The BEST Chicken Parmesan EVER with Crispy, succulent chicken, life changing flavor bursting 5 Minute marinara, and bubbly mozzarella and Parmesan!
This Chicken Parmesan is comfort food at its most addictive. The buttery, crispy panko fried chicken on the outside with juicy tender inside, the saucy homemade, marinara, the bubbling oozing mozzarella – does it get any better?! Not than this recipe! This Chicken Parmesan is a recipe that everyone needs in their arsenal and actually way easier to make than you might think. Serve it with linguine or thin spaghetti, a big green salad and breadsticks for the best classic Italian restaurant favorite in the comfort of your own home.
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The Best Chicken Parmesan Recipe
There are a few Italian staples that every one should have an amazing recipe for, namely Classic Lasagna, Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta, Shrimp Fettuccine, Italian Meatballs, Lasagna Soup, Pasta Al Forno and Italian Pasta Salad. I have done a lot of research and testing for each of these recipes and come up what I believe to be the best homemade versions. I hope you agree!
I wanted to post this Chicken Parmesan (AKA Chicken Parmigiana) in time for Mother’s day because it is one of the most beloved Italian AND chicken dishes in the world, and in my kitchen. It’s full of flavor and texture, takes less than 30 minutes to cook, and is worth every minute of hands on prep!
As I researched Chicken Parmesan to create the best Chicken Parmesan recipe, I found most recipes are extremely similar – because after all, Chicken Parmesan is a classic that doesn’t need to be reinvented. In all my research, however, I did find a few ways to perfect the recipe. So what makes the best Chicken Parmesan recipe?
- Thinner pounded chicken = extra tender chicken
- All panko breadcrumbs = crispier chicken
- Perfectly seasoned panko = more flavorful
- Freshly grated mozzarella = more meltilicoius
- More fresh Parmesan = more flavor
- Homemade 5 minute marinara that’s bursting with flavor and tastes like it’s been simmering all day = EASY and flavorful
So look no further than this crispy, succulent, cheesy Chicken Parmesan!
Are chicken Parmesan and chicken parmigiana the same?
YES! Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Parmigiana and Chicken Parm all refer to the popular Italian-American dish. The classic version of Chicken Parmesan consists of breaded and fried chicken topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and sometimes provolone. A controversial addition of a slice of ham or bacon is also sometimes found.
Is Chicken Parmesan from Italy?
Yes and no. Chicken Parmesan is based off of the southern Italian melanzane alla parmigiana, or what we know as “eggplant parm” in which slices of eggplant are breaded and fried then layered with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. It is speculated that Italian immigrants created Chicken Parmesan by incorporating chicken instead of eggplant into the classic dish. The first documented offering of Chicken Parmesan is from the New York Herald Tribune in 1953.
How to make chicken Parmesan
For years I was intimidated by Chicken Parmesan because it appeared to have so many steps – the pounding, the 3-step breading, the frying, the baking and the marinara. And yes, it does have more steps than most recipes, but the truth is each step is EASY! I’m going to break down the recipe into step-by step photos with some helpful tips so you know exactly what to expect for perfect Chicken Parmesan.
- Use Chicken Halves: You can purchase chicken breasts halves at Costco and other grocery stores or simply cut your chicken breasts in half. To do this, place the chicken breast on a cutting board and slice through the equator of the chicken to create two equal cutlets. This will help the chicken to cook more evenly.
- Pound chicken thin & even: I like to place my chicken in freezer bags (2 at a time) as opposed to in between parchment paper but you can use whatever you have on hand. Take care to use the smooth side of the meat mallet when pounding chicken. If you don’t have a meat mallet you can use the side of a can. We are aiming for 1/4-1/2-inch but 1/4” is preferable because 1/4” chicken is ultra tender. We pound our chicken thin for two main reasons: 1) It tenderizes the chicken as it breaks up the tissues 2) the uniform thickness allows the chicken of different sizes to cook evenly and much quicker.
- Lightly flour and let excess shake off.
- Let excess egg drip off.
- Pat Panko firmly into chicken so it sticks: Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with Italian breadcrumbs. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. If you can’t find it there, it might be in the Asian section. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture producing a waaaaay crispier coating.
- Keep breading hands separate: Although there are three different steps to breading, it is actually quite a quick process. I like to use my left hand to dip my chicken in the flour and eggs and then my right hand to push in the breadcrumbs. This ensures my right hand stays clean and doesn’t get the breadcrumbs gummy.
- Cook in hot oil: Crispy Chicken Parmesan instead of soggy can only be achieved by cooking in hot oil for the right length of time. Heat the oil until its shimmering but not smoking and is hot enough so a piece of breading dropped into the oil will sizzle. 350 degrees F is ideal. For ultimate crispy chicken Parmesan, don’t overcrowd your pan, cooking in 2-3 bathes; cook until the chicken is deeply golden.
- How long do fry chicken for Chicken Parmesan? 3-4 minutes is the approximate amount of time it will take for your white panko to transform into wonderfully golden BUT you will want to peak under your chicken occasionally when frying so you know when to flip it. You want it deeply golden for extra crunch but not burnt. The more golden the chicken, the crispier it will be.
Now it’s time to get saucy…
WHAT SAUCE DO YOU USE FOR CHICKEN PARMESAN?
