Chicken Parmesan

4.98 from 44 votes
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Crispy chicken parmesan with panko bread crumbs topped with zesty marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. A satisfying Italian home-cooked dinner that everyone’s going to love!

Plate of chicken parmesan with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella cheese.

Recipe Science

  • Coating chicken breasts in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs creates a barrier that locks in moisture and allows the exterior to become crispy through the Maillard reaction during frying.
  • Frying the breaded chicken breasts before baking ensures a golden-brown crust, adding a rich flavor and texture contrast to the tender chicken and melted cheese.
  • Baking the fried chicken with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese allows the flavors to meld and the cheese to melt, creating a cohesive and savory dish with a gooey, satisfying topping.

Why It Works

An Italian feast wouldn’t be complete without a chicken parmesan, aka chicken parmigiana, appearing on the dinner table. What’s not to love about crispy chicken piping hot with tomato sauce and cheese? This method delivers evenly cooked pieces with just the proper ratio of crusty breading.

Pan-frying is the most optimal cooking method for achieving the sought-after golden color and crunchy crust. The chicken sizzles in hot, shallow oil and then flips to complete the fusion process. The layers of flour, eggs, and bread securely stick to the surface, making every bite delicious.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ingredients needed to make this delicious chicken parmesan recipe.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breast: Provides a lean, tender base that is perfect for breading and frying.
  • Olive oil and vegetable oil: Used for frying the chicken, creating a crispy, golden crust.
  • Eggs: Help the breading adhere to the chicken, ensuring a crunchy coating.
  • All-purpose flour and panko bread crumbs: Form the breading, giving the chicken its crispy texture.
  • Parmesan cheese: Adds a nutty, savory flavor to the breading, enhancing the overall taste.
  • Marinara sauce: Provides a rich, tangy tomato base that complements the crispy chicken.
  • Shredded mozzarella: Melts beautifully over the chicken, adding a creamy, cheesy layer.
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, parsley, or basil: These seasonings and herbs enhance the overall flavor, adding depth and a fresh finish to the dish.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Chicken: Substitute with boneless skinless chicken thighs for a juicier, more flavorful option.
  • Bread crumbs: For a different texture, use regular bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes. Coarsely ground homemade bread crumbs work well, too.
  • Parmesan cheese: Replace with Pecorino Romano or Asiago cheese for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Marinara sauce: For a different flavor, use a tomato-based sauce, such as arrabbiata or pomodoro.
  • Shredded mozzarella: Substitute with provolone or fontina cheese for a different melting cheese option.

How to Make Chicken Parmesan

Step 1: Preheat the Oven

Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat it to 450ºF (232ºC).

A flattened piece of boneless skinless chicken breast inside a plastic bag.

Step 2: Flatten the Chicken

It’s critical to have all the chicken breasts equal in thickness for even cooking. I recommend about a ½-inch thick. You can use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to flatten.

If the chicken is too thin, it will cook quickly and dry out before the coating is done crisping. The opposite happens if the chicken is too thick. The coating will overcook while the chicken will still be raw inside.

As a convenience, some markets sell thinly sliced chicken breasts that are pre-cut and work well for pan-frying. If using substantial pieces over 10 ounces, purchase two, then cut them in half lengthwise to create chicken cutlets, then flatten them.

Step 3: Set up the Breading Station

I use the standard breading procedure to help the bread crumbs adhere to the surface of the chicken. Set up a breading station with three shallow bowls containing the following ingredients: flour, eggs combined with olive oil, and panko mixed with parmesan cheese.

Breading station with three bowls and pieces of chicken breast being coating in breadcrumbs.

Step 4: Coat the Chicken

Season the chicken with salt and pepper before coating. If you enjoy extra allium flavor, sprinkle on garlic powder as well. Start by dipping the pieces into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally, the breadcrumb mixture.

A piece of chicken with crispy surface frying in a cast iron skillet.

Step 5: Fry the Chicken

To fry, use a large 12-inch nonstick pan, stainless steel, or cast iron skillet. Add enough oil to the pan to reach ⅓-to-halfway up the chicken. No more than that, or you’ll be in deep-fry territory. This height ensures the oil surrounds the submerged food, and the browning will be consistent.

The process takes about 2 to 3 minutes per side, about 15 minutes of total cooking time for all pieces. Look for a golden brown, crispy crust, and the chicken to reach around 160ºF (71ºC).

Four pan-fried pieces of chicken on a baking sheet topped with marinara sauce and grated mozzarella cheese.

Step 6: Bake the Chicken and Toppings

Transfer the fried pieces to a sheet pan or baking dish. Add a generous layer of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese on top.

Chicken parmesan with melted cheese in a baking dish.

Bake at 450ºF (232ºC) until the cheese has melted and the sauce is warm, about 5 minutes.

Chicken parmesan garnished with chopped parsley and served with spaghetti on a white plate.

Step 7: Garnish and Serve

Garnish with chopped parsley or fresh basil right before serving. My family loves crisp and juicy pieces of chicken served with garlic bread and perfectly cooked pasta, such as spaghetti or penne pasta. Although spiralized zucchini noodles make an excellent low-carb option.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you bake the chicken?

Yes! Baking is your best bet if you’re not a fan of frying with oil. The trick to crispy baked chicken parmesan is to use a high temperature of 450ºF (232ºC). Just note that using panko will still be crunchy but not as golden in color as finely ground bread crumbs.

How to make leftover chicken parmesan crispy?

Place the chicken on a foiled-lined baking sheet, then broil on the lowest oven rack. Once the pieces are hot, move the tray to the center rack to crisp, keeping a close eye to not burn the crust. Check every minute. The broiler is very hot!

