This Parmesan Crusted Chicken recipe is sponsored by Danish Creamery Butter. All opinions are my own.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken is mega juicy, crunchy, exploding with flavor and easy to bake in the oven!
Parmesan Crusted Chicken is guaranteed to be a new family favorite chicken recipe! Both kids and adults can’t keep their hands off of the easy comfort food made with pantry friendly ingredients – and soon you’ll taste why. The chicken is marinated in spiced buttermilk then breaded in a ONE STEP batter, drizzled with butter and baked to golden perfection. The chicken emerges juicy on the inside with a golden crunchy, cheesy crust on the outside and an explosion of flavor in every bite. The Parmesan adds nutty, salty, cheesy notes and the drizzle of butter is a nod to the decadence of frying without the hassle, mess or guilt. Serve this baked Parmesan crusted chicken recipe with mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli for the ultimate easy comfort meal.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken recipe
My oven fried chicken recipe has been a readers’ favorite since the day I posted it, so I thought I’d take it for a spin to create PARMESAN oven fried chicken. The result is a spectacular new twist on breaded chicken that belong in your chicken repertoire and weeknight dinner arsenal.
Like the oven fried chicken, this Parmesan crusted chicken is also marinated in spiced buttermilk then breaded with flour, panko, cornmeal and spices but with the added bonus of Parmesan. The Parmesan melts into the breading to create an incredibly flavorful, crunchy, golden cheesy crust – it is all about that crust!
What Makes this the best Parmesan Crusted Chicken recipe:
- Crunchy! Parmesan crusted chicken isn’t quite as crunchy as oven fried chicken because as the Parmesan melts, it softens. To combat this softness, and still achieve a delightfully crunchy exterior, this recipe 1) uses panko breadcrumbs which are crunchier than Italian breadcrumbs 2) toasts the panko in the oven before breading, 2) bakes the chicken on an oven rack and 3) broils the chicken at the end of cooking. These four tips combine to create the crunchiest Parmesan crusted chicken you ever tasted!
- Tender and juicy. This Parmesan crusted chicken is not only crispy on the outside but juicy and tender on the inside. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk so it becomes amazingly juicy – you will be amazed! The buttermilk whisked with an egg also helps the breading easily adhere to the chicken.
- EASY one dredge batter. I’m always amazed at just how easy this breaded chicken recipe is! Soak the chicken, bread the chicken, bake/fry the chicken! This recipe simplifies the breading process so instead of laboriously dipping the chicken in eggs, then flour and then panko, the chicken is transferred straight from the marinade to the breading – that’s it! The marinade includes an egg which makes it nice and thick and the beading includes both flour and panko for a one-step batter that’s quick and easy.
- Baked not fried. This baked Parmesan crusted chicken delivers the tasty, buttery crunch of fried chicken without the mess or hassle. Plus, you can bake all 12 breaded chicken tenders at once instead of frying multiple batches. Of course, if you want to pan fry the chicken, you’re welcome to do that as well (instructions included).
- Flavor! The chicken is marinated in herbed buttermilk, breaded in herbed panko infused with Parmesan then drizzled with melted Danish Creamery Butter before it bakes, so the chicken is flavored at every level. The best part is the breadcrumbs soak in the buttery flavor while they bake to golden perfection so they taste gloriously fried – but they’re baked!
- Pantry friendly. Even when you’re low on ingredients, chances are you always keep frozen chicken, flour, milk and Parmesan stocked – all the ingredients for Parmesan crusted chicken! Just whip up your own DIY buttermilk and you’re all set.
- Family friendly. This Parmesan crusted chicken recipe will be the highlight meal of the week and will become a fond memory and new family tradition. It also makes enough to feed the family at a fraction of the price of takeout. Serve your breaded chicken with homemade honey mustard or ranch dip (recipes included) and you’ll be skipping the takeout forever!
- Freezer friendly. Freeze Parmesan crusted chicken for an easy thaw and heat snack, lunch or dinner.
- Versatile. This Parmesan crusted chicken recipe is perfect for any occasion. It’s the most delectable snack, the hero appetizer at game day or any party, or add a salad and potatoes and you have yourself a meal – my kind of meal, Patrick’s kind of meal and most definitely your kids kind of meal!
WHAT IS PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN?
