4 Ways to Tender a Chicken

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4 Ways to Tender a Chicken
4 Ways to Tender a Chicken

The article below will teach you how to tenderize chicken using different tools and marinades.


Method 1 of 4: Using a Meat Hammer

Tenderize Chicken Step 1

Step 1. Buy a meat hammer

Such hammers, usually made of wood or metal, have textured heads and are used to beat meat and soften it. You can buy one at any kitchen supply store. In an emergency, you can use a clean, sterilized hammer; the result, however, will not be so good due to the smooth texture.

Tenderize Chicken Step 2

Step 2. Bone the chicken

The chest and thigh are parts that can be processed with a hammer, as long as they are boneless. Hitting a piece of bone with the hammer will eventually shatter the bone, degrading the final result.

Step 3. Cover the meat with wrapping paper

This way, you prevent chicken pieces from spreading across the board by hitting them with the hammer.

Step 4. Beat the chicken with the meat hammer, covering the entire surface of the chicken

Beat until the meat is the desired thickness for the recipe you are going to make. This is an ideal technique to use before grilling or frying chicken, as the process breaks down the meat's fibers and speeds up cooking.

Method 2 of 4: Using a Marinade

Tenderize Chicken Step 5

Step 1. Use plain yogurt or buttermilk

Yogurt and buttermilk contain enzymes and acids that help break down the proteins in chicken meat, making it softer. That's why many chefs make a marinade to soak the chicken before frying it. The same technique can be used to prepare any type of chicken, regardless of the final objective (cooking, frying, grilling, etc.).

  • If using yogurt, use plain yogurt. Flavored yoghurts can end up adding flavor to chicken.
  • If you want to use yogurt to flavor chicken, try a flavor like lemon or coconut, as they work well with meat and can yield good results.
  • Use fat-free or fat-free yogurt, whatever. The chicken will have a light yoghurt flavor that goes well with pepper and other seasonings.
  • Buttermilk is slightly milder and does not affect the flavor of the chicken. It can be made at home too, just add a tablespoon of white vinegar to a measuring cup. Then fill the rest of the glass with whole milk. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, until it curdles.
Tenderize Chicken Step 6

Step 2. Marinate the meat for an hour or more

Ideally, marinate it overnight, but an hour is enough to tenderize the chicken. Just put the meat in a container and cover it with the liquid (yoghurt or buttermilk). Close the container and refrigerate.

  • Add salt and seasoning to the marinade to create a brine.
  • After the process is finished, remove excess marinade from the chicken before cooking it.

Step 3. Try other types of marinade, as each will tenderize the chicken in a different way

There are several marinades and pickles to choose from, both homemade and commercial. Still, it's important to note that some of the options can end up making the chicken firmer rather than tender.

  • A more acidic marinade, with vinegar or lemon juice, can harden the meat a little, but the flavor is excellent. In such cases, just use the meat hammer! The sour marinade is great for when you're going to make curried chicken. It is not possible to identify very well the flavor of the lemon in the final sauce, but its use is essential.
  • For very tender chicken, use enzymatic marinades that contain pineapple or a meat tenderizer. The result will be a very soft chicken, which is not always desired.
  • Make a fruit marinade to make the chicken as tender as possible. Take advantage of the enzymes found naturally in fruits like kiwi, pineapple and mango. Peel and mash the fruit, making a puree. Mix them with the chicken and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Use a soda. The acidic properties of the drink help to soften the chicken and give it a delicious taste. Cover the meat with your choice of soda and add a teaspoon of salt.

    • Cola soft drinks work well.
    • Lemon drinks also work very well.
  • Try other unusual brands of soda to see if it tastes good.

Method 3 of 4: Cooking Chicken

Tenderize Chicken Step 8

Step 1. Choose a preparation method

There are many ways to cook chicken, but here are some examples:

  • Well seasoned: grease a skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil and light the heat. While the oil heats up, cover the chicken with your favorite spices. Place it in the pan and cook until it is no longer pink inside.
  • Roasted: season the chicken and place it in a greased pan. Bake for half an hour.
  • Grilled: Bring the chicken tenderized and seasoned to a grill and cook until good.
  • Stew: Bring the chicken pure or marinated to the fire, using a stew recipe. The meat is unlikely to become hard.
Tenderize Chicken Step 9

Step 2. Don't overcook the chicken

Overcooking removes moisture from the meat and contracts the proteins, changing the consistency of the chicken. With a little experience, you will be able to know when the chicken is in the right spot. Still, many professional cooks use thermometers to be sure of the chicken's point. The ideal is to cook the meat until its internal temperature reaches 74 °C.

Use an oven thermometer when roasting whole chicken. Insert it into the deepest part of the chest. Use an instant cooking thermometer for smaller cuts

Tenderize Chicken Step 10

Step 3. Cook the chicken over low heat

As contradictory as it may seem, cooking chicken slowly over low heat helps to break down the proteins in the meat, softening it. This way, the flavor will penetrate deeper into the chicken, making it even more succulent. The low heat technique works best with bone-in thighs, but it can also be used to cook a whole chicken.

Tenderize Chicken Step 11

Step 4. Allow the meat to settle after cooking

Cover it with aluminum foil and let it sit for five to ten minutes so that the chicken juices are redistributed throughout the meat. When cutting the chicken after removing it from the heat, the juices will not be reabsorbed by the meat. Allowing the chicken to settle is even more important when it is cooked in a roast.

  • After all, cutting the chicken right away won't leave it completely dry.
  • If you're in a hurry, wait for the chicken to at least cool down enough to be handled without you getting burned.

Method 4 of 4: Selecting and Cooking the Softest Chicken

Tenderize Chicken Step 12

Step 1. Know the origin of the meat

It is difficult to judge the quality of chicken simply by looking at the meat, so the best thing to do is buy it from a reliable source. Still, the fact that it is marketed by a large nationally known industry is not an indicator of quality. Sometimes buying meat from a local breeder can also be an excellent option, as long as you know the quality and certifications of their facilities.

Tenderize Chicken Step 13

Step 2. Know that hard chicken is old chicken

Chickens are usually processed when they are a few weeks old to keep them tender. Still, it is possible to cook older chickens, and the ideal is to prepare a stew to tenderize their meat.

Tenderize Chicken Step 14

Step 3. Choose the cut well

The darker parts of the chicken contain more fat and end up yielding a softer, moister meat. The chest and other lighter parts are usually harder; nothing a good marinade won't do, however.


  • For your safety, the internal temperature of the chicken must be at least 74°C at the time of cooking. If you are going to roast a whole chicken, it can be removed from the oven when the thermometer registers 68 °C (provided the thermometer is placed at the correct point, at the bottom of the breast). Remove the meat from the heat and wrap it in aluminum foil to keep the internal temperature above the "danger zone".
  • It's tempting to buy an artificial meat tenderizer, but adding chemicals to chicken is not a good idea.
  • Fresh chicken is usually more tender and moister than thawed chicken. Freezing breaks down the meat's cells, making it tougher.
  • Usually, the chicken is covered with wrapping paper before hitting it with the meat hammer. Another option would be to place the chicken inside a zipper bag (without air). In the absence of a hammer, a rolling pin can also work.


  • Never eat raw or rare chicken.
  • Thaw chicken in the fridge, not on the counter. If you want to speed up the process, seal the meat in a plastic bag (no air) and place it under cold running water.

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