Tenderizing Meat With Baking Soda – Is It Safe?

meat tenderized with baking soda

Tenderizing meat with baking soda is a technique I’ve found to be surprisingly effective in enhancing both texture and flavor. With my background in restaurant cooking and a deep-seated passion for home grilling, I’ve explored this method in detail.

In this article, I’ll share the science behind using baking soda for tenderizing meat.

Combining my culinary experience and practical tips from my research and personal experimentation on how to use baking soda to tenderize meat.

Tenderizing meat with baking soda is a forgotten way still used in the Asian kitchen you can add it to your cooking arsenal. But is it safe and how does it work?

Yes, I am talking about baking soda on meat!

Let’s see how to use baking soda as a meat tenderizer.

Key Takeaway?

  • 1. Step 1: Rub your cut of meat with the baking soda water mixture.
  • 2. Step 2: Refrigerate for 15 minutes to 3 hours
  • 3. Step 3: Rinse the baking soda off your meat
  • 4. Step 4: Cook as you always do

What is Tenderizing Meat?

This could be a subject for a whole article on this website and I might write that in the future, but for right now I have to settle for the short answer.

There are other ways to tenderize meat that you can find here.

I don’t have a scale for it, but you know what I mean.

Tenderness is determined by several factors.

  • Grain of the meat
  • Connective tissue
  • Amount of fat
  • Thickness of the meat

Other factors can be the animal’s age, protein intake, stress, whether it is grass-fed, and even how the meat is slaughtered.

All these parts play a big role in how tender meat is or how tender you can make it.

Chemistry Of Using Baking Soda

In other words, this should answer the question of: what does baking soda do to meat?

“If you use a solution of water and baking soda to tenderize meat it makes meat alkaline.”

The chemical reaction will stop, or make it harder, for proteins in the meat to stay together.

This means that if they don’t bond the meat stays tender during cooking.

Other methods I use such as fruit juices and marinades make it more acidic.

Baking Soda Compared To Brine

Baking soda takes less time than for instance a saltwater brine.

“Baking soda will only need about 15 – 30 minutes to work compared to brine meat overnight or even for 24 hours.”

Is It Safe To Use Baking Soda To Tenderize Meat?

According to the Mayo Clinic (1) it is safe to use baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). And since it is rinsed off very well you will not get over the maximum advised amount of 5 tablespoons per day.

So, this also answers the question of whether velveting meat with baking soda is healthy with a YES!

Best Way To Use Baking Soda To Tenderize Meat

  • Rub your cut of meat with baking soda water mixture
  • Refrigerate for 15 minutes to 3 hours
  • Rinse the baking soda off your meat
  • Cook as you always do

Just make sure to use baking soda and not baking powder. Although they sound almost the same they are two completely different things.

“The amount of baking soda that I use, after testing, is 1 teaspoon in 1/2 cup of water for each pound of meat.”

Do not forget to rinse the meat to remove the baking soda.

I forgot this one time and the meat tasted not that great.

I need to explain a little more about the 15 minutes to 3 hours I talked about.

A thin cut like a boneless skinless chicken breast only needs a short time of soaking in the water/baking soda solution.

A thicker cut of meat such as a pork tenderloin might need longer.

I have not been able to find more recommendations on how long to soak, but once I try it I will add it here to this post.

Update May, 2024: I have tried it on some pieces of pork tenderloin and let it sit for about 30 minutes before rinsing it off.

For me, it answered the question does baking soda make meat tender with a big YES!

I think the meat was more tender than I have ever cooked it before.

sliced pork tenderloin rubbed with baking soda

Pork Chops

Most pork chops are not that thick and that means that they don’t need a lot of time in the solution or just with the baking soda on it.

My experience is that for a tenderizing pork chop with baking soda, 15 minutes is the average time you need to make the tenderizing work.

I sometimes smoke 2-inch thick pork chops and I let them simmer in the baking soda for about 20 -25 minutes.

Chicken

There is a big difference if you try to tenderize a chicken breast or a whole chicken of course.

My experience with chicken breast and chicken thighs is that about 15 – 20 minutes will do the trick.

As you can read in the comments, Terry soaked the whole chickens in a solution for about 3 hours and claimed it was the most tender and moist chicken he had ever eaten.

Steak

I read a tip from someone to put baking soda on a steak to improve tenderness.

I have not yet tried to tenderize a steak with baking soda. But as soon as I have tried it I will add my experience here.

This is, however, how I think I will get started. Depending on the weight and thickness of the steak I will rub it with baking soda and not use a mixture of water and baking soda.

The reason for that is that I like my steak to be as dry as possible and for that reason I let it sit uncovered in the fridge overnight.

More Ways I Use To Tenderize Meat

There are of course many other ways to tenderize meat. To be honest I have used many other ones like apple juice, orange juice, apple cider vinegar and many other types of citrus fruit.

One thing to improve the tenderness of the meat is to cook it to the right internal temperature and for that, I highly recommend a using a digital pocket thermometer.

They all work well, but this new way of just using baking soda is actually pretty easy and cheaper.

Have you ever used baking soda for tenderizing meat? Let me know what and how you used it. if you think that you have found another way of tenderizing meat feel free to let me know that also.

I am doing a lot more testing on the meats that I order (read more about that here), and see how it works on different cuts of meat.

FAQ

Q: Does banking soda tenderize meat?

A: Yes, baking soda does tenderize meat. But you have to do it the right way.

Q: How long do you leave baking soda on meat to tenderize it?

A: How long to keep the baking soda on the meat depends on the thickness of the meat and can range from 15 minutes to 3 hours.

Q: How do you get the taste of baking soda out of meat?

A: To get the taste of the baking soda out of meat it is very important to rinse the meat very thoroughly before cooking it.

Q: How much baking soda does it take to soften meat?

A: The general rule on how much baking soda you need to soften meat is 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup of water for every 12 ounces of meat.

Happy Grilling!

Eddie van Aken

Eddie van Aken has years of experience in running his full-service restaurant and with this came working with using and dealing with all types of kitchen equipment. With his experience, he can find all the pros and cons of grills and add them to the grill reviews he is doing. You can read more on the about page for Eddie van Aken

2 thoughts on “Tenderizing Meat With Baking Soda – Is It Safe?”

  1. I’ve soaked 4 whole chicken breast in a combination of baking soda and water for three hours in the refrigerator and the results were the most tender, juicy baked chicken breast I have ever eaten. I am not a cook by any means but since finding this technique I use it for all my chicken dishes.

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