Parmesan crusted chicken is chicken breasts breaded in Parmesan cheese, crispy bread crumbs, and baked or pan fried until crispy and golden. In this baked version, we’re using chicken tenderloins for maximum tenderness and panko breadcrumbs for maximum CRUNCH. You will love how quick and easy this recipe is!
BAKED PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
This Parmesan crusted chicken requires fewer ingredients than you might think! Here’s everything you’ll need to make baked breaded chicken:
- Chicken tenderloins: you can use chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts but chicken tenders are much more tender. I’ve detailed the differences between chicken tenderloins and chicken breasts below.
- Parmesan cheese: use freshly grated Parmesan cheese – no canned Parm for this recipe! Canned or pre-shredded cheeses do not melt well and will not allow your chicken to bake up crispy. Take care to grate the Parmesan on the finest holes of your grater so it creates a powder.
- Buttermilk: tenderizes the chicken as its acidic enzymes break down the protein in the chicken. You may also substitute with DIY sour milk.
- Flour: I used all-purpose flour, but I’m sure gluten free flour, almond flour, etc. would also work.
- Panko breadcrumbs: is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. It is the secret behind the CRUNCH in this recipe!
- Cornmeal: Be sure to use a finely ground cornmeal. This adds extra crunch and flavor to the chicken breading. If you have all the ingredients to make this Parmesan crusted chicken recipe except cornmeal, you may skip it.
- Butter: is drizzled over the chicken for extra YUM. My favorite brand of butter is Danish Creamery. Their butter is made with high quality organic cream from pasture-raised cows since 1895. Their European Style Butter boasts an 85% butterfat (much higher than most other European Style butters which come in at 82-83%) making it a dream in sauces, baking applications, or even just to spread on toast.
- Dijon mustard: adds another depth of flavor but will not make your chicken taste mustard-y!
- Seasonings: elevate this baked breaded chicken above the rest! Dried basil, dried parsley, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder paprika, salt and pepper infuse the Parmesan crusted chicken with flavor so they are stand-alone delicious.
WHAT CHICKEN IS BEST FOR PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN?
I recommend chicken tenderloins (also known as chicken tenders) for this baked Parmesan chicken recipe. Chicken tenders are not just chicken breasts cut into small pieces – they are actually a minor muscle located on the underside of the breast and are much more tender than chicken breasts- thus their name.
Can I use chicken breasts?
While chicken tenders set you up for success, you can definitely still use chicken breasts thanks to the tenderizing marinade. To use chicken breasts, slice thick breasts in half through the equator to create cutlets (not necessary for small chicken breasts), pound chicken to an even thickness and then slice them into 2-inch strips. When making your own chicken strips, the key is to try and make them as uniform as possible so you don’t overbake/dry out the smaller pieces while waiting for larger ones to cook through.
CAN I USE A BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTE?
Yes! If you do not have any buttermilk on hand – don’t worry, I rarely do! You can make DIY buttermilk or sour milk for this recipe by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice to a measuring glass. Add enough milk (not nonfat) to equal 1 cup. Give it a stir and let sit for 10 minutes in order to activate and slightly curdle. Use in the recipe just like buttermilk!
CAN I USE REGULAR BREADCRUMBS INSTEAD OF PANKO?
No, I don’t recommend using regular breadcrumbs. Panko is KEY to crispy Parmesan crusted chicken. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture and become much crispier. Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs or you will be missing out on the gorgeous, satisfying CRUNCH.
Can I use Canned Parmesan?
No, please do NOT use canned Parmesan because it won’t melt as well.
WHY USE DANISH CREAMERY BUTTER?
My husband and I both LOVE Danish Creamery Butter! In fact, when I was writing this post, my husband starting gushing about how much he loves their butter. Butter is all about flavor and luxurious creaminess and no one does that better than Danish Creamery – you can literally taste the difference!
Danish Creamery’s commitment to velvety, rich butter lies in the health of its cows and land. The cows are humanely raised in wide open spaces and happy, healthy cows produce tasty, nutritious milk – the key ingredient to perfect Danish Creamery butters. Add their butter to this Parmesan crusted chicken recipe and all your other recipes and instantly elevate your cooking!
HOW LONG TO MARINATE CHICKEN TENDERS?
If you plan ahead, it is best to marinate your chicken the morning you are going to make your Parmesan crusted chicken – this will create the juiciest melt-in-your mouth chicken. The absolute minimum of marinating should be 30 minutes – which will still produce delicious chicken, especially when using chicken tenders. To that end, don’t marinate longer than 12 hours or the chicken will turn to mush.
