Classic Chicken Parmesan (Family Recipe)

Updated: Dec 2nd, 2023 · By Bethany Kramer
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Learn how to make my family’s chicken parmesan recipe! An Italian-American classic made of breaded chicken that is typically pan-fried, then baked with rich tomato sauce, Italian cheese, and herbs. My family has enjoyed this recipe for so many years. It is undoubtedly the best I’ve ever had. Whether you like the chicken pan-fried like the traditional version or baked to use less oil, this recipe has a method for both. From my family to yours!

A baking dish with chicken parmesan and fresh basil leaves in it. The baking dish is on a wooden background with fresh herbs and a dark gray napkin placed around it.

My family has been making this chicken parmesan recipe for as long as I can remember. It was my favorite growing up, and I often asked for it to be made on my birthday when my mom made us a special dinner. I learned to make this dish alongside my mom at a young age, so it brings me great joy to share such a beloved family recipe with you all!

A few things that make this recipe special are tenderizing the meat before assembling the dish, using homemade breadcrumbs for the crispiest breaded chicken, and using a quality marinara for rich flavor. We love to use our homemade San Marzano tomato sauce – another recipe of my mom’s that is so loved.

Chicken Parmesan History

Chicken parmesan (also known as chicken parmigiana) is an Italian-American dish that consists of thin breaded chicken cutlets that are typically fried, then baked with marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese!

You might be surprised to know that you’ll never find this dish in Italy. Although the recipe roots return to Italy, it is strictly an Italian-American dish.

Chicken parmigiana is similar to the famous Italian dish eggplant parmesan, also known as “parmigiana di melanzane” in Italy. It’s believed that Italian immigrants here in America drew inspiration from eggplant parmesan to then make it with chicken (and even veal!).

So, it is not common in Italian cuisine, but rather, chicken parmesan is Italian-inspired.

Recipe Highlights

One of the many reasons we love this recipe is because it’s…

COMFORTING & SPECIAL. There is always something special about homemade chicken parmesan. It’s a dish full of love and comforting Italian flavors!

RESTAURANT-QUALITY. It is a tried-and-true family recipe and better than any restaurant chicken parmesan I’ve had! A true restaurant-quality dish made in the comfort of your own home.

PERFECT FOR HOSTING. If you’re hosting a gathering, this dish feeds a crowd perfectly. And once it’s baking in the oven, you’re free to be with your guests and not be tied to the kitchen!

Ingredients

To make this recipe, the ingredients are pretty straightforward. Each component develops the perfect texture for the chicken’s crust and delicious flavor when it bakes in the oven!

Ingredients for chicken parmesan arranged on a brown wooden board.

Use the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and measurements.

Chicken breasts – use boneless skinless chicken breasts, then slice each breast in half length-wise to create two cutlets. Or you can use pre-cut breasts, also known as chicken cutlets.
Flour – use all-purpose flour or white whole wheat for dredging the chicken in. This is used to 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 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 in the pan-fried method to brown the chicken in batches. If you instead bake the chicken, you’ll only need a little oil.
Parmesan cheese – is used to add salty richness to the breadcrumbs and for sprinkling over the chicken at the end!
Fresh mozzarella cheese – used for layering over the chicken for baking. You can use shredded or sliced pieces of mozzarella.
Dried Italian herbs – I like to season my own breadcrumbs using a dried Italian herb blend.
Garlic powder – used for flavoring the breadcrumb mixture.
Black pepper & salt – for flavor.
Fresh basil – for sprinkling over top of the finished chicken parmesan!

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

First, prepare the chicken and ingredients!

  1. 1

    Tenderize the chicken. Place chicken cutlets/breasts in a large ziplock bag, or between two sheets of parchment paper.  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. 2

    Set up an assembly line. Line three shallow bowls together 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!

  1. 3

    Dredge in flour – First, dip the chicken cutlets in the flour on both sides. Shake off the excess flour.

  2. 4

    Dip into eggs. Then, transfer floured chicken and dip in egg mixture on both sides.

  3. 5

    Coat in 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!

  1. 6

    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)

  1. 8

    Layer with mozz. First, layer the mozzarella slice on each breaded cutlet.

  2. 9

    Add sauce. Then spoon a general amount of sauce over top.

  3. 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

I have two options for browning/cooking the chicken parmesan in this recipe. 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 parmesan that uses quite a 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. This requires a little effort but is always delicious!

The baked method uses 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 healthier!

A piece of chicken parmesan being lifted out of a pan on a spatula.

Tips for Success

Use tongs for less mess. You can use kitchen tongs for breading the chicken if you prefer not to use your hands!

Use quality marinara. This recipe is so delicious 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 use stainless steel if you don’t have a cast iron pan.

The best pan to bake chicken parmesan in. In the years I’ve spent making chicken parmesan with my mom, she always used stainless steel baking pans – never glass. Her reason for it is the stainless steel pans heat up much quicker than glass, so it leaves for a crustier chicken. We’ve found baking it in glass yields a soggy crust.

