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BBQ for 20 and my steaks are tough what to do?

The steaks are sirloin tip and fresh, they are very tough what can I do to tenderize them I need them in 2 days we won't have a stove to use just a BBQ ...please help

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  1. Cut them into chunks, marinate them and make kebabs. A marinade will tenderize them just fine.

    1. Sirloin tip is not a good cut for steak because it is inherently tough. Marinating won't help much; even the best acid-based marinade will only penetrate about 1/4 inch at most and won't really make anything tender -- it will make it mushy. Tender and juicy are what you are after and that won't be it.

      If the sirloin tip is still in roast form you are in better shape than if it is already cut into steaks. But either way, you shouldn't try to serve as traditional steaks, and you certainly shouldn't try to cook them like one. You should adapt the low and slow method commmonly used for roasts to the steaks and they will come out great.

      Hopefully these are cut quite thick. Sear quickly on each side -- a minute or two, tops -- then put over very low indirect heat (no more than 225) and cook slowly until they reach 127 internal. Use a good thermometer to check, inserted sideways. Hold until internal temp comes up to 130-135, then slice thinly on the diagonal across the grain and serve that way. They will be tender and juicy. But they must not go past 135F.

      1 Reply
      1. re: acgold7

        Yep. And a good rub works nicely with this.

      2. I'd pound them after cutting into strips then marinate them in soy/brown sugar/ginger/garlic then when needed quickly roast them foil covered with a bit if beef broth. serve them on a platter

        1. I just about 20 minutes ago, finished having a wonderful sirloin tip dinner. I marinated them overnight in a teriyaki sauce, (off the shelf) and grilled rare. Practically melted in our mouths.
          Do not overcook they will become tougher, but at rare to medium rare they were delicious.

          1. Not being a big fan of soy or teriyaki, I admit I'd rather have a steak that was fairly tough than soaked in soy sauce or teriyaki. Would buttermilk tenderize them if they were pounded? Maybe some papain-based tenderizer? I tend not to like those, but the OP is in a bind with a lot of tough meat and a lot of people to feed.

              1. re: fourunder

                But be careful! I made fuzzy meat with (very diluted) pineapple juice once. It was horrific and it didn't take long.

                1. re: Vetter

                  Yeah, I did that once and it just turned them into mush. A recipe for disaster.

                  1. re: Vetter

                    Asian Cooking uses fruit or juices to tenderize meat quite successfully. While I agree fresh pineapple can turn beef into an unpleasant mess if left on too long.......I can say, canned pineapple juice has never caused the same problem. This past Memorial Day Weekend, I had some Pork Chops marinated in pineapple juice....very tender and tasty....and far better than any brined pork chop I have ever had.

                  2. re: fourunder

                    I definitely cant get on board with that technique. I think the author of the article has tenderness confused with mushiness. Half an hour in pineapple maybe, but its not something Id do. Overnight in pineapple like the article says is asking for trouble.

                    1. re: twyst


                      This site suggests an overnight marinade as well......pork or chicken is suggested at two hours.

                      We're talking about steaks....not thin strips or cubes of meat.. If you leave any meat in acid or citrus juice too long....it would get mushy as well.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        There are a lot of bad cooking suggestions and recipes on the internet!

                        Ive done quite a bit of experimenting with bromelain in several forms (the active ingredient in pineapple) and the results were often quite bad. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are using canned instead of fresh, the enzymes that would "tenderize" the meat are not present and soaking in canned pineapple juice would have no effect on the texture of the meat, it would only impart flavor.

                        1. re: twyst

                          I'm confused. in your first post, you say it will cause the meat to be mushy.....but in you follow-up, you say it will have no effect on the texture of the meat, it would only impart flavor?

                          this must be some more bad information available on the internet....: 0 )


                          1. re: fourunder

                            I said that fresh pineapple will make it mushy and canned pineapple will do nothing. Only fresh pineapple contains active bromelain. Pick up a book like "on food and cooking" if you really want to know the science about these things, but there is a reason fresh pineapple and meat are a no no in most professional kitchens, and its because it creates an off putting texture.

                            I'm only trying to share what Ive learned through my years of culinary education and years of experience in professional kitchens. There is a lot of misinformation out there in internetland, but books like "on food and cooking" and "modernist cuisine" are great resources for valid information since they revolve around science, not anecdotal evidence.

                            1. re: twyst

                              You seem to focus on the fact that there is bad information and recipes....or misinformation on the internet. You go to say you have years of education and professional experience to support this.....I suspect your experience is really more of your personal opinion and preferences. As others and i have opined, fresh pineapple in any form can make meat mushy, but it can also tenderize very well if done properly......but this is not just anecdotal....it is really science. As for the *fresh pineapple and professional kitchens being a no no.....as I stated, it's done in many Asian kitchens .....along with the use of Kiwi and Papaya as well. Some people actually enjoy the results of what these kitchens do with tough cuts of meat......like short ribs for example....or even flank.

                              Your ideas of valid information are just that, your's. Isn't it really up to others to decide what works for them?

                              Some more bad information on meat tenderizers......


                              Papain and Bromelian


                              1. re: fourunder

                                I definitely agree that you can change the texture of meat with pineapple etc, but it is not solely my opinion that there are ways to achieve much better results. You are right, people can choose to do what they want when they are cooking their food although many different opinions will result from the results. I guess it is wrong for me to assume that everyone would have the same standards I do, I guess its the product of working in fine dining kitchens for so long.

