How to Tenderize Steak with Salt

While there may be a lot of different methods on tenderizing steak with salt, I am going to show you my way of doing it. I have had success with this method for a few years now and my steaks always are very tender.

But how did I learn this method and how do I tenderize steak with salt?

How I Discover Salt as a Secret Tenderizing Ingredient

It all began when I joined my cousin’s BBQ smoking team. We turned cuts of beef and pork into succulent delicacies using wood, seasonings, and time.

We took a brisket, which is a large muscle from the front chest plate of the cow. Once considered a very cheap piece of the cow, and we made it tender enough that it could be cut with a fork. The trick I learned, was salt.

We would coat the meat in it for a short period of time, rinse it, and then proceed to slow cook it for several hours.

If this could transform a tough cut like brisket, imagine what it could do to a fine steak. We would like to teach you this simple trick to tenderize steak with salt.

What is the Best Steak for Tenderizing

One thing to consider is your type of steak. Each one of them have different tenderness level.

The ribeye is an excellent piece of meat. It is a great place for you to start, and it is worth every penny it costs.

But, if you want to save some money and apply a little science to your dinner preparation, try some of the tougher cuts, like a round steak, a chuck or a flank steak.

These cuts are traditionally a bit rougher around the edges and harder to make tender. Your guests will be impressed with your new found culinary skills when you apply them to this carnivorous adventure.

Before you start this process, you will need a few simple supplies, which are very easy to find because you may already have most of the items needed in your pantry.

Needed Supplies:

  • Steak - You choose it by yourself or consult your butcher
  • Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
  • Mixing Bowl - Try to find a large enough bowl to hold your steak
  • Plate - Again, a large plate is recommended, so it can hold your steak​
  • A Means by which to cook your steak

After you have collected all the required supplies, it is time to first prepare your meat and then tenderizing it.

How to Prepare your Steak for Tenderizing

The only thing to do in order to prepare your steak for the tenderness process, is to make sure it is not frozen and is clean.

Best Way to Tenderize Steak with Salt 

We suggest about a quarter of a cup of kosher salt per steak. This may be more than enough salt needed to tenderize a steak, but you’ll be using it wisely.

Here are the detailed step:

Step 1) Take your steaks and rinse them off.

Step 2) Now, pour half of your salt you set aside on one plate. Then, lay the steak on the salt and pour the remaining half of salt on top of the steak.

Step 3) Start massaging the salt into the meat, ensuring that the salt stays on the meat. Do one steak after another on the same plate to utilize the salt entirely.

A little variance you might want to try is to massage a dash of garlic powder into the steak before you place it on salt. Just a pinch and the garlic flavor will incorporate into the meat.

Step 4) After you are done massaging the steak on salt, place your meat in the refrigerator for about an hour. Thirty minutes will also work well but if you have the hour, take the extra time.

Tenderizing Secret: ​Salt your steaks 1 hour before cooking for every inch of thickness. For example if you have a 1.2 inch thick steak, you need to let them with salt for 1.2 hour.

Why Salt and How It Works?

I know that you are asking yourself, that doing so, will make you steak over-salty. Your friends are thinking the same thing. How the heck is tenderizing a steak with so much salt going to work. Let us explain.

The salt will draw out the natural juices of the meat. Over a long period of time, the salt would cure the meat. You would do this by removing the water and juices as they draw out.

But used as a tenderizer for the meat, when applied and removed accordingly, the juices and salt will create a brine. This brine will reabsorb into the meat and break down the proteins and amino acids.

It is recommended to use kosher salt over your standard table salt.

The coarser grains of the kosher salt are the agents in charge of the muscle, protein breakdown. The smaller granules in table salt won’t do an efficient job of breaking the meat down.

This is how you transform your chewy mass, into a tender edible masterpiece.

Is Eating This Much Salt Healthy?

Is Eating This Much Salt Healthy?

Yes, that much salt would be detrimental to your health. But you are only going to use salt to tenderize your steak, not eating it.

Once the hour is passed, and you have started your grill, broiler, or skillet, it is time to rinse your steak off.

You can run water over your meat to remove the extra salt. We prefer dunking the steak in a bowl of tap water. Doing so, will ensure that the water is removing the salt entirely.

