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 with practical tips from my research and personal experimentation.
Tenderizing meat with baking soda is a forgotten way still used in the Asian kitchen you can add to your cooking arsenal. But is it safe and how does it work?
Yes, I am talking about baking soda on meat!
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.
My personal standard for “what is tender meat” is answered by “How easy is it to chew”.
I don’t have a scale for it, but you know what I mean.
Tenderness is determined by a number of factors.
- Grain of the meat
- Connective tissue
- Amount of fat
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 might sound strange, but it makes meat alkaline instead of acid like with other methods I use. Methods like fruit juices and marinades.
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.
Baking Soda Compared To Brine
Baking soda takes less time than for instance a saltwater brine.
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 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.
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.
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 December, 2023: 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.
More Ways I Used 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, 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 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 us 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 read a tip from someone to put baking soda on a steak to improve tenderness.
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.
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.
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