How to Make Chicken Parmesan That's Deliciously Crispy on the Outside and Juicy Inside
Your planned menu for an Italian night at home doesn’t have to be full of pasta (though there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!) to be family-friendly. Chicken dinners are winners among all kinds of taste palates. When you master the steps to making chicken Parmesan, you’ll always have a dinner idea to bring to the table that will be quickly devoured. Fortunately, the steps are pretty simple: Make a tomato sauce, flatten the chicken, prepare a delicious Parmesan breading, coat the chicken, cook, and serve. If you’re serving tomato-averse eaters, chicken piccata is a good alternative for an Italian chicken dish. Our step-by-step chicken Parmesan directions ensure success.
Step 1: Make the Sauce for Your Chicken ParmesanGet the Recipe
The first step is the sauce. Chicken Parmesan is served with a simple tomato sauce. To make it, simply combine the pantry ingredients listed in the recipe in a 2-qt. saucepan ($30, Target), bring to a boil, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. While your sauce simmers, start on the next steps.
Step 2: Pound the Chicken to Flatten
For quicker cooking (not to mention more surface area for yummy breading), use the flat side of a meat mallet ($16, OXO) to pound chicken between pieces of plastic wrap to about ¼ inch. The plastic wrap keeps any raw meat juices from getting on kitchen surfaces. Discard the plastic wrap as soon as you're finished to prevent cross-contamination.
Step 3: Make the Bread Crumb Mixture and Egg Wash
- In one bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning (we use oregano in our recipe).
- In the other bowl combine eggs and milk.
Step 4: Dip Chicken in Egg and Crumbs
It's almost time to start cooking! The last step before adding your chicken to the skillet is to dip each piece first in the egg mixture then in the crumb mixture to fully coat the chicken. Let excess crumbs fall back into your dish for the remaining breasts.
Step 5: Cook the Chicken
Our Test Kitchen's preferred method of cooking a chicken Parmesan recipe is to skillet-cook in oil. If you prefer to make chicken Parmesan in the oven, see the section on baking chicken Parmesan below.
- Heat oil in a very large skillet.
- Add chicken; cook 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden.
- When your chicken reaches that beautiful golden color, transfer it to a platter.
Step 6: Add Toppings to Complete Your Chicken Parmesan Recipe
Add the finishing touches to your easy chicken Parmesan recipe to make it look pretty enough to be pictured in a magazine:
- Spoon the tomato sauce over each breast.
- Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Let it stand for just a couple minutes until the cheese melts.
Test Kitchen Tip: For pretty presentation and/or a heartier meal, our Test Kitchen suggests:
- Garnish with additional fresh basil for a pop of color on the plate.
- Make the dish even heartier by serving with cooked pasta.
How to Make Baked Chicken Parmesan
For a baked chicken Parmesan recipe, you need to tweak only the cooking method and cooking time. Make as directed above through Step 4 (dipping in egg and bread crumb mixtures), then:
- Coat a baking sheet with sides with nonstick cooking spray (or line with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray for even less mess to clean your pan).
- Place chicken on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 450°F for about 15 minutes or 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes if you didn't get your chicken pounded quite as thin as directed to ensure it cooks evenly throughout. Whichever oven temperature you choose, the chicken is done when a meat thermometer ($15, Target) registers 165°F.
- Top and serve as directed in the skillet method.
Why bake chicken Parmesan? It does take longer to bake chicken Parmesan than to cook it in a skillet, but it avoids extra fat from the oil or butter you put in the skillet, so calories and fat are a bit reduced using the baking method.