Chicken Parmigiana

5 from 2 votes

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One of the world's greatest comfort foods...and this recipe has a little twist to keep the chicken crispy!

Chicken Parmigiana with spaghetti on colorful plate.

This is the best, crispiest chicken Parmesan ever. It’s the perfect combination of juicy chicken with a crunchy coating, melty mozzarella, and zingy Parmesan, topped with tangy marinara sauce. Here’s the twist: in this recipe, the cheeses are melted right onto the crispy chicken cutlets, and then the sauce is spooned right on the top. The chicken stays perfectly crispy, and not at all soggy.

Whether you call it Chicken Parmigiana or Chicken Parmesan (or just parm), all you need to round out the meal is a nice green salad. Try out the Kale Crunch Salad for a nice leafy experience, or a Green Salad with Pears, Parmesan, and Pomegranate Seeds to make dinner feel like a special occasion. Also, a side of the Best Garlic Bread Ever never hurt anybody.

If you’re all in on chicken parm, consider also expanding your horizons to include Chicken Parm Baked Ziti, a baked version of the same comfort food with the added bonus of a snazzy cheese pull.

Two colorful plates of Chicken Parmigiana on wood table.

Chicken Parmigiana (or Chicken Parmesan) is one of the world’s greatest comfort foods…and this recipe has a little twist to keep the chicken crispy!

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Ingredients

  • Olive oil – The oil acts as the base of the sauce and is also used to pan-fry the breaded chicken breasts.
  • Minced garlic – It’s hard to imagine an Italian tomato sauce-based dish without garlic! Use fresh if at all possible.
  • Crushed tomatoes – You can use a can of pre-crushed tomatoes, or you can puree or chop up whole canned tomatoes.
  • Dried oregano and basil
  • Pinch of sugar – Sugar can balance out the acidity in the tomatoes.
  • All-purpose flour – This is used in the first step of dredging the cutlets and helps the egg adhere to the chicken.
  • Eggs – After the chicken breasts are dredged in the flour, they are coated with beaten egg, which then allows the breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken.
  • Panko breadcrumbs – This makes the chicken cutlets get nice and crunchy.
  • Parmesan cheese – Put the Parmesan in Chicken Parmesan!
  • Boneless, skinless chicken cutlets – You can either buy thinly sliced cutlets or slice regular chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner cutlets.
  • Mozzarella cheese – Use fresh if possible.
  • Pasta – You don’t have to serve chicken parm with hot cooked pasta, but it’s a classic accompaniment! Pick a long skinny noodle like spaghetti or angel hair.
Raw chicken, pasta, cheese, and other ingredients for chicken Parmesan.

How to Make Chicken Parmigiana

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Make the sauce: Sauté the garlic briefly, then add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Bread the chicken cutlets: Dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip it into the eggs, then coat with the Panko. Place the breaded cutlets on the wire rack.
  4. Brown the chicken: Cook the chicken cutlets until browned and crispy and cooked through. Return the cooked chicken to a clean wire rack on the baking sheet.
  5. Broil the chicken: Sprinkle some mozzarella and Parmesan over each breast. Broil for about 2 to 3 minutes to melt the cheese.
  6. Make the pasta: Sauce the hot pasta with the warm tomato sauce, reserving about 1 cup.
  7. Serve: Top the pasta with the chicken, and drizzle the remaining sauce over the cutlets.
Chicken Parmesan being cut on a plate

FAQs

Where does chicken Parmesan come from?

Story is that chicken Parmesan actually originated as a twist on Eggplant Parmigiana, popular in Southern Italy where lots of eggplant is grown. Eggplant Parmigiana consists of fried slices of eggplant topped or layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. In the mid-1900s, Italian immigrants living in America decided to try chicken in place of the eggplant, and this Italian-American classic was born.

What’s the difference between Chicken Parmesan and Chicken Parmigiana?

What’s the difference? Trick question: it’s just the name. Parmesan is the American way of saying the Italian word “Parmigiana.” And many of us know it affectionately as chicken parm. No matter what you call it, it’s a beloved Italian-American staple.

How do you make sure chicken Parmesan stays crispy?

In this recipe, the cheese is melted directly onto the breaded and browned cutlets. Then they are baked to finish cooking the chicken and melt the mozzarella. After, the sauce is spooned over so the chicken stays nice and crispy.