                                I must say that many of the things on food sites you listed are not things I would try myself, but if they work for other people great. I was particuarly distressed by the roasted chicken done in the microwave and microwaved steaks linked on a couple of those sites.


                                1. re: twyst

                                  but it is not solely my opinion that there are ways to achieve much better results.
                                  this very true....but this can be applied to most anything or any topic. there is no one best for anything. Also, I've worked in fie dining and high end catering.....I've seen techniques there that I would not use myself either......it really depends on what you are making, no? Some home cooks and mom and pops can run circles around others when it come to specialties and family recipes.

                                  Using beef for an example, I am a proponent of low and slow roasting.....but many here believe moderate to high is better. I can't speak for them, only for myself......whatever floats your boat, so have you.

                                  1. re: twyst

                                    Unless asked....I pledge this is my last post regarding beef and pineapple juice, either as a marinade or meat tenderizer.

                                    It's pretty clear that it is not for every one.....however, my contention is it is used frequently by many. Personal experiences and preferences aside here...the information is available for anyone who does a search and then can see whether it would work for them or not. While it may not be a common item for many commercial kitchens, other than Asian inspired ones.......it is used prominently in Houston's/Hillstone restaurants for their featured Hawaiian RibEye menu item that dates back to the late 80's. While I am not prepared to enter a debate as to whether Houston's is fine dining or not.....there is no question it is regarded as a better chain restaurant by many.....and there is no question that any item that makes the menu list has been tested for recipe, standards, specification and likeability.

                                    I am not suggesting the OP use pineapple juice....only to consider it as an option. It does work and last I looked....Houston's gets over $35 for their steak. That shows me some like it....or it wouldn't still be on the menu a couple of decades later.

                                    1. re: fourunder

                                      I really want this to die, but I agree, the hawaiian ribeye at houston's is great.

                                      Not to get overly technical, but they are not marinating with fresh pineapple containing bromelaine, they are brining in a canned pineapple juice and soy sauce mixture. It sounds like a small difference, but the fact that canned pineapple has no active bromelaine and the soy sauce has so much salt actually makes this a totally different technique than marinating.

                                      I think its delicious, in fact when I cook brisket at home I often use the same technique for brining it and then cook low and slow.

                                      I think some of our differing opinions on the subject may be a result of differing terminology and not being clear on fresh vs canned.

                                      1. re: twyst

                                        I'm actually not in favor of sweet beef...

                                        : 0 )

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          Sadly Im a sucker for it ><

                                          Kalbi beef is one of my absolute favorite things to eat, but its very sweet :(

                          2. re: fourunder

                            It's not the acid that's in this or any citrus juice, it's the bromelain that's specifically in pineapple juice (or papain that's in papaya) that's used as a commercial tenderizer that can turn meat into mush even if used for a short time. It also shortens the cooking time so you end up with mushy well done shreds. And the tenderizing function of bromelain/papain is actually not related to time at all -- it's a function of heat. That's why when you use a commercial tenderizer they tell you to go ahead and cook immediately -- the enzyme is activated as soon as it's exposed to heat. I believe it breaks down immediately thereafter.

                            My understanding is that it only works this way with fresh juice, but as canned juice is cooked, the bromelain is inactive, but the acid and flavor components remain.

                            Lemon, lime or orange wouldn't have this problem, so other citrus is fine for the acid component. But again, marinades generally don't tenderize much, but they do add flavor.

                              1. re: acgold7

                                btw...I agree with everything you said....except for the last bit on citrus. I've had lamb, beef and chicken in many grilled Latin/Greek dishes that were marinated in Lime or Lemon.....and I found the meat could be very mushy/mealy.

                                1. re: acgold7

                                  With regards to Papain....

                                  back on a thread on Corned Beef, I I mentioned purchased a few Reddi-Gourmet Brand Point cuts, which used Papain as a meat tenderizer.. While preparing, I was expecting them to take in excess of 3 hours to finish, but actually, they were fork tender in about two. The CB was both moist and tender without any hint of being mushy from the meat tenderizer. i was pleasantly surprised with the product.

                                  I've never considered using meat tenderizers before, but I may have to give it a try with the next round of slow roasted beef

                          3. I think acgold7's advice is the best advice here.

                            Any tenderization that acid may cause will be localized to a very shallow portion of the meat - only about 1/8 inch deep in most cases. Leaving the meat in acid for extended periods of time only turns it mushy as pointed out by most others here.

                            However, there is a much better way to tenderize the meat using only the meat and heat, and that method (as explained by acgold7) is low and slow. Let the low heat and long cooking break down all that connective tissue that is making your meat tough.

                            You can use your grill to do this (I'm assuming that by "BBQ" you mean grill and not smoker).

                            Develop or find a good finishing sauce to dip the sliced meat in before you plate it and you'll be on your way.

                            1. Nobody has mentioned the way you slice the beef yet. This actually has a HUGE effect on how tender we perceive a piece of meat to be. Slicing against the grain creates a DRAMATICALLY easier piece of meat to chew.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: twyst

                                The second post mentions it: against the grain, on the bias.

                              2. A local butcher will "pin" sirloins if he's asked. He uses an implement that kind of looks like a meat cleaver but has sturdy pin-type things all over one side and he presses it into the meat. I've had him do this for me, then marinated the meat, and it's turned out tender & flavorful. Any chance there's a butcher in your area who you could talk into doing this for your sirloing?

                                1. You can Jacard it which breaks down some of the toughness of the cut another option is to cut very thin.. add some oil and spices for flavor and grill just a few mins each side. Maybe serve with some tortillas for fajitas.

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