How to Tenderize Meat for Grilling and Barbecuing

Are you tired of tough, chewy meat? If so, then it’s time to learn how to tenderize meat for grilling and barbecuing. Tenderizing can seem intimidating at first but don’t worry! We’ll break down five different ways that will make your next meal a succulent success.

From marinating and brining to using acidic ingredients or mechanical techniques – there are plenty of options when it comes to tenderizing not so perfect cuts of steak, meat or chicken breast. Plus, we have some delicious dry rubs and spices that will add an extra kick of flavor!

So get ready because this is one lesson in cooking you won’t want to miss out on – let’s start learning how to tenderize meat today!


Marinating is a great way to tenderize meat for grilling and barbecuing. It involves soaking the meat in a marinade, which is typically made up of an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citrus juice combined with oil, herbs, and spices. The acid helps break down the proteins in the meat while adding flavor.

What is Marinating?

Marinating is a process of soaking food, usually meats like beef, pork, chicken or fish in a flavorful liquid mixture called a marinade before cooking it. The marinade can be either acidic (such as lemon juice or vinegar) or alkaline (such as soy sauce). This process helps to tenderize and add flavor to the food being cooked.

Benefits of Marinating

The primary benefit of marinating is that it adds flavor to your food by allowing the flavors from the marinade ingredients to penetrate into the flesh of whatever you are cooking.

Additionally, if you use an acidic ingredient like lemon juice or vinegar in your marinade then this will help break down some of the tougher fibers found within meats making them more tender when cooked.

Lastly, using certain types of oils can also help keep moisture locked into your food during cooking so that it doesn’t dry out too quickly on high heat settings such as grilling over charcoal briquettes or direct flame on gas grills/BBQs.

Tips for Marinating Meat

When preparing your own homemade marinades, select cuts of meat with less fat content since they tend to absorb flavors better than those with higher fat contents do, think leaner cuts like flank steak rather than ribeye steaks. Try to use marinades with less or no salt in them as salt tends to dry the meat out.

Finally, remember that most store-bought bottled marinades contain preservatives so always check labels carefully before purchasing them.


What is Brining?

Brining is a process of soaking meat in a salt-water solution. The salt helps to break down the proteins in the meat, resulting in a more tender and tasty dish. This method has been used for centuries to preserve food, but it also works wonders on tougher cuts of meat that can be difficult to cook.

Benefits of Brining

The primary benefit of brining is that it makes tough cuts of meat much easier to cook and eat. The salty water helps to soften the fibers in the muscle tissue, making them more pliable and less likely to dry out when cooked.

Additionally, because some moisture is absorbed into the flesh during brining, you’ll end up with juicier results after cooking as well!

Tips for Brining Meat

When preparing your brine solution, make sure to use cold or lukewarm water instead of hot water so that it does not start cooking the meat before you begin. You can also add sugar or other flavorings such as herbs and spices if desired; this will help enhance the flavor profile while still allowing you to enjoy all the juicy benefits from brining.

Additionally, do not forget about timing: depending on how thick your cut of meat is (or how many pieces), plan ahead accordingly so that your meal is neither over-brined nor under-brined.

Tenderizing with Acidic Ingredients

Acidic ingredients such as vinegar, citrus juice or wine can be used to tenderize meat for grilling and barbecuing. Vinegar is a popular choice because it has a high acidity level which helps break down the proteins in the meat. Citrus juices like lemon, lime or orange juice contain citric acid which also helps tenderize the meat. Wine is another great option because it contains tannins that help break down tough fibers in the meat.

Benefits of Using Acidic Ingredients to Tenderize Meat

Using acidic ingredients to tenderize your meats can provide several benefits including improved flavor and texture, increased juiciness and reduced cooking time. The acids found in these ingredients help break down tough muscle fibers making them more flavorful and easier to chew. They also penetrate deep into the muscles of the meat, resulting in increased juiciness when cooked properly. Lastly, they reduce cooking time since they have already begun breaking down some of those tough muscle fibers before you even start cooking!