HOW TO MAKE PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN
This Parmesan crusted chicken recipe is easy to make with just a few steps:
- marinate chicken
- bread chicken
- drizzle with butter
I’ve included detailed step-by-step instructions below to hopefully answer all of our questions:
Many Parmesan crusted chicken recipes don’t call for marinating the chicken first but you simply can’t achieve the juiciest chicken without marinating – even just 30 minutes will make a HUGE difference on the tender, juicy spectrum. Marinating also injects the chicken with flavor from the inside out.
The marinade is made with buttermilk, spices, Dijon and a whisked egg which acts like glue and binds the breading to the chicken and saves the step of dunking each individual piece of chicken in egg later on.
This is another step which other recipes don’t call for but makes a world of difference. I always pre-toast my panko toppings before adding to casseroles, whether for baked mac and cheese or zucchini casserole for the crunchiest panko around. I decided to utilize this same technique in this breaded chicken recipe – and it worked wonders! No uneven panko, no soggy panko, just evenly golden crunchy panko. Best of all, toasting the panko is all hands off! Simply spread the panko on a baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and bake for 5 minutes.
After you toast the panko, transfer it to a wide shallow bowl or dish and whisk in Parmesan, flour, cornmeal and remaining spices. The flour helps the other breading ingredients stick to the chicken, the panko brings the crunch and my secret ingredient – cornmeal adds flavor and extra crispiness.
Working in batches, remove chicken tenders from buttermilk and dab off excess marinade with paper towels then add to the breadcrumb dish. Coat the chicken with a clean hand, pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken.
Transfer chicken to a greased rack placed on a foil-lined baking tray and then the best part – drizzle the chicken with melted Danish Creamery Butter. You don’t need a lot of butter, just a little drizzle down each tender will infuse it with butter flavor and help the panko crisp up.
Bake chicken at 400 degrees F for 15-18 minutes (18 only if tenders are large) then broil for 5-10 minutes until crispy, without moving the oven rack. A higher oven temperature crisps up the exterior quickly and keeps the meat juicy.
Serve Parmesan crusted chicken tenders plain or with your dip of choice.
HOW TO MAKE PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN IN THE AIR FRYER
You can also cook your Parmesan crusted chicken in the air fryer, simply follow the recipe then air fry instead of bake. This method is a little more tedious, however, because you can’t fit as many chicken tenders in the air fryer. I prefer the oven method to make the breaded chicken tenders and reserve the air fryer for warming leftovers.
- Spray the air fryer basket with nonstick spray and preheat to 400 degrees F.
- Working in batches, place the chicken tenders in a single layer in the basket without touching, don’t overcrowd.
- Air fry for 5-6 minutes per side, turning halfway, until chicken is crispy and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Please note air fryer models can vary so watch the first batch closely and adjust the time accordingly.
- Repeat with remaining chicken tenders.
HOW TO PAN FRY PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN
You can also pan fry the Parmesan crusted chicken but you’ll need to work in batches. Normally, I recommend a cast-iron skillet for pan frying, but due to the Parmesan in this recipe, you’ll need a nonstick pan or enamel skillet or else the Parmesan will stick to the pan.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken and cook each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden, crispy and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
PRO TIPS FOR MAKING PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN
Breading chicken can turn into a big mess with gummy hands and goopy chicken but it doesn’t have to! Here are some tips to for easy breading and to help promote the crispiest baked Parmesan crusted chicken:
- Marinate chicken. The longer you marinate your chicken, the more tender it will become.
- Dab off excess marinade. We don’t want extra buttermilk clinging to the chicken as it dives into the breading because it will cause gooey pockets instead of a thin binding layer. A thin layer is enough to glue the breading to the chicken without making it soggy. So, take care to dab the chicken with a wad of paper towels to remove excess marinade before adding to the breading.
- Use panko AND cornmeal. These two ingredients work together to create extra crispy chicken. Don’t use traditional breadcrumbs as they will not give you the satisfying crunch you’re looking for.
- Only use freshly grated Parmesan. You can purchase Parmesan from the deli department or grate it yourself. Either way, make sure it’s extra fine so it melds in with the bread crumbs, sticks to the chicken and creates a crisp exterior instead of soggy. If you don’t feel like grating the cheese, you can use your food processor and have it done seconds.