How do you keep breading from falling off chicken parmesan?

Make sure to dry the chicken before breading. Excess moisture will create steam beneath the layers, causing the crust to separate. After breading, try refrigerating the pieces for 30 minutes. This will give the starches in the flour time to hydrate, creating a tacky glue-like texture to bind to the other layers.

What is the importance of drying the chicken before breading?

Removing any excess surface moisture from the chicken will ensure the breading sticks to the surface. The flour coating helps to further wick up any liquid. Too much moisture causes steam to form when frying. This will cause the coating to separate from the bread crumb and parmesan-crusted chicken.

What are the best breadcrumbs to use for chicken parmesan?

The types of bread crumbs chosen for the chicken parmesan recipe impact the texture of the crust. Traditional finely ground bread crumbs cling well to the surface of the meat but provide a minimal texture and get soggy when combined with the sauce. For a better taste, panko bread crumbs are my top choice because they are large-sized crumbs and have a porous structure. Their shape prevents packing, making the layer more light and crispy.

What oil should I use to fry the chicken?

The key to ensuring juicy chicken with golden breading is oil selection and using enough for proper frying. You want to use a high smoke point oil like vegetable or canola so the oil doesn’t break down and cause off-flavors in the chicken.

How many pieces of chicken can I fry at a time?

It’s best to cook in batches, two pieces at a time. If you crowd the pan, the excess moisture will cause steam and result in uneven cooking. After frying the first two pieces, add fresh oil for the next batch; otherwise, any leftover breading particles will burn and transfer those flavors to the meat.

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Chicken Parmesan

Delicious chicken parmesan with crispy chicken, tangy tomato sauce, and creamy melted cheese. It's easy to make and can be enjoyed as a weeknight dinner or served at a dinner party.
4.98 from 44 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast, about 2 pounds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, jarred or homemade
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley, or basil

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 450ºF (232ºC).
  • Prepare the Chicken – Thoroughly dry chicken breasts with a paper towel. Place one of the pieces in between two plastic sheets or in a large plastic bag and flatten to an even ½-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Generously season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  • Set up a Breading Station – Put the flour into a separate shallow bowl. Whisk together eggs and olive oil in a shallow medium bowl. Combine panko and parmesan cheese in a shallow bowl.
  • The Breading Procedure – Dip chicken in flour, shaking off any excess coating. Next, dip in egg wash, making sure to coat completely and drain any excess. Lastly, dip in the breadcrumbs lightly, pressing to coat evenly. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces.
  • Fry the Chicken – Heat ½ cup of vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully place two pieces of chicken in the pan. Fry until the first side is golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Turn the heat down to medium and flip the chicken. Cook until golden brown and an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC) on a meat thermometer, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to briefly drain the excess oil, and then place it on a wire cooling rack set on top of a sheet pan.
    Discard the excess oil and wipe the pan clean. Add in ½ cup of fresh vegetable oil, and repeat the same cooking procedure with the 2 remaining pieces.
  • Bake the Chicken – Place fried chicken in a baking dish or foil-lined sheet pan. Top each piece with ¼ cup of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is warm, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • To Serve – Right before serving, garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Reheating: Reheat individual pieces in the microwave on high power in 30-second intervals until warmed through. Alternatively, place on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 375 degrees until lightly crispy and warmed through, about 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Breadcrumbs: Traditional fine Italian breadcrumbs can be used but won’t be as crunchy. 
  • Broiling the Cheese: Broil chicken in the center of the oven until cheese is melted and lightly brown. Check every minute, as it will cook quickly. 
  • Heartier Topping: Add ½ cup marinara sauce and evenly spread 1 cup of cheese on the chicken pieces. 
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 189kcal (9%)Carbohydrates 17g (6%)Protein 9g (18%)Fat 9g (14%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Cholesterol 17mg (6%)Sodium 642mg (27%)Potassium 250mg (7%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 3g (3%)Vitamin A 415IU (8%)Vitamin C 4.3mg (5%)Calcium 182mg (18%)Iron 1.7mg (9%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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14 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Katrina says

    What about the noodles, how would I do those? Love how it showed on the picture, please tell me what to put on them

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Katrina- I would heat 1 tablespoon of olive over medium heat in a saute pan, then saute the zucchini noodles until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

  2. Melodie says

    I made your chicken Parmesan and it is wonderful! Crispy crust moist inside! Added fresh basil and beans from the garden. My son enjoyed as well.

  3. Nancy says

    I love using the Progresso Italian Panko crumbs for this recipe. I spend half the year in Wales however and I can only get the plain Panko. Is there any way to Italanize the plain Panko without resorting to the fresh bread crumb method.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Yes! Use 1 cup panko, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder and ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning. Adjust to your taste.

  4. Krystal says

    Amaaaaazing!
    I made this for my husband and we were just-the-right-amount-full! I did do things a bit differently though I used quinoa instead of the pasta and added onion+bell pepper+egg all fried together with a tinge of butter because we had lots of leftover veggies haha! Love ur recipes and will continue to get inspired from u!

  5. Dave says

    Jessica,
    This by far the best chicken Parmesan I’ve ever made! I bake gluten-free so to minimize gluten, I used tapioca starch instead of flour as the trapped breading.

    Reading your tip answered my question as to why panko or any post-dredge breading separates from the meat. Worked perfectly. I also used freshly grated mozzarella and organic chicken. DELICIOUS!!

    Looking forward to more great recipes from you… Cheers…… Dave

  6. Judy Caywood says

    Jessica, I love all your tips, from what to serve with it to drain the chicken off ! Caesar salad sounded perfect to me. Thanks for another great recipe in the golden brown chicken is such a beautiful picture Xo Judy