Tips for Using Acidic Ingredients to Tenderize Meat

When using acidic ingredients such as vinegar or citrus juices to tenderize your meats, there are a few tips you should keep in mind. Firstly, make sure not to marinate your meats for too long as this could cause them to become overly soft and mushy instead of juicy and flavorful. Secondly, add just enough liquid so that all sides of the cut are covered but do not drown it. Lastly, always discard any leftover marinade after use as bacteria may form if left out at room temperature for too long.

Mechanical Tenderizing Techniques

Meat tenderized with meat hammer

Mechanical tenderizing techniques are a great way to make tougher cuts of meat more tender and flavorful. These techniques involve using physical force, such as pounding or scoring the meat to break down the muscle fibers and connective tissues in order to create a softer texture.

This makes it easier for marinades and rubs to penetrate deeper into the meat, resulting in more flavor.

What are Mechanical Tenderizing Techniques?

Mechanical tenderizing techniques involve using physical force on the surface of the meat in order to break down its structure.

This can be done by pounding with a mallet or rolling pin, scoring with a knife or fork, or even pressing with an electric tenderizer machine. The goal is to soften up tough cuts of meat so that they become more palatable when cooked.

Think 2-minute or sandwich steaks, they generally have the indent pattern from the tenderizer or meat hammer.

Benefits of Using Mechanical Tenderizing Techniques To Tenderize Meat

The main benefit of mechanical tenderizing is that it helps make tougher cuts of meats much more palatable when cooked. It also allows marinades and dry rubs to penetrate deeper into the flesh which results in increased flavor absorption during cooking time.

Additionally, these methods can help reduce overall cooking times since they help speed up heat transfer throughout the entire cut of meat being cooked.

Tips for Using Mechanical Tenderizing Techniques To Tenderize Meat

When mechanically tenderizing your meats, always use caution. You don’t want them too thin or too thickly pounded as this could result in uneven cooking times and textures once you have finished grilling them later on.

Additionally, keep an eye out for any bone fragments that may have been missed while prepping your meats; if left behind they could cause choking hazards when eating them. Finally, be sure not to over-tenderize your meats as this will lead to them becoming mushy rather than juicy after cooking.

Dry Rubs and Spices

Barbecued pork ribs with a dry rub

Dry rubs and spices are a great way to add flavor and texture while also helping to tenderize meat for grilling and barbecuing. Dry rubs are usually composed of herbs, spices, salt, sugar, pepper or other seasonings that can be rubbed directly onto the surface of the meat before cooking.

Spices on the other hand are ground up versions of whole herbs or seeds that can be used in dry rubs as well as marinades or sauces.

What are Dry Rubs and Spices?

Dry rubs consist of various combinations of herbs, spices, salt, sugar and pepper which when combined create an aromatic blend that is then applied directly to the surface of meats such as steak or pork chops prior to cooking.

Common ingredients include garlic powder, onion powder, cumin powder, paprika and chili flakes among others. Spices on the other hand refer to dried plant parts such as leaves (e.g., oregano), roots (e.g., ginger) or seeds (e.g., mustard). These components may also be included in dry rub recipes but they can also be used separately either in their whole form or ground into a fine powder for use in marinades or sauces etc..

Benefits of Using Dry Rubs and Spices to Tenderize Meat

The main benefit from using dry rubs is their ability to impart flavor into meats without having them soak up too much liquid during cooking which could lead them becoming soggy instead of juicy like you want it!

Additionally these blends help break down proteins within muscle fibers making them more tender when cooked correctly over time – this process is known as ‘denaturing’, This is where heat causes protein molecules to become unraveled allowing moisture retention better than if left untreated with just heat alone!

Finally adding certain types like chili flakes will give your food some kick depending on how much you put in so experiment away!

Tips for Using Dry Rubs and Spices To Tenderize Meat

When applying a dry rub, make sure to cover all surfaces evenly and press it firmly into place so that it sticks properly. Don’t forget about any crevasses between folds either. It is important to let your seasoned meat rest at room temperature before cooking as cold temperatures will prevent flavors from penetrating deeply enough.

