Written by Terry Smith
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The Best Meat Tenderisers on the UK Market in 2021
This article was last updated on September 5th, 2021 at 11:35 am
A guide to buy the best meat tenderiser
In the UK, the summertime means one thing, and one thing only – barbecue season. Whether the forecast is promising a week of endless sunshine or a rainy cold front which is set to last until winter, you can guarantee that the nation will proceed to barbecue until their hearts’ content, come rain or shine. It is almost a part of our culture.
However, whilst we all love a good barbecue, you have to admit that they are somewhat of a faff. They require a lot of moving parts and a fair amount of careful consideration. Firstly, you have to plan your menu and source your ingredients, ensuring that there is enough meat to satisfy the carnivores and enough vegetables to keep the vegetarians and vegans happy. And even though the food is clearly the main player in a barbecue, there are a whole host of other elements to take into consideration, like the barbecue itself (could be charcoal barbecue or gas barbecue) and all of the extra components (bbq accessory) that are necessary to make the event a success.
One such component is the meat tenderiser, a tool which can also be used in other culinary pursuits, such as prepping some juicy pork belly or whipping up some homemade schnitzels. However, when it comes to a barbecue, a meat tenderiser is a must-have tool to ensure that your grilled meat is super juicy and properly infused with flavour. It is one of those tools which is easily forgotten about, with people resorting to second-grade replacements like a wine bottle and a zip-lock bag because ‘surely we don’t really need to invest in a meat tenderiser, right?’ Wrong. Cooking meat is an art form which requires the proper tools, so don’t waste a good cut of meat on poor preparation. Invest in a meat tenderiser and watch how your barbecue game changes. Your barbecues will be the talk of the neighbourhood in no time.
But what actually is a meat tenderiser? Great question. It seems obvious – it’s a tool which you use to whack your meat to make it flatter and more tender, caveman style, right? Well, sort of. In truth, it is actually a lot more scientific than ‘bang meat, taste good’. Tenderisation is actually all about enzymes, proteins and muscle build up. Essentially, a meat tenderiser aims to break down the collagen bonds within the meat’s protein which binds the muscle together, making it more tender. This can either be done mechanically, with tools like the tenderisers which we will be looking at in this article, or this tenderisation process can be achieved using a chemical process called enzymatic meat tenderisation, which essentially relies on proteases to break down proteins. Using ingredients such as vinegar, yoghurt or baking soda, you can use natural enzymes to break down the protein which bonds the muscle in meat.
However, whilst this chemical-based process is all well and good, I’m not a scientist. I personally don’t have the time to research the best ingredients to achieve ultimate meat tenderisation, so I would rather keep it old school and rely on the good old mechanical method and beat the protein out of the meat – sound good to you?
Mechanical meat tenderisers work by using a small, usually sharp surface area to break down the protein in meat. Some mechanical meat tenderisers come in the form of a collection of sharp needles, to get deep into even the thickest cuts of meat, whereas other mechanical meat tenderisers rely on a completely flat surface to bash the protein out of the meat, a method which can also help you when it comes to cooking your meat more evenly – the type of tenderiser that you invest in typically depends on the type of meat you are working with.
The experts say that the best way to tenderise meat using a mechanical meat tenderiser (like a mallet) is by using the spiked side to break down the meat, ensuring you do this in a solid direction – i.e., not just randomly bashing the meat. Then, you should focus on the thicker areas of the meat, being careful to tenderise each part of the meat to the same extent, otherwise you may find that certain bites are chewier than others. If you are working with white meats like chicken, turkey or pork, you should use the flat side of a meat mallet to avoid over-tenderising or bruising the meat. These white meats tend to naturally be more tender than darker and denser meats, so be careful when tenderising these cuts, as you could end up completely separating the meat’s fibre, leaving you with horrible stringy meat. Not a good look at your barbecue.
