Turns Out My Favorite Kitchen Tool Is the Key to Perfect Chicken Cutlets

And no, it’s not a meat mallet.

If you’ve ever cooked chicken breast on the stovetop, you know the key to getting evenly-cooked, not-too-dry meat is creating a thin, quick-cooking cutlet. Sure, you can buy them pre-sliced and pounded, but if you are trying to save money or your store is all out of cutlets, you might be inclined to make your own.

Thanks to TikTok—this task couldn’t be easier with this new hack. Instead of using a meat mallet to pound your chicken breast into oblivion, pull out a tortilla press. Yes, a tortilla press. Don’t have one? That’s okay: My favorite one (and our top budget pick after a lot of testing) costs just $26 on Amazon and has so many uses. It’s of course a whiz for homemade tortillas but I also use it for making arepas, empanadas, and even dumplings. Basically, anytime you need to evenly flatten a food (think anytime you would get out a rolling pin) you can use your tortilla press instead. Which is why I’m so surprised I hadn’t already thought to try it on chicken!

How to Use a Tortilla Press to Make Chicken Cutlets 

Five crispy chicken cutlets on a foil-lined baking sheet

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

The original creator on TikTok, Laura Loo, uses her plastic baggie-lined tortilla press to flatten chicken tenders. It's really quite simple: just place one tender on the tortilla press and, well, press. A flattened, even tender is ready to go in literal seconds.

I wanted to put this hack to the real test, however, and try it on a full chicken breast. Admittedly the first try did not go as planned. I tried it the exact same way as the tender: simply placing the full chicken breast on my plastic wrap-(a bit easier and less wasteful than baggies) lined tortilla press. I pressed but there was a LOT of resistance. Eventually, I got the press to give, but only because part of the chicken had slipped out, so one half was pressed thin and the other half was still thick as can be.

I was ready to call it a fail, but with a few adjustments, I found the perfect method. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Just like you would when making chicken cutlets with a mallet, start by cutting large chicken breasts in half horizontally.
  2. Place one chicken breast half on a plastic-lined tortilla press. Close the press and use the handle to gently press down until you get a good amount of resistance.
  3. Repeat with the remaining chicken until you have the desired number of cutlets.

It’s as easy as that, but there are some tricks for doing it without fail.

Tips for Using a Tortilla Press to Make Chicken Cutlets 

Start With the Appropriate Size 

Tenders or thighs will work great as is, but for large chicken breasts, you will need to cut them in half horizontally first. And if they are so large that even the halves are overhanging your tortilla press, you will need to cut them in half so the full piece can fit in the press.

Press Gently 

If you use full force or push all the way down on the tortilla press, your chicken cutlet will end up tearing. I recommend pushing slow and steady, stopping before you go as far as you can. You want to get the chicken about 1/4-inch thick, so there’s no reason to push it further than that.

Line Your Press with Plastic Wrap 

This isn’t totally necessary, but it definitely makes for easier clean-up. The original TikTok creator uses plastic bags on each side of the press, but I find it easier to just place a small sheet of plastic wrap on each side. Then once you’re done, all you have to do is toss the plastic wrap in the trash—no scrubbing required!

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