Additionally, letting the meat sit overnight allows even more time for denaturing processes to take effect, resulting in tastier dishes. Lastly, remember that different cuts require different amounts of seasoning so adjust accordingly according to taste preference – start small then build up until the desired level is achieved.

FAQs in Relation to How to Tenderize Meat

What are 3 ways for tenderizing meats?


Marinating is a great way to tenderize meats, as the acidic ingredients in marinades help break down proteins and make them more tender. To marinate meat, simply combine your favorite marinade ingredients (such as olive oil, vinegar, herbs and spices) with the meat in a shallow dish or resealable bag and let it sit for at least an hour before cooking.


Brining is another effective method of tenderizing meats by soaking them in a salty solution prior to cooking. This helps draw moisture into the meat while also breaking down proteins so that they become more tender when cooked. For best results, use cold water and allow the meat to brine for several hours or overnight before cooking.

Dry Rubbing

Dry rubbing involves coating raw meats with dry seasonings such as salt, pepper and other herbs/spices prior to cooking; this helps create a flavorful crust on the outside of the meat while also helping to tenderize it from within due to its high salt content. To get started with dry rubbing, simply mix together your desired seasonings then rub them onto both sides of your chosen cut of meat before grilling or roasting it!

What can tenderize meat fast?

There are several ways to quickly tenderize meat. One of the most popular methods is using a marinade, which involves soaking the meat in an acidic liquid such as vinegar or citrus juice for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Another option is to use a mechanical tenderizer, such as a mallet or jaccard, to break down tough muscle fibers and connective tissues.

Finally, you can also use enzymatic tenderizers like papaya or pineapple juice that contain natural enzymes that help break down proteins in the meat. All of these methods will help make your meats more tender and flavorful when cooked!

How do chefs tenderize meat?

Chefs use a variety of methods to tenderize meat, including marinating, pounding with a mallet or tenderizer tool, dry-brining (also known as “dry aging”), and using an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or citrus juice.

Marinating is the most common method used by chefs; it involves soaking the meat in a mixture of oil, acid (such as lemon juice) and herbs for several hours before cooking.

Pounding with a mallet helps break down tough fibers in the muscle tissue while dry-brining adds flavor to the meat by allowing enzymes to break down proteins. Lastly, adding an acidic ingredient can help break down proteins and make them more tender when cooked.

How to make beef tender and soft?

To make beef tender and soft, start by selecting the right cut of meat. Look for cuts with a lot of marbling or fat throughout the muscle fibers. Then, season your beef generously with salt and pepper before cooking.

Finally, cook your beef over low to medium heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). This will ensure that your beef is cooked through while still being tender and juicy.


In conclusion, there are many different ways to tenderize meat for grilling and barbecuing. Marinating, brining, using acidic ingredients, mechanical tenderizing techniques and dry rubs and spices can all be used to achieve a juicy and flavorful result.

Experiment with each of these methods to find the one that works best for you. With the right technique, you’ll be able to enjoy perfectly cooked meats every time! Don’t forget that proper preparation is key when it comes to tenderizing meat – so take your time and get ready for some delicious meals!

Are you looking for ways to tenderize your meat? Whether it’s beef, pork, chicken or seafood – we have the tips and advice that will help make your BBQ grilling experience a success. Our how-to guides cover everything from marinades and rubs to tools and techniques so you can get juicy results every time. Plus our buying guides provide insight on the best pizza ovens, patio heaters, charcoal grills and more! Let us show you how easy it is to become an expert in barbecuing – start today!

Written By


Hi there, I'm Greg (also known as Herbie) and like most Aussies enjoy a good BBQ. I want to share with you some tips and recipes, along with gear that I like, to help you with your backyard barbecue and grilling hobbie.Anyway, have a look around and let me know what you think and happy BBQing. Cheers Herbie.

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