Learn how to bread chicken with this simple technique that wows everyone in the house and keeps the mess to a minimum.

Two pieces of chicken piccata cooking on a black skillet.

There’s nothing quite as good as a breaded chicken cutlet, served hot and crisp on, well, anything at all. Crispy chicken tenders, or baked breaded chicken, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Milanese, or Chicken Piccata—they all rely on a coating of breadcrumbs for their mouthwatering, crunchy texture.

Once you get all your culinary ducks in a row and your ingredients organized, known in the culinary world as mise en place, you’ll be breading chicken like a sous chef in no time. This how-to keeps it simple and as mess-free as possible so you can get on with enjoying your night.

Ingredient notes:

  • Chicken: Butterfly and pound the chicken into thin cutlets so it cooks quickly and evenly without burning.
  • Flour: The flour acts as a barrier between the fat in the pan and the moisture in the chicken breast.
  • Eggs: Or brush on mayonnaise or olive oil to help the breading stick.
  • Bread crumbs: Panko bread crumbs, also known as Japanese bread crumbs, keep breaded and fried foods extra crispy. You can also substitute fresh bread crumbs you grind yourself.

Setting up your breading station:

  • You’ll need three wide, shallow containers for the breading ingredients. Depending on the quantity and size of food that you’re making, you can use bowls or even baking dishes. Make sure there’s enough room in each container to move the chicken around freely, but not so much that each coating ingredient gets lost in the bowl.
  • Arrange the breading ingredients left to right:
    • Bowl 1: flour
    • Bowl 2: egg
    • Bowl 3: breadcrumbs
    • Place the prepared chicken at the far left, next to the bowl with the flour.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Butterfly the chicken breasts: Cover a cutting board completely with a piece of plastic wrap. Add chicken breasts. Working with one breast at a time, place your palm on top of the breast and slice in half horizontally so you have two cutlets. Repeat with the second breast.
    Butterflying a chicken breast in half.
  2. To keep germs covered and protect the chicken, pound chicken breasts to an even thickness between two pieces of plastic wrap. Season with salt and pepper.
    Pounding chicken cutlets thin under plastic wrap.
  3. Then, using your left hand, which is known as the dry hand, turn the chicken cutlets around in the flour to coat both sides. Pick up the cutlet and gently drop it into the egg bowl.
  4. With your right hand, which is known as your wet hand, pick up the chicken out of the beaten eggs, give it a wiggle to get rid of any excess egg, and drop it into the bread crumbs.
  5. Your (left) dry hand can turn the chicken around in the bread crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken cutlets to stick.
    Standard breading stations for breading chicken.
  6. Place finished chicken separated by layers of waxed paper on a plate. Wrap the cutlets up in plastic film and refrigerate for up to two hours before you need them.
    Raw breaded chicken cutlets on a platter.
  7. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the cutlets, two at a time (or more, depending on the size of your skillet) and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through. This should take about 3 minutes per side, flipping as needed.
    Two pieces of chicken piccata cooking on a black skillet.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Make ahead: The cutlets can be pounded out, breaded, and stored covered in the refrigerator one day in advance. Unfortunately, they cannot easily be frozen and then reheated in a pan or oven.
  • Chicken thighs: You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast. Just pound them out in a similar fashion.
  • Seasoning: Spice up your breading with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese, or anything else that sounds tasty.
  • Other crumbs: Substitute finely-crushed corn flakes or walnuts instead of bread crumbs.

Who can resist Chicken Milanese, a crispy chicken cutlet topped with a bright and lemony arugula salad and ribbons of Parmesan cheese? Young, old, and everyone in between gobble up this recipe, and for good reason: it’s universally adored.

Delicious breaded recipes:

Two pieces of chicken piccata cooking on a black skillet.

How to Bread Chicken

If you've always wanted to learn how to bread chicken, now's your chance; this simple technique is the key to making pure, delicious breaded chicken magic that wows everyone in the house and keeps the mess to a minimum.
5 from 11 votes
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 428

Ingredients 

For breading:

  • 16 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 large, see note 1)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (see note 2)
  • 2 large eggs (see note 3)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs (see note 4)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Zest from 1 lemon (about 1 teaspoon)

For frying:

  • 1 cup olive oil

Instructions 

To bread the chicken:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Top with a wire rack coated with nonstick spray or olive oil.
  • Cover a cutting board completely with a piece of plastic wrap. Add chicken breasts. Working with one breast at a time, place your palm on top of the breast and slice in half horizontally so you have two cutlets. Repeat with the second breast.
  • Arrange all four cutlets in a single layer on the plastic wrap-covered cutting board. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap. Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness, about 1/4-inch. Remove top layer of plastic wrap and season breasts with salt and pepper.
  • In a shallow dish, add flour. In a second shallow dish, add eggs and beat lightly. In a third shallow dish, combine panko, grated Parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge in flour and shake off excess. Dip in eggs and tap gently on side of dish to remove excess. Add to panko mixture and press gently until crumbs adhere. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with remaining cutlets (cutlets can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 hours).

To fry the chicken:

  • Line rimmed baking sheet or large plate with 3 layers of paper towels. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining 1 cup oil until shimmering. Add 2 cutlets and fry until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
  • Drain cutlets well on paper towel-lined plate and transfer to prepared wire rack in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 cutlets.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Chicken: Butterfly and pound the chicken into thin cutlets so it cooks quickly and evenly without burning.
  2. Flour: The flour acts as a barrier between the fat in the pan and the moisture in the chicken breast. 
  3. Eggs: Or brush on mayonnaise or olive oil to help the breading stick.
  4. Bread crumbs: Panko bread crumbs, also known as Japanese bread crumbs, keep breaded and fried foods extra crispy. You can also substitute fresh bread crumbs you grind yourself.
  5. Make ahead: The cutlets can be pounded out, breaded, and stored covered in the refrigerator one day in advance. Unfortunately, they cannot easily be frozen and then reheated in a pan or oven.
  6. Chicken thighs: You can substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast. Just pound them out in a similar fashion.
  7. Seasoning: Spice up your breading with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Parmesan cheese, or anything else that sounds tasty.
  8. Other crumbs: Substitute finely-crushed corn flakes or walnuts instead of bread crumbs.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 428kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 33gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 171mgSodium: 374mgPotassium: 511mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 392IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 119mgIron: 3mg
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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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