Is Meat Tenderizer Bad For You? The Pros and Cons of Meat Tenderizers for Your Diet

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A meat tenderizer is a product that is used to make tough cuts of meat more tender and juicy.

It usually comes in the form of a powder that contains enzymes such as papain or bromelain that break down the protein fibers in the meat.

But is meat tenderizer bad for you? What are the pros and cons of using this product? And how should you use it safely and effectively?

In this blog post, we will answer these questions based on the latest research and expert opinions.

We will also share some tips and alternatives for making your meat more tender without using meat tenderizers.

What is a Meat Tenderizer?

A meat tenderizer is a tool or a substance that is used to make meat more tender and juicy before cooking.

It works by breaking down the tough muscle fibers and connective tissue that can make meat chewy and dry.

There are two types of meat tenderizers: mechanical and chemical.

  • Mechanical meat tenderizers are devices that physically pound or pierce the meat with blunt or sharp edges such as mallets, blades, or needles.
  • Chemical meat tenderizers are powders or marinades that contain enzymes that act as catalysts to speed up the breakdown of proteins in the meat.
Chemical meat tenderizers

Mechanical Meat Tenderizer

Here are some of the pros and cons of Mechanical Meat Tenderizers.


  • They can improve the texture and flavor of the meat by making it more tender, juicy, and evenly cooked.
  • They can reduce cooking time and save energy by allowing the heat to penetrate faster and more evenly.
  • They can help the meat absorb more marinade or seasoning by creating more surface area and channels for the liquid to enter.


  • They can damage the meat structure and cause it to lose its natural shape and appearance.
  • They can cause cross-contamination by pushing the surface bacteria deeper into the meat, increasing the risk of foodborne illness if the meat is not cooked properly.
  • They can be difficult to clean and sanitize, especially if they have many blades or needles that can harbor bacteria.

Chemical Meat Tenderizer

Here are some of the pros and cons of Chemical Meat Tenderizers.


  • They can make the meat more tender and juicy by loosening the tight muscle fibers and connective tissue.
  • They can save time and energy by reducing the need for long marinating or slow cooking.
  • They can enhance the flavor of the meat by allowing more marinade or seasoning to penetrate deeper into the meat.


  • They can affect the taste, color, or nutrition of the meat by altering its natural chemistry.
  • They can cause allergic reactions or digestive problems in some people who are sensitive to the enzymes or other ingredients in the tenderizer.
  • They can be difficult to control or measure, especially if they are in powder form. Too much or too little tenderizer can ruin the meat.

Potential Risks of Chemical Meat Tenderizers

Meat tenderizer is generally considered safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but some people may experience side effects from using them.

Some of the possible side effects or potential risks of Meat Tenderizers are:

  • Headaches, nausea, flushing, or high blood pressure: These may be caused by monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sodium, which are often added to meat tenderizers for flavor enhancement. Some people are sensitive to MSG and may react negatively to it.
  • Abdominal pain: This may be caused by calcium stearate, which is a salt of stearic acid that is used as an anti-caking agent in some meat tenderizers. Calcium stearate may cause toxic effects if consumed in large doses.
  • Loss of flavor and firmness: This may be caused by overusing meat tenderizer or leaving it on the meat for too long. The enzymes or acids may break down the meat too much and make it mushy or bland.
  • Chemical reactions: This may be caused by meat tenderizers interacting with other ingredients in a dish or with the cookware (especially metals). The enzymes or acids may react with oils or metals and produce harmful compounds.

To avoid these side effects, it is advisable to use meat tenderizers sparingly and according to the directions on the package.

You should also rinse the meat before cooking to remove any excess tenderizer. 

Is Meat Tenderizer Bad For You?

There is no definitive answer as to whether or not meat tenderizer is bad for you.

However, some experts believe that it may not be the best choice for those seeking to maintain a healthy diet. 

The main concern with meat tenderizer is that it contains high levels of sodium which can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

Meat tenderizer also contains an enzyme called monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is a flavor enhancer that can help to make your food taste better.

However, some people may be sensitive to MSG and experience side effects such as headaches, nausea, and flushing of the neck and face. This is more common among people with asthma.

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Is Meat Tenderizer Bad for Your Stomach?

Meat tenderizers may have some negative effects on your stomach and health. 

One of the most common side effects is an upset stomach.

Meat tenderizers can also cause indigestion and heartburn in some people.

Do You Wash Off Meat Tenderizers?

It depends on what kind of meat tenderizer you are using.

If you are using a powdered meat tenderizer, you should follow the directions on the package. Some powders may need to be washed off before cooking, while others may not.

If you are using a mechanical meat tenderizer such as a mallet or a blade you should wash it thoroughly after each use to prevent cross-contamination and bacteria growth.

You can soak the tenderizer in hot water and dish soap, scrub it with a coarse bristle brush, rinse it with running water, and let it air dry.

Can Meat Tenderizers Cause Diarrhea?

Meat tenderizers by themselves are unlikely to cause diarrhea unless you have an allergy or intolerance to them.

However, meat tenderizers may be present in some processed meats, such as lunch meat, that can trigger diarrhea for other reasons.

Is Meat Tenderizer Bad for Dogs?

In moderation, unseasoned meat tenderizer is safe for dogs to eat. 

Meat tenderizer contains enzymes that break down proteins, which can help dogs digest meat better.

