tenderizing meat with baking soda

One of my biggest fears when cooking on the grill is serving meat that is not tender. I have used many tools and other ways to make sure my meat was tender. However, have you ever heard of tenderizing meat with baking soda?

I have never used baking soda before to tenderize my meat but found that it can work pretty well. Many Chinese and other oriental restaurants use it and it is even used in some of the Southern cooking books I read.

Yes, I am talking about baking soda on meat!

Let’s see how to tenderize meat with baking soda.

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 for tenderizing 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 age of the animal, protein intake, stress, whether is it 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

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 we 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 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 we rinse if off very well you will not get over the maximum advised amount of 5 table spoons per day.

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.

“Do not forget to rinse the meat to remove the baking soda. I read people forgetting this 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.

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: 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

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 using 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 us know that also.

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

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 is able to 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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