Ever tried baking soda as meat tenderizer?

I’ve heard my father say that papaya leaves are natural meat tenderizers. I tried it once, it didn’t work and I never tried again. I never was able to find out if it was just a myth or whether I didn’t pound the leaves sufficiently to extract the juices. At any rate, I really didn’t see any reason to use meat tenderizers so long as I chose my meat with care. But there was a discussion recently about adding baking soda to meat to tenderize it. It’s something I’ve heard and read before but never tried until a few days ago. And it really works.

I haven’t as yet determined the correct proportions (if there is such a thing) as in how many teaspoonfuls of baking soda for half a kilo of meat. I’ll get to that eventually but here are some of my initial assessments:

casaveneracion.com Baking soda as meat tenderizer

1. Cut the meat (beef, in my case) into the desired size first. If you intend to use the meat to make a stir fry, for instance, cut across the grain into strips. Why not cut later? Because after treating it with the baking soda solution, the meat will be so tender it might break apart during cutting. So, just to be on the safe side, cut the meat first.

2. If the meat is wet (usual if the meat was frozen and thawed), just sprinkle the baking soda and work it into the meat with your hands.

3. If the meat is dry (the normal condition if it has never been in the freezer), make a paste by mixing baking soda and a little water together. Add the paste to the meat, mix and massage well.

4. Place the meat in a covered container and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

I tell you, this little trick with baking soda works wonders. :)


  1. says

    Hi Connie,

    I’ve tried this before and like you was not able to get the correct proportions. I’m not sure, but i think i got this idea way back when the Pinoycook forum was still active or the comments section way back. I haven’t tried it again, it’s been more than a year already. Sayang kasi, i hardly could eat what i did before…in my case i added too much and couldn’t mask the flavor already. The many uses of baking soda!

  2. susan fabia says

    happy new year connie!

    at what point did you add salt or pepper or other seasoning to your meat…together with the baking soda, or after several hours/overnight?

    thank you for the wonderful tip!

  3. Bernice says

    I took a class on dimsum dishes and this is what they add to the spareribs in “steamed spareribs” which is why the ribs look kinda pale and are very tender and less greasy.

  4. says

    peterb, and there’s a flour-y sensation in the mouth when there’s too much baking soda.

    Susan, I added seasonings after, about 10 minutes before stir frying the beef.

    Bernice, any tips on the proportions? How much baking soda per kilo or half kilo of meat?

    • Lia says

      I found an old traditional chinese recipe for beef steak which uses baking soda to tenderize. The recipe calls for 600 gms of beef tenderloin and 1/2 tsp of baking soda. The baking soda is mixed with the marinade of 2TB light soy sauce, 3TB corn starch, 1/2 c water and 3 TB sesame oil. I’ve tried it many times and it always tenderizes the beef wonderfully – just like in the Chinese restaurants. The Chinese bbq sauce for the beef steak is a mixture of ketchup, worcestershire sauce, water, sugar, chinese cooking wine, cornstarch paste (to thicken the sauce), soy sauce, salt and pepper.

      • Ross Reid says

        I have heard of using baking soda for tenderizing meat but, in this case I really can’t see using it on beef tenderloin. That stuff is already melt in your mouth tender. Try it on top round or some other tough cut.

  5. brenda says

    I’ve heard about this but havent really tried it. So just for clarification Connie, you don’t wash the baking soda off the meat before cooking after storing it for several hours?

    Kung wala akong pressure cooker pwede kayo to sa nilagang baka?