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Does Cornstarch Tenderize Meat?

Does Cornstarch Tenderize Meat?

Have you ever tried making stir-fry at home, but it didn’t taste right? Well, it’s because you missed the critical ingredient, cornstarch. Velveting will take your dish from basic American food with a Chinese sauce to the real deal.

Yes, cornstarch does tenderize meat. It is a Chinese tradition to incorporate cornstarch and Velveting while cooking. Velveting is when you marinate meat in cornstarch. Afterward, the marinated protein briefly passes through hot water or oil.

The velveted meat becomes tender and soft. In addition, if you add pieces of meat to a stew, the broth gets thicker.

However, cornstarch doesn’t denature the protein structure of the meat. Instead, it coats the meat and prevents it from overcooking or getting too dry.

How to Tenderize Meat With Cornstarch

How to Tenderize Meat With Cornstarch

To make delicious stir-fries at home as they do in Asian restaurants, you must master the marinating process.

Here is how to go about the process:

  • Gather the ingredients you prefer to tenderize the meat and combine them in a bowl. Add a couple of teaspoons of soy sauce or oyster sauce or both.
  • For the meat to get tender and silky, combine oil and cornstarch. Lace the meat with the paste. Use about two teaspoons per pound of meat.
  • You can add Shaoxing wine to the meat as well. This step is optional for those who don’t take alcohol.
  • Let the meat marinate for 15-30 minutes while you work on the rest of the meal.

The mixture of ingredients forms a thin, sticky coat on the meat. The cornstarch helps make the meat velvety, with a slightly slick coating, while the other flavors permeate into the protein giving the meat its finger-licking taste.

Suppose you choose to deep-fry the meat; cornstarch seals in the moisture preventing the meat from drying. In addition, cornstarch makes the meat crispy, and you appreciate the perfect crunchiness when eating.

Methods of Tenderizing Meat

Methods of Tenderizing Meat

There are two types of meat tenderizers:

  • Enzymatic tenderizers, whereby the enzymes in the fruits like pineapple, kiwi, ginger, or papaya are used to denature the proteins and make the meat soft and tender.
  • Acidic tenderizers like lactic acid in buttermilk or citric acid in lemon juice help make the meat tender.

If you have no access to enzymatic or acidic meat tenderizers, there are other ways to get the meat tender. They include the following:


Brining is a form of preservation, seasoning, and enhancing food tenderness. Meat brining is simply soaking it in salty water for about 30 minutes or several days, depending on its size, and as a result, the larger the meat, the longer the brining process.

When Brining osmosis occurs, the solvent moves from the point of low concentration to a high concentration. The balance between the solvent and solute makes the meat tender and juicer.

By use of Dairy Products

Several dairy-based products are incorporated into meat cooking. Products like buttermilk and yogurt help make the meat tender. All you have to do is add the buttermilk or yogurt to a wide bowl or container. Place the meat inside and mix the two.

Remember to add any other spice of your choice to the bowl and refrigerate. Take the meat out and cook it. You will enjoy the taste and tenderness!


Marination is an effective way to tenderize meat. In addition, it enhances flavor and adds moisture to the mixture. Marinating meat with cornstarch and spices makes it delicious, moist, and tender.


Using Tools

You can also put some mechanical work into the process and use a tool like the meat tenderizer. The use of tools is effective on steak or boneless meat.

If the meat has bones, separate the meat from the bones to avoid crushing the bones. Put the boneless meat in a plastic container, place it on the counter and pound it. Continue the process, flipping the meat on all sides until you attain the thickness you need.

Afterward, you can coat it with cornstarch and some herbs. Now it’s ready for grilling or frying.

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is helpful in meat tenderization. Dissolve the baking soda in water using one teaspoon of baking soda and a half cup of water. Mix the water and baking soda to make a solution. Soak the meat in the solution for about 15 minutes. Take the meat out and rinse it thoroughly before cooking.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some of the commonly asked questions.

Are cornflour and cornstarch the same?

Are cornflour and cornstarch the same?

Both corn flour and corn starch come from corn. However, the two differ in nutritional values, uses, and flavor. Corn flour is a derivative of corn kernels ground into a fine yellowish powder. In addition, it contains starch, fiber, proteins, minerals, and vitamins.

Cornstarch, on the other hand, is a more refined form without the protein and fiber of the kernels. It’s derived from the milling of the starchy part of the kernel called the endosperm. In addition, cornstarch is white.

Where does corn starch come from?

Where does corn starch come from?

Cornstarch is an extract from the endosperm of corn. Cornstarch helps make meat crispy when frying and thickens sauces, gravies, soups, pies, marinades, and casseroles. White powder is a common ingredient in most kitchens in corn-growing countries like China, India, Brazil, and the United States.

When should you add cornstarch to a meat stew?

It is crucial to note that meat stews don’t need to be extremely thick. The soup should still flow but with a thickness to it. Coat your meat with cornstarch before adding it to the stew while cooking. The ingredients incorporated in the stew also matter as they influence the soup’s thickness. For instance, potatoes will make soup dense even without cornstarch.

Where can you buy cornstarch?


Cornstarch is in most grocery stores’ baking sections, and several brands are available in the market.