Chicken Parmesan
Chicken Parmesan
5 from 4 votes
Learn how to make the ultimate Italian comfort food: Chicken Parmesan. This step-by-step guide demystifies the process, making this classic dish attainable for all levels of cooks. Savour the crispy, cheesy chicken paired with rich tomato sauce.
Chicken Parmesan

My dear fellow foodies, we’re about to dive into one of my all-time favourites – Chicken Parmesan. If your taste buds are crying out for a satisfying dance of flavours, you’ve come to the right place.

Chicken Parmesan, or as the Italians would say, “Pollo alla Parmigiana,” has an interesting background. Despite its name, the dish isn’t from the Parma region, where Parmesan cheese originated. Actually, the dish came from Southern Italy, specifically from regions such as Campania and Sicily.

Here’s the fun part: the original Parmigiana dishes didn’t even involve chicken but were primarily made with aubergines (eggplants). The dish got its name not from Parmesan cheese, but from the method of preparation, called “Parmigiana.”

As the dish migrated to the United States with Italian immigrants, the chicken took centre stage due to its accessibility and popularity. The scrumptious creation of Chicken Parmesan we now enjoy is a lovely result of the adaptation of an original Italian recipe to American tastes and available ingredients.

Thus, this dish can be said to have a foot in two cultures, a truly international delicacy.

Now, let’s talk about the difficulty level of this recipe. While some might perceive Chicken Parmesan as a dish only to be attempted by seasoned cooks, I’m here to debunk that myth.

Yes, it involves several steps – from pounding the chicken to get the perfect thickness, to breading, frying, and baking – but trust me, every step is worth it.

Each contributes significantly to the final masterpiece of succulent chicken blanketed in a crispy, golden breadcrumb and Parmesan crust, smothered in tangy tomato sauce, and topped with bubbly, melted mozzarella.

You might be thinking, “But, I’ve never done any frying!” or “I can’t even make a good tomato sauce!” Rest easy, my friends, because this guide will walk you through every step.

Each component of the dish is straightforward. It’s about going slow, enjoying the process, and before you know it, you’ll have prepared a Chicken Parmesan that rivals any Italian restaurant’s offering.

Let’s be real, who can resist the delightful combo of chicken, cheese, and tomato sauce? It’s a trinity that never fails. The aromatic garlic and herbs in the sauce, the crusty parmesan chicken, and the final layer of melted mozzarella fuse together into a dish that is downright irresistible.

And there you have it. A bit of a history lesson, a dash of confidence boosting, and a whole lot of mouth-watering anticipation.

Now, my fellow home chefs, let’s grab our aprons and embark on the exciting culinary journey of making our very own Chicken Parmesan. It’s time to bring some Italian-American flavour to our kitchens!

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Well, there you have it, the recipe for the scrumptious, Italian favourite, Chicken Parmesan! It’s hearty, cheesy, and crispy, and trust me, the moment you take that first bite, you’ll be swooning.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the ingredients and their delightful roles in this recipe. Just imagine being the maestro conducting a culinary orchestra of flavours. Now, onto the symphony of ingredients!

Chicken Breasts: It wouldn’t be Chicken Parmesan without the chicken, would it? We opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts here, and they’re a stellar choice.

They’re lean, tender, and relatively neutral in flavour, which makes them perfect for soaking up all the other scrumptious elements. An alternative could be chicken thighs if you prefer darker, slightly more flavourful meat.

Plain Flour: This is the foundation of our crispy coating. It helps the eggs stick to the chicken, and believe me, that’s the beginning of the beautiful, golden crust we’re aiming for. Gluten-free flour can be used if dietary requirements dictate.

Eggs: Eggs act as the binding agent between the chicken and breadcrumbs. They ensure the breadcrumbs adhere properly, making for that crunchy exterior we all love. Some people like using buttermilk as a tangy alternative.

Breadcrumbs: The crown jewel of texture, breadcrumbs are essential to give our chicken that irresistible crunch. Traditional choices are panko or Italian breadcrumbs. However, if you’re aiming for gluten-free, there are gluten-free breadcrumbs out there.

Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan infuses the breadcrumb coating with a delightful tang and adds to the overall depth of flavour. If parmesan isn’t available, you can try other hard cheeses like pecorino or asiago.

