The Best Chicken Parmesan {Family Recipe}

Learn how to make authentic chicken parmesan! The most tender breaded chicken topped with hearty tomato sauce, melted cheese, and lots of herbs. This chicken parm recipe is one my family has been making for years and to this day is the best I’ve ever had! Whether you like it baked or pan-fried, this recipe has a method for both.

From my family to yours!

Chicken parmesan baked in a pan with fresh basil leaves arranged over top.

Chicken parmesan (also known as chicken parmigiana) is an American-Italian dish that consists of tender breaded chicken covered in marinara with melted mozzarella & parmesan cheese!

You’ll find that this chicken parmigiana is similar to the famous Italian dish eggplant parmesan, also known as “parmigiana di melanzane” in Italy. Even though eggplant parm is a beloved Italian classic, you’ll be surprised to know chicken parmesan is not Italian! But rather, Italian-inspired.

It’s believed that Italian immigrants here in America drew inspiration from eggplant parmesan to then make it with chicken (and even veal!).

Whether it was Italian or not, I knew one thing to be true growing up… That my mom made the best chicken parmesan around! No restaurant or other recipe has ever compared.

This dish is a family favorite and has been served for all of our family birthday dinners, holidays, and special occasions for years! It’s truly beloved.

You’ll find every bite filled with fall-apart juicy chicken, rich homemade tomato sauce, and so much flavor.

Ingredients – What You Need

Below you’ll find the full list of ingredients needed for this recipe!

Ingredients for chicken parmesan arranged on a brown wooden board.

Chicken cutlets or breasts: use boneless skinless chicken breasts, then slice each breast in half length-wise to create 2 cutlets.
Flour: use all-purpose flour or white whole wheat for dredging the chicken in. This helps brown the chicken.
Eggs: an egg mixture is used to help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken after coating it in flour.
Breadcrumbs: for the breading mixture – you can use store-bought panko breadcrumbs or use homemade breadcrumbs.
Marinara: use a quality store-bought marinara sauce or make a homemade sauce! See below for my top recommendations.
Olive oil: oil is used to brown the chicken in batches. It’s also used in a smaller portion for baking the chicken if you use that method.
Parmesan cheese: is used to add cheesiness to the breadcrumbs and for sprinkling over the chicken at the end!
Fresh mozzarella cheese: layer over the chicken and for sprinkling over the top! You can use shredded or sliced pieces of mozzarella.
Dried Italian herbs: are used to season the breadcrumbs so the chicken has lots of flavor.
Garlic powder: for flavoring the breadcrumb mixture.
Black pepper & salt: for flavor!
Fresh basil: for sprinkling over top of the finished chicken parm!

How to Make Chicken Parmesan – Step by Step (Baked and Pan-Fried Method)

First, prepare the chicken and ingredients!

(1) Tenderize the chicken – Place chicken cutlets/breasts in a large ziplock bag, and firmly pound with a rolling pin or smooth side of a meat mallet – chicken thickness should be 1/2 inch.) After, pat the chicken cutlets dry with a paper towel.

(2) Set up an assembly line of three shallow bowls with the breadcrumb mixture, flour, and egg mixture.

A collage of two photos showing how to make chicken parmesan. The first photo is a hand using a roller pin to pound on a clear bag of chicken breasts. The second photo is three dishes in a row, one dish has breadcrumbs, one has flour, and one has mixed eggs in it.

Next, bread the chicken!

(3) Flour – First, dip the chicken cutlets in the flour on both sides. Shake off the excess flour.

(4) Egg – Then, transfer floured chicken and dip in egg mixture on both sides.

(5) Breadcrumbs – Last, dip both sides of the chicken in bread crumbs. Evenly coat and pack breadcrumbs lightly using your hand.

A collage of three photos showing how to bread chicken cutlets for chicken parmesan. The first photo is a hand dipping a chicken cutlet in a white dish of flour. The second photo is a hand dipping the chicken breast in a white dish of whisked eggs. The third photo is a hand dipping the same chicken breast into a dish of breadcrumbs.

Brown the chicken!

(6-7) Pan-fry the chicken – In a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add the breaded chicken and brown for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden in color. Then lay the browned chicken in a large stainless steel baking dish.

A collage of two photos showing how to pan-dry chicken parmesan. The first photo is browned breaded chicken in a cast iron skillet. The second photo is the breaded chicken in a stainless steel pan.

Lastly, layer and bake! (Pan-fried method continued)

(8) Mozz! First, layer the mozzarella slice on each cutlet.

(9) Sauce! Then spoon a general amount of sauce over top.

