Crispy Parmesan Chicken

crispy parmesan chicken

When Craig told me our friend Lucci was coming for dinner on Monday night, I said “great!” I figured I could throw something together, it being a Monday and all. But when Monday rolled around I was at a loss. Do I make something complex, like a stew? Do I make a simple and satisfying soup, like a ribollita? And then it came to me in a flash: Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Escarole Salad. Aka: the fanciest-looking, easiest dinner in the world.

It’s All About That Breast

I’m normally not a fan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but as my sister-in-law once taught me they have their moments! Especially when you want a neutral protein to take on the impact of other flavors, like a sauce or, in this case, some zesty Parmesan bread crumbs.

Your first step is to take out your aggression and to pound the boneless, skinless breast between two layers of plastic. There’s really no right or wrong way to do this: I used a rolling pin, but you can use a skillet, a meat tenderizer, what have you. As long as the chicken’s about 1/4-inch thick when you’re done.

To Your Crispy Parmesan Chicken Stations!

Once you’ve flattened your breast (well, your chicken breast, not yours), you’ll want to season it well with salt and pepper. Then you get out three pie plates or cake pans or even just ordinary plates. Put all-purpose flour on one, three eggs in another, and finally some Panko breadcrumbs in the third. I used Italian-seasoned Panko, but that’s up to you. The main thing is that you season each component with more salt and pepper.

Then you dredge: first in the flour, then the egg, and finally the bread crumbs which you want to pat on extra aggressively. Considering the fact that I was making crispy parmesan chicken, I did forget one crucial ingredient: the Parmesan! I whisked that in at the end and patted some extra on.

Pretty Fly for a Fry Guy

The final beat is to fry your chicken. This isn’t frying chicken the way you’d fry traditional Southern fried chicken; this is a shallow fry. So get out your biggest cast iron skillet, pour in a layer of vegetable oil, and heat it until breadcrumbs instantly sizzle when you flick some in. Lay in your breaded breast away from you and fry until deeply golden brown on one side, then flip.

If that’s not getting you hungry, I really can’t help you.

You’ll Want a Salad with Your Crispy Parmesan Chicken

As you can see, Lucci was one happy Monday night dinner guest. What rounded out the dinner was a salad made with escarole, radicchio, and frisée. I whipped up a dressing with garlic, Dijon, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. The fresh, acidic, slightly bitter crunch of the salad was the perfect foil for the rich, salty, umami-packed crispy parmesan chicken.

And that’s how you do a Monday night dinner.

crispy parmesan chicken

Crispy Parmesan Chicken

An impressive-looking, easy to make fried chicken cutlet with a zippy, lemony salad.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword chicken, fried, parmesan, salad
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings 4 people


For the chicken:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 package Panko breadcrumbs (8 ounces) You can get the Italian-seasoned variety, if you want extra flavor.
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the salad dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, grated on a microplane
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • An assortment of salad greens, preferably bitter and crunchy ones like escarole, radicchio, and frisée


  • Start by laying a piece of plastic wrap on your cutting board: you'll probably want to pound two breasts at a time, so make it large enough for that. Lay in the two breasts, put a piece of plastic wrap on top, and whack away with a rolling pin until the breasts are 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining breasts. Season them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Place the flour in one pie plate, the eggs and the water in a second pie plate (whisking them together), the breadcrumbs and Parmesan in the third pie plate (mixing them together too). Season each component with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge each piece of chicken first through the flour, then the eggs, then the Panko/Parmesan mixture and set aside. You can actually coat all of the chicken ahead and refrigerate until you're ready to fry.
  • In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil on high heat until bubbles form around a few Panko breadcrumb testers. Lay in two pieces of chicken at a time and fry until golden brown on one side. Carefully flip and cook on the other side until equally brown. To check for doneness, use a thermometer and shoot for 155. You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven while you fry the rest.
  • Meanwhile, make your salad dressing by whisking together the Dijon, garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Slowly stream in your olive oil as you whisk, trying to get the mixture to emulsify. Stop after adding 1/2 a cup of oil and taste. If it's too acidic, keep adding oil until it's well-balanced. Toss half of the dressing with your lettuce leaves and taste. If it needs more dressing, add the rest.
  • To serve, place the four pieces of chicken on four plates and pile up the salad on the side. Grind some pepper on top and sprinkle with any extra Parmesan. Serve right away.

Related Posts:

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Chicken Milanese

The Best Fried Chicken of Your Life

Parmesan Chicken (Ina Garten)

Chicken Milanese with Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (Melissa Clark, NYT)

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