Oil: This is for frying our lovely chicken breasts to a perfect golden brown. Canola or vegetable oil is ideal due to its high smoke points.

Chopped Tomatoes: The core of our tomato sauce, provides sweetness, acidity, and a beautiful colour. If canned tomatoes aren’t handy, fresh tomatoes, blanched and peeled, can do the trick too!

Garlic: This adds a savoury depth to the sauce that harmonizes perfectly with the tomato’s sweetness. Not a fan of garlic? Try shallots for a milder flavour.

Dried Oregano and Basil: These two iconic Italian herbs lend a hand in transporting you straight to an Italian grandma’s kitchen. Fresh herbs could also be used, remember, the conversion is typically three times the amount of fresh herbs to dry.

Sugar: A touch of sugar balances the acidity in the tomatoes, enhancing their natural sweetness. You could replace sugar with a small quantity of carrots for a natural, veggie-based sweetness.

Olive Oil: Used to sauté our garlic and give the tomato sauce a luxurious mouthfeel. In a pinch, you could use another neutral oil like canola, but nothing beats olive oil’s distinct flavour for an authentic touch.

And there you have it, folks! Each ingredient plays its part in the symphony, creating the fabulous dish we know and love as Chicken Parmesan. Time to grab your apron and your skillet!

Choosing the Right Breadcrumbs for Chicken Parmesan

In my journey of mastering the perfect Chicken Parmesan recipe, I’ve discovered that the type of breadcrumbs used significantly impacts the texture and flavour of the dish.

When I first started cooking this dish, I didn’t pay much attention to the breadcrumbs I used. However, through trial and error, I’ve come to realize how pivotal a role breadcrumbs play is.

There are typically two main types of breadcrumbs you can use – plain breadcrumbs and Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. Plain breadcrumbs offer a blank canvas, enabling me to add whatever seasonings I prefer.

For my Chicken Parmesan, I often mix plain breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, basil, and oregano to provide that distinct, flavourful crust.

Alternatively, I sometimes opt for Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs. These come pre-seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices that contribute to a robust and flavourful coating. Using these can help save time and effort, especially if I’m in a hurry. The only downside is the lack of control over the flavour profile; however, convenience often makes up for it.

Panko breadcrumbs are another favourite. Originating from Japan, Panko breadcrumbs are larger, crispier, and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs.

When I want my Chicken Parmesan to have a super crunchy and crispy outer layer, Panko breadcrumbs are my go-to choice.

Choosing the right breadcrumbs isn’t merely about taste; it’s about the experience you’re aiming to create with your Chicken Parmesan. From the satisfying crunch of Panko to the robust flavour of Italian breadcrumbs, the choices are indeed varied and worth experimenting with.

Using Chicken Thighs in Chicken Parmesan

Many recipes for Chicken Parmesan, including mine, typically call for chicken breasts. However, I’ve always been a fan of chicken thighs due to their flavour and juiciness. So, naturally, I wondered: could I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts for my Chicken Parmesan?

Chicken thighs tend to be more forgiving than chicken breasts, thanks to their higher fat content. I’ve found that even after frying and baking, chicken thighs retain their juiciness and flavour, avoiding the risk of becoming too dry or tough.

However, chicken thighs are smaller in size and could lead to a higher bone-to-meat ratio if I use bone-in thighs.

I’ve found that the key to using chicken thighs for Chicken Parmesan is to go boneless and skinless.

This not only makes the chicken thighs easier to work with but also ensures they are similar in thickness to chicken breasts. Even though they might be smaller, the enhanced flavour profile more than makes up for it.

The coating process remains the same. I dip the thighs in flour, egg, and my seasoned breadcrumb mixture before frying until they turn golden brown. Then, I top them with tomato sauce and cheese and bake until the cheese is melty and bubbly.

From my experience, swapping chicken breasts for thighs in Chicken Parmesan works quite well. The succulent, flavour-packed chicken thighs add a delightful twist to the classic dish.

Finding a Substitute for Parmesan Cheese in Chicken Parmesan

It’s no secret that Parmesan cheese is a key ingredient in Chicken Parmesan. However, I have found myself without it in the pantry at times or hosting guests who may not prefer it. Over the years, I’ve learned that there are alternatives that can be used as a substitute.