(10) Bakethen parm! Bake the chicken parmesan uncovered for 14 minutes at 425F. Then sprinkle parmesan over top and broil on HIGH for the last minute.

A collage of three photos. The first photo is breaded chicken cutlets in a pan with a round slice of mozzarella on each piece of chicken. The second photo is the breaded chicken cutlets covered in red tomato sauce in a pan. The third photo is the same chicken being sprinkled with fresh parmesan cheese over top.

Difference Between Baking Chicken Parm vs Pan-Frying

In this recipe, I have two options for browning/cooking the chicken parmesan. I love both, but for different reasons! Here’s the difference between the two methods.

The pan-fried method is the traditional method for chicken parm that uses quite of bit of oil to brown the chicken cutlets in a pan. This method only browns the chicken, so it is not fully cooked and needs to be baked in the oven for the chicken parmesan to be finished. So this requires a little effort, but is always delicious!

The baked method uses a lot less oil and bakes the chicken completely in the oven. The first chunk of the baking time is for the chicken to cook through and the crust to brown, then the last few minutes are for layering the sauce and melting the cheese. In my opinion, the results are almost identical to the pan-frying. This method saves time, uses less oil, and is overall a healthier version!

A fork cutting into a piece of chicken parmesan.

Tips for Success

Tip
stainless steel baking pans

choosing the right baking vessel

Our Favorite Stainless Steel Pans

Growing up, my mom ALWAYS used her stainless steel hotel pans for Italian recipes – especially chicken parmesan. We recommend using them over glass baking dishes because of how well they heat up and help perfectly cook the chicken! They've been a staple in our kitchen for years.

  • Chicken breast vs chicken cutlets. For chicken parmesan, you can use either chicken breast or chicken cutlets. The difference? A chicken breast is a whole thing; a chicken cutlet is a slice of meat cut from a chicken breast. It is generally thinner than the whole breast.
  • Use quality marinara. What makes this recipe so delicious is using my family’s San Marzano Tomato Sauce or this fresh tomato sauce. But when we don’t have homemade sauce, we also love to use our favorite store-bought sauce!
  • The best pan for browning chicken. Use a cast iron skillet for browning chicken. This heavy-duty pan gets hot quickly and helps brown the breading perfectly for this recipe. You can also use stainless steel if you don’t have cast iron on hand. 
  • Make your own breadcrumbs. To elevate the taste and texture of chicken parm, I always recommend making your own breadcrumbs. It takes minutes to do and makes a world of difference from store-bought. Plus you can customize it if you want the breadcrumbs to be healthier or gluten-free!
  • Best baking vessel. my mom always recommends using a stainless steel pan for baking chicken – especially chicken parm. It will heat up fast, stay hot, and keep the chicken crispy – not soggy!
  • Make it gluten-free. If you’d like to make this recipe gluten-free friendly, you can use gluten-free breadcrumbs or make your own breadcrumbs using your favorite gluten-free bread! Also, use a gluten-free flour blend to dredge the chicken in.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the breading falling off my chicken? This is because of the liquid/moisture that is already on the chicken breasts. The best way to avoid this is by patting the chicken breasts dry with paper towels before breading them! This will ensure the breading stays on the chicken and doesn’t slip off when baked.

How can I prevent a soggy chicken parmesan? To avoid a soggy bottom, don’t over-sauce your chicken parmesan! Also using a thicker consistency marinara helps too. A few other things are using stainless steel pans for baking (not glass) and leaving it uncovered to get crisp edges! Once you cover chicken parm, it traps the moisture and will begin to soften the crust.

Why is my chicken parmesan tough? One of the best ways to avoid “tough” chicken parm is to tenderize the meat! This step is used in my recipe by pounding the chicken cutlets in a ziplock bag. This not only makes them thinner to cook faster but breaks down the meat and changes the texture to be super tender once it’s baked!

Our Favorite Ways to Serve It

Pasta. Chicken parmesan pairs so well with pasta. We like to serve it with whole grain/whole wheat pasta like penne, farfalle, rigatoni, or spaghetti!

Zoodles. If you’re looking for a lighter side to pair it with, you can do zucchini noodles or vegetable noodles as a healthier replacement for pasta.

Salad/greens. We love to serve this with our Tuscan artichoke salad, Italian salad, or this cannellini bean salad!

Bread. And of course, some crusty Italian or sourdough bread on the side is a must!

Tips For Freezing & Storing Leftovers

Keep leftovers fresh: store cooked chicken in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. To reheat, place in a baking tray and cover with foil, bake at 350F until warm.

Freezing tips (2 ways):
Freeze chicken parm: as the recipe instructs, let cool the room temperature and then store in an airtight container. Freeze for 1-2 months. When ready to serve, let thaw at room temperature, and cover in foil, and bake 425F until warm.