- Keep one hand clean. To easily avoid gummy hands and chicken, use one hand to transfer the chicken from the marinade to the breading and the other hand to bread the chicken.
- Press down firmly. I like to use my fist to firmly push the breading into the chicken to really make it stick.
- Bake on a wire rack. Elevating the chicken on a baking rack allows the hot air to circulate all around the chicken. If you don’t have wire rack, then lightly grease foil and place in the oven to get nice and hot while you prep the chicken. Take care when adding your chicken because your pan will be HOT!
- Don’t Crowd the Pan. Leave a decent space between your chicken on the baking rack while cooking. Overcrowding the pan will cause steam and make your breading soggy. When nicely spaced, the hot oven air can circulate evenly around the chicken so they can get nice and crispy.
- Broil chicken. The chicken will be somewhat crispy after baking but broiling takes it to another level. Broil the chicken for a good 5-10 minutes – as long as it takes to get it as crispy as you like.
- Keep an eye on the chicken. Don’t walk away from the chicken while it is broiling because it can turn from crispy to burnt in a flash!
- Don’t stack chicken. Resist the urge to stack the baked Parmesan crusted chicken or it won’t be as crispy. I know I didn’t follow my own advice in the photos so I can speak from personal experience that stacked breaded chicken will steam and you will lose that crispy coveted exterior. It is best to serve the chicken lined in a single layer with a little breathing room in between each piece.
Can I bake the Parmesan chicken in butter?
In my oven fried chicken recipe, the chicken bakes in melted butter, but in this Parmesan crusted chicken recipe, the Parmesan melts, it softens and can’t become crunchy if cooked in a bed of butter. Instead, drizzling the chicken with butter still injects it with flavor while promoting crispiness all over.
This Parmesan crusted chicken recipe is a fabulous springboard for all sorts of variations. Here are just a few:
- Seasonings: mix up the flavor profile by mixing up the seasonings. You can use any of your favorite blends such as Cajun, jerk, bacon chipotle, dill pickle, ranch, Montreal chicken, smokehouse maple, etc.
- Swap cheese. You can swap the Parmesan for a different cheese but it MUST be a hard cheese. Hard cheeses (like Parmesan) don’t melt completely so they allow the chicken to become crunchy. Examples of hard cheese include Pecorino Romano, Swiss, and Provolone. Do NOT use soft or semi-soft cheeses such as cheddar or mozzarella.
- Add citrus. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest to the marinade for crunchy lemon Parmesan chicken.
- Make it spicy. Add an additional 1/-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the spice mix.
- Swap marinade. You can swap the buttermilk and egg for mayonnaise.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN?
This Parmesan crusted chicken is delectable all on its own, but absolutely hypnotic once dunked in dip. Some popular dips for chicken tenders include:
- Ranch Dip
- Barbecue Sauce
- Honey Barbecue Sauce
- Honey Mustard Dip
- Honey Buffalo Dip
Here is how to make a few of our favs:
Ranch Dip is creamy, tangy with an herbalicious bite. To make, whisk together:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried dill, dried chives, garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp EACH salt, pepper
HONEY MUSTARD DIP
Honey Mustard Dip is creamy, sweet and tangy with a light kick. To make, whisk together:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or half Greek yogurt)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce
HONEY BUFFALO DIP
Honey Buffalo Dip is creamy, slightly sweet and as spicy as you want it. To make, whisk together:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (or half Greek yogurt)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Frank’s hot WINGS Sauce, more or less to taste
HONEY BBQ DIP
Honey BBQ Dip is sweet and tangy and you can add hot sauce to spice it up if you wish. To make, combine the following in a small saucepan over medium heat, until it begins to simmer; simmer until thickened to desired consistency.
- 3/4 cup BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Rays Original)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- Hot sauce to taste
CAN I PREP THIS RECIPE IN ADVANCE?
You can marinate the chicken up to 12 in advance and whisk the breading ingredients together but I don’t recommend breading the chicken in advance because the breading will lose its crispness as it sits in the fridge.
HOW TO STORE PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN RECIPE
This baked Parmesan crusted chicken should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When properly stored, it is good for 3 to 5 days. For best results, don’t stack your chicken directly on top of each other as this will make it more soggy. Instead, place a piece of parchment paper in between the layers.
