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Will Canned Pineapple Tenderize Meat?-Yes/No

Who wouldn’t love juicy meat dishes, right? Being a cooking enthusiast, you’ve planned to cook a meat dish. But you’re worried if it’s gonna be tender enough.

Also, you know from the recipe that pineapple can be used to tenderize meat. But what if you only have canned pineapples handy.

So you’re worried about will canned pineapple tenderize meat?

Well, no. Canned pineapple has added preservatives that help it last a long time. But that preservative kills the tenderizing enzyme which is used as a meat tenderizer. So whether the fresh pineapple is heated or canned the enzyme gets destroyed. Hence it can’t tenderize the meat.

Don’t get upset already with the answer. Because we wrote the whole article explaining why not the canned pineapple. And presented a lot of alternative options for you.

Will Canned Pineapple Tenderize Meat– Why Not?

We understand that you’ve been wanting to tenderize meat with the can of pineapple that you got. You might have seen recipes where they marinate the meat with pineapples. So you also want to get the perfect taste and tender meat. 

This is great but we hate to tell you that canned pineapples won’t serve the purpose. Because when pineapple is being canned, an amount of preservative is put in there. And preservative destroys the bromelain on it. And bromelain is the main tenderizer for meat. 

Bromelain reacts to the protein cells and breaks them down. This way bromelain tenderizes the meat.It’s also the reason why adding canned pineapple to the meat won’t help with the tenderization process.

What Are The Alternatives To Tenderize Meat?

Well, now you know that pineapple can of yours won’t do any good to the meat. But don’t lose hope yet. Because to your surprise, we’ve got a long list of alternatives. 

All you have to do is pick the one that feels convenient to you. Best of luck on that pal.

Pineapple Alternatives

Have you set your mind to go for pineapple? Then you’ll be happy to see that we’re starting the list with pineapple alternatives. 

Fresh Pineapple

So the idea of tenderizing meat is mainly related to fresh pineapples. So even if you follow recipes you’ll see them using fresh pineapple. Because when it’s fresh, the enzyme inside it remains powerful.

So the idea of using pineapple as a tenderizer for meat came from here. Even if you’re trying to fix tough corned beef, fresh pineapple can be used as a softening agent. 

Besides, if you’re applying pineapple to fresh meat, cut it into 2 cm pieces. Then add it to the meat. Let that sit for 3 hours.                                    


Obviously, you can blend fresh pineapple into a fine puree. In this case, just add 1 tablespoon to 1 kg of meat. And if you’re only using the juice, just cover your meat in the juice for 15 minutes.

Do not let it sit for more than 15 minutes. Or else you’ll get some pineapple flavored meat playing with your tastebuds.

Powdered Pineapple

Well, cutting or blending pineapple may sound like a lot of work to do. And if you’re in a rush,  you can choose powdered pineapple. Yeah, it’s a real thing! And the possibilities are that you’ll find it at your nearby grocery store. 

You can just grab a pack of powdered pineapple and spread it over the meat. Give it a good mix and wait for 10-15 minutes. This would be enough to tenderize your meat.   


Acidic Alternatives

Apart from pineapples, vinegar and other fruit juices contain acid that can tame hard meat. You might have been where the meat fibers are hard to chew and separate. If yes then you know what we mean by hard meat.

But you can stop your meat from being that stubborn and hard. Adding one of the acidic alternatives will make sure of that.


We can bet that the moment you heard of acidic solutions, vinegar surely crossed your mind. No matter what the problem is vinegar is here to your rescue.

Vinegar has high acidic properties, but to tenderize meat we only prefer white vinegar. While applying vinegar to the meat you need to be really careful about the measurement. Otherwise, the meat will taste too acidic. 

So ideal measurement will be to add ½ teaspoon of white vinegar to 1 kg of meat.

Grapefruit & Orange Juice Mixture

Another acidic alternative would be the grapefruit and orange juice mixture.  Don’t go for store-bought juices. Because they too will contain preservatives and won’t help with softening the meat.

But to soften meat you can go through a DIY process. For that, you need fresh grapefruit and orange. Now take a bowl and measuring cups. 

First, squeeze the grapefruit lightly and take ½ cup juice from it. Do not squeeze the grapefruit hard, otherwise, the juice will taste bitter. Then squeeze the orange as well and again take ½ cup juice. 

Now add both juices to the bowl and give it a good stir. When you’re done stirring, you can add 2 tablespoon juice mixture to 1 kg meat. Marinate it for 45 minutes. It’ll not only tenderize the meat but also add a unique taste to the recipe.

You can increase the marination time depending on how intense you like the taste. But if you’re only using it for the tenderness then 45 minutes will be enough. 

And if you’re wondering what to do with the extra amount of juice then you can store it in a glass jar for a week. And use it anytime in between to tenderize your meat. Don’t worry about the freezing process. Because freezing won’t kill the enzymes acting as a natural tenderizer. 

Enzyme Alternatives

Your main goal can be only to tenderize the meat without letting it soak other flavors. Because mixing it with fruit options can affect the flavor if marinated for long.

But if tenderization is the main purpose, you can always go for enzyme alternatives. 

Powdered Bromelain

As we’ve already mentioned what bromelain does to the meat, we hope you remember that. If not let’s explain a bit here. 

