How To Make Sirloin Steak Tender: 9 Easy Ways To Tenderize Sirloin

January 27, 2023

For the record, sirloin steak here refers to bottom sirloin. Bottom sirloin is a cut of beef from the back of the steer just above the flank steak and below the top sirloin.

One of the easiest ways to tenderize sirloin steak at home is to use a meat mallet and manually break down the tough fibers. Marinating and searing are also effective options. In this article, I will explain each of these methods in detail.

As a grill chef, I cook sirloin regularly. My favorite thing about sirloin steak is that it is very easy to tenderize, is rich in nutrition calories, and my customers love the final meal I serve. Sirloin steak is versatile and incredibly flavorful when tenderized perfectly.

how to make sirloin steak tender

How Do I Make My Sirloin Steak More Tender?

Some steaks are going to be tougher than others even if they are all the same cut. The difference in tenderness results from factors such as the age of the animal and the feeding practices it was subjected to.

That said, get your meat from the same source. That way, you can be fairly certain that you are getting meat from the same farm. This will give you a pretty good idea of how tough your steaks are expected to be.

Make A Marinade

By far, the best and most effective method of tenderizing sirloin steak is to marinade the steaks in a wet cure. This method not only tenderizes the steak but infuses it with a wealth of flavors depending on what you would like to put in the marinade.

The most important thing to remember is to use an acidic component in the marinade to break down the tough fibers of the steak. A basic marinade would include the following ingredients:

  • Kosher salt or curing salt
  • Balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • Water

The ingredients above are an effective tenderizing solution for sirloin steaks which are often not too tough. Of course, you are free to add a host of other ingredients, such as soy sauce, garlic, parsley, oregano, and others to create a sophisticated flavor profile.

A marinade will break down the fibers of the steak and allow the steak to absorb moisture which will in turn make the final meal that much juicier and tender.

Use An Enzyme Based Tenderizer

An enzyme-based tenderizer is a powdered enzyme that is sprinkled on the surface of a steak to break down the tough tissues. The tenderizer is derived from natural enzymes such as papain from papayas and bromelain from pineapples that break down protein chains.

Sprinkle a light drizzle of the tenderizer on the sirloin steak on both surfaces of the steak. Let the steak sit at room temperature as the enzymes get to work. Enzyme-based tenderizers work fast so use paper towels to wipe them off after 20 – 30 minutes.

In a cast iron pan, sear sirloin steaks on a thin layer of olive oil immediately after wiping it down. The enzymes that have penetrated the steak will continue to break down the meat if you let it sit.

Over-tenderizing meat could leave the steaks dry while the surface becomes mushy and unpalatable. Enzyme-based tenderizers work best for small steaks since they do not penetrate very deep into the meat.

The McCormick Meat Tenderizer is a great choice here.

Using A Meat Mallet

This is a common method for tenderizing meat and is fairly effective with sirloin steak since sirloin steak is only moderately tough. For even better results with this method, try beating the meat with a mallet and then marinating the steaks.

Steaks that have been tenderized using a meat mallet absorb a marinade better and faster so combine this method with the marinade mixture above.

Beating Raw Steak with Meat Mallet

Using A Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

A Jaccard meat tenderizer is an improvement on the ‘fork’ method. This tenderizer works wonders on tough meat. 48 blades poke holes all over the surface of the meat and with a sirloin steak, you may only need to use two strokes.

The holes tear through the tough meat fibers, making the steak softer and more malleable. This way, the fibers of the steak cook more easily and absorb moisture and fat faster making the steak less chewy and more enjoyable overall.

Just like with a meat mallet, this method should be combined with marination for even better outcomes. The tears will allow faster and greater absorption of the marinade into the steak making the steak very tender and easy to chew.

Sear Your Steak

Another way to tenderize steak is to give it a good sear on a pan or a grill before cooking it in a slow cooking method such as braising.

Searing the steak also works well after tenderizing using another method such as using a mallet. If done properly, using a meat mallet to break the tough fibers should be enough to tenderize the meat.

Searing the meat on a grill or a cast iron skillet at a medium heat of 400 – 500 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes should easily cook the meat tenderizing it further while locking in the flavors. A medium rare should be the desired doneness of the steak.

