The Key to Tender Steak? Baking Soda (2024)

As far as steaks go, London broil is not the most glamorous way to prepare a cut of beef. It doesn’t have the star power of a sizzling T-bone, nor does it necessarily have the name recognition of a tenderloin. Still, a London broil has its own charm. For one, it’s more affordable than some of its more well known siblings—I’m looking at you prime rib. But, with a little planning and a sprinkle of ingenuity, London broil can become the luxuriously tender, bracingly savory centerpiece of any dinner.

Although the two are often seen as synonymous, London broil is in fact a preparation of meat, rather than a specific cut. Although some butchers sell a cut of meat and call it a London broil, it’s almost always made using flank steak, top round, or another tough cut of beef. Because the meat tends to require some extra chew, most recipes call for hours of marinating to tenderize the meat before cooking. That’s where the genius of associate food editor Zaynab Issa’sAlways-Tender London Broil comes into play.

The marinades star ingredient? Baking soda. Here’s where it gets science-y: The baking soda raises the pH on the outside of the meat as it marinates, in a process known as velveting (which can also be donewith a cornstarch slurry). This makes it so the proteins have a harder time bonding to each other when it’s time to cook the meat. Less than a teaspoon of baking soda ensures that your steak remains juicy and tender—even after a speedy marinade. While other recipes demand hours of marinating, this baking soda hack makes a flank steak or any other fibrous cut of beef ready to sear after just an hour.

The marinade itself is simple but incredibly effective: soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and fresh garlic build into a wave of savoriness, tempered by a flash of acid. Pricking your steak all over with a fork, an important step, allows the marinade to really sink in—which is just what we want when the marinade tastes this good.

Even after a hard sear in a cast-iron skillet, the steak, thinly sliced, surrenders to each bite without much of a fuss. It is savory, accompanied by a tangy pan sauce, and, showered with flaky salt. As a bonus: Leftovers can be born again as astellar steak sandwich for tomorrow’s lunch.

Try a little tenderness:

The Key to Tender Steak? Baking Soda (1)

Achieve a perfectly juicy marinated London broil thanks to one secret ingredient you likely already have in your pantry.

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The Key to Tender Steak? Baking Soda (2024)


Can I tenderize steak with baking soda? ›

Less than a teaspoon of baking soda ensures that your steak remains juicy and tender—even after a speedy marinade. While other recipes demand hours of marinating, this baking soda hack makes a flank steak or any other fibrous cut of beef ready to sear after just an hour.

What is the best homemade meat tenderizer? ›

News & Recipes
  • 1) Tea. Tea contains tannins, which are a natural tenderiser. ...
  • 2) Coffee. Coffee adds flavour and acts as a natural tenderiser. ...
  • 3) Cola. The acid content of cola makes it a great tenderiser. ...
  • 4) Pineapple, pawpaw, figs, kiwis. ...
  • 5) Ginger. ...
  • 6) Baking Soda. ...
  • 7) Vinegar. ...
  • 8) Beer or wine.
Nov 9, 2016

How can I tenderize steak quickly? ›

Regular or apple cider vinegar, wine or beer, lemon or lime juice, buttermilk or yogurt contain tenderizing acids. As well as acid, enzymes found in fruits like pineapple, kiwi, mangoes, and papaya disrupt the molecular structure of meat's connective tissue.

Do Chinese use baking soda to tenderize meat? ›

This is how to tenderise beef with a Chinese restaurant method called “velveting beef”. Also used for chicken, it's a simple, highly effective technique using baking soda that transforms economical beef so it's incredibly tender in stir fries and stir fried noodles.

Do you rinse meat after baking soda? ›

You can velvet meat and make it melt-in-your-mouth tender by quickly tossing chunks of beef or chicken in about ¾ tsp of baking soda for about 15 minutes before your next stir fry, then rinse and pat the meat dry before putting in the pan.

How long do I leave baking soda on steak? ›

THE BOTTOM LINE: Fifteen minutes is long enough to reap the benefits of a baking soda treatment, but don't worry if your dinner prep gets interrupted and you have to extend that time a bit. A 15-minute (or slightly longer) stint in a combination of water and baking soda keeps meat tender and moist when it's cooked.

How do you get the taste of baking soda out of meat? ›

Remove the meat from the container and briefly rinse the meat in plain water to strip off the baking soda solution (or as much of it as possible). Cook as desired.

How does Texas Roadhouse make their sirloin so tender? ›

How does Texas Roadhouse tenderise their steaks? Season each side of the steak well with the seasoning and set aside to rest for about 40 minutes. This causes the salt to infiltrate the surface (through osmosis) and actually aids in the breakdown of muscle fibres, resulting in more tender meat.

What tenderizes beef baking soda or baking powder? ›

The ultimate goal of tenderization, however, is to get better texture, and one of the best ways to do it involves something unexpected: baking soda. Lots of meat cuts are flavorful, but without tenderization, they can come out tough, chewy, and generally unpleasant.

What tenderizes steak the most? ›

Most cuts of steak benefit from being salted up to an hour in advance of cooking, but especially tougher cuts. In addition to seasoning the steaks, salt helps break down proteins and make the meat more tender. Liberally salt the steaks up to an hour before cooking, then proceed according to your recipe.

How do restaurants make their steaks so tender? ›

Aging: Many fine restaurants age their beef to enhance flavor and tenderness. Aging involves letting the meat sit in controlled conditions for several days or weeks [2]. This process intensifies the natural flavors and breaks down the connective tissues, resulting in a more tender steak.

How much baking soda do you use to tenderize meat? ›

Dissolve baking soda in water (for every 12 ounces of meat, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda and ½ cup of water). Soak the meat in the solution for at least 15 minutes. Remove and rinse. Cook as desired, then bite into a seriously tender piece of meat.

How long can you tenderize beef with baking soda? ›

Tests by professional chefs also showed that if the meat sits in baking soda longer than the recommended time -- say, 30 to 45 minutes instead of 15 -- there's no harm done. By comparison, over-brining with saltwater can damage the meat, turning it gray and mushy.

How long to soak meat in baking soda to tenderize? ›

Meat only has to sit in a baking soda solution for 15 to 20 minutes, but a brine solution can take at least 30 minutes to start working. Plus, letting the meat sit longer in baking soda will not harm it, whereas over-brining meat can make it stringy and mushy.

How do Chinese make their meat so tender? ›

While there are several ways to velvet, a pound of meat needs about two teaspoons of cornstarch and two teaspoons of oil, says Leung. You may also include two to three tablespoons of water. For beef, add a 1/4-teaspoon of baking soda for tenderizing. Additional seasonings are optional and vary from recipe to recipe.


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