Make your own breadcrumbs. To elevate the taste and texture of chicken parmesan, I always recommend making your own breadcrumbs. It takes minutes to do and makes a world of difference from store-bought. Plus, you can make the breadcrumbs gluten-free or use healthier bread!

Make it gluten-free. If you’d like to make this recipe gluten-free, 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. We like Bob’s Red Mill one-to-one gf flour blend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the breading falling off my chicken? This is because of the liquid/moisture 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 the chicken, 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 parmesans is to tenderize the meat! This step is used in my recipe by pounding the chicken cutlets in a ziplock bag. This makes the chicken thinner, breaks down the muscle fibers, and naturally tenderizes it.

Our Favorite Ways to Serve It

Pasta. Chicken parmesan pairs so well with pasta. We serve it with whole grain/whole wheat pasta like rotini, farfalle, rigatoni, or a classic pairing with spaghetti! If you’re gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta – we like Jovial.

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 to room temperature and store in an airtight container. Freeze for 1-2 months. When ready to serve, let thaw at room temperature, cover in foil, and bake at 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, thaw at room temperature, and assemble in chicken parmesan when ready to bake.

A baking dish with chicken parmesan and fresh basil leaves in it. The baking dish is on a wooden background with fresh herbs and a parmesan cheese rind placed around it.

Other Delicious Italian Recipes to Try

The Best Chicken Parmesan (Parmigiana)

5 from 41 votes
Learn how to make my family's chicken parmesan recipe! An Italian-American classic made of tender breaded chicken topped with rich tomato sauce, melted cheese, and herbs. My family has enjoyed this recipe for so many years, and it is undoubtedly the best I've ever had. Whether you like the chicken baked to use less oil or pan-fried like the traditional version, this recipe has a method for both.
From my family to yours!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced in half length-wise to create 6 cutlets
  • 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

  • Preheat oven to 425F
  • Tenderize chicken: place chicken cutlets/breasts in a large ziplock bag or between two sheets of parchment paper. Firmly pound with a rolling pin or the smooth side of a meat hammer (chicken thickness should be 1/2 inch). Remove cutlets from the bag and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Breadcrumbs: In a shallow dish, mix all of breadcrumb ingredients together.
  • Assembly line: Set up a line of shallow bowls/dishes with flour, whisked eggs, and breadcrumbs. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • 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!

Video

YouTube video

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!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword authentic chicken parmesan, chicken parmigiana, easy chicken dinner
Freezer Friendly Yes
Author A Simple Palate

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken parmesan cutlet | Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 31.7g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 21.3g | Saturated Fat: 0g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 145mg | Sodium: 495mg | Potassium: 281mg | Fiber: 2.1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg

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Recipe Rating




112 Comments

  • Angela says:

    5 stars
    Best parmigiana I’ve ever had! Have printed this recipe and will continue using for years to come.

  • Claude says:

    5 stars
    Excellent merci beaucoup pour la vidéo très relaxe Super 🍅🍅🍅🥰🥰

  • Megan says:

    5 stars
    This was absolutely amazing. My family and friends loved it! I will definitely be making again! Thank you for sharing your family recipe — it is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

  • Chris says:

    Comes out perfect every time. Thank you Bethany.

  • Sam says:

    Hello Bethany,
    Thank you for the wonderful recipes. I have taken the Chicken Parmigiana, the Eggplant Parmigiana, the San Marzana Tomato Sauce and your Vege Lasagna recipes to work into my menu very soon. I know that these will be most wonderful. I am reducing the carbs and sugar from my diet and I think these will work in a most satisfying way.
    Thank you again,
    Sam

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hey sam! Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy all of those recipes! We have lots of lower carb options on the blog, so I hope you find them helpful and tasty. 🙂

  • Dawn says:

    Can it be made the day before?

  • Alan says:

    5 stars
    Hi! Made this recipe. Very easy and very tasty! Quick question: what is the secret to keep the crunchy crust at the bottom from falling off?
    -AA

    • Bethany Kramer says:

      Hi Alan! Really happy you enjoyed the recipe! As far as the bottom breading not falling off, I’d make sure first, that the egg coats over the floured chicken completely – this will ensure the breadcrumbs will stick. And then brush the pan you’re using with a little bit of oil! Let me know if that helps. I’ll have to test it for myself as well 🙂

  • MaryRuth says:

    5 stars
    Bethany! OMG, this is seriously the easiest and best chicken parmigiana that I have ever made thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I have been looking for a great parmigiana recipe for a long time and this is the recipe that I need it!

  • Charmian Entine says:

    5 stars
    Excellent. Did not have mozzarella so used Monterey Jack and it was delicious

  • Katie says:

    5 stars
    AWESOME

  • Mario says:

    5 stars
    Amazing authentic…..recipe could use some more seasoning!Buon appetite

  • Albertina says:

    5 stars
    These chicken parmigiana are very delicious! Its a great recipe & perfect for family dinner.

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