animal, so they are built strong to fulfill these functions.

These muscles are high in collagen, which makes them tough. While the meats cook, they lose water and the collagen shrinks, resulting in a drier and tougher texture. These cuts will not be palatable or chewable if you do not beat or tenderize them.

Ways to beat and soften meat

1. Meat tenderizer

how to beat meat with meat tenderizer - millenora

A meat tenderizer is a spiked meat mallet used to soften fibrous meats to make them tender and easy to chew.

Beating tough meat cuts with tenderizers helps to break the fibers, and make the meat thinner and softer. Cut the meat into thin slices and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Begin to pound the meat with the tenderizer from the inside out.

This method of beating meat is only suitable for meat that you want to fry or bread. It is not suitable for meat meant for grilling, soups, or stews.

2. Weaken tough fibers by scoring the meat

beef with small cuts - millenora

This method will not transform a tough flank into a filet but will make the meat easier to chew.

While you prepare the meat for cooking, make scores on it on both sides in opposite directions. This allows the meat to absorb the cooking liquid into all areas and soften.

3. Salt the meat

salted beef - millenora

Coarse salts like sea or kosher salt will draw water from it and leave fat and protein, making it tender. If you do not have a tenderizer, try this method.

The meat should be at least 4cm thick to protect its internal parts. The outer part will create an external crust to preserve the inside.

Sprinkle the salt on both sides of the meat and leave it to rest. If you do not want the meat to be too tender, you can leave it in salt for two hours or thereabout. If you want it very tender, you can leave it in salt for more hours.

After salting, rinse off the salt and leave the meat to dry before cooking. While the meat sat in salt, it must have absorbed some of the salt which will likely get into your meal.

To avoid ending up with a salty dish, be careful with the extra salt you add. Start with a little and add more if necessary.

4. Use an acid marinade

how to use acid marinade to beat meat  - millenora

Another way to beat meat is to soak it in an acid marinade. Make the marinade with citrus fruits or vinegar. However, expect to get meat with vinegar or lemon flavor.

If you don’t mind, get on with it. Wash the meat clean and leave it to sit in the marinade overnight.

This method of tenderizing is suitable for thinner cuts of meat used for preparing cutlets or meat with tomato sauce.

5. Leave the meat to rest after grilling

grilled brisket - millenora

Leaving steak to rest after grilling allows the juices to redistribute and prevent it from drying out. Moisture in a tough steak will make it a bit tender and soft enough to chew than when it has dried out.

6. Tenderize meat in fruit puree

fruit puree to beat meat - millenora

Fruits contain enzymes that speed up softening. You can take advantage of this to beat your meat and get it tender.

Sour fruits with neutral tastes like kiwi and papaya are perfect picks for this because they do not flavor the meat in the process.

Coat each side of the meat with fruit puree and wrap it in a cling film. Leave the meat to tenderize overnight or for 24 hours in a refrigerator.

7. Soak meat in a dairy-based marinade

dairy marinade to beat meat - millenora

Milk, yogurt, and sour cream make excellent marinades for tenderizing meat. The good thing is this marinade does not make the meat too soft. Also, you can add spices and flavors to the marinade and leave the meat to soak it all up while it softens.

8. Cook slowly on low heat

slow cooking beef to beat it - millenora

You can skip the methods listed above and go ahead to cook the meat slowly on low heat. The process of slow cooking breaks down the connective tissues that make the meat tough, thereby making it more tender and easier to chew.

Slow cooking can also add more flavor to the meat if you will be cooking it alongside the entire dish.

9. Slice against the grain

how to slice meat against the grain - millenora

Another way to beat tough meat cuts and make them tender is to slice against the grain. When you slice against the grain, you cut against the muscle fibers. They come apart and become easier to chew.

When next you are serving shank or flank steak, remember to cut against the grain.

10. The sous vide method

sous vide method to cook meat - millenora

Sous vide is a cooking method that keeps food sealed in a bag and submerges the bag in a water bath until it comes to a certain temperature.

It slowly cooks tough meat cuts and transforms them into tender chunks without cooking them above the recommended temperature.

11. Grilling can soften meat

grilling flank steak - millenora

Grilling does not only add a smoky flavor to your meat, but it is also one of the methods you can use to beat meat. While the meat softens, it becomes tasty and juicy. Use this method for meat you intend to grill or cut with high-fat content.

12. Soften meat with baking soda

meat covered in baking soda - millenora

You can also beat meat with baking soda without altering its flavor. But to use this method, you will have to cook the meat up to 25% before adding baking soda to the recipe. You can use this method if baking soda will not affect your dish.

On the other hand, if your dish does not require baking soda, you can soak the meat in a baking soda solution for fifteen minutes before cooking it.

13. Powdered tenderizer

beef in powdered meat tenderizer - millenora

Premixed-powered tenderizers are made with salt, sugar, cornstarch, and bromelain. These four ingredients are the perfect combination for drying water out of meat, leaving behind only fat and protein.

Bromelain comes from pineapple, but it doesn’t add any extra flavors to the meat. Wash the meat, sprinkle the powder over it, and leave it to rest for 30 minutes. Wash it afterward and dry it. This method is suitable for meat meant for breading.


Does beating meat reduce its nutritional value?

Beating meat does not reduce its nutritional value in any way. By breaking down the tough muscle fibers, it also breaks down the amino acids but does not denature them.

Is using a meat grinder the same as beating meat?

No, it is not. Meat grinders and tenderizers are two different kitchen tools. Meat grinders are used to grind meat into small pieces, whereas tenderizers make tough meat cuts more tender for chewing.

Can you tenderize meat after cooking it?

Yes, you can soften meat after cooking it. Some of the best ways to do this are to pound the meat, cut it against the grain, add some marinade, or braise the meat. However, if you are using marinade, you risk increasing the sodium content in the meat.


One of the ways to save up on beef is to buy the less expensive cuts like the chick roast, brisket, and flank.

But buying cheap cuts does not mean you should eat a less palatable meal. With any of the abovementioned methods, you can tenderize the toughest meat cuts and enjoy your meal.

Invest in a meat tenderizer. If you do not have one, tenderize your meat with salt, baking soda, acid marinade, or slow cook it.

However, remember that salt, baking soda, and the marinade can increase the salt content of your meal. So, you should reduce the extra salt you will add to the meal.

Also, see a list of possible reasons why your turkey came out dry and how to fix it.

Thanks for reading.