Baking Soda to Tenderize Meat – Is It Safe? If Yes, How to Do It?

Kitchengroot is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Thinking of making use of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to soften tough cuts of beef? Baking soda and water can be used to tenderize meat by breaking down proteins during marinating.

Due to its high salt content and ability to disturb the body’s pH equilibrium, excessive ingestion of baking soda has been linked to negative health effects, raising concerns about the effectiveness of utilizing baking soda for this purpose.

So, is it safe to tenderize meat with baking soda and how can you do it? Let’s find out!


Is It Safe To Use Baking Soda To Tenderize Meat?

According to the Mayo Clinic, baking soda can be safe to use in cooking, including meat tenderizing, as long as it is used in moderation and properly rinsed off. The concern with baking soda arises from its sodium content.

High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and other health problems have been related to excessive sodium intake. While baking soda can be used to tenderize meat, it is often rinsed off before cooking, allowing the majority of the sodium to be eliminated.

The “maximum advised amount of 5 tablespoons per day” refers to ingestion in food and beverages rather than for use in meat tenderizing. Cooking with baking soda typically calls for much lower amounts.

In addition, baking soda can be used to “velvet” meat with a little marinating time and a thorough rinse. The risk of consuming too much sodium is decreased since the amount of baking soda left on the surface of the meat is greatly less after rinsing.

Using The Correct Terminology For Tenderizing Meat With Baking Soda

Tenderizing and marinating tougher portions of meat is called “velveting,” and it can be done using baking soda or an egg white, cornstarch, and oil mixture.

To achieve the best possible flavor and tenderness from less expensive pieces of meat like beef or chicken, this method is frequently employed.

How Much Soda To Use To Velvet Meat?

First, you may velvet meat by rapidly coating it in baking soda (around 3/4 tsp would do) before cooking. Before using the meat in a stir fry or other dish, let it marinate in the baking soda for about 15 minutes. After marinating, the meat should be rinsed and patted dry before going into the pan.

Adding a quarter teaspoon of baking soda per pound of ground meat is another way to go on with the velveting procedure. The process can be started before the meat is browned or formed into patties or meatballs. 


What Is The Chemistry Of Using Baking Soda For Tenderizing Meat?

Baking soda’s alkaline composition is what allows it to tenderize meat. Since baking soda turns the meat alkaline, it can be tenderized without the use of acids found in fruit juices or marinades. Since proteins in meat are unable to establish stable connections in an alkaline environment, they denature and unfold when exposed to this condition.

Meat’s texture and softness are greatly influenced by its protein content. They are made up of folded and interwoven long chains of amino acids. Proteins lose their folded state and unfold in alkaline environments like those produced by baking soda.

Baking soda keeps meat soft by preventing proteins from adhering securely during cooking; it does this by altering the protein structure. This is especially helpful for less tender kinds of meat like steak.

However, caution should be exercised when using baking soda because too much of it can cause the meat to become mushy, especially if it is used on larger slices of meat.

When baking soda can enter the meat by a few millimeters, it slows down the meat’s digestion in the refrigerator and while cooking, resulting in a more tender end product.


How To Tenderize Meat With Baking Soda – Dry Brining?

To dry brine your meat using baking soda, follow the steps enlisted below:

Step 1: Distribute Baking Soda to Your Cut(s) of Meat

Simply massage some baking soda onto your chosen cut of meat to get started tenderizing it using baking soda. Be sure to coat the meat thoroughly on all sides. How much baking soda to use is determined by the total weight of the meat.

To season meat, add baking soda in an amount equal to around 1 percent of its weight. To season 10 pounds of steak, you would need around 3 teaspoons of baking soda (or 1.6 ounces).

Step 2: Place Meat in a Container and Store in the Refrigerator

After the baking soda has been applied, the meat can be transferred to a brining container. This can be a stock pot made of stainless steel, a glass bowl, a stainless steel bowl, a ceramic bowl, or even a plastic bag with a zipper.

To prevent a reaction between the baking soda and the bowl or pan’s material, aluminum, copper, or cast iron should not be used.

Refrigerate the beef for at least three to five hours, preferably longer. For a further tenderizing effect, you can leave it in there overnight if you like.

Step 3: Remove Meat and Rinse Thoroughly

When the meat has brined for as long as you’d like, remove it from the fridge and give it a good rinsing in cold water. Make sure the meat has no lingering residues of baking soda.

You don’t want any trace of baking soda flavor or texture after the brining process is over.

Step 4: Cook as Desired

You can now cook the meat however you like it after it has been tenderized using the baking soda dry brining procedure. The tenderized meat will make dining more delightful, regardless of whether you choose to grill, bake, or stir-fry.

The meat fibers’ chemical and physical compositions have been altered by baking soda, making the meat more soft and delicious.

As the tenderized beef may cook more quickly than usual, be sure to adjust your cooking time and temperature accordingly.


How To Tenderize Meat With Baking Soda – Wet Brining?

To wet brine your meat using baking soda, follow the steps enlisted below:

Step 1: Dissolve Baking Soda In Water

As a first step in tenderizing meat using baking soda, simply mix the baking soda and water. Baking soda and water in the ratio of 1 teaspoon for 12 ounces of meat should be used. This proportion ensures the meat is tenderized adequately without being soaked in baking soda.