While in the water, massage the steak further to ensure all the salt is removed. From there, give it a good rinse under the kitchen faucet.

Pat dry your steak with a kitchen towel or a paper towel. Rest your meat on a new plate, season it as you like and then you can start grilling it.

Quick Considerations

​Before start grilling, there are a few things to consider.

  • Use kosher or sea salt, not table salt. This is a very important point to consider. The table salt has tiny grains and it will not tenderize your salt.
  • Use steaks 1 inch or thicker.
  • You may think that this sounds like salt-curing, which dries out meat but with salt-curing you use a lot more salt and leave your steak on salt for a long period of time; probably weeks. We are letting it for one hour, just enough to break down the proteins and flavor the steak.

Now that you have finished the tenderizing process, it is important to remember that you only tenderized your steak but you haven’t seasoned it yet.

A little pinch of garlic powder, coarse ground black pepper, and throw it on your grill. Check your internal meat temperature frequently with a thermometer and pull it out of the grill at your desired readiness.

After the meat has reached your desired doneness, remove it from the grill and make sure to let it rest for at least 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. It is important to know that tenderizing your steak using salt doesn’t remove all the juices, it invigorates them.

It is recommended to compliment the dish with sautéed string beans tossed with bacon and garlic. Fried skillet potatoes, and grilled onions with mushrooms to round the plate off.

Final Thoughts


This is the technique I use to tenderize steak with salt.

I know that you may think that you are using a lot of salt and you worry about your steak becoming over-salty but if you follow the instructions carefully, use the right amount of salt and wash it off at the right time, the steak will not become over-salty but just more tender and delicious.

Now your friends will be impressed with your new found talents of transforming a regular piece of steak into a premium delicious one. The decision is up to you to share the secret with them or not.

If you do pass on the technique we shared with you, then next time it’s their turn to cook for you. If you keep it to yourself, well then you just destined yourself to be the cook in the group.

No matter what your decision is, make sure to enjoy your steak and don't forget to let me know what you think in the comment section down below.

About Kendrick

Just a passionate man about cooking, living in Kansas who loves to share his knowledge about cooking and grilling with everyone.

5 thoughts on “How to Tenderize Steak with Salt”

  1. You say:

    “Now that you have finished the tenderizing process, it is important to remember that you only tenderized your steak but you haven’t seasoned it yet.”

    I don’t agree with that, the “salt brine” that has been sitting on the steak for the 1+ hour has reabsorbed back into the steak and seasoned it. If you were to put any additional salt after grilling you will probably ruin the steak due to over-salting.

    • Hello Mitch,
      Thanks for visiting my site. As for the tenderizing process, letting the meat sit for 1+ hour in salt doesn’t mean that all the salt will be absorbed by steak. Sure, some salt will be absorbed but still, after grilling it, everyone is free to use as much salt as possible. Salt level is kind-of personal preference I think.
      I say ‘haven’t season it yet’ because you are free to season your steak with other spices or ingredients. In the article, I said that after the tenderizing process, throw some garlic powder and some coarse ground black pepper and then you are ready to grill it. I didn’t recommend to use extra salt.
      I hope you get a better understanding of my explanations.
      Take Care, Kendrick 🙂

  2. awesome, will give it a try. Thank you so much. Can’t afford expensive cuts of meat.
    Have a awesome blessed day. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year too.

  3. I’m going to try this with a small beef roast, and then brown it and roast it in the oven. If you have any suggestions regarding this, I’d appreciate them.
    Happy New Year!

    • Hello Jan,
      One thing that most people forget is the amount of salt they use and the duration they leave the meat on salt. Keep in mind to tenderize the meat 1 hour before cooking for one inch of thickness. I suggest using 1 to 2-inch thick steak because you may have difficulties and need to leave the meat on salt for a long time for a thicker piece. As a rule of thumb, you should leave a 1.5-inch steak on salt for about 1h and 30 mins.
      Also, don’t forget to rinse well the steak after removing it from the salt. Place the steak in a bowl full of water and massage it to remove the extra salt.
      Hopefully, these tips will help. Good Luck and let me know how it goes.

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