Why is there no chicken Parmesan in Italy?

Chicken parm was actually invented by Italian immigrants in 20th century America. The dish was popularized by Italian-Americans who opened restaurants all over the country by the 1950s, and quickly became a staple of the Italian-American dining experience. So, it’s unlikely to be on a menu in Italy (unless they are going for an Italian-Americian vibe!).

Cooking Tips

  • If you don’t feel like making marinara sauce, don’t worry yourself about that for a minute. That’s what jarred sauce is for: to make life easier! If homemade sauce stands between you and Chicken Parmigiana, that would be a crime.
  • Start cooking the pasta while you are browning the chicken breasts. It should be ready to drain and sauce when you are finishing the chicken under the broiler.
  • Using a wire rack on top of the baking sheet allows air to circulate under the chicken so that it is crispy on the top and bottom.

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A piece of Chicken Parmigiana sliced with a fork on a plate with a colorful border.

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5 from 2 votes

Chicken Parmigiana

One of the world’s greatest comfort foods…and this recipe has a little twist to keep the chicken crispy!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 People
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Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided if needed)
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets (about 3 ounces each, ½ to ¾-inch thick)
  • 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese (preferably fresh)
  • ½ pound hot cooked spaghetti (or other long skinny pasta)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the broiler. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack on the baking sheet.
  • To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds until it starts to turn golden, then add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bread the chicken cutlets. Place the flour in another shallow bowl. Beat the eggs with a bit of salt and pepper in another shallow bowl. Place the Panko and 1/2 cup Parmesan in another shallow bowl. 
  • Place each chicken cutlet in the bowl with the flour and press it so that the flour coats the cutlets. Transfer it to the bowl with the eggs, and turn so it is coated with the egg mixture, then make sure any excess egg is allowed to drip back into the bowl — tongs are helpful for this. Transfer the chicken to the Panko bowl and turn to coat, pressing gently onto the cutlet so that the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded cutlets on the wire rack as they are finished, and let them rest for at least 5 minutes so the coating dries out a bit and will stick to the chicken as it cooks.
  • Heat half the oil over medium heat in the largest skillet you own, and add as many pieces of chicken as will fit without crowding. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until the exterior is nicely browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Return the cooked chicken to a clean wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the breaded cutlets adding more oil as needed, until all of the chicken is browned.
  • Sprinkle over about 3 tablespoons of mozzarella and a heaping teaspoon of Parmesan over each breast. Broil for about 2 to 3 minutes, watching carefully, until the cheese is melted and lightly browned in some spots.
  • Meanwhile toss the hot pasta with 2 cups of warm tomato sauce, reserving about 1 cup. Divide the pasta between 4 plates. Place two pieces of chicken on top of each plate of pasta, and drizzle the remaining sauce over the cutlets.

Notes

  • You can either buy thinly sliced cutlets or slice regular chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner cutlets.
  • In this recipe, the cheese is melted directly onto the breaded and browned cutlets. Then they are baked to finish cooking the chicken and melt the mozzarella. After, the sauce is spooned over so the chicken stays nice and crispy, not at all soggy.
  • If you don’t feel like making the marinara sauce, don’t worry yourself about that for a minute. That is, in fact, what jarred sauce is for: to make life easier. If homemade sauce stands between you and Chicken Parmigiana, that would be a crime.
  • Start the pasta while you are browning the chicken breasts. It should be ready to drain and sauce when you are finishing the chicken under the broiler.
  • Using a wire rack on top of the baking sheet allows air to circulate under the chicken so that it is crispy on top and bottom.

Nutrition

Calories: 1048kcal, Carbohydrates: 79g, Protein: 72g, Fat: 47g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 287mg, Sodium: 1059mg, Potassium: 933mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 729IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 582mg, Iron: 5mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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4 Comments

  1. Greybeard says:

    This is very good. The recipe makes it sound like you make a sauce AND need several cups of another sauce. Might want to clarify that.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      thank you! fixed that!

  2. Sue lillie says:

    On the chicken Parmesan recipe, you need to specify after the chicken is cooked and is put back on the cooling rack, that it is NOT put back on the same cooling rack that the raw chicken was resting on. I know it is common sense not to do that, but I have been in the profession of feeding hundreds of people every day, and have realized common sense isn’t always used.

    1. Katie Workman says:

      good point – have clarified!!