Dig this little used tool out from the back of your drawer—we've got big plans for it.

By Laura Rege
March 02, 2021
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meat pounder with mini bar set up
Credit: getty images / Westend61

Dust off that trusty old meat mallet—it no longer belongs at the back of the drawer with all the other kitchen gadgets you might pull out just a few times a year. This dual-sided hammer-like tool's stated purpose is to pound and tenderize meat for dishes like schnitzel, chicken cutlets, turkey roulade, and chicken-fried steak, or to pound chicken thighs or pork chops to an even thickness, but it's much more versatile than that. Put to good use, a meat mallet can crush, pit, smash, chop, and even open coconuts. Here, some creative ways to put your meat mallet to work on all kinds of kitchen prep.

Pitting Cherries and Olives

Don't fear the pit! To easily pit cherries or olives, place them on a cutting board and gently smash them with the smooth side of the mallet. The fruit will crack open and the pit loosens, coming right out. It's much better than cutting around the pit. One note: Cherries have a pretty red juice that is primed for staining, so be careful of splatters.

Crushing Ice

Elevate drinks by turning any ice cube into cocktail bar-worthy ice. Wrap the ice in a kitchen towel and crush it into bits with either side of the mallet. Make sure you are on a stable and sturdy work surface and no hands are in the way. Crush a few times for cracked ice or keep at it for a finer crushed ice.

Chopping Nuts, Chocolate, and Candy

Sure, you can chop, chop, chop nuts and chocolate with a chef's knife, but for a quicker way, gently pound them with the textured side of the mallet. The uneven craggly bits are perfect for mixing into chocolate chip cookies, adding texture to other baked goods like banana bread, and sprinkling over savory dishes. Hard candies like peppermint or butterscotch are pretty much impossible to chop with a knife. Instead, place the candy in a sealable plastic bag and seal, then pound it with the meat mallet on a stable, sturdy surface.

Smashing Potatoes and More

Forget smashing hot potatoes with the heel of your hand. Potatoes really retain heat, so we suggesting using the flat side of the meat mallet to get the job done. Another way to prepare potatoes with a mallet is to follow Martha's go-to baked potato technique; she smacks the potato on the counter to crack it open, but try cracking it open with either side of the mallet instead.

Opening a Coconut

With it's hammer-like shape and heavy construction, a meat mallet rather than a hammer is the perfect tool to open a coconut. For the 311 on how to get that coconut open, follow our best way to crack open a coconut.

Breaking Up and Peeling Garlic

Here's a quick riff on Martha's favorite way to break up and peel garlic: Instead of a mason jar, use the weight of the meat mallet to gently break up the head. Next, gently smash each individual clove using the smooth side of the mallet to help loosen the peel.

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