In my book, a fabulous tomato sauce is essential for the best Chicken Parmesan and truly takes it to a whole new level. That being said, Chicken Parmesan is already a multi-step recipe, so I wanted to create the easiest, quickest yet tastiest marinara in 5 MINUTES so you won’t shy away from the recipe or be tempted to break out your jarred marinara. (If you HAVE to use jarred marinara then be sure to spruce it up like I do in my Weeknight Spaghetti Bolognese or if you want to go all out, you can use my from-scratch marinara recipe.)
This 5 Minute Marinara is life changing. SO SIMPLE and SO FLAVORFUL not to mention most of those 5 minutes is simply warming up the sauce. I use chicken bouillon to create the flavor of tomatoes simmering all day with chicken broth, a harmonious robust blend of Italian seasonings and a splash of sugar to neutralize the acidity of the tomatoes. I use both onion powder and garlic powder so there is ZERO chopping but you are welcome to use fresh onions and garlics if you prefer. Either way, you will fall in love.
WHAT KIND OF CHEESE DO YOU USE TO MAKE CHICKEN PARMESAN?
Chicken Parmesan is a wonderful combination of ooey gooey mozzarella cheese and nutty, salty Parmesan. For the best results, use freshly grated Parmesan, grated on the small holes of your cheese grater. For the mozzarella, use freshly grated mozzarella and NOT packaged pre-shredded mozzarella as it will not taste as good or melt nearly as well. For even more amazing results, use fresh mozzarella (as opposed to the hard, rubbery blocks), located in the specialty cheeses section of your grocery store.
How do you serve CHICKEN Parmesan?
Chicken Parmesan is traditionally served with spaghetti but you can serve it with any type of pasta or even zoodles. I like to rinse my spaghetti in cool water to keep it from cooking then drizzle it with olive oil to keep it from sticking together then add additional leftover Marinara sauce to the noodles.
Chicken Parmesan Sandwiches are also popular. If making sandwiches, I suggest buttering the buns, toasting them, adding the fried Chicken Parmesan, then the sauce and mozzarella and baking all together on the toasted bun.
What to serve with chicken Parmesan
This Chicken Parmesan is the show stopper so it really doesn’t need much except a simple green salad but if you are looking for more Mother’s Day worthy options:
- Roasted Parmesan Broccoli
- Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, Lemon, Butter
- Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Brown Butter
- Buttery Breadsticks (new pics coming soon!)
- Soft and Fluffy Dinner Rolls
- Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch
- Berry Salad with Honey Mascarpone
- Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette
LOOKING FOR MORE ITALIAN PASTA RECIPES?
- Skinny Chicken Parmesan (Grilled)
- Baked Italian Meatballs (and Spaghetti)
- One Skillet Cheesy Meaty Penne
- Skinny Fettuccine Alfredo
Want to try this Chicken Parmesan Recipe?
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- 8 oz. mozzarella cut into 12 slices
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- chopped fresh basil
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside. Roll out a piece of parchment paper (for breaded chicken to rest before frying). Set aside.
- Place chicken breast halves between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper (I like to use freezer bags) and pound chicken to an even thickness of 1/4-½ inch. Set aside.
- Line up 3 shallow dishes. In BOWL 1: add flour, BOWL 2: whisk eggs, BOWL 3: mix panko, ¾ cup Parmesan cheese and all Chicken seasonings.
- Working with one chicken cutlet at a time, dip both sides of the chicken into the flour, followed by the egg (let excess drip off) followed by the panko. Press the panko firmly into the chicken so it’s evenly coated and breadcrumbs stick. Place finished chicken on prepared parchment paper. Let rest 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare 5 Minute Marinara by combining all of the Marinara ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Decrease heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes then keep warm on low until ready to use, stirring occasionally. (You will not use all of the Marinara on the chicken.)
- Melt butter in olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once very hot, lower the heat to medium (350 degrees F) and fry 2-3 cutlets at a time until they are golden and crispy on each side, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place fried cutlets on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Top each cutlet with 1/4-⅓ cup Marinara followed by 2 slices mozzarella. Sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup Parmesan.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken) or until chicken is cooked through. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with pasta and remaining Marinara if desired.
- You can purchase chicken breasts halves at Costco and other grocery stores or simply cut 3 large chicken breasts in half to create 6 fillets. To do this, place the chicken breast on a cutting board and slice through the equator of the chicken to create two equal cutlets. This will help the chicken to cook more evenly.
- Use the smooth side of the meat mallet when pounding chicken. If you don’t have a meat mallet you can use the side of a can.
- Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with Italian breadcrumbs. Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. If you can’t find it there, it might be in the Asian section. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture producing a waaaaay crispier coating.
- I use my left hand to dip my chicken in the flour and eggs and then my right hand to push in the breadcrumbs, so the right hand stays clean and doesn’t get the breadcrumbs gummy.
- Heat the oil until its shimmering but not smoking and is hot enough so a piece of breading dropped into the oil will sizzle. For ultimate crispy chicken Parmesan, don’t overcrowd your pan.
- Peak under your chicken occasionally when frying so you know when to flip it. You want it deeply golden for extra crunch but not burnt.
- You can substitute with your own favorite Marinara Recipe for your favorite jarred Marinara but I highly suggest my version!
- Use freshly grated Parmesan for the best flavor. Grate the Parmesan on the smallest hole of your grater.
- Don’t use pre-shredded mozzarella as it will not taste as good or melt nearly as well. For the best results, use fresh mozzarella found in the specialty cheese section.
- GLUTEN FREE: I have not personally tried this but I have seen recommendations to replace the flour with gluten-free flour and the breadcrumbs with Rice Chex cereal crushed into the consistency of panko bread crumbs for a gluten free option.
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