When you’re on a budget or feeding a large family, you can’t be too picky about the cuts of meat you buy. As we all know, some cuts are naturally more tender than others – but they also come at a much higher price.
Tougher cuts are easier on the wallet, but tougher on the pallet (and the teeth). That’s where meat tenderizers come in.
The Benefits of Using a Meat Tenderizer
To understand the benefits of using a meat tenderizer, you need to understand why some cuts of meat are tougher than others.
Meat is, essentially, muscle. Each cut is made of muscle fibers that are connected by collagen, or protein filaments. These filaments are what make some cuts tougher to chew than others.
A meat tenderizer breaks down these long muscle strands while softening the collagen into gelatin. Once the collagen transforms into gelatin, it’s easily absorbed by the meat, making it naturally tender and moist.
Simply put, a tenderizer helps you serve your family protein-rich meals without going overbudget and without sacrificing taste.
As a bonus, naturally tougher cuts of meat (the ideal cuts for tenderizing) are usually leaner, which makes them an overall healthier choice.
There are a few different ways to tenderize meat:
- Acidic marinades
- Mechanical tenderizers
I prefer to use mechanical tenderizers because you don’t have to worry about the chemicals or high levels of sodium that may be in powders or store-bought marinades. While you can use the old-fashioned tenderizers – or as I call them, spiked clubs – mechanical machines are quicker and so much more effective.
There are many tenderizer machines to choose from, but some are way out of the average user’s price range (i.e. designed for commercial use). I’m going to share my three favorite tenderizers, so you can find one that best suits your needs.
The Best Vertical Meat Tenderizer: Weston 07-3101-W-A
The Weston tenderizer is a great option for families on a budget. This is one of the most affordable models out there, and it works just as well as some of the mid-range units.
The 07-3101-W-A is a cuber/tenderizer. It’s easy to use, but it’s also a manual machine (keep this in mind). I’ve tried this unit with all cuts (yes, even the toughest ones), and they have always come out tender.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s cow, venison, elk, chicken or any other animal – you will be left with tender meat.
The sleek stainless steel combs help prevent jamming, which minimizes waste and significantly reduces clean-up time.
The vertical design of this unit makes it easy to use. Simply place the meat into the chute on the top of the machine, and use the crank to run it through the combs. The combs tenderize the meat, reducing the cooking time and maximizing the effectiveness of marinades.
Altogether, there are 31 stainless steel blades in this unit. The housing is made of aluminum, which makes this machine a little lighter, but the blades and the guides are all stainless.
This unit is rather compact, so it won’t take up much space in your kitchen. I really like that this model comes with a countertop protector, which prevents the unit from scratching your countertops.
When you’re done using the machine, it disassembles into two parts for quick and easy clean-up.
- Easy to use
- Tenderizes even the toughest cuts of meat
- Stainless steel blades prevent jamming and are easy to clean
- Compact, vertical design won’t take up too much space in your kitchen
- Allows you to save money by tenderizing tough, cheap cuts of meat
- Countertop protector prevents scratches and scuff marks on counters
- Manual use
The only real complaint I have with this machine is that it requires manual use. This isn’t a deal-breaker for me, but some people may prefer a completely hands-off method.
I will say this: The machine is still easy to use even though it’s manual. You won’t struggle to push the meat through. Anyone can use this machine with ease. All considered, it’s the best meat tenderizer for most people’s needs.
> Check Out This Meat Tenderizer On Amazon <
Uniworld MTA74 Review
The MTA74 from Uniworld is another one of my favorite tenderizers. Like the Weston model above, this unit is manual. With that said, the MTA74 can easily attach to a power unit (sold separately) for automatic tenderizing.
This unit has more than double the blades of the Weston model, which means your meat comes out very tender the first time through. With the Weston, I sometimes have to run meats through twice or even three times to get the level of tenderness I like.
In total, there are 74 stainless steel blades in this unit. The feed opening is a generous size, too, at 7” x 1-1/8”.
What I really love about this machine is that it’s entirely made of stainless steel, so I don’t have to worry whether my meat is going to touch any aluminum or plastic parts. The stainless steel blades also prevent jamming and make the unit very easy to clean.
The MTA74 features a study stand with a U-shaped bottom. I’ve never had issues with the machine being off balance. The unit is also lightweight at just 15 pounds, so you can easily transport it to whichever part of the kitchen you please, and then store it away in between uses.
Large electric tenderizers can be difficult to move and can take up a lot of space in the kitchen. The lightweight and more compact size of this model is a welcomed feature. Just for your reference, the dimensions of this model are: 13” L x 7” W x 11.5” H.
- Easy to use
- Fully stainless steel
- 74 blades make meat extra-tender
- Sturdy base
- Easy clean-up
- Compact in size
Yes, this model is a little on the expensive side, but it offers superior quality, durability and performance. In my opinion, this machine is worth every penny.
LEM 168SS Review
The LEM 168SS is a restaurant-quality manual tenderizer that will last you years if you take good care of it. I love the sturdy construction of this model and the fact that it’s made entirely of stainless steel.
The cast stainless steel housing is mounted onto poly board for the ultimate in stability. I never have an issue with this machine rocking back and forth during use.
The 4-5/8” chute is a little on the smaller side, but works perfectly with nearly all cuts of meat. This model has fewer blades, too, with 26 in total. But the 168SS is also quite small compared to other units on this list: 8” W x 8” D x 16” H. This unit will accept up to 1” thick cuts of meat.
This machine does disassemble for easy cleaning, and it’s incredibly easy to use.
- Easy to use
- Housing and blades are made of stainless steel
- Clean-up is a breeze
- Poly board base makes this unit extra-sturdy
- Only 26 blades
I was a little disappointed to find that this unit only has 26 blades, but it still does the job well. Just run the meat through two times in opposite directions, and you’ll have one really tender cut of meat.
All of these meat tenderizers will work well in a home or even a commercial setting. They’re easy to use, affordable and will tenderize even the toughest cuts of meat.