One of my go-to alternatives is Pecorino Romano. This cheese is similar to Parmesan but has a stronger, more assertive flavour. When I use Pecorino Romano, I tend to use a little less than the recipe calls for because of its potency.

Asiago cheese is another alternative that I use regularly. It has a slightly creamier texture and a milder flavour than Parmesan. When I use Asiago, I find that it melts beautifully on top of the Chicken Parmesan, creating a delightful, gooey topping.

Grana Padano is an Italian cheese that I’ve found to be a very close substitute for Parmesan. It has a similar flavour profile and texture, making it a reliable choice when Parmesan isn’t available.

Each of these substitutes has its own unique flavour profile and characteristics, which can subtly change the taste of the Chicken Parmesan. Through experimenting with different cheeses, I’ve learned that sometimes, a slight variation in flavour can give a whole new twist to a classic dish.

Achieving Crispy Chicken Parmesan

One of the main appeals of Chicken Parmesan for me is that irresistible, crispy crust that contrasts perfectly with the juicy chicken and gooey melted cheese. So, how do I make my Chicken Parmesan crispy?

First, I focus on the breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs, in particular, give the chicken a crispier and lighter coating due to their larger flakes. I often prefer them when I want a more pronounced crunch.

Another factor I consider is the oil temperature when frying the chicken. It’s essential to ensure the oil is hot enough; otherwise, the chicken could end up absorbing the oil instead of being seared by it, resulting in a soggy coating.

Also, I make sure not to crowd the pan when frying the chicken. Overcrowding can reduce the heat of the oil and cause the chicken to steam instead of fry, leading to a less crispy coating.

After frying, I drain the chicken well and pat off any excess oil. Before baking, I top the chicken with the sauce and cheese, being careful not to overdo it with the sauce, as too much can make the chicken soggy.

Ensuring that my Chicken Parmesan is crispy is a combination of the right ingredients, proper cooking techniques, and attention to detail. With these in place, I’ve found that I can consistently achieve a deliciously crispy Chicken Parmesan.

The Pros and Cons of Freezing Cooked Chicken Parmesan

At times, I find myself making more Chicken Parmesan than I can consume in one sitting. Naturally, I wondered if I could freeze the cooked dish without compromising its flavour or texture.

Through my experiments, I’ve found that freezing Chicken Parmesan is indeed feasible, although there are some factors to consider.

When I’ve decided to freeze my Chicken Parmesan, I usually prepare it up to the baking stage, and instead of popping it in the oven, I let it cool and then freeze it.

The advantage of this approach is that I have a ready-made meal waiting for me in the freezer. When I’m ready to eat it, I simply need to thaw it and bake it, resulting in a meal that’s just as delicious as when freshly prepared.

However, there is a downside. Even though the frozen Chicken Parmesan tastes good, the texture can sometimes change slightly after freezing.

The chicken may lose a bit of its juiciness, and the breadcrumb coating might not be as crispy as when freshly made. This doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable – but the texture will be slightly different.

To minimize these effects, I ensure the dish is well wrapped and sealed before freezing to prevent freezer burn and loss of flavour. I also use a gentle defrosting process, usually in the refrigerator overnight, and not in the microwave, as the latter can make the chicken go tough.

So, while freezing cooked Chicken Parmesan is certainly possible and convenient, it does come with minor trade-offs in texture and freshness. But for me, the convenience and ease often outweigh these cons, especially on busy days when cooking from scratch isn’t an option.

Determining the Correct Baking Time for Chicken Parmesan

Over the years, I’ve learned that the key to a perfectly baked Chicken Parmesan is getting the baking time just right. You want the chicken to be cooked through, and the cheese to be melted and slightly browned, but you don’t want to overcook the chicken and end up with a dry dish.

Most Chicken Parmesan recipes, including mine, recommend baking the dish in a preheated oven at 200°C (180°C fan)/Gas mark 6 for around 15-20 minutes.

In my experience, this is usually enough time to melt and slightly brown the cheese without overcooking the chicken, especially if I have already fried the chicken before baking.