Step 2: Soak Meat In Solution For At Least 15 Minutes

After dissolving the baking soda, immerse the meat for at least 15 minutes in the solution. In doing so, the acid on the meat’s surface is neutralized by the baking soda, so softening the meat. Meat comes out of the oven tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Be aware that some pieces of meat may need more time in the baking soda solution to get the desired tenderness. It’s best to chill the brine and give the meat more time to soak in it if you’re working with tougher cuts of meat.

This will give the baking soda sufficient time to do its tenderizing magic and produce perfectly tender meat.

Step 3: Remove and Rinse

When the meat’s soaking time is over, take it out of the baking soda solution and give it a good rinsing. Removing the extra baking soda from the meat’s surface is an essential step.

The baking soda’s neutral flavor can be overpowered by its bitter aftertaste if it is not thoroughly washed out.

Step 4: Cook As Preferred

After a quick rinse, the meat is ready to be prepared in any way you like. The meat will be soft and ready to eat after grilling, sautéing, or roasting.


What Is Better For Tenderizing Meat – Dry Brining or Wet Brining?

Here’s a detailed comparison between dry brining and wet brining to help you understand which one may be better:

Dry Brining Process

Meats that have been dry-brined have had salt applied directly to them before being chilled in the fridge for an extended length of time, typically several hours or overnight. Using this technique is ideal for roasting a whole chicken or turkey.

The meat’s flavor can be concentrated thanks to dry brining’s ability to remove moisture from it. The meat’s natural flavor is brought out by the salt’s ability to permeate the protein.

Meat can be made more soft and flavorful through dry brining since the process breaks down the meat’s protein fibers.

It’s vital to remember that dry brining takes time for the salt to do its thing, so you’ll need to schedule it in advance.

For the salt to permeate the flesh and season it, the meat must be chilled for quite some time. If you’re in a rush or need a quick supper, this could be a drawback.

Wet Brining Process

Cuttings of beef are submerged in a saltwater solution during the wet brining process. Smaller cuts of meat, such as chicken breasts or pig chops, benefit greatly from this procedure because the brine may be absorbed by the meat in a shorter amount of time.

Wet brining has the potential to enhance the meat’s flavor by permeating it with a blend of herbs, spices, and other ingredients. The meat’s inherent tastes are amplified by the salt in the brine.

One potential drawback of wet brining is overly salty meat, as the meat’s natural qualities may be lost in the process and replaced by the brine’s salt. 


There are pros and cons to both dry and wet brining when it comes to tenderizing meat. Dry brining is best for larger portions of meat since it helps to concentrate tastes while tenderizing the meat. It’s more work, but the payoff might be significant.

In contrast, wet brining can be done in less time and works better with some kinds of meat.

Although the meat might absorb more flavor from the brine solution, it can also become overly salty if not handled with care.


Comparing Baking Soda vs. Saltwater Brine – Which Is Better To Tenderize Meat?

Baking soda and saltwater brine are two common techniques for tenderizing meat. Meat tenderized with baking soda only needs 15 to 20 minutes of prep time. It’s more forgiving than other methods because there’s less chance of over-tenderizing the meat.

Over-brining, which can destroy the meat’s texture, is more likely to occur in a saltwater brine, and the process takes longer, on the order of 30 minutes.

However, soaking the meat in a saltwater brine can increase its weight by 6–8% before cooking by adding moisture to the meat.

Whether you go for baking soda or saltwater brine depends on taste and the final product you hope to achieve with your meat. Baking soda is the best option if you need a rapid and reliable solution.

If you have extra time and want to give your meat more moisture, a saltwater brine is a fantastic choice. You can learn which strategy best suits your needs and tastes by trying both and comparing the results.


Besides Baking Soda, How Else Can You Tenderize The Meat?

Below we have listed down some alternatives to baking soda that you can also use to tenderize meat:

Add Some Fruit

Instead of using baking soda, you can use the natural enzymes in certain fruits to tenderize the meat. Plant enzymes found in pineapples and kiwis can help tenderize meat by dissolving its connective tissue.

Use a Marinade

Meat tenderizing can be aided by marinades, which are not only delicious but also very flavorful. Meat’s protein structure can be broken down by acidic foods like lemon or lime juice, making the meat more soft.

Try Papaya or Papaya Extract

Using papaya or papaya extract is another option for tenderizing meat. Papain, an enzyme found in papaya, has been shown to have tenderizing effects.

Either use fresh papaya that has been crushed or look for papaya extract in supermarkets. After 30 minutes of marinating in papaya or papaya extract, simply grill the meat.

Consider Using Yogurt or Buttermilk

Yogurt and buttermilk are not only delicious flavor enhancers but also excellent meat tenderizers. Meat becomes softer as a result of the lactic acid in yogurt or buttermilk breaking down the meat’s protein structure.

Before cooking, marinade the meat in yogurt or buttermilk for at least a few hours and up to overnight. For tenderizing chicken, this technique is particularly well-liked.

Try Using a Meat Mallet

A meat mallet can be used to tenderize meat in the absence of acidic substances or fruits.

The tough connective tissues and fibers in meat can be physically broken down by hammering it with a mallet. Be careful not to pound the meat to the point where it becomes too thin or rough.


Experiment with Different Cooking Techniques

Tenderizing meat can be accomplished in several ways, including the use of marinades and tenderizing agents, as well as through altering cooking methods.

Braising and stewing are two examples of low-heat cooking procedures that can be used to tenderize tough cuts of meat.

Overcooking, which can result in tough meat, can be avoided by using a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat while it cooks.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here