Chicken Schnitzel

5 from 15 votes
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This delicious chicken schnitzel recipe is ready to serve in just 30 minutes! The meat is coated with a flavorful breadcrumb mixture and then pan-fried until golden and crunchy.

Chicken schnitzel with a golden crunchy surface served on a white plate.

Recipe Science

  • Pounding the chicken to an even thickness ensures quick, uniform cooking, preventing dry edges and undercooked centers, and tenderizes the meat for a more palatable texture.
  • Dredging the chicken in flour, dipping it in beaten eggs, and coating it with breadcrumbs creates layers that adhere well and form a protective barrier, resulting in a crispy exterior when fried.
  • Frying the breaded chicken in hot oil quickly seals the outer layer, trapping moisture inside while the Maillard reaction provides a golden brown, flavorful crust.

Why It Works

I’ll show you how simple it is to master fried chicken cutlets at home. My crispy chicken schnitzel has layers of flavor, including Dijon mustard and lemon zest. If you’re a fan of breaded chicken, you’ll love this recipe.

It’s essential to slice the meat first. Then, dredge the pieces in flour, eggs, and panko crust. A quick pan-frying in hot oil delivers a golden surface with a crunch. You can serve homemade mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans to complete this meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Chicken schnitzel ingredients spread out on a table and labeled.
  • Chicken: Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for meat that flattens easily. Select pieces about 10 to 12 ounces, roughly 1 ½ pounds in total. This size will make it easy to halve and tenderize. Smaller 6 to 8-ounce pieces don’t usually require slicing.
  • Flour: All-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper acts as a primer to help the coating stick.
  • Eggs: Whisked eggs create a tacking coating that helps the breadcrumbs attach. Olive oil is mixed with the egg for better frying beneath the breadcrumb layer.
  • Mustard: Tangy Dijon mustard is mixed with the egg. It adds dimension to the fried chicken without being overpowering.
  • Breadcrumbs: Traditional schnitzel recipes use plain bread crumbs, which are more refined in texture and give a more compact crust. Instead, I prefer an extra crunchy texture and use panko bread crumbs. The irregular shape and coarse texture deliver a crispier surface. However, it’s the chef’s choice!
  • Oil: For frying the chicken, use a neutral-tasting, high-smoke-point oil, such as vegetable, avocado, or canola oil.
  • Citrus: Lemon zest adds a fresh aroma to the coating. The essential oil is infused into the bread layer for a subtle taste. I like to serve the dish with lemon wedges to squeeze on top.
  • Herbs: The chicken pieces are garnished with freshly chopped parsley.

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

Ingredient Substitutions

Now that you know how to make chicken schnitzel feel free to switch up the flavor! Try these tasty options:

  • Meat: If you prefer dark meat, use chicken thighs. They have more connective tissues, so it will take a little more time to flatten evenly. Trim off the excess fat so the pieces aren’t too greasy beneath the breadcrumb coating. With this breadcrumb coating, pork loin chops can be used to make pork schnitzel.
  • Breadcrumbs: Instead of panko breadcrumbs, try different varieties like finer plain breadcrumbs. If you have time to make homemade bread crumbs, that will give the best of both worlds, and you can control the size of the bread.
  • Seasoning: Add additional seasonings to the chicken, such as sweet paprika, onion, and garlic powder. To the coating, add fresh or dried herbs like rosemary or thyme.
  • Gluten-Free Options: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or chopped nuts. Use cornstarch, arrowroot powder, cassava flour, cornmeal, or gluten-free flour.

How to Make Chicken Schnitzel

Two chicken breasts on a white cutting board cut in half.

Step 1: Cut and flatten the chicken

Slice the chicken breasts into thin cutlets to yield four pieces. The top portion of the breast will still be thicker than the tapered end.

Chicken breast in a plastic bag being flattened with a meat tenderizer.

Use the flat end of a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken into ¼-inch thickness. It may seem thin, but the proteins will tighten and get thicker once cooking. I find that this gives the ideal meat-to-coating ratio.