However, there are a few factors that I consider. For instance, the size and thickness of the chicken breasts can affect the baking time. Larger, thicker breasts may require a few more minutes in the oven, while smaller ones may be ready sooner.

Also, the type of oven I use can influence the baking time. Convection ovens, which circulate hot air around the food, typically cook faster than conventional ovens. Therefore, if I’m using a convection oven, I might reduce the baking time by a few minutes.

Through careful observation and the use of a food thermometer, I’ve been able to gauge when my Chicken Parmesan is perfectly done. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach at least 165°F (74°C) to ensure it’s cooked through.

Pairing Suggestions for Chicken Parmesan

Over time, I’ve come to realize that Chicken Parmesan, while absolutely delicious on its own, can be further elevated when served with the right side dishes. Here are some of my favourite pairings that harmonize beautifully with the robust flavours of Chicken Parmesan.

Pasta is a classic pairing with Chicken Parmesan. I often serve my Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti or linguini, tossed lightly in olive oil, garlic, and a sprinkle of Parmesan. The pasta provides a pleasant, contrasting texture to the crispy chicken and doesn’t overpower the main dish.

For a low-carb option, I opt for zucchini noodles, often referred to as “zoodles”. They offer a similar texture to spaghetti but with fewer calories and carbs. I’ve found that the mild flavour of zucchini noodles complements the rich flavours of the Chicken Parmesan quite well.

I also love serving a crisp, fresh salad on the side. A simple green salad with a tangy vinaigrette or a classic Caesar salad often works best, as the acidity helps to cut through the richness of the Chicken Parmesan.

Alternatively, roasted vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, or zucchini are great for adding some additional colour and nutrients to the meal.

Finally, a warm slice of garlic bread never goes amiss with Chicken Parmesan. The buttery, garlicky bread is perfect for mopping up the leftover sauce on the plate, making sure none of that deliciousness goes to waste.

Remember, pairing is all about creating a balanced meal that complements the main dish. I love experimenting with different side dishes to see which flavours work best with my Chicken Parmesan.

Making Chicken Parmesan without Frying

Chicken Parmesan is traditionally prepared by breading and frying the chicken before baking it in the oven. But what if I told you it’s possible to skip the frying step without sacrificing too much on taste and texture?

On occasions when I wanted to cut down on the oil or simply didn’t feel like dealing with the mess of frying, I decided to try baking the chicken instead. To my delight, I found that it’s not only possible, but it can also result in a delicious Chicken Parmesan.

I start by preheating my oven to 200°C (400°F). Then, instead of frying the breaded chicken breasts, I place them on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is crispy.

I then proceed with the recipe as usual, adding the tomato sauce and cheese and baking for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

The key to ensuring the chicken still gets crispy is to turn on the broiler for the last few minutes of baking. This helps to brown and crisp up the breadcrumb coating without frying.

I’ve found that while the texture of the chicken isn’t exactly the same as when it’s fried – it’s not quite as crispy – the overall flavour of the dish is still delicious, and it’s a healthier version of the traditional Chicken Parmesan.

A Vegetarian Take on Chicken Parmesan

Being a flexible cook, I always love to accommodate the dietary preferences of my friends and family. Over the years, this has led me to experiment with a vegetarian version of the classic Chicken Parmesan.

To replace the chicken, my favourite alternative has been eggplant. Its meaty texture and ability to soak up flavours make it an excellent choice. I prepare the eggplant by slicing it into half-inch thick rounds, then proceeding with the same breading and frying process used for chicken. The eggplant slices end up crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and bursting with flavours.

Another substitute I’ve used is firm tofu. To prepare tofu, I press it to remove excess water, slice it into slabs, and then follow the standard breading process. The tofu absorbs the flavours of the tomato sauce and cheese wonderfully, resulting in a hearty and satisfying dish.

Portobello mushrooms also make for a delightful substitute. Their large, flat caps are ideal for breading and frying, and their earthy flavour pairs beautifully with the tomato sauce and melted cheese. I simply remove the stems, scrape out the gills, and proceed as if I was making the chicken version.

While these substitutes don’t perfectly replicate the taste and texture of chicken, they each bring something unique to the table. They provide an excellent way to enjoy the flavours of Chicken Parmesan, even if you’re vegetarian or simply want a break from meat.

