The Best Chicken Parmesan Recipe

To me, Chicken Parmesan is comfort food like no other, perfect any night but especially when the days get shorter, and there’s a bit of a chill in the air. This hearty recipe for a delicious, easy Chicken Parmesan with pasta and a homemade tomato sauce will make everyone at the table ask for seconds, maybe even thirds. 

It may taste Italian, but this humble dish is All-American and loved by everyone. There are so many different ways to make it, but I keep my Chicken Parmesan easy but homemade, right down to the tomato sauce. I make extra sauce so everyone can help themselves. I think you’ll love it.

Chicken parmesan on an oval plate.

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Cooking Chicken Parmesan for a crowd? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

Is Chicken Parmesan Italian?

While this dish takes a page from Italy’s famous Eggplant Parmigiana, it gained its popularity in the states, when Italian-American cuisine became mainstream. Eggplant was still considered an exotic food and wasn’t widely available, while chicken was more approachable and in demand at restaurants. Today, both eggplant and chicken versions are loved around the world, and for good reason.

Chicken Parmesan ingredients:

I won’t list absolutely everything here–just the special ingredients you may need to buy in order to make this recipe. See the card below for the complete shopping list. 

Fontina cheese. Fontina is an Italian semi-soft cow’s milk cheese with a buttery, nutty flavor. It also is an excellent melting cheese, which makes it ideal for Chicken Parmesan.  If you can’t find it, though, Gruyère, provolone, Gouda, or Emmental are all perfectly fine to mix in with the mozzarella.

Tip: To make shredding soft cheeses easier, spray some non-stick cooking spray on a box grater and the cheese will slide off of the grater and not clump as badly. 

Panko breadcrumbs. This ultra crispy style of breadcrumb is made from bread cooked using electricity, resulting in light, crunchy crumbs. Regular breadcrumbs will do in a pinch.

Fresh basil. I like dried oregano in this recipe, but I love fresh basil in the tomato sauce and scattered on top of the finished recipe.

 

A chicken breast in egg wash.

How do you pound chicken flat?

Pounding chicken breasts to a 1/2” thickness allows the chicken to cook evenly, which is especially important when there’s breading, which can burn if overcooked.

The best way to do this is simple and mess-free:

  1. Place the chicken pieces, one at a time, flat in a plastic, zip-top bag.
  2. Seal the bag, pressing out all the air with your fingers.
  3. Using a meat mallet or a rolling pin, gently pound, flattening the meat, until you get the desired thickness.
  4. Remove the chicken and repeat with remaining pieces.

Tomato sauce in a silver saucepan.

Other shortcuts and variations for making Chicken Parmesan:

Oven baked Chicken Parmesan.  To free up space on your stove, you can bake the chicken on a foil lined baking sheet. Instead of frying in a skillet, cook the pounded chicken cutlets at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. (Whole, un-pounded breasts will take closer to 20 minutes.)

Chicken Parmesan without breadcrumbs. Gluten free, or just watching carbs? Try one of these great substitutions:

  • Omit the panko breadcrumbs in the recipe and replace them with extra Parmesan cheese mixed with the oregano and garlic.
  • Substitute your favorite brand of gluten-free breadcrumbs.
  • Try 1/2 cup almond meal in place of the breadcrumbs.

Chicken Parmesan with thighs. You absolutely can, and I do all the time! I use boneless, skinless thighs and cook them a couple minutes longer, 2-3 minutes on each side, because they’re a little thicker than a cutlet.

Mayonnaise with chicken parmesan. As an easy quick bypass to the dredging step in this recipe, some cooks like to mix the Parmesan cheese with mayonnaise, then cover the chicken in the breadcrumbs to bake in the oven. If you want to try it, here’s what to use in place of the egg mixture:

  1. Mix 1 cup mayonnaise with the dried oregano, garlic, and the Parmesan cheese.
  2. Spread the mixture over the chicken, then coat in the breadcrumbs and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. If you’re using pounded flat chicken cutlets, bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. (Whole un-pounded breasts will take closer to 20 minutes.)
  4. Top with cheese and broil as directed.

Freeze it for make ahead Chicken Parm. The breading steps can be done ahead of time, so you can whip out dinner when you need it!

To freeze: Once you bread the chicken, arrange the unbaked cutlets on a cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil, and freeze 3 to 4 hours or until frozen solid.

Then you can wrap each cutlet in plastic wrap, and store together in a labelled freezer bag up to one month.

To bake: (Because the cutlets are frozen, it’s better to bake them rather than pan fry them.) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the frozen breaded chicken breasts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, then flip and bake 8 to 10 minutes more, or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is pierced. The chicken should register 165 degrees with a meat thermometer when ready to eat.

Healthy Chicken Parmesan. I always say that making your own food at home lets you be in charge of the ingredients, and avoid hidden calories and chemicals in food that has been processed in some way. While this dish is on the richer side of the spectrum, because of the melted cheese and pasta, you can lighten things up and control portion sizes when you cook at home.