Pro Tip: Transfer the breasts to a large resealable bag for less splatter or between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Flattened chicken on a cutting board seasoned with salt and pepper.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then get ready to coat.

Step 2: Set Up the Breading Station

I use the standard breading procedure to create a crunchy coating that will stick! I use three separate shallow bowls for each coating.

  • Flour Layer: Salt- and pepper-seasoned flour drys the surface of the meat, creating a primer for the egg to stick to.
  • Egg layer: Eggs are beaten with Dijon mustard for a subtle tangy flavor. Added olive oil helps the fat coating to be crispier from below the breadcrumbs.
  • Bread Layer: Panko or traditional bread crumbs are combined with lemon zest (optional). The oils in the peel add a fresh citrus note to the crust without tasting sour.
Seasoned chicken breast inside a bowl of flour.

Step 3: Bread the Chicken

The order of breading is very important for adhesion! I dredge the chicken in each bowl, starting with the flour.

Floured chicken breast being dredged in a bowl of egg wash.

Then the egg mixture.

Breading a chicken breast in a bowl of panko bread crumbs.

Then, finally, the breadcrumbs. I press the breadcrumbs onto the surface so that they stick.

Pan frying breaded chicken breasts in a skillet.

Step 4: Fry the Chicken

Use a large 12-inch skillet or saute pan. Nonstick, cast iron, or stainless steel works great. Use enough oil to thoroughly coat the bottom of the pan and the surface of the chicken. I pour in about ⅓ cup per batch.

Use medium heat. The temperature should be about 350ºF (177ºC). Higher than 400ºF (204ºC), the bread will cook too fast, leaving the center undercooked. Keep a close eye on the color change, adjusting the heat as needed. Achieving a golden brown crust takes about 3 minutes per side.

Golden pieces of breaded chicken cooling on a wire rack.

Drain on paper towels to remove excess grease. Transfer to a wire rack set on a baking sheet while cooking the remaining cutlets.

Chef’s Note: If you have a larger pot, you can deep-fry chicken schnitzel or pan-fry it. I prefer the latter because cooking just four pieces uses less oil than making a big batch of fried chicken.

Chicken schnitzel served on a white plate with mashed potatoes and a garden salad.

Step 5: Garnish and Serve

Serve the hot chicken pieces uncut, family-style, on a big platter or slice them up. Top with freshly chopped parsley for a pop of color. I like to add lemon wedges so guests can squeeze the juice on top. The acidity helps to balance the richness of the fried crispy coating.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is chicken schnitzel?

Schnitzel is a preparation technique for flattening, breading, and frying chicken cutlets. The pieces can be pan-fried or deep-fried until golden brown, crispy, and tender. It’s similar in style to Italian Milanese or French escalope, with variations in ingredients to flavor the dish unique to the country.

What is the difference between schnitzel and Wiener schnitzel?

Schnitzel is a European dish from Germany and Austria. It’s made from thin slices of meat pounded to even thickness, often with a meat mallet or tenderizer, breaded, and fried. Popular meat choices include chicken, pork, beef, turkey, or veal. Weiner schnitzel is a version that is only made with veal.

What’s the difference between chicken cutlets and schnitzel?

They both use thin slices of chicken pounded to an even thickness for fast and even cooking. The breading and frying procedures that create a crispy crust are similar. What can differ is the ingredients used in the coating to flavor the meat and what is served with the dish. Often, schnitzel is served with lemon juice and a potato side dish like mashed potatoes or potato salad.

Can you cook chicken schnitzel in the air fryer?

Yes! Heat the air fryer to 390°F (200°C). Spray the surface of the chicken with cooking oil for a crispier texture. Cook for about 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. The chicken should reach an internal temperature between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). Add more time as needed.

Can I use thighs for chicken schnitzel?

Yes, but dark meat has more connective tissues and fat. It may require more pounding with a mallet to flatten into a 1/4-inch thickness. The thigh area yields less meat, so the pieces will not be as wide. Cook the thighs between 165 to 170ºF (74 to 77ºC) to thoroughly finish and tenderize the meat.

