Parmesan Crusted Chicken
If you’re short on time but still want something delicious and homemade for dinner, Parmesan Crusted Chicken is the perfect recipe for you. Thin chicken breast cutlets are breaded in parmesan, egg, and panko bread crumbs, then pan fried until crispy. It only takes 15 minutes and 6 ingredients!
Of the hundreds and hundreds of recipes on this blog, this is a recipe that we have made consistently over the past 10 years, because it’s so reliably delicious. It can stand completely on its own as a sort of healthy “chicken nugget” that the whole family loves, and it can also be used in other recipes like sandwiches.
Why I Love This Recipe So Much
Done in 15 minutes – This is a truly quick recipe. Because the meat is so thin, it cooks very quickly, and the breading only takes a few minutes as well.
Crispy deliciousness – This is basically like a classic Chicken Milanese except when you make parmesan cheese one of the layers, it’s even better. The breading is crisp AND flavorful!
It goes with everything – You can pair pretty much any side dish with this, from Creamed Corn to Roasted Carrots to Red Potato Salad. You can even put it into other recipes like this Chicken Cordon Bleu Panini.
Even picky eaters love it – This is basically like a gourmet chicken nugget or chicken tender, but made from scratch with real cuts of meat and fried in good oil.
You can buy chicken cutlets from the store, or you can cut them yourself by slicing a chicken breast in half through the middle with a sharp knife and cutting board, so you get a thin, flat piece of meat. I have a visual step-by-step for how to do this in my Chicken Milanese post.
I personally do not like to pound thick chicken breasts out under plastic wrap, as it can very easily make the meat tear, even if you’re only using the flat side of a meat mallet. Slicing is better. If you want to make it easy, just buy thin-sliced chicken breasts from the store.
Tips for Best Results
Grate the parmesan cheese yourself – My grocery store sells pre-grated parmesan, but the texture is odd, almost like a powdered sandy texture with round pieces. What’s better is to instead use a zester or really fine grater to grate parmesan right from the block, so that it almost looks like a cheese snow. This will stick to the chicken cutlets very well.
Add any desired flavorings to the egg wash – If you’d like to add some chopped rosemary, fresh thyme, or any other extra flavors, it’s best to add it to the egg wash. That way it sticks to the meat as part of the breading.
Shake off the excess during dredging – Each chicken cutlet will get coated in parmesan, then egg wash, then panko breadcrumbs. Every step of the way, make sure to shake off the excess. If you’ve ever had breading fall off during cooking, it’s because you didn’t let the excess egg drip off or didn’t shake off excess parmesan or breadcrumbs.
What Kind of Cheese to Use
Obviously this is Parmesan Crusted Chicken, so you’ll be using parmesan, but specifically I recommend using a true 24-month aged parmigiano reggiano. Usually these are made with raw Italian milk, and have a wonderfully complex, nutty flavor. I use Mitica brand.
Domestic parmesans are cheaper, but do not taste the same as real Italian parmigiano reggiano. If you need something less expensive, try Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano, which are similarly salty and sharp.
Using this ultra-light zested parmesan is one of my tricks for how to make the parmesan-crusted chicken extra delicious, with a breading that sticks quite easily to the meat. That’s our real goal here: to have a breading that’s thick enough to coat all sides of the chicken, but doesn’t fall off.
Herb and Flavoring Ideas
If you’d like to add some chopped herbs to the chicken, the egg wash is where to add it. Since there are so few ingredients in this dish, adding fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme makes a HUGE difference in flavor and really makes the recipe pop. Here are a few ideas:
- 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped oregano
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
Once you have the zested cheese in a shallow bowl and the herbed egg in another bowl, add panko breadcrumbs to a third bowl and get ready to dip.
I strongly prefer panko over Italian bread crumbs, as panko has a much crunchier texture. Make sure to use a low bowl or shallow dish for the easiest breading process.
How to Prevent the Breading from Falling Off
Once you’re ready to begin the breading process, make sure that every step of the way, you shake off the excess ingredients before moving on to the next bowl.
When you’re ready to cook, dip each seasoned cutlet in the zested parmesan:
Then into the rosemary egg mixture:
And finally, into some crispy Panko bread crumbs:
Once the cutlets are breaded, pan fry them in a large skillet with olive oil, ghee, tallow, or your fat of choice in a single layer, for about 4-5 minutes each side over medium heat, until golden brown:
Though it may seem a little slow, stick with medium instead of medium-high heat, to ensure that you don’t overbrown the exterior before the meat is cooked through. You can always turn the heat up at the end if you don’t have the crispy crust you’re looking for.
At this temperature and cook time, If you’re using thin chicken breasts, the meat should be above the required internal temperature of 165F, with a beautiful crunchy golden crust. If for whatever reason you’re using thicker chicken, or even chicken tenders, make sure to measure the meat with an instant-read thermometer and ensure it’s above 165F inside.
How to Serve It
Once the Parmesan Crusted Chicken is crispy and golden, you can zest a little more parmesan on top, and serve! Some of my favorite sides for this are Crispy Smashed Potatoes, Herb Mushroom Barley, and Homemade French Fries, or you can make it the main protein for a Cobb Salad.
You can also add homemade sauces like Romesco or Basil Vinaigrette. If you have children, they may enjoy dipping with ranch dressing for that familiar crispy chicken pairing. There are many different ways to serve this!
Also, keep in mind that you can also use this same method with pork: Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops.
FAQ and Tips:
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
I recommend re-warming in a 300F oven for about 10 minutes, until crispy again.
It won’t be as crispy, but yes you can. Spray with cooking spray and bake in a 425F oven for about 10 minutes, until they measure 165F in the center with a thermometer.
This recipe calls for pan-frying, but you could also deep fry these if you prefer. They should only need 3-4 minutes in 375F oil.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
For the Chicken:
- 1.25 lbs chicken cutlets (I had 4)
- salt and pepper
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 cup grated or zested parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup olive oil for frying, and more as needed
- Lay the chicken breasts out on a cutting board and season them generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Next it’s time to set up your breading station. Set out three bowls, and in the first bowl add the zested parmesan cheese, then the eggs in the second bowl, and the panko bread crumbs in the third. Strip the leaves from the fresh rosemary sprig and mince them finely with a knife. Add the minced rosemary to the egg bowl, then whisk the eggs and rosemary together until combined.
- Heat up a large skillet over medium heat, and let it heat up while you bread the chicken.
- First dip each chicken cutlet into the parmesan, shake off the excess, then dip into the egg, then let the excess drip off, then finally dip into the panko bread crumbs (by the way, the reason we shake off the excess during each step is to prevent our breading from falling off later).
- When the pan is nice and hot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 2-3 tbsp. Add 2 or 3 chicken cutlets to the hot oil in a single layer (do not crowd the pan), and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. If the bread crumbs are browning too quickly, you can turn the heat down. Repeat with the remaining cutlets, and enjoy!
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
Post updated with more tips in February 2019. Originally published March 2014.