HOW TO REHEAT PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN RECIPE
The Parmesan crust will soften upon refrigeration so I suggest reheating your chicken in the oven or air fryer to revive the crispy texture. The microwave will warm the chicken but won’t improve the texture. To reheat Parmesan crusted chicken:
- Microwave: The chicken won’t be nearly as crispy if reheated in the microwave but it will still be flavorful. Transfer chicken tenders to a microwave safe plate in an even layer. Microwave for 90 seconds, then in additional increments of 15 seconds as needed.
- Air fryer: Place chicken in a single layer in the basket without touching, air fry using the “snack” setting for 4-6 minutes, until warmed through.
- Oven: Spread chicken on a lightly greased baking rack set in a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes, or until heated through.
HOW TO FREEZE PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN RECIPE
This Parmesan crusted chicken actually freezes very well! To freeze:
- Cook chicken according to directions then let cool to room temperature.
- Space chicken apart on a baking sheet then transfer baking sheet to the freezer.
- Freeze for 1-2 hours or until the chicken is solid. This prevents the chicken from clumping together.
- Add chicken to a freezer size bag, squeeze out excess air, and label.
- Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Bake chicken straight from frozen (so they don’t become soggy) on a lightly greased baking rack placed over a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through.
WHAT SIDES TO SERVE WITH BAKED PARMESAN CRUSTED CHICKEN
This baked Parmesan crusted chicken recipe can be served as an appetizer or scrumptious main dish everyone will love it! Here are some delicious side options:
- Potatoes. Potatoes and breaded chicken are a comforting match made in heaven! Always delectable are twice baked potatoes, smashed potatoes, slow cooker mashed potatoes, hashbrown casserole or mashed sweet potatoes.
- Rice. Chicken and rice are a classic combo. You can go as simple as white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or low carb cauliflower rice or broccoli rice with a little butter, salt and pepper or fancier (but SO EASY, promise!) with Parmesan risotto, spinach risotto, mushroom risotto or rice pilaf..
- Comfort favorites. These sides include your favorite sides that pair fantastically with breaded chicken such as mac and cheese, baked beans, corn casserole, potato salad and creamy bacon, pea, pasta salad.
- Veggies. Of course, every meal needs nutritious veggies! You can go as simple as pre-packaged veggies or serve with roasted cauliflower, roasted Parmesan asparagus, roasted carrots, glazed carrots, sautéed Brussels sprouts, roasted root vegetables or roasted squash.
- Salad. Fresh salad is a delicious, vibrant healthy side to this Parmesan crusted chicken recipe. Enjoy your chicken with Strawberry Broccoli Salad, Wedge Salad, Corn Salad, or Green Bean Salad.
- Bread. This breaded chicken pairs beautifully with my favorite moist sweet cornbread, garlic bread, dinner rolls or Parmesan breadsticks.
Ways to Serve Parmesan Crusted Chicken
This chicken recipe is fabulous on its own or it can be added to all sorts of recipes that you would otherwise you plain chicken for. Here are just a few ideas for freshly baked Parmesan crusted chicken or leftovers:
- Salad: slice up the chicken and add it to your favorite greens and veggies with a drizzle of your favorite dressing. You can also substitute it for the chicken in any of your favorite salad recipes.
- Sandwiches: add it to any chicken sandwich you can dream up such as pesto, BLT, caprese, buffalo, sun-dried tomato, avocado, etc.
- Wraps: same idea as the sandwiches, instead of buns, add sliced chicken to a tortilla to make any type of chicken wrap.
- Lettuce wraps: transform the chicken into chicken salad by chopping and stirring in mayo/yogurt, grapes, celery, green onions etc. and serving in a lettuce wrap.
- Parmesan chicken spaghetti: serve Parmesan crusted chicken over a bed of spaghetti with marinara sauce and plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Pasta: serve sliced chicken tenders on a bed of formerly meatless pastas such as Cacio e Pepe, healthy Alfredo, margherita pasta, roasted red pepper pasta, mushroom spaghetti or mushroom orzo. You can also swap the protein in your favorite pasta recipes for this chicken. It would be tasty in lemon shrimp fettuccine, sun-dried tomato pasta, and rigatoni in tomato cream sauce.
- Loaded baked potatoes: load a baked potato with chopped chicken, cheese and your favorite toppings such as steamed broccoli or peas.
- Loaded Mediterranean fries: chop up the chicken and load it on a bed of fries along with loads of melted mozzarella and your favorite Mediterranean toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, Kalamata olives, pepperoncini, artichokes, feta, etc.
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