Sparkling water being poured out.
Sparkling Water Is The Best Budget Meat Tenderizer

Sparkling water can tenderize tough meat. Carbonated beverages, which can contain sodium bicarbonate, help soften proteins before they hit the heat.

Incorporating seltzer can redeem chewy proteins without much culinary effort. The bubbles work fast and pair well with other flavors for a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Though seltzers and sparkling waters range in acidity, the carbonation aids in the marinating process and yields a more supple cut of meat.

Club soda contains sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda. This helps the meat retain its juiciness and brown during cooking.

Syrupy sodas skew even more acidic, making them a good choice for a quick soak. Pair flavorful colas with complex red meat marinades and save citrusy sodas for lighter dishes.