Our traditional Chicken Parmesan (or Chicken Parmigiana) is a classic dish featuring crispy panko-crusted chicken breast, lusciously melted fresh mozzarella, and a tangy homemade marinara sauce. Perfect for a restaurant quality dinner and ready in a little over an hour!
Did someone say chicken parmesan?
This delicious Italian dish is one of the all-time greats. Here in New Jersey, you'll find some version of chicken parm on just about every Italian restaurant menu, with some variations.
As an Italian-trained chef, I'm excited to share my take on this classic recipe. Chicken Parmesan (or Chicken Parmigiana) is an Italian-American dish that you likely won't find in Italy. It was inspired by eggplant parmigiana, which is the version you will find in Italy, and makes a simple yet delicious meal.
Unlike the heavy, greasy, and overly cheesy versions often served in chain restaurants, my traditional chicken parm is light and extremely flavorful. The chicken is flash-fried until lightly golden, then finished off in the oven for a perfectly crisp crust.
Piled high with melty mozzarella, my version of this Italian dish has the marinara sauce served on the plate instead of served on the chicken, allowing you to control how much sauce you want! Plus, it helps the chicken stay crispy.
Making restaurant quality chicken parmigiana for dinner is so easy and affordable too!
Why this recipe works
- This recipe is a family favorite - everyone will love this dish!
- Easy to make with everyday pantry items but tastes like it was made for an Italian feast.
- A mixture of panko breadcrumbs and pecorino cheese makes a delicious crust.
- Perfectly crispy exterior with moist chicken inside.
- What makes this recipe unique is that it's baked with just cheese and no sauce. Then, it's plated on top of the sauce to maintain that extra-crispy chicken.
- Tastes delicious when served with your favorite pasta and side salad!
- Breadcrumbs - The key to a delicious crispy chicken parmesan is using the right coating. To get that perfectly crunchy texture, I used a mixture of panko breadcrumbs mixed with grated pecorino cheese, garlic, and fresh Italian parsley. Don't forget the salt and pepper!
- Pecorino Romano Cheese - This hard Italian sheep's milk cheese adds the perfect sharp and salty flavor to the chicken. Use a high quality brand such as Locatelli if you can.
- Chicken Breasts - Make sure to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts and use a meat mallet to pound them out so they're nice and thin. If you don't want to use chicken breasts, you can also use chicken tenderloins, but they will be much smaller so you will need to use more.
- Oil - For the best flavor, I recommend frying the chicken in extra virgin olive oil. If you're opposed to frying in olive oil, use an oil that has a high smoke point, like canola oil or avocado oil.
- Mozzarella Cheese - Looking for an ooey-gooey cheese pull? Use a high quality fresh mozzarella cheese! Thinly slice it or roughly tear into pieces yourself and avoid the pre-sliced stuff. Be sure to blot the fresh mozzarella dry before using so it doesn't make your chicken soggy. You can also use traditional whole milk mozzarella, but be sure to grate it yourself rather than the pre-grated bagged stuff, which contains additives and won't melt as well.
- Marinara Sauce - Use your favorite marinara sauce for this recipe, or for best results make your own! If you're looking for a great homemade marinara, try this simple yet authentic tomato sauce recipe.
*Full ingredient list with quantities is in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Mixing Bowls - When making chicken parmigiana, the easiest way to get it ready to cook is to set up a breading station! To do this, you need a few shallow mixing bowls.
- Whisk - A whisk is helpful for mixing together the breading ingredients, but a fork works too.
- Meat Mallet - A meat mallet is a tool that helps to tenderize the chicken breasts so they cook evenly.
- Sauté Pan - The first part of the cooking process requires you to flash fry the chicken breasts in a sauté pan. Make sure it is deep enough to cover the chicken halfway. You can also use a large cast iron skillet.
- Tongs - You'll need a pair of long tongs to help you flip the chicken without splashing oil everywhere. I like using a long pair so I can avoid burning myself with any splattering oil.
