Do you tenderize your chicken when you cook it?
If you don't, you could end up with something that tastes like cardboard and feels like leather.
Cooking chicken can be a tough balancing act. You need ensure it is thoroughly cooked the whole way through... without the thinner edges becoming dry or even burnt.
One way to keep your chicken from drying out is to tenderize it before cooking. In this post I will show you 4 different ways how to tenderize chicken.
Say goodbye to dry, chalky chicken forever!
Mallets tend to tear the meat. Don’t hit it like a hammer just gently hit the thicker part of the breast, continue until it 2-3 cm or 3/4
If you don't have a mallet or meat tenderizer you are in luck! It is still possible to pound your chicken tender.
Tenderizing chicken with a marinade is a great way to keep your chicken tender and juicy. A marinade also adds in lots of flavour.
One of my favourite ways to keep my chicken tender is with a buttermilk marinade. This also works well with plain yogurt if you can't get hold of buttermilk.
Why does this method work?
Both buttermilk and plain yogurt have specific acids and enzymes come together to breakdown the chicken.
The acids and enzymes work together to breakdown the proteins in the chicken. Once the proteins have been broken down you are left with a (delicious) tender piece of chicken ready for cooking.
This method works very well and is gaining a lot of popularity. You might even notice some restaurants advertising 'buttermilk' chicken.
There are a tonne of different marinades out there. Keep in mind that not all marinades will tenderize your chicken. The buttermilk or yogurt method only works so well because of the acids and enzymes within these ingredients.
You can very easily make your own buttermilk at home from everyday ingredients. All you need is:
Yogurt works well for breaking down the proteins in chicken. If you want to add a little bit of flavor while marinading I suggest trying different flavors of yogurt. Think along the lines of coconut, lemon or lime!
I know baking soda seems to have a never ending list of uses. I am going to add another use to this list. It is true that you can tenderize chicken with baking soda.
Why Does This Work?
Essentially baking soda mixed with water raise the Ph level of the meats surface.
A higher Ph level makes it harder for the proteins within the meat to bond together. Once you have soaked your chicken in a baking soda and water mixture for only 15 minutes you will be left with a more tender piece of meat ready to cook.
There are two different methods for tenderizing chicken with baking soda.
This recipe is for 1kg of cut chicken.
For this method I would recommend using when cooking whole chicken breasts or chicken thighs.
It is actually possible to cook chicken juicy and tender without going out of your way to tenderize it.
It all comes down to smart organised cooking. Below are 4 rules of thumb that you can follow to ensure your chicken is juicy and tender every time.
The low and slow methods is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to ensure that you are left with tender and juicy chicken.
Cooking low and slow breaks down the proteins in the chicken slowly over several hours. Cooking this way allows your chicken to take on an incredible amount of flavor.
Low & slow cooking is where you cook over a low heat for a long period of time. This can be anything from a couple of hours right up to 12 - 18 hours.
My favourite ways to cook low and slow chicken are:
One of the most common errors in cooking chicken is over cooking it. Often we are too scared to cook chicken to perfection because we are scared of getting sick.
The best way to ensure that you are not overcooking your chicken is to check the internal temperature. You need your chicken to be 165 °F right in the centre of the thickest part.
Even if you use one of the above tenderizing methods resting your chicken is very important.
Resting allows the proteins & juices to disperse back through the meat.
You want to let your chicken rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking. Make sure you cover with foil while resting.
Another way to ensure you don't even up with tough chicken breasts is to slice them in half before cooking.
Before you start ensure you have a sharp meat carving knife. To slice a chicken breast:
Be sure to use caution when using a knife and always practice safe barbecuing.
Charlies Final Thoughts on How To Tenderize Chicken
No one likes a dry piece of chicken, even my boys who eat like human garbage cans.
They knew I could do better chicken than that I was producing. So I did some research. I decided I needed to find out how to tenderize chicken to come away with the best results.
So I set off on a quest to discover how create juicy chicken through tenderizing. This post has covered everything that I have learnt. Throughout my quest I have found some amazing blogs.
For those of you who are new to the barbecuing world, I have compiled a list of the blogs that I have been referencing for the past few years. These blogs really have helped me get me where I am today. I call this list the best BBQ blogs of 2019.
I highly recommend you give them a look. They are full of recipes, reviews and tips & tricks from some of the best in the game.
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You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!
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