In terms of when it comes to choosing the perfect meat tenderisers, there are a couple of key features which you should look out for. Firstly, it is important to invest in a tenderiser which is made out of the right material, to protect yourself from rust and even, in extreme cases, food poisoning. The material must firstly be food safe and secondly made of a durable rust-free material, like stainless steel. The weight distribution of your mallet is also super important to take into consideration. If, for example, the handle is far heavier than the mallet top, you will really struggle to get enough force transferred to the meat to tenderise it, and likewise if the handle is not heavy enough, you may find it snapping off during use. Speaking of the handle, it is also a good idea to invest in a meat tenderiser with a non-slip handle to prevent any issues with gripping the tool itself. Imagine if it slipped out of your hands and fell onto your foot – ouch.
Finally, it is also important to consider what kind of surface you want on your meat tenderiser, using thick and long needles or spikes for big, dense cuts of meat and smaller spikes or even a flat surface for more naturally tender cuts of meat.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into the best meat tenderisers on the UK market right now!
No bbq is complete without the top meat tenderiser
1. ORBLUE 48-Blade Stainless Steel Manual Meat Tenderizer
We will start off with the ORBLUE 48-blade stainless steel meat tenderiser, an effective meat tenderising tool which takes a slightly different approach to meat tenderisation. Where a mallet relies on the manual power of the user to tenderise meat, this tool essentially does all the hard work for you – all you need to do is push the device into the meat you wish to tenderise. Where a mallet has a focus on sheer force, this product has a focus on precision, and with its 48 blades, lined up in regular rows, you can guarantee that this product will leave you with an equally dispersed tenderisation, something which cannot always be achieved from a meat mallet.
Furthermore, these thick and long blades ensure that this product is effective against even the densest meat, with this tenderiser working better than a mallet at breaking down big cuts of meat. This can also be useful when it comes to marinade dispersion, as the tool’s blades work well at puncturing the meat, making pockets within the flesh to host the marinade, leaving you with tastier and juicier meat. Win, win.
In terms of materials, the blades are made from dishwasher safe stainless-steel, making them long-lasting, sturdy and strong, whilst the handle is made from plastic. I have full confidence in the durability of the blades; however, the plastic handle does admittedly feel a little flimsy, especially when considering the force with which it is necessary to fully tenderise meat. Still, it’s great that the spikes are dishwasher safe, as washing this product by hand would be an incredibly difficult, and potentially even dangerous process.
So, whilst this is a great tool for tenderising and marinating big, dense cuts of meat, it’s less well-suited to smaller, more tender cuts of meat. Furthermore, whilst it allows for a more even tenderisation, you have a lot less freedom of movement with this tool than a mallet tenderiser. It is also worth mentioning that most good tenderisers give you the option of a flat or spiky surface, however with this tool, spiky is unfortunately the only option.
Despite saying this, it is fairly affordable and will certainly get the job done, it simply isn’t the style of manual meat tenderiser which I personally think is most effective.
2. Jaccard 200348 Supertendermatic 48-Blade Tenderizer, Plastic
Next up is the Jaccard Supertendermatic blade tenderiser, which is pretty similar to the ORBLUE tenderiser. It has an extremely similar design, in which the user presses the device into the meat they are tenderising, relying on the 48 blades to break down the meat’s protein.
Also similar to the ORBLUE tenderiser, the blades are made from strong and sturdy stainless-steel which, as we know by now, is a good sign when it comes to looking for long lasting and safe products. However, the Jaccard Supertendermatic tenderiser goes a step further, as even the plastic is a well-made material. It is constructed from durable FDA food grade safe ABS material, making it 100% safe to use around all types of food, whether it be raw meat or not, or at a hot or cold temperature. This is great to hear and assures that you (or your barbecue guests) won’t get food poisoning from using this product. Big tick.
It is recommended that you use this product to tenderise meats such as beef, poultry, venison, pork and veal, however I would be careful of using this product on poultry and it is a serious piece of kit and likely would be too intense for such a thin and already tender cut of meat. However, you are good to go with the Jaccard Supertendermatic tenderiser if you are looking to work with big cuts of meat like veal, pork, venison or beef, as the long needles will be effective at breaking down even the densest protein bonds.