Health Benefits of Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan is known more for its deliciousness rather than its health benefits. But if you break down the ingredients, it’s clear that it can be a reasonably balanced meal, especially when served with a side of veggies or a salad.

Firstly, the chicken breasts serve as an excellent source of lean protein. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues in our bodies and keeping us feeling satiated. In my Chicken Parmesan, the chicken is breaded and fried, but it can also be baked for a healthier version.

Parmesan cheese, besides being rich and flavourful, provides a good amount of calcium, which is vital for strong bones and teeth. The tomato sauce offers a good dose of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant known to have several health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

The herbs used, such as garlic, oregano, and basil, have various health-promoting properties too. For instance, garlic has been linked to improved heart health, while oregano and basil have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Remember, while Chicken Parmesan can provide some nutritional benefits, it’s still important to consider portion sizes, especially when it comes to the cheese and the oil used for frying. As part of a balanced diet, though, Chicken Parmesan can certainly be a dish to enjoy both for its taste and its nutrients.

Check Out These Other Recipes

Let’s talk about a few more delightful dishes you can whip up in your kitchen that will remind you of the comforting taste of our main dish, Chicken Parmesan.

If you loved the rustic and hearty appeal of Chicken Parmesan, then Garlic Bruschetta will blow you away. Fresh, crisp bread toasted to perfection and coated with a generous layer of garlic. Each bite will transport you to the vibrant streets of Italy.

Perhaps you’re still dreaming about that Parmesan-infused chicken? In that case, Chicken Lasagna could be your next endeavour. Imagine layers of succulent chicken, creamy béchamel sauce, and melted cheese all encased within soft pasta sheets. This is a dish that resonates with comfort and indulgence, just like our star recipe.

Now, who can resist a classic Italian Spaghetti Bolognese? Rich and savoury minced meat cooked in a hearty tomato sauce served atop a bed of perfectly cooked spaghetti. It’s a dish that tells a story of tradition and satisfies the soul, much like the Chicken Parmesan.

Let’s not forget our vegetarian friends. The Roast Potatoes could be the perfect companion for your vegetarian Italian escapade. Crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, these roast potatoes are seasoned to perfection and bring a touch of homely comfort, complementing the robust flavours of the Chicken Parmesan.

Oh, and who can forget Pizza? A Cheese and Tomato Pizza to be precise. Imagine pulling that out of your oven, the cheese bubbling and crust golden. A simple yet delightful dish that pairs beautifully with the intricate flavours of our Chicken Parmesan.

I believe I’ve given you enough inspiration to embark on your culinary journey. And remember, every great chef started with a single dish. I hope you find joy in cooking these dishes as much as you enjoyed the Chicken Parmesan.

I encourage you to leave your feedback and share your cooking experiences in the comments below.

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

by Nabeela Kauser
This chicken parmesan recipe features a deliciously crisp chicken breast smothered in a rich homemade tomato sauce and beautifully melted cheese. A winning family dish that is perfect for a cosy dinner at home.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Western
Servings 4
Calories 606 kcal

Ingredients

For the Chicken:

  • 4 Chicken Breasts Skinless
  • 100 g Plain Flour
  • 2 large Eggs Beaten
  • 120 g Breadcrumbs
  • 50 g Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt To taste
  • Black Pepper To taste
  • Oil For frying

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 400 g Tomatoes Chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 tsp Oregano Dried
  • 1 tsp Basil Dried
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/Gas mark 6.
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in a second shallow bowl. In a third shallow bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.
  • Dip each chicken breast in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the breadcrumbs onto the chicken to coat it well.
  • Heat the oil for shallow frying in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the chicken breasts for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and set aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat up the olive oil and add the minced garlic, sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Place the chicken breasts on top of the sauce, and spoon more sauce over the chicken. Top with grated mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve with spaghetti or your favourite pasta. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.

Nutrition

Calories: 606kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 63gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.04gCholesterol: 246mgSodium: 862mgPotassium: 1168mgFibre: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 419IUVitamin C: 12mgVitamin D: 1µgCalcium: 271mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Cooking, Dinner, Food, Recipe
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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Neela
Neela
10 months ago

5 stars
Amazing recipe. Came out delicious and loved by all

Welcome!

Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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