While developing this recipe, I wondered: Why are we, citizens of the world, so obsessed with chicken Parmesan? After discussing with the food team, testing multiple variations, and summoning various Italian (-American) gods, I realized the reason is simple: It’s fatty, umami-licious, and has that perfect crispy AND melt-in-your-mouth texture. Though we’ve done it many different ways here (hi hello chicken nugget Parm casserole), this classic recipe is the chosen one, the holy grail. It has everything you want in chicken Parm, full stop—fried cutlets shrieking with crispiness, a perfect blend of mozzarella and Parm, and a sauce that is full of life with basil and just enough sweetness.
But, like any quest for greatness, you’ll have to embark on your hero’s journey to arrive at the perfect chicken Parmesan. Follow our tips, and you won’t even need a sidekick on the way there.
Timing is of the essence.
Being able to calculate timing while cooking is important, but even more essential in this recipe. Crispiness dies with time, so you’ll need your broiler set up and your marinara ready before your fried cutlets come out of the skillet. That way, you can get them in the broiler right away and be just one quick step away from taste bud heaven.
This also means being patient with your marinara and really letting it cook for the full 45 minutes (start to end). When you do, it will develop an incredibly deep and sweet herbaceous flavor and end up thick enough to stay on your fried cutlets without falling off.
Size DOES matter.
The thickness of the chicken will determine how every bite tastes in the end product, so make sure those chicken cutlets are 1/4″ thick, no exception. Can’t find cutlets? Buy chicken breasts and pound them! Simply place the chicken breast in between 2 layers of plastic wrap and gently use a meat mallet to thin out the chicken. You don’t have to go too hard on it, a slight pounding will do the job.
Respect thy dredging.
We want you to have a wonderful experience from the first to last bite of your chicken, so we use equal parts of panko to Parm to ensure your breading is extra crispy and packed with flavor. Make sure when you’re dipping your cutlets in the egg mixture that you truly get every single surface covered, then do the same with your dry mix. This will guarantee your breading will stay on your chicken, where it belongs.
We love to serve this dish on top of pasta (from spaghetti to angel hair to even fettuccini) to take advantage of all that delicious marinara. But, you’re options don’t stop there! Serve it alongside countless other sides, from garlic mashed potatoes to stuffed mushrooms to roasted asparagus.
Arrived at the end of your journey? Let us know how it went in the comments below!
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- Fresh basil, for serving
Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs in three separate shallow dishes. Mix the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper in another shallow dish.
Dredge each chicken breast in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Dip the chicken in the beaten eggs, then coat it with the breadcrumb mixture.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown.
Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet.
Top each chicken breast with a spoonful of marinara sauce and a slice of mozzarella cheese.
Bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Garnish the chicken with fresh basil before serving.