Does Honey Tenderize Meat? How Does It Really Work?

Does Honey Tenderize Meat
  • Save
Does Honey Tenderize Meat

Honey is a wonderful superfood, with amazing nutritional and medicinal properties. Did you know that honey is the only food that comes from insects? The bee, in itself, is the most extraordinary insect, collecting nectar to produce honey.

You never have to worry about your honey going off too. It can last for centuries if it is in a tightly sealed container. It’s the honey’s low water content and high acidity that ensures it doesn’t spoil.

Mouthwatering and eye-catching ‘honey-meat’ dishes

As an important health food and carbohydrate, honey is also used as a sweetener, consisting of two kinds of sugar: glucose and fructose. It is also made up of water, pollen, and minerals. You just have to bear in mind that there are different varieties of honey.

The color and flavor differ because of the different places the bees collect their nectar. Honey’s color can range from very pale, almost colorless, to orange and even dark brown. If you’re using it to tenderize meat, it can alter the taste, but the meat is always going to be delicious and succulent.

The syrupy liquid is used in many recipes and foods, not only in sweet pastries but to tenderize meat too. The cherry on the top is that honey also gives the meat an attractive brown, crispy, tasty top. Marinades usually have an acidic ingredient. A typical example is vinegar.

When an ingredient such as vinegar is mixed with honey, they work as an effective marinade, adding flavor and locking in moisture. This is particularly useful when cooking foods such as pork chops or chicken that tend to dry out with cooking.

Does Honey Tenderize Meat

How to tenderize your meat

  • Prick some holes in your meat before marinating. This allows the meat to absorb the sauce.
  • Cover the meat in the marinade. If you’re wondering how, a tip is to put your meat into a zip-lock bag. You can flip it once or twice. You can also opt for a bowl and lid. You will need to pour marinade over the meat occasionally and also turn the meat.
  • Refrigerate the meat, marinating it for 4 or 5 hours or even overnight.

It’s RAW honey that acts as a marinade

Honey not only browns meat nicely, it acts as a reliable marinade too. However, for the best results, the honey should be raw. It’s only raw honey that has the correct elements required to tenderize meat.

Raw honey is when the golden liquid comes straight out of the beehive. Raw honey has been extracted from the honeycomb. The honey is then poured over a strainer, nylon cloth, or kind of mesh to sift out the beeswax.

Honey—a prime ingredient in a marinade sauce

Baked chicken wings and legs in honey mustard sauce
  • Save

Honey breaks protein in the meat’s outer layer. It’s often used as a prime ingredient in a marinade sauce. You need to be careful when making your choice as most of the bottles of honey in your grocery store are pasteurized, diluted or have added syrup.

Pasteurized honey doesn’t have the enzymes that are essential to the marinating process. Most of the honey you find in the shops is mass produced and has been pasteurized to prolong the honey’s shelf life. It’s honey that is lacking in essential nutrients.

Some people use this honey because they simply want their meat flavored in a certain way. They aren’t looking for a marinade as such. If your goal is to tenderize meat, you’ll need to look at raw honey. A marinade doesn’t only tenderize meat, but it also adds flavor.

Marinades usually have oil, salt, and acids. It’s the acids that break through the tough fibers in the meat. The interesting thing about honey is that outside the body, before digestion, it’s acidic, but once metabolized, it’s alkaline. Using honey on the meat breaks down proteins to make the meat tender.

A great marinade for chicken

You can use honey as a marinade for various meats, but if you’re using honey as a primary tenderizing ingredient, it works better with milder meats such as chicken.

Homemade Asian Honey Garlic Chicken Wings with Dipping Sauce
  • Save

Most people love using honey to marinate chicken, and the honey also helps to add an interesting flavor to the chicken or fish. Let’s have a look at how you can use honey to marinate chicken.


  • A whole chicken
  • A cup of raw honey
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste

How the tenderizing process works

  1. Use a nice-sized bowl. Stir your honey, salt and pepper, and crushed garlic together with your olive oil.
  2. Pierce your chicken with a fork. Coat it well with the marinade sauce you’ve just mixed.
  3. Place in the fridge for 4 hours.
  4. Prior to grilling, remove your chicken from the refrigerator and let it stand for about half an hour.
  5. Roast your chicken for an hour at a temperature of 350–400 F. During roasting, you can turn your chicken occasionally.
  6. Then it’s time to serve your chicken with roast potatoes and a fresh Greek salad.

Raw beef ribs with ingredients for marinade honey sauce
  • Save

Many people also know the benefits of pineapple as a marinade. The tropical fruit works exceedingly well with the savory flavors of meat. Pineapple gives great flavor and is able to tenderize meat while it marinates. It has an enzyme known as bromelain, which softens meat.

If you want to marinate steak, chicken, or pork chops, use pineapple juice and honey for a delectable flavor and soft, juicy meat.

For a honey/pineapple marinade, you’d use:

  • A cup of honey
  • A cup of crushed pineapple
  • A cup of soy sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp powdered cloves
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • Pepper and salt

This is a super marinade to soften chicken, pork chops, beef, and fish.


Whole baked chicken with crusty skin glazed with honey on top and parsley on the side
  • Save

Honey is well known for its preservative qualities, and one worthwhile advantage of the golden liquid is that it can help marinades last longer. You simply add 1/4 cup honey to your favorite marinade mix.

Whether you’re preparing meat for yourself or to spoil your family and friends, try using delicious and nutritious honey as a marinade.

Just like some magical concoction in nature is able to turn an ordinary bee into a queen bee, so honey is able to tenderize meat and turn it into a succulent, tasty feast with a mouth-watering difference.

  • Save
Categories Cooking
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap