This easy Chicken Parmesan recipe is the BEST! Chicken cutlets are pan-fried to golden brown, topped with sauce and mozzarella and baked until golden brown and bubbling. A classic recipe that’s perfect for any occasion.
For the longest time, I mentally categorized some recipes as “restaurant recipes”, meaning that they were things you ate and enjoyed at restaurants, but were just too involved to make at home. Things like moussaka and creme brûlée were high on that list for me, as was chicken parmesan.
Since getting comfortable in the kitchen many years ago, I’ve found that there is very little that you cannot do in a home kitchen, and nine times out of 10, those intimidating dishes are not nearly as difficult as you’d think. That is certainly the case with chicken parmesan, and I’m about to show you how to make amazingly delicious chicken parm at home in just a few easy steps.
How to Make Homemade Chicken Parmesan
At its core, chicken parmesan consists of three main components:
Breaded and fried chicken cutlets
Cheese! (specifically, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses)
Now, some detail about each of these components and how to make the best possible chicken parmesan each and every time:
The big key here is to make sure you’re working with very thin chicken cutlets. The absolute best way to achieve this is to pound the chicken breasts thin. Some stores sell thin-sliced chicken cutlets which, on the surface, look like they’d be plenty thin, but sometimes they have thicker spots, so I recommend pounding the chicken in all instances. You’ll be so happy you did!
After they are nice and thin, you’ll do a traditional breading, dredging the chicken in flour, then coating with eggs, and finally a mixture of bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Once breaded, the cutlets are pan-fried until golden brown and placed in a baking dish.
The next component in chicken parmesan is the sauce and you really can use whatever you’d like here. Some recipes call for a fresh marinara sauce, and I honestly just use whatever I have on hand, which is usually my favorite meat sauce. You can make that recipe and omit the meat if you’d like, use your favorite homemade sauce, a jar from the pantry – whatever you want!
I spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, before placing the chicken in there, and then add a spoonful of sauce on top of each chicken cutlet. I don’t want the chicken to be swimming in sauce or to be so saucy it gets soggy, so a simple spoonful is usually enough.
Most people’s favorite part of chicken parmesan, I like to really smother the tops of the chicken with a mixture of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. The cheeses melt beautifully and get browned, bubbly and crisp on top of the chicken, which makes for pretty much perfect chicken parmesan.
Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil and you’re all set!
Making Chicken Parmesan in Advance
You can assemble, bake and serve the chicken parmesan all in one go if you’d like, or you can do it in stages.
You could make the meat sauce a couple of days in advance (or even anytime you have some free time and store it in the freezer!), then bread and cook the chicken cutlets the day before, and assemble and bake the next day when you want to serve it.
Chicken parmesan can also be assembled and frozen, if you’d like to have a meat ready in the freezer. Simply thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed.
I cannot resist the combination of crisp, pan-fried chicken with sauce and loads of melted cheese. This is a wonderful meal on its own with a side salad, or you could serve it with a side of pasta (spaghetti is popular) OR pile it onto a hoagie roll for a fabulous chicken parmesan sandwich.
However you choose to serve it, know that it is absolutely, positively doable and should not be relegated to restaurant-only status. Enjoy this classic in the comfort of your own home!
Prepare the Chicken: Pound the chicken breasts to about ¼-inch thickness, ensuring that they are an even thickness all over. If they are exceptionally large after pounding, then you can cut them in half.
Bread the Chicken: In one shallow bowl (I use pie plates for this), place the flour. In a second shallow bowl, add the eggs and whisk them together. In a third shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese.
Working with one chicken breast cutlet at a time, coat in flour, shaking off any excess, then dip in the egg and let any excess drip off. Finally, coat the chicken in the bread crumbs mixture.
Saute the Chicken: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The oil is ready when a pinch of bread crumbs dropped in the oil sizzles immediately. Reduce the heat to medium and add as many chicken cutlets as will comfortably fit in the pan (for me, it was two) and saute until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all of the chicken has been browned.
Assemble the Chicken Parmesan: Spread ¾ cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Place the browned chicken cutlets over the sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary. Spoon the remaining sauce evenly over the tops of the chicken, then top with the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle evenly with the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake the Chicken Parmesan: Bake until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with pasta on the side, or in a large roll as a sandwich.