If you’re looking for the Best Chicken Parmesan recipe, look no further. One taste of this tender, moist chicken breast with a deliciously crispy coating, topped with a rich homemade tomato sauce and ooey-gooey melted mozzarella cheese, oven-baked to perfection.
Chicken Parmesan (also called Chicken Parmigiana) was one of the most popular dishes in my restaurant days. Sadly, restaurant chicken parm is often too dry or doesn’t have enough sauce, cheese, or flavor.
But I’m going to teach you the secret to making the best chicken parmesan you’ve ever had. Just imagine tender, juicy chicken breasts, tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese for the perfect chicken parm!
Ingredients to make Chicken Parmesan
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make my Chicken Parmesan. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
- chicken breast
- mozzarella cheese
- spaghetti sauce
- all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper
- seasoned bread crumbs
- water or milk
- vegetable oil
How to make Chicken Parmesan
The key to making the perfect chicken parmesan requires flattening the skinless breasts. This also tenderizes them.
A meat mallet is the best tool for this task. This makes for the perfect bite. It’s not too thick, making it easy to eat, and each bite is packed with flavor.
The chicken breasts should weigh between 4-5 ounces each.
Flattening the Chicken Breast
Cover the skinless boneless chicken breasts with plastic wrap before pounding them. It keeps bits of chicken from flying around the room and makes the process easier.
If you don’t have a meat hammer, a regular hammer (wrapped in plastic) will do. Use the flat side of the hammer, not the part you drive nails in with. Be careful not to tear up the chicken breast.
While pounding the chicken breast, don’t strike straight down. You want to push the meat towards the outer edges while you pound. We want the breast intact; this is the best way to gain size without breaking the breast apart.
Do I have to pound the chicken breasts?
The short answer is no. But trust me, the difference between a pounded chicken breast and a not-pounded breast is night and day. I promise your chicken parmesan will be much better if you take the time to pound the breasts.
Pounding the breast will make it more tender. It will also spread out, giving you more space to cover it with sauce and cheese. And that means more flavor.
Once the chicken breasts have been prepped, it’s onto the breading station.
How to bread chicken cutlets for chicken parmesan
Set up three shallow bowls (or other containers). Make sure they are large enough to fit the flattened chicken breast. Use these bowls for the breading process.
- flour seasoned with sea salt and black pepper
- egg wash (eggs whipped with milk or water)
- Italian seasoned bread crumbs (or your choice of bread crumbs)
Start by dipping each piece of chicken into the seasoned flour. Then into the egg wash, and finally into the seasoned bread crumbs.
**Make sure to get a good coating on the chicken breast at each step of the process.
Once all the chicken breasts have been breaded, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Breading food is not my favorite task, so when I bread chicken or eggplant, I make a large batch. After cooking, I freeze them on a sheet pan, and when they’re fully frozen, I store them in ziplock bags. That makes dinner a lot easier on nights I’m too tired to cook.
How to Fry Chicken Cutlets for Chicken Parmesan
Heat a large saute pan on high heat and add about half an inch of vegetable oil. Carefully place the breaded chicken cutlets into the oil using tongs. Add as many as you can into your pan without crowding them.
Cook chicken breasts until golden brown. Using tongs turn them over and saute the other side until golden brown (2-3 minutes per side). I usually use corn oil to pan-fry the chicken, but olive oil will also work.
Drain the fried chicken cutlets on racks over a sheet pan (or baking sheets). Allowing fried food to drain removes much of the fat associated with frying.
Most of the fat will not penetrate the food. It will stay on the outer layer. This is only possible if the oil is hot enough.
The secret to making perfect Chicken Parmesan is using enough tomato sauce. Sauce under and sauce on top is key to making chicken parmesan your whole family will love. Use my homemade spaghetti sauce recipe for the best chicken parmesan.
And while you don’t want to smother the chicken cutlet with mozzarella cheese (okay, maybe you do). Don’t scrimp on the cheese!! And although it’s called chicken parmesan, parmesan cheese is not the star of the dish. Although I recommend serving chicken parm with grated parmesan cheese or grated Romano cheese.
For a restaurant-style look, sprinkle finely chopped parsley on top of the cheese before you put the chicken parm in the oven to finish cooking.
When the cheese is melted, it’s time to enjoy your chicken parm.
What else can I make with a chicken cutlet?
Try a few of my favorite toppings:
- swap out shredded mozzarella with fresh mozzarella.
- bacon, tomatoes, and Swiss cheese
- sauteed broccoli rabe, roasted peppers, and provolone cheese
- sauteed broccoli and cheese sauce
- mushrooms, sauteed spinach, and melted bleu cheese crumbles
See how easy it is to create deliciousness? Have fun with the toppings making your own signature chicken dish, it doesn’t always have to be about Chicken Parmesan.
After one bite, I know you’ll agree this is the best chicken parmesan you ever tasted. The sauce adds flavor, and the cheese adds that ooey-gooey deliciousness that turns a chicken cutlet into an amazing culinary creation.
In order to get a crisp (not soggy) chicken cutlet, the oil must be hot enough. In the restaurant, we cook at 350 degrees in the fryer. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, heat the oil until it’s shimmering but not smoking. It should be hot enough so that a piece of breading dropped into the oil will sizzle.
Technically it is not. Chicken parm is not found in Italy. It was created by Italian Americans as an imitation of Parmigiana di Melanzane, which is made with eggplant.
Traditionally chicken parm is served with pasta. But other options are veggie noodles, Caesar salad, mashed or roasted potatoes, rice, or garlic bread.