More Chicken Recipes

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Chicken Schnitzel

Easy chicken schnitzel recipe ready in just 30-minutes! The meat is pan fried in a flavorful breadcrumb mixture until golden and crunchy.
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine German

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more for seasoning
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
  • cup vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions 

  • Flatten the Chicken – Thoroughly dry the chicken with paper towels. Cut each piece horizontally lengthwise to make two thinner cutlets, four total. Place one of the pieces between two plastic sheets or in a large plastic bag and flatten with a meat tenderizer to an even ¼-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Set up the Breading Station – In one shallow bowl, mix the flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, mustard, and olive oil. In a third shallow bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs with lemon zest (if using).
  • Bread the Chicken – Dip the chicken in flour, shaking off any excess coating. Next, dip in the egg mixture, coat completely and drain any excess. Lastly, dip in the breadcrumbs, pressing to coat evenly. Repeat the process with the remaining pieces.
  • Pan-fry the Chicken – Heat ⅓ cup of vegetable oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, about 350ºF (177ºC), carefully place two chicken pieces in the pan. Fry until the first side is golden brown and crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Cook until an internal temperature of 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC) on a meat thermometer, about 2 to 4 minutes.
    Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to briefly drain the excess oil for 15 seconds. Place on a wire rack set on top of a sheet pan. Discard the extra oil and wipe the pan clean. Add ⅓ cup of fresh vegetable oil, and repeat the same cooking procedure with the two remaining pieces.
  • To Serve – Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.

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 15 to 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, place on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake at 375ºF (191ºC) until hot and crispy, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Using Smaller Pieces: Four chicken breasts, about 6 to 8 ounces, can be used. Flatten until ¼-inch thick.
  • Bread crumbs: Traditional fine breadcrumbs can be used but won’t be as crunchy.
  • Make-Ahead: The chicken can be breaded, covered, and refrigerated for 1 day before cooking.
  • Baking: Bake chicken in the middle of the oven at 450ºF (232ºC) on top of a wire rack set on a foil-lined sheet pan until the internal temperature reaches between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Make it Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 402kcal (20%)Carbohydrates 28g (9%)Protein 44g (88%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0.03gCholesterol 202mg (67%)Sodium 774mg (32%)Potassium 740mg (21%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 192IU (4%)Vitamin C 3mg (4%)Calcium 82mg (8%)Iron 3mg (17%)

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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Recipe Rating




12 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Drew says

    Super delicious! Served this with a side of salad and roasted potatoes. The lemon zest and Dijon mustard really add nice depth and lightness to the dish! It looked and tasted amazing.

    Another amazing recipe and one that I’ll add to the rotation!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you, Drew! I love the pairing of the chicken schnitzel with the salad and crispy potatoes. What a paring!

  2. Andy says

    This recipe is outstanding! The egg/Dijon/oil dip sets up the cutlet for textbook pan frying. A few minutes on each side produces restaurant quality crispy, moist schnitzel!

  3. Maria T. says

    I made this recipe last night with a small change, I used boneless pork chops instead. I really liked the idea of adding mustard to the egg coating. I’m stealing that. I cooked our schnitzel in the air fryer. It was crispy and the coating separated from the pork, which it’s supposed to with schnitzel. I made potato pancakes with our schnitzel and served both with parsley, Greek yogurt (sour cream if my husband is asking), applesauce and lemon wedges. I skipped the red cabbage this time. I’m sure we saved a ton of calories using the air fryer. We both really enjoyed this dinner. Next time I’ll try chicken.

  4. Elizabeth Zuniga says

    Wow! This recipe was a crowd pleaser in my home. My husband, picky 5 year old, and toddler all scarfed down this chicken. It’s very hard to find something we all enjoy, so this one is definitely going to be a regular meal we eat. Thank you!

  5. Judy Caywood says

    Hi Jessica,

    We made this yesterday and it was sooo flavorful and pretty too. We will definitely be making this recipe often. We served it with a side of coleslaw. Thank you for another great recipe.

    Xo. Judy & Timothy

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re welcome, Judy and Timothy! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the schnitzel. Love the pairing with the coleslaw!