 

Breaded chicken on a white oval platter.

How to make Chicken Parmesan in a slow cooker:

Chicken Parmesan in the crock pot is easy; with a few adjustments to the recipe, you’ll come home to a house that smells fabulous with dinner ready and waiting.

Tip: you should make sure the chicken fits in the bottom of the crock pot in one layer, without too much overlap, so the breadcrumbs have a chance to get crisp.

  1. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the bottom of the crockpot.
  2. Dredge the chicken as instructed and place in the bottom of the pot, being careful not to overlap.
  3. Cover chicken with mozzarella and fontina cheeses.
  4. Gently spoon sauce over chicken.
  5. Close lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  6. Serve over pasta.

Breaded chicken in a black skillet.

Or, you can make a Chicken Parmesan sandwich:

If a gooey, cheesy hoagie is calling your name, forgo the pasta and follow these steps:

  1. Find a crusty white roll that’s still soft in the center. Slice the rolls lengthwise. Butter the inside of each roll with garlic butter.
  2. When the chicken is cooked, add a cutlet to the inside of the hoagie and top with the fontina mozzarella mixture.
  3. Place open faced sandwich under broiler on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil for 2-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and begins to bubble.
  4. Spoon sauce inside sandwich, close, and serve.

Chicken parmesan on an oval serving platter.

What goes with Chicken Parmesan?

I love Chicken Parmesan with pasta, but garlic bread makes a perfect addition, as well as a crunchy garden salad and a bottle of red wine shared with friends. Try my Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing and my recipe for Roasted Green Beans–they’re always big hits.

 

Chicken parmesan on a white serving platter.

The Best Chicken Parmesan Recipe

To me, Chicken Parmesan is comfort food like no other, perfect any night but especially when the days get shorter, and there’s a bit of a chill in the air. This hearty recipe for a delicious, easy Chicken Parmesan with pasta and a homemade tomato sauce will make everyone at the table ask for seconds, maybe even thirds. 
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 658kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

For the spaghetti:

  • 1 pound spaghetti uncooked
  • Salt

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the chicken:

  • 2 8 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts tenderloins removed, halved lengthwise, and pounded 1/2” thick
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese shredded (see notes for substitutions)
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil torn

Instructions

To make the spaghetti:

  • Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil pasta. Add pasta and return to boil. Allow to cook until soft 8-12 minutes, drain, and keep warm until ready to serve.

To make the sauce:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. 
  • Add garlic, salt, oregano, and pepper flakes. Cook stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar; increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. 
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. 
  • Remove from heat, stir in basil and remaining oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

To make the chicken:

  • Sprinkle each side of cutlet with 1/8 teaspoon salt and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine mozzarella and fontina in a bowl; set aside. 
  • Adjust oven rack 4” from broiler element and heat broiler. Whisk egg and flour together in shallow dish until smooth.
  • In a second shallow dish, combine Parmesan, panko, garlic powder, oregano, and pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. 
  • Working with one cutlet at a time, dredge cutlet in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides in Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so crumbs adhere. Transfer cutlet to large plate and repeat with remaining cutlets. 
  • Heat oil in a 10” nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully place 2 cutlets in skillet and cook without moving them until bottoms are crispy and deep golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
  • Carefully flip cutlets and cook on second side until deep golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer cutlets to paper-towel lined plate and repeat with remaining cutlets.
  • Place cutlets on rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over cutlets, covering as much surface area as possible. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2-4 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken to serving platter and top each cutlet with 2 tablespoons sauce. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately over spaghetti, passing remaining sauce separately.

Notes

Tip: To make shredding semi-soft cheese easier, spray a little cooking oil on your grater to keep the cheese from sticking. 
  1. Provolone, gruyere, or gouda may be substituted for the fontina.

Nutrition

Calories: 658kcal
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  1. Old_Guy_Cooks

    I’ve made chicken (and pork) Parmesan for years, but never this way. It looked better than my version, so I gave it a try. Wow! Totally a better system! We (only two of us) used chicken tenders, ’cause that’s what we had, and it was a test. Next time, definitely the pounded breasts or thighs — more food! LOL! It’s That Good!

    I use Rao’s marinara, even though its expensive (Walmart is around $6.50/jar Aug 2020), because it’s better than anything I’ve made at home. And this recipe only uses about a third of a jar, so cost reduces over three dinners (for two).

    Biggest problem was handling the chicken coated with the egg mixture. That’s some thick stuff! Made a mess coating with breadcrumbs-cheese mix. Reading about folding the Parmesan into mayonnaise, that may be a better idea. Or fold the cheese into the egg/flour. That would coat the pieces almost with a loose dough or heavy batter. I’ll do that next time, then roll in the breadcrumbs. This is really and truly a superb way of making a simple, inexpensive, filling and satisfying meal. Thanks very much!5 stars

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