Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Not too long ago, after I fell in love with Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I began recording the America’s Test Kitchen show on PBS. I have really enjoyed watching many of the recipes being made, picking up some tips and tricks along the way. An episode that I saved from a couple of months ago featured a lightened up chicken parmesan recipe. The key to this recipe is that the breaded chicken is not fried, but rather the panko breadcrumbs are toasted first, and then the breaded chicken is baked at a high temperature in the oven.

Big thumbs up on this recipe. This had tons of flavor, and the combination of toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan was tasty enough that I kept eating spoonfuls of it before the chicken got prepped. Next time I would probably do more smothering with the sauce and cheese, but this will definitely go into my regular rotation.

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon water
Vegetable cooking spray
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat and sliced into cutlets
2 cups tomato sauce , warmed
3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil


1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

2. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

4. Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)


22 Responses to “Lighter Chicken Parmesan”

  1. karen on May 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    that looks great…i cant wait to try this sometime soon!!!! thanks for sharing!


  2. slush on May 24, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Looks fantastic Chelle. I love the idea of baking it instead of frying. I will def give it a go. 🙂


  3. Annie on May 24, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Sounds wonderful! I’ve been looking for a new chicken parm recipe and I have a feeling this will be it 🙂


  4. Kate on May 24, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    oooh! I love when you can bake something instead of frying it.


  5. CB on May 25, 2008 at 6:29 am

    ooohhh my hubs is a HUGE chicken parm fan. I starred this to try later! Thanks for sharing…


  6. Sylvie on May 25, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I love chicken parmesan and will have to try this lighter version. I’m all for cutting out extra calories!


  7. katie102006 on May 27, 2008 at 7:51 am

    Ooooh! This looks SO good! Looks just as delicious as regular! yum!


  8. Amber on May 27, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I agree, this is some awesome Chicken Parmesan. The panko gives it such a great awesome flavor and crispness.


  9. sherrilee on June 2, 2008 at 10:33 pm

    We love this recipe too. I’d even say I like it better than a “fattier” Chicken Parmesan. Yours looks beautiful!


  10. becky on January 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    this was fantastic! I used almost the exact recipe (added more salt) and my guests were totally amazed. It was easy too! I prepared the chicken ahead (dredged and coated) and left them on the wire rack in the fridge. Then just put them in while my water was boiling for my fresh whole what pasta with creamy pesto. This will be my go-to chicken parm recipe forever! Panko rocks


  11. Katie on January 18, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I made this tonight and it is really yummy! i love the idea of toasting the panko with oil first instead of frying. it got nice and crispy! the only thing i might do next time is bake it in a baking dish with a little sauce on the bottom to add a little extra sauce and moisture. thanks, we will definitely make this again!


  12. Pingback: Chicken Parmesan « The Rookie Baker

  13. Pingback: Chicken Parmesan

  14. Pingback: Lighter Chicken Parmesan | Prevention RD

  15. Pingback: Lighter Chicken Parmesan

  16. Pingback: Rhubarb Pie-Tartlets | Brown Eyed Baker

  17. Pingback: 50 Healthy Recipes for 2012 | Biz Chicks

  18. Amy Hemmelgarn on February 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I just made this for Valentines Day for my family. It was so delicious! My picky husband devoured it!


  19. JulzKell on November 1, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Made this tonight and my family LOVED it! Great crispiness to the chicken, and love that it’s lighter! Thanks!


  20. Dani on January 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I’m new to your blog and am slowly working my way through your recipes! I made this tonight for my husband and 8 yr old and it was a hit!! Thanks and I can’t wait to try another BEB recipe 🙂


  21. Carol Rood on April 16, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I made this last night for myself and my three teenaged boys! We all loved it!!! I especially liked the idea of toasting the panko to give it more flavor. I now have a new healthy recipe to add to the dinner rotation. Thanks!!!


  22. Pingback: Best Pinterest Posts » 68 Healthy Recipes for 2014

Leave a Comment

(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)