Freeze chicken cutlets: another way to freeze is by breading the chicken cutlets and browning them in a pan. Let cool to room temperature before storing in freezer-friendly bags (air removed). Freeze for 1-2 months then thaw at room temperature and assemble in chicken parmesan when ready to bake.

Other Delicious Italian Recipes to Try

Chicken parmesan baked in a pan with fresh basil leaves arranged over top.

If you tried this The Best Chicken Parmesan (Parmigiana) recipe or any other recipe, don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK for more crave-worthy content.

A fork cutting into a piece of chicken parmesan.

The Best Chicken Parmesan (Parmigiana)

5 from 31 votes

Learn how to make authentic chicken parmesan! Tender breaded chicken topped with hearty tomato sauce, melted cheese, and lots of herbs. This recipe is one my family has been making for years and to this day is the best I’ve ever had! Whether you like it baked or pan-fried, this recipe has a method for both.

From my family to yours!

Servings 6
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 45 mins

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Tags: authentic chicken parmesan, chicken parmigiana, easy chicken dinner
Freezer Friendly: Yes
Calories: 454 kcal
Author: Bethany Kramer

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced in half length-wise to create 6 cutlets (see notes for difference)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour can also use gluten-free flour blend or white whole wheat
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Breadcrumbs

  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp (each) salt & pepper
  • 2 tsp Italian herb blend (thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

For the Topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F

  2. Tenderize chicken: place chicken cutlets/breasts in a large ziplock bag, and firmly pound with a rolling pin or smooth side of a meat hammer (chicken thickness should be 1/2 inch). Remove cutlets from the bag and pat dry with paper towels.

  3. Breadcrumbs: In a shallow dish, mix all of breadcrumb ingredients together.

  4. Assembly line: Set up a line of shallow bowls/dishes with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs. 

  5. Bread the chicken: First, coat the chicken in flour on both sides, then shake off the excess flour that isn't sticking. Transfer to whisked eggs, then dip into the breadcrumbs. Use your hands to gently pack the breadcrumbs onto each side of the chicken. Repeat until all the cutlets have been breaded.

  6. Brown the chicken: Heat 3 tablespoons of oil at a time in a cast iron skillet or pan on LOW to MEDIUM heat. Brown chicken for 2-3 minutes on both sides until the breading is golden.

  7. Layer and bake: arrange browned chicken in a large baking dish or pan. Layer first with mozzarella slices then tomato sauce over top. Bake uncovered in the oven for 14 minutes – remove from oven then sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese. Then broil on HIGH for 1 minute until the cheese is melted and browned. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve!

Instructions for Baked Chicken Parmesan

  1. If you would like to use less oil, use this baking method instead! I love making chicken parmesan this way and the results are almost identical to pan-frying.

    Baked method: preheat oven to 450F. Follow steps 2-5 above, then after breading the chicken, lay the cutlets in a generously oiled baking pan. Spray the chicken with olive oil, or brush with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven and layer with mozzarella, sauce, and parmesan and bake for 5 additional minutes. Broil on HIGH for the last minute for the cheese to brown. Serve with fresh basil!

Notes

Use quality marinara. What makes this recipe so delicious is using my family’s San Marzano Tomato Sauce or this fresh tomato sauce. But when we don’t have homemade sauce, we also love to use our favorite store-bought sauce!

Make your own breadcrumbs. To elevate the taste and texture of chicken parm, I always recommend making your own breadcrumbs. It takes minutes to do and makes a world of difference from store-bought. Plus you can customize it if you want the breadcrumbs to be healthier or gluten-free!

Nutrition Facts
The Best Chicken Parmesan (Parmigiana)
Amount Per Serving (1 chicken parmesan cutlet)
Calories 454 Calories from Fat 192
% Daily Value*
Fat 21.3g33%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 145mg48%
Sodium 495mg21%
Potassium 281mg8%
Carbohydrates 31.7g11%
Fiber 2.1g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 0IU0%
Vitamin C 0mg0%
Calcium 0mg0%
Iron 0mg0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Instagram

Did you make this recipe? Share your photos and tag @asimplepalate #asimplepalate.

Tools Used To Make This Recipe

The following are affiliate links. We only recommend brands, products, and tools we use and trust.
avatar

Bethany Kramer

Bethany Kramer is the cook and photographer behind A Simple Palate. She found a deep love for food and nutrition after learning to cook from her mom at eight years old. Since then she’s been developing and sharing recipes from her own kitchen that are bold in flavor and nourishing to the body!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




85 Comments