So bromelain is the enzyme that breaks the protein muscle of the meat. Hence the meat becomes tender.

You can get bromelain from sources like fresh pineapple and, grapefruit, and other citric foods. But here we suggest you use powdered bromelain.

All you have to do is sprinkle in on the meat and wait for it to activate. the activation time will be around 15-30 minutes.

Powdered Papain

Just like powdered bromelain, powdered papain can be used as an enzyme alternative. It will also help to tenderize the meat, without adding extra flavor to it. Papain has got the same properties as bromelain. You can get this enzyme from fresh papaya as well. 


You have to sprinkle 1 tablespoon papain powder on ½ kg meat. Then wait for 20 minutes to let it activate.

We’re pretty much done with all the alternative options. Now, let’s give you a quick insight into which alternative takes how much time to tenderize the meat.

AlternativesMarination TimeAmount of MeatQuantity 
1.Fresh Pineapple


2. Powdered Pineapple

  1. 3 hours(fresh cuts), 30 minutes(puree), 15 minutes(juice)
  2. 10-15 minutes
1 kg 
  1. 2 cup of 2cm pieces(fresh),1 tablespoon(puree), 1 cup(juice)
  2. 2 tablespoon


2. Grapefruit & Orange Juice Mixture

  1. 60 minutes
  2. 45 minutes
1 kg
  1. ½ teaspoon
  2. 2 tablespoon
1.Powdered Bromelain


2. Powdered Papain

  1. 30 minutes
  2. 40 minutes
1 kg
  1. 1.5 tablespoon
  2. 2 tablespoon

Which Alternative To Choose? 

So, you’ve passed through these aforementioned alternatives. But it’s alright to still be confused on which alternative to go for depending on the meat type. To ease up things for you, we’ve crafted the following table below.

Meat TypeAlternatives
Beef All
ChickenJuice mixture/vinegar
LambVinegar/juice mixture/powdered 


Papain/ Fresh pineapple

Duck Powdered bromelain/papain/fresh pineapple
MuttonFresh pineapple/vinegar/juice mixture
PorkAll(preferred acidic one’s)

Now you know which meat tenderizer can be used for which type of meat. So we planned to give you an idea. That’s based on what type of tenderizer you should use for these basic recipes. So buckle up and scroll down-

Meat RecipesAlternatives
Patty(All)Powdered pineapple/bromelain/papain
Sliced(All)Juice mixture/ pineapple juice

Apart from the listed recipes, if you’re looking to fry meat then you can use buttermilk or yogurt. For example, if you take 1kg chicken, add ½ cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoon yogurt. This will tenderize the meat.

If you’re for a beef/lamb/mutton/pork stew then you won’t be needing pre tenderizing. But you can add carrot, onion, and baking soda to the stew. As a result, the stew will be thick and the meat will also tenderize.

What Factors To Look For While Tenderizing The Meat?

We want you to be well prepared on your journey to tenderize meat. Here we listed 3 tips from professionals to guide you. As a result, you’ll end up with well-cooked, tender meat that just melts in your mouth. 

Tip 1 of 3: Use A Mallet 

You might not want to compromise the taste and flavor of the meat. But still want the tender effect, you can use a meat mallet.         


If you already got one then use it. If not then try to find one with a comfortable handle and creates a firm pressure. Just like the ones below-

  1. KitchenAid Gourmet Meat Tenderizer
  2. Spring Chef Meat Tenderizer, Heavy Duty Hammer Mallet Tool & Chicken Pounder

Tip 2 of 3: Use Whatever Tool Is Handy

Now if you don’t have a mallet handy, no need to be upset. Because you still have a lot of options handy to tenderize meat. For starters, you can pinch the meat with a fork if it’s a steak or butterfly cut meat.

You can pat the meat a thick meat slice with a cup or glass-bottom to flatten it more. Or just bring out your roller and roll the piece of meat. It will also tenderize the meat. Then just move on to cooking the meat.

Tip 3 of 3: Cook The Meat On Low Heat

To keep the meat tender, you’ll have to cook it slow just like you do to set a creme brulee. Just keep the temperature to medium-low, so that the insides gets well cooked. At the same time, the outer layer won’t get crunchy or overcooked.


How do Chinese restaurants get their meat so tenderized

Most Chinese recipes need thin cut meats that are easy to tenderize. Also in most of the recipes, they marinate the meat with tomato juice to tenderize.

Can baking soda be used to tenderize meat?

Yes you can use baking soda to marinate the meat or you can sprinkle some baking soda while cooking the meat.

How long can I marinate a steak with fresh pineapples to tended?

You can marinate the steak for 3-14 hours depending on how tender you want it to be. And if you want the chewiness to be gone fully, then marinate and let it sit for 24 hours. This way the meat will melt in your mouth and you won’t have to put much effort to cut it.


We thank you for being with us. We tried to clear your doubts on “will canned pineapple tenderize meat”. On top of that, you got to know the alternatives and some pro tips.

Now let’s tell you our secret. When you’re working with thin pieces of meat you can add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Or 1 teaspoon of tomato juice can spice up the dish as well as tenderize it.

Well, that was all. Now keep the cooking passion alive. And have a great day.

And don’t forget to comment on which alternative you choose.

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