Cut Against The Grain

When tenderizing steaks, always cut across or against the grain. The grain refers to the muscle fibers of the meat and runs in one direction. Cut the steaks perpendicular to this direction.

This way, heat, moisture, and the marinade will all be absorbed more easily through the shortened muscle fibers of the steak.

Also, cooked steak is a lot easier to bite when the meat has been sliced against the grain. The meat comes apart easily and the dining experience is much more enjoyable.

Use A Herb Butter Mixture

A herb butter mixture is a neat sirloin steak recipe that will add fat and succulence to a tough sirloin steak. Sirloin steak contains very little fat which means it can get dry pretty easily when cooked making it chewy and unpleasant.

A herb butter mixture will fix this problem. Mix the ingredients below:

  • Butter
  • Oregano
  • Minced garlic cloves
  • Basil
  • Black pepper

Ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed all through, then put the mixture in the fridge for about twenty minutes to solidify it.

After cooking the steak, serve them with a scoop of this mixture on top of the steak. The mixture will melt slowly into the steaks during carryover cooking.

This will infuse the steak with a buttery spicy layer of flavor to complement the rich beefy flavor of sirloin. Serve with mashed potatoes, lemon rice, or pasta.

Herbs Butter

Cook At The Right Temperature

The temperature at which meat is cooked is very crucial. If you go above or below the desired temperature, even a tender steak can turn into a rubbery piece of meat and your dinner is ruined.

Cook sirloin steak for at least an hour at 130 degrees Fahrenheit if you settle for a slow cooking method. If you choose to go for a fast method, tenderize and then sear the steak at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 2-3 minutes.

Always sear sirloin steak in a little olive oil since it lacks the necessary fat to keep them moist when cooked in high heat.

Douse Or Sprinkle With Salt

Salt is an excellent meat tenderizer whether it is used shortly before cooking or in a marinade. Salt breaks down meat fibers making the steak more tender and easier to cook to perfection.

For smaller steak cuts, you can sprinkle salt on them and let them sit at room temperature for an hour or two. Ensure that you don’t let the slat stay on the meat any longer before you cook it.

While salt may help break down meat fibers, it also dehydrates meat and if too much moisture is lost the steak could become even tougher.

Use kosher salt instead of regular salt. Kosher salt has a more subtle flavor and will not interfere with the eventual flavor of your sirloin steak recipe. That said, you will have to adjust the salt quantity in your recipe.

The best way to use salt is in a marinade. A marinade is excellent, particularly for larger chunks of sirloin steak.


How Do Restaurants Make Their Steaks So Tender?

They Buy Prime Beef

Most, if not all restaurants use prime beef in their recipes.

Prime beef constitutes the best quality steak and the most tender cuts of meat available. But you are not likely to find it in supermarkets and most butcher shops since it goes for a premium.

Nearly all prime beef is bought by restaurants, which is one of the reasons restaurant food is so great.

They Age Their Meat

Restaurants buy a ton of beef and dry age it to make it very tender. Dry aging meat is a process of letting beef sit or rest under controlled conditions for prolonged periods of time.

Most restaurants age their beef for a minimum of thirty days with some high-end steakhouses aging the meat for over 6 months.

Meat naturally becomes more tender over time as its natural enzymes break down the fibers of the meat. The longer the meat is aged, the stronger the flavor and the greater the tenderness.

They Marinade Meat

Restaurant owners have the incentive to make their meals as juicy and tender as possible to attract customers.

Marinades are an excellent way to tenderize meat. We make tons of it to tenderize even the toughest meats and make sizzling meals.

We add the steaks to the marinade for at least an hour before you cook it to make the meat extra tender.

marinaded meat steaks prepared for grill

Why Are My Sirloin Steaks So Tough?

There are several reasons your steak is turning out so tough.

  • You may have bought meat from an older animal.
  • You are cooking the steaks while they are still frozen or cold. A steak needs to be brought to room temperature.
  • You need to tenderize steaks properly. If the process of tenderizing your sirloin steak does not successfully break down the fibers of the meat, then the steak will still be tough after cooking.
  • Make sure you buy the right steak. Consult your butcher on which steak you are buying.
  • You are overcooking or under-cooking your steak by using the wrong methods.
By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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