One way in which the ORBLUE tenderiser is actually better than the Jaccard Supertendermatic is the fact that the ORBLUE has an ergonomic nonslip handle, a feature which is missing in the Jaccard Supertendermatic. This could give the user less control over the tenderisation process, ultimately leading to a more uneven tenderisation and potentially even leading to injury – so watch out for this.
Furthermore, it is worth bearing in mind that this product is nearly double the price of the ORBLUE tenderiser, which is surprising considering just how similar the two products are. It certainly sits on the high end of the price scale; however, I suppose this can be partly put down to the strong and safe materials that it is made from.
3. Meat Tenderiser Mallet for Kitchen & BBQ
Moving on now to the meat mallet variations on the tenderiser market, it is time to look at the Mountain Grillers meat tenderiser mallet. It comes in the form of one 28cm handle, with a mallet attached to the end, one side of which is flat, with a cool gorilla design etched into it, with the other side rugged and covered in small spikes. It promises to reduce cooking time, improve the taste of meat and leave its users with juicy meat after each use. It can certainly talk the talk, but can it walk the walk? Let’s find out.
First things first, this product gets a big seal of approval from me on the simple fact that it has two surfaces to choose from – flat and rugged. This is a big step up from the previous two products, which only allow for intense tenderisation. The choice in surface the Mountain Grillers offer to their customers broadens the usability of their product, as it is appropriate for tenderising thick and thin meat – a great feature. However, whilst I love this diversity of use, it is worth mentioning that the spikes on the rugged side are considerably smaller than those in the previous two products. This means that whilst the product would be appropriate for both thick and thin cuts of meat, you might find that it is difficult to actually get big cuts of meat like pork and beef to the desired tenderisation with this tool. It simply does not pack enough of a punch.
In addition to this, just from looking at the product you can see an issue with weight dispersion. Whilst the mallet head is super dense and heavy, making it all the better at tenderising meat, the handle is conversely fairly skinny and frail looking. My fear is that after consistent, heavy-duty use, this product will fall apart, simply because of the thin handle – either that or the size of the handle will prevent the user from using as much force as they would like to with this product. Certainly something worth bearing in mind.
Despite this, it has to be said that the product is made from strong and safe materials, with the entire product (apart from the rubber handle) made from dishwasher safe stainless-steel. In terms of the rubber handle, the product receives another big tick for this feature, as the rubber coating makes it non-slip, improving the user’s aim and precision when it comes to tenderising. This handy added feature is even more impressive when considering the fact that this product won’t break the bank, sitting comfortably in the middle of the price range typical for a mallet meat tenderiser. Could it be cheaper? Yes. But is it reasonably priced? I would say so.
4. Amco Houseworks 4-in-1 Metal Meat Tenderiser Mallet
Next, we have a great product from Amco – the Houseworks 4-in-1 meat tenderiser mallet. Yes, you heard me right – this product is a 4-in-1 tenderiser, with four surfaces, each of which has a different design. The mallet head comes in the shape of a prism, with three spiky sides and one flat side. However, what makes this design even more ingenious is the fact that each of the spiky surfaces are covered in spikes of different sizes. This means that you can switch between surfaces depending on the density of the meat you are tenderising, or the extent to which you wish to tenderise the meat. It feels good to have options, doesn’t it? I think that this multifaceted feature is really impressive – especially when considering the super low price of the product.
However, it is worth noting that one of the spiky sides is on the top of the mallet, meaning you would only be able to tenderise using this side if you were to push the mallet directly down onto the meat. This wouldn’t be a massive issue, however due to the risk of either breaking the mallet’s handle or injuring your wrist, I would hazard a guess that this method would give you less range of movement. Furthermore, another slight issue with the 4-in-1 surface range you get with the Amco tenderiser is the fact that, due to the four surface options, each surface actually ends up being slightly smaller in size than your typical mallet surface. Just another thing worth bearing in mind.
Despite my complaining, I really do like this product. It is extremely versatile and surprisingly well priced, with great added features – like for example the ergonomic non-slip handle. The handle has been contoured to perfectly fit the human grip, making it easier to achieve precision with your tenderisation, and with a solid rubber coating, this mallet won’t be slipping out of your hands any time soon.
