How to Tenderize Beef Stew Meat Quickly

Beef stew is a classic comfort food that warms you up on chilly nights. When properly made, the beef turns out melt-in-your-mouth tender. However, using the wrong cut or technique can result in a chewy, stringy stew. If you’ve ended up with tough beef, don’t worry – there are several tricks to tenderize beef stew meat quickly and salvage your dish.

Why Beef Stew Meat Toughens Up

Beef cut from working muscles, like chuck or round, generally work best for stews. These cuts contain more collagen, which breaks down into gelatin during slow cooking, leading to tender meat. However, collagen needs sufficient time to transform. If stew meat is cooked too fast, the collagen doesn’t have a chance to melt, so the meat stays stringy.

Other factors like overcrowding the pot, skipping sear, or using lean cuts also prevent proper tenderizing during stewing. Luckily, with the right techniques, you can tenderize even the toughest beef chunks quickly.

4 Ways to Tenderize Beef Stew Meat Fast

Follow these simple methods to make beef stew meat tender in a hurry:

1. Pound the Meat

For individual beef chunks that are too chewy, take a meat mallet or tenderizer hammer and pound them. Breaking down the muscle fibers makes meat more tender. Pounding works best for larger stew chunks vs. bite-sized pieces.

2. Braise or Stew Again

If the entire stew turned out chewy, return it to the pot and simmer longer, about 30-60 minutes. The extra braising time allows collagen to break down further for tender beef. Keep the heat low and check doneness frequently to avoid overcooking.

3. Use an Acidic Marinade

Soaking beef in an acidic marinade chemically tenderizes it by denaturing collagen. Whisk together 1 cup yogurt, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tsp oregano, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and marinate beef chunks for 20-30 mins.

4. Slice Across the Grain

If nothing else works, cut beef chunks across the grain into thinner slices. This shortens the muscle fibers so meat seems more tender when eaten

Tips for Avoiding Tough Beef Stew

Avoid chewy beef stew with these handy tips:

  • Choose collagen-rich cuts like chuck brisket shanks for stew.

  • Brown meat thoroughly in batches before stewing.

  • Simmer gently; don’t boil aggressively.

  • Cook stew in a wide vessel rather than a tall, narrow one.

  • Add tomatoes, wine later to avoid lengthening cooking time.

  • Check doneness early and allow to rest before serving.

  • Use a pressure cooker to quickly tenderize meat.

Sample Recipe for Tender Beef Stew

Try this easy recipe for guaranteed tender beef stew every time:


  • 1.5 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups beef stock
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Pat beef dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown in batches over medium-high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  2. Transfer beef to slow cooker and add stock, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  4. Whisk tomato paste and flour into stew juices. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  5. Serve stew in bowls garnished with parsley. Enjoy!

Getting the beef stew meat perfectly tender takes some trial and error. But with these quick fixes, you can rescue a too-chewy stew easily. Next time, applying tips like choosing the right cut, browning thoroughly, and cooking low and slow will ensure your beef turns out succulent. Tweak the cooking time or liquid to suit your preference for fall-apart or sliced meat.

How To Make Beef Soft & Tender | Tough Stewing Meat Made Soft


How to fix tough stew meat?

Simmer, don’t boil. It starts out tough but long slow cooking will melt the connective tissue. If you cook past the time when the connective tissue is melted, you boil out all the water in the meat and it becomes tough again, like a well-done steak. So check your stew/braise and when the meat is tender, it’s done.

How long can you tenderize beef with baking soda?

THE BOTTOM LINE: Fifteen minutes is long enough to reap the benefits of a baking soda treatment, but don’t worry if your dinner prep gets interrupted and you have to extend that time a bit. A 15-minute (or slightly longer) stint in a combination of water and baking soda keeps meat tender and moist when it’s cooked.

Leave a Comment