One of my biggest fears when cooking on the grill is to serve 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 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.
Let’s see how to do tenderizing meat with baking soda.
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.
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, is it grass fed and even how it 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 stay 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 brining overnight or even 24 hours.
Best Way To Use Baking Soda
- 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.
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. 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.
Eddie van Aken
Eddie van Aken has run his own full-service restaurant for many years. Before that, he worked as a grill and buffet cook in some of the mainstream restaurants. With his experience using professional kitchen equipment, he is able to write expert reviews. You can read more about Eddie van Aken here.