Furthermore, at just 23cm in length, this is a fairly compact kitchen accessory. Where you would normally expect size to matter, in the meat tenderiser world, bigger does not always equate to better. There is no reason for your mallet to be massive, as a small one like the Amco mallet does the job just as well – besides it makes storing it 10x easier.
Overall, the Amco mallet is a well-made, well-priced meat tenderiser with a couple of minor issues here and there, generally accounted for by the super impressive 4-sided design feature of the product.
5. OXO Good Grips 11285000UKE Meat Tenderiser
Our next two products are by OXO, the first of which being the OXO Good Grips meat tenderiser. Surprisingly, this mallet is actually made of plastic and not metal like all of the other meat tenderisers in this review. I know what you’re thinking – a plastic mallet? How is that going to be any better than a metal mallet? But hear me out. Plastic has come a long way these days, and the OXO meat tenderiser mallet is made out of an extremely strong plastic compound which can withstand huge amounts of force, so you can bash to your heart’s content with this product.
In addition to this, the mallet head has a super strong steel core embedded in the centre of the head, increasing the overall strength of the product tenfold. The major plus side to a plastic kitchen product is the fact that you essentially eliminate the risk of rust – a factor which is especially important with a barbecue tool. I know how it is – you’ve had a few too many beers after a successful barbecue and end up leaving a couple of your tools outside for what starts out as one night and ends up being one month. Before you know it, all of your brand spanking new tools are orange with rust and you’re back where you started – on the hunt for new barbecue tools. Well, by investing in a plastic meat tenderiser you bypass all of this drama.
In terms of the actual construction of this product, the mallet head has four smooth sides, with one spiked side for larger or denser cuts of meat. This makes it the perfect mallet for small cuts of white meat, like chicken, pork or turkey. However, the fact that it only has one spiky side does mean that perhaps this is not the best product if you are looking to tenderise a big, dense cut of meat. Unlike some of the products on this review, this mallet is not exactly a ‘one size fits all’ meat tenderiser.
Despite saying this, it does win an extra point from me when it comes to its non-slip handle. Not only is the handle covered in ribbed rubber to improve grip, it is also super thick and sturdy, meaning it can handle high levels of force without showing any signs of breaking. Nice one, OXO.
In terms of price, it is slightly higher on the price scale, however it still won’t break the bank, and considering the impressive quality of the product, I think the slightly inflated price is somewhat earned.
6. OXO 26191 Good Grips Meat Tenderizer
Last, but definitely not least, is another OXO product, this time the 26191 Good Grips model. Coming in the form of a mallet, split into two separate heads – one with a smooth flat surface, the other with a spiky surface, this meat tenderiser really has it all. What distinguishes this tenderiser from other products is the fact that in investing in added features, like two separate surfaces for tenderisation, it does not scrimp on quality. Where our trusted Amco 4-in-1 mallet exceeds in offering four separate surfaces, we have already gone over how this addition equates to a loss in quality of each surface.
The OCO 26191 tenderiser keeps it simple and puts quality first, a notion which is evident simply from taking one look at the product. In terms of materials, it is made from strong brushed stainless-steel. What enhances the strength of this tenderiser even further is the fact that it is constructed out of only two pieces, the metal component and the rubber coating on the handle. This lowers the chances of the product breaking into separate parts whilst increasing the amount of force exertion possible when using the tenderiser.
Like the previous OXO product, the rubber on this tenderiser is also ribbed to enhance grip and prevent potential injury involved in accidentally dropping the mallet – another great added feature.
The icing on the tenderiser cake with this product is the fact that, despite its super high-quality construction, it is one of the cheapest products in this review. We love a bargain, especially when the quality is not in question.
In terms of disadvantages, the main issue is the fact that this product is not dishwasher safe. Of course nowadays, most people use a dishwasher, so I can understand why this would be an issue for a large number of users, however many people fail to realise just how bad using a dishwasher can be for the lifespan of quality kitchen accessories. A simple hand wash will avoid this minor issue, so the OXO 26191 meat tenderiser only loses one point from me on this problem.