How to Make Your Own Meat Tenderizer

Updated February 21, 2017

Inexpensive cuts of meat are often tough and difficult to chew, creating a dilemma for budget-conscious consumers. Commercial meat tenderizers are available for purchase at any grocery store, however, chefs who want to serve tender entrées and save on the cost of ingredients will find simple staples in their pantry that will tenderise any meat and add a rich flavour that is sure to impress the family at dinnertime or guests at a special event.

Soak naturally tough meats, such as venison, in 1/2 cup of vinegar and enough water to cover the meat. Refrigerate for two hours. Drain the water and vinegar before covering the meat in milk and refrigerate an additional two hours.

Place chicken or beef in a glass pan two days before cooking and submerge half of the cut in Italian dressing. Turn once the day prior to cooking.

Mix equal portions of salt and papain powder and massage into the meat. Let sit four to six hours. Rinse off the tenderizer if you want to reduce the salt taste, or place directly on the grill or in the oven to cook.

Soak meat in pineapple juice or papaya juice if you're short on time. Either juice will break down meat fibres and tenderise even the toughest cuts in less than an hour. They often add a strong fruit taste to the meat. Keep that in mind when choosing seasonings to add while cooking and select herbs or spices that compliment the fruit flavour.

Add 1 tbsp white vinegar to the sauce or marinade you make for cooking the meat. The acetic acid breaks down meat fibres, softening the meat and preparing it to absorb more of the sauce or marinade flavours.


Add 1 tbsp of soy sauce to any tenderizer bath to give meat a teriyaki flavour. The high salt content helps tenderise the meat. Soak meat in lemon juice or apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar. They accomplish the same tenderising process while adding a different taste to the meat.

Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Milk
  • Italian dressing
  • Salt
  • Papain powder
  • Pineapple or papaya juice
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About the Author

Adelaide Tresor has been a technical writer and book editor since 2006. Her work has been published by Thomson Reuters and Greenhaven Press, including several "At Issue" titles. Tresor holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and is also a certified teacher with experience in English, mathematics, chemistry, and environmental science. She currently teaches AP Physics.