How to Flatten a Chicken Breast

Updated on February 19, 2020
akirchner profile image

Audrey is a cook who loves creating new flavors by tweaking recipes to include healthier ingredients.


Pounded Chicken Breast With Less Stress and Less Mess

Many recipes call for pounded or flattened chicken breasts. The main reason for this is that you want your breasts to be of an even thickness.

There is one side that is always thicker than the other. Especially in recipes that call for chicken breast to be rolled around something, you want it to be thin but you also want it to be symmetrical in thickness.

The only way to achieve that is to pound it out flatter than it starts out.

The techniques shown here are used on only boneless, skinless breasts. If you were using bone-in ones, you would need to remove the bones and the skin.

Many people also butterfly out the thicker part of the chicken breast and then pound it out. That is an excellent way as well and requires less pounding.

I developed my own little "non-messy" technique for pounding out the chicken breasts, as illustrated in the video and as noted in my instructions below, because I didn't like cleaning up the mess it made of my cutting boards. I also worry about possible contamination by things like Salmonella.

What You Need to Pound Chicken

  • Meat mallet or pounder—any kind will do
  • Or use a heavy skillet
  • Or use a rolling pin
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts for your recipe of choice washed and patted dry
  • Remove as much fat as possible but I remove more after I pound it out
  • If bone-in, remove bones and skins before pounding out
  • Large Ziploc freezer bag
  • Plastic cutting board
  • Kitchen shears (for trimming fat or cutting breasts into smaller pieces)

Some people use two pieces of plastic wrap, wetting the wrap slightly to help the chicken breast flatten more easily.

That also works, but it is messier. I started using the Ziploc bag because the chicken "mess" stays in the bag, and all I have to do is remove the breast with a fork to a plate and throw the bag away.

Note that I still send the cutting board through the dishwasher "just in case" any chicken bacteria got on the board and also send any utensils I've used through the dishwasher as well.

As a final precaution, I also scrub the sink. With chicken bacteria, you can't be too careful!


Technique for Pounding Chicken Breasts

  1. Make sure the breasts are free of as much fat as you can trim off.
  2. Make sure they are relatively dry.
  3. Place in Ziploc freezer bag—no need to close the bag.
  4. Place on cutting board and begin pounding from the center outward.
  5. Most people pound on the "uglier" side, i.e. not the top but if you use the Ziploc bag, it doesn't seem to mar the surface of the chicken breast as much as traditionally pounding it out.
  6. Some people use the jagged edge of the meat mallet first, then switch to the flat side later on. I use pretty much the smooth side all the time.
  7. Pound from the center out to the edge of the breast as the center or high part is where the biggest part of the muscle is.
  8. Don't pound too hard as it can toughen the chicken. Just be patient and work from middle to outside edge until you have pounded the breast to an even thickness.
  9. Cut in serving portions and remove any excess fat with kitchen shears. Transfer to a plate.
  10. If you don't have a meat mallet (which happened to me once on vacation), use a heavy skillet to pound the chicken breast in exactly the same way.
  11. Or use a rolling pin, rolling from the center to outside edges again evening out the breast muscle so it is of uniform thickness.
  12. If a recipe calls for "paper thin" it will take you a while so be patient. Practice makes perfect.

I made the video below demonstrating how I use the Ziploc bag to pound out the chicken breast. Easy cleanup!

Use a Meat Mallet to Flatten Chicken Breasts

OXO, Meat Tenderizer, Black and silver
OXO, Meat Tenderizer, Black and silver
This is the kind of meat mallet that I use for all my recipes. It has an excellent grip and is easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. Use the flat side for pounding chicken breasts as they do not need to be tenderized.

© 2012 Audrey Kirchner


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    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      S&H - I think it is a matter of pounding "out" away from the center. I sometimes like to take out my aggression on said piece of meat or chicken and pound it to death---I found that once I relaxed and pounded more gently and away from the went like it was supposed to~ Hope that helps!

    • Stove And Home profile image

      Stove And Home 

      7 years ago

      I bought a meat mallet thinking I would flatten beef out to make scallops out of it. Either the meat was too tough or I didn't spend enough time flattening it out. Maybe I need to stick to chicken. Great hints. Thank you.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      I read your title, Audrey, 'How to Flatten a Chicken Breast,' and wondered how you could write a whole hub on the subject. I figured to flatten a chicken breast all you had to do was sock it really hard in the chest.

      Then I realized there was much, much more to the subject as I read your fascinating account. So now I am flattened-chicken-breast-informed thanks to you, m'dear.

      You have also saved a number of innocent chickents from being solar-plexus-punished.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Helen - thanks for stopping in - and bash on~!!!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Great hub Audrey - I always wondered how some folks managed to get their chicken breast looking so even, now I know! Your intructions are great and very clear, even a novice like me could have a go at bashing the chicken without making too much mess.

      voted up + shared!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Gordon - I hear you on the bacteria. My son works in the "industry" so he is always telling me horror stories about undercooked chicken and chicken I'm REALLY extra cautious. I try to scald everything that could have potentially touched the chicken when I'm done - except myself~~~ Thanks for stopping in.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Ha - I actually did that once - when I was on vacation - and another tenant came knocking on our door wondering what was going on~ My sister was SO embarrassed but I thought it was kinda hilarious! It worked too!!

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      8 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I use a heavy skillet to pound out my chicken (or any other meat, really!). It's a great way to get a tender texture, as well as work out your aggression. Great tips!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 

      8 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Hi, akirchner

      Great idea for using the bag. For some reason, I haven't prepared chicken breast this way for a while (don't know why) but I always used the two sheets of plastic wrap method. Will definitely use a bag in future. Sounds much easier - and less mess to clean up is always a big winner for me! :)

      Good points also about the dangers of chicken bacteria as some of the sights I see online and off make me shudder and fear for the safety of the cook and their family.



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