However, meat tenderizer also contains a lot of sodium which can cause excessive thirst and dehydration in dogs. Too much sodium can also lead to high blood pressure, kidney problems, and heart issues in dogs.

Therefore, you should only use a small amount of meat tenderizer for your dog (about 1/4 teaspoon per pound of food) and make sure they have access to plenty of water. 

You should also avoid using seasoned meat tenderizers or those with MSG, as they can contain harmful ingredients or spices for dogs.

How do I use Pineapple to tenderize meat?

Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which helps break down the tough fibers of the meat and make it more tender.

You can use pineapple juice or sliced pineapple to marinate the meat before cooking.

To use pineapple to tenderize meat, you can follow these steps:

  • Cut a fresh pineapple into chunks or use canned pineapple chunks or juice.
  • Place the meat that you want to tenderize in a shallow pan and pour the pineapple juice or sliced pineapple over the meat. Make sure to cover all sides of the meat.
  • Refrigerate the meat for a few hours or overnight depending on the thickness and toughness of the meat. Turn the meat occasionally to ensure even marination.
  • Before cooking, rinse the meat well and pat it dry with paper towels. Discard the pineapple juice or chunks.
  • Cook the meat as desired and enjoy your tender and juicy dish.

Note: Do not marinate the meat for more than 12 hours, as the pineapple enzyme may make the meat too mushy or affect its taste and color. You can also add other ingredients to the pineapple marinade, such as salt, pepper, garlic, soy sauce, honey, etc. to enhance the flavor.

Can I use other fruits to tenderize meat?

Yes, you can use other fruits to tenderize meat.

Some fruits that contain enzymes that help break down proteins are:

  • Papaya: Papaya contains an enzyme called papain, which is similar to bromelain in pineapple. Papain is also available as a meat tenderizer and digestive supplement.
  • Kiwi: Kiwi contains an enzyme called actinidin, which is also a protease that can soften meat. Actinidin also helps ripen the fruit.
  • Fig: Fig contains an enzyme called ficin, which is another protease that can tenderize meat. Ficin also helps digest plant fibers.

Alternatives to Meat Tenderizers

Some alternatives to meat tenderizers are:

#1 Baking soda

Baking soda as meat tenderizer

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate is a white powder that is commonly used in baking. It has a slightly salty taste and a gritty texture.

Baking soda can help tenderize meat by raising its pH level and weakening the bonds between the proteins.

To use baking soda as a meat tenderizer, sprinkle it over the surface of the meat and rub it gently. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse it off and pat it dry before cooking.

#2 Wine, Citrus Juices, and Vinegar

Wine, Citrus Juices, and Vinegar as meat tenderizer

Wine, citrus juices, and vinegar can all be used as meat tenderizers.

They contain acids that can help break down the proteins and collagen in the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.

To use these liquids as meat tenderizers, pour them over the meat and let it marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

You can also add herbs, spices, garlic, onion, etc. to the marinade for extra flavor.

#3 Tomato-based sauces

Tomato-based sauces as meat tenderizers

Tomato-based sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, tomato paste, etc. can also be used as meat tenderizers.

They contain acids and enzymes that can help soften the meat and add a tangy taste.

To use these sauces as meat tenderizers, coat the meat with them and let it marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator. 

You can also cook the meat with the sauce for a moist and delicious dish.

#4 Beer

Beer as meat tenderizers

Beer is another liquid that can be used as a meat tenderizer. It contains alcohol and carbon dioxide that can help penetrate the meat and loosen its fibers.

It also adds a malty flavor and aroma to the meat.

To use beer as a meat tenderizer, pour it over the meat and let it marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

#5 Figs, Pineapple, Kiwis, Papaya

Figs, pineapple, kiwis, and papaya are fruits that contain enzymes that can help break down proteins and make your meat more tender.

They also add sweetness and freshness to your dish.

To use these fruits as meat tenderizers, puree them or chop them finely and spread them over the surface of the meat.


To wrap up, meat tenderizer can help you get softer and more flavorful meat, but it also has some disadvantages and risks.

Meat tenderizers can affect the texture, color, and taste of your meat, and they can also reduce its nutritional value and shelf life.

Meat tenderizer can also have high levels of sodium, MSG, or other additives that can be bad for your health if eaten too much.

Therefore, you should use meat tenderizer moderately and carefully, and always read the instructions on the label.

Enjoy your meat, but don’t damage your health!

The Bottom Line

We hope you found this blog post informative and helpful.

Do you use meat tenderizers for your meat? What are your thoughts or experiences with using it?

Share them with us in the comments section below!

We would love to hear from you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a meat tenderizer?

A meat tenderizer is a product that contains enzymes that break down proteins in meat, making it more tender and flavorful.

How do I use meat tenderizers?

You can sprinkle or rub a small amount of meat tenderizer on your meat before cooking it. You can also add it to your marinade or sauce. Follow the directions on the package for the best results.

What are the benefits of using meat tenderizers?

Using meat tenderizer can help you make your meat more tender and tasty, especially if you are using tough or lean cuts of meat. It can also help you reduce cooking time and save energy.

How much meat tenderizer should I use?

 You should use meat tenderizer sparingly and carefully, following the directions on the package. A general rule of thumb is to use about 1/4 teaspoon of meat tenderizer per pound of meat.


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    Hi, I'm A. Rohman, the pen behind Hindiopedia. While I'm just a passionate blogger, my journey in the world of health and fitness has equipped me with valuable insights and a strong desire to help oth...

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