- Baking Sheet - You will need a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for the second part of cooking. This helps create an even cooking surface and prevents the cheese from sticking.
After preheating the oven to 450°F, create a breadcrumb mixture with garlic, parsley, pecorino cheese, salt, and pepper.
Whisk together eggs, pecorino, water, salt, and pepper in another shallow bowl.
Place flour into a separate bowl or plate and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season both sides.
Coat each piece of chicken in the flour, egg mixture, and then breadcrumbs while pressing gently to help them adhere.
Then, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and fry the chicken until golden brown on each side before transferring it to a rack or paper towels.
Bake the chicken with mozzarella for 10 minutes or until melted before broiling for a few minutes if desired.
Heat marinara sauce in a small saucepan on the stove until bubbling hot, then spoon onto plates with the chicken on top.
Garnish with more grated cheese and basil leaves before serving with extra sauce and grated cheese for passing!
Tips for success
- Season the chicken faster by liberally seasoning one side and then stacking another piece on top.
- Set up a breading station: chicken (far left), flour, egg, breadcrumbs, landing plate/pan.
- Designate one hand for dry ingredients and one hand for wet when breading.
- Don't overcrowd the chicken in the frying pan/baking sheet!
- Blot the excess moisture from fresh mozzarella slices with paper towels so it doesn't make the chicken soggy.
- Don't use too much cheese, or the chicken-to-cheese ratio will be off.
- Leave some of the edges exposed for extra crispiness.
- Use homemade marinara sauce or good-quality store-bought for best results.
- Add a fresh basil leaf or two on top of the chicken for presentation and flavor.
This delicious traditional chicken parmesan can be served in so many different ways!
Keep it classic and serve it with your favorite pasta and leftover authentic marinara sauce, or make it a sandwich by stuffing it into a toasted Italian roll or garlic bread with extra cheese and sauce. Add a roasted long hot to make it spicy!
Chicken parm is a rich dish, so I like to serve it with something green on the side. Try it with garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe, escarole with olives and capers, or some roasted vegetables. You can also serve it along with a simple, crisp green salad, a spinach salad or Caesar salad!
No matter how you decide to serve it, this traditional chicken parmesan will definitely hit the spot!
Neutral oils with a high smoke point, such as Canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil are typically the best choices for frying. However, I prefer frying the chicken cutlets in extra virgin olive oil because it adds a superior flavor to the dish.
Yes, you can substitute homemade breadcrumbs made from crusty Italian or French bread with great results. You can also use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (but leave out the additional seasonings) or use regular, plain breadcrumbs for this recipe, but they will not produce the same light and crispy coating as the panko.
Yes, you can use pre-sliced mozzarella if it is a good quality cheese. The best results will come when you buy a block of fresh mozzarella and slice it or tear it yourself. Pre-sliced cheeses usually contain preservatives that can affect the texture and flavor of the dish.
Yes, you can use cornstarch as a substitute for flour when breading the chicken. Cornstarch has less gluten and will create a crispier coating.
You may need to adjust the measurements depending on how thick your chicken breasts are sliced. It is best to use ¼ cup of cornstarch for every ½ cup of all-purpose flour.
Yes! Simply substitute the all-purpose flour with a 1:1 ratio of gluten-free all-purpose flour and use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs instead of regular.
A dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, pairs well with chicken parmesan. lighter Italian red wine, such as Chianti Classico or Barbaresco also goes nicely with this dish. If you're looking for a sparkling option, Prosecco is always a great choice!
The best way to store leftovers is in the fridge for up to 4 days. Place the cooled chicken parm in an airtight container with a lid or on a plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap or foil, and place it in the refrigerator.
The best way to reheat chicken parm is in an oven preheated to 350°F. Place the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until warmed through.
Did you make this recipe and LOVE it? Please leave a star ⭐️ rating and/or comment to help other readers. I absolutely love hearing from you and do my best to answer all questions and comments. I love seeing when you make my recipes, so please tag me @ColeyCooks on Instagram and I will repost!Print