Easy Chicken Parmesan

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Chicken Parmesan

This recipe takes a few shortcuts, making it doable on a weeknight, yet tastes as good as the chicken parmesan from your favorite Italian restaurant.

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Everyone loves chicken parmesan but the traditional recipe can be so time-consuming. Between making the homemade sauce and pounding, breading, and pan-frying the chicken—not to mention melting the cheese over the chicken in the oven—the dish takes well over an hour and leaves you with a sinkful of dishes.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! My recipe takes a few smart shortcuts, making it doable on a weeknight, yet tastes as good as the chicken parmesan from your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s also a nice dish for company since much of the prep can be done ahead of time.

Shortcuts for Making Chicken Parmesan

Most recipes call for boneless skinless chicken breasts, which need to be sliced in half horizontally and pounded thin. I use chicken tenderloins instead. Tenderloins can be quickly flattened with the palm of your hand to ensure even cooking — and, unlike the convenient thinly sliced chicken cutlets you find at the store, they are practically guaranteed to be tender and juicy.

I also use jarred marinara sauce. The recipe only calls for 1-1/2 cups of sauce, so it doesn’t make sense to make it from scratch, especially when there are plenty of good store-bought options (Rao’s and Victoria are both good options).

Ingredients

ingredients for chicken parmesan

You’ll notice that I use Japanese-style panko instead of the more traditional Italian-style fine bread crumbs for coating the chicken. When combined with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, the panko creates a feathery, crisp crust. It also stays crispy long after it is cooked, so you don’t have to pan-fry the chicken at the very last minute.

Mozzarella cheese is usually called for in chicken parmesan recipes. However, I prefer fontina, a semisoft cheese with a buttery, nutty flavor. Fontina stays gooey after it’s melted, while mozzarella tends to turn rubbery as soon as it comes out of the oven. Most large supermarkets carry Swedish or Danish fontina (with a red wax rind), which is ideal for cooking.

How To Make Chicken Parmesan

flattening chicken tenderloins with palms

Begin by prepping the tenderloins. You may notice a white tendon at the end of the tenderloin. Go ahead and trim it off with a knife or kitchen shears. Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten the tenderloins so that they are an even 1/4-inch thickness. Season the chicken all over with 1-1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

chicken tenderloins seasoned with salt and pepper on cutting board

In a large shallow bowl (I use a pie plate), combine the panko, 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano, the oregano, the thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

breading ingredients in shallow bowl

Mix well, making sure there are no clumps of cheese.

combined breading ingredients in shallow bowl

Place the flour in another shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in a third bowl. Set up a breading station in this order: flour, eggs, panko.

breading station with flour, eggs, and panko mixture

Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating evenly.

dusting chicken with flour

Dip in the eggs, letting any excess drip off; then dredge in the panko mixture, turning and patting to adhere.

dipping chicken in eggs and then panko mixture

Place the breaded chicken on a lined baking sheet. (The recipe can be prepared up to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to 8 hours ahead of time. The breaded tenders can also be frozen for up to 3 months.)

breaded chicken tenderloins on baking sheet

In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1/8 inch of oil over medium heat until shimmering. Place 5 or 6 tenders in the pan in a single layer.

pan frying chicken parmesan

Cook until the first side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner, adding additional oil only if necessary.

golden brown chicken in pan

Place the cooked chicken on the prepared baking sheet.

pan fried chicken arranged on lined sheet pan

Sprinkle the fontina and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano over the center of the chicken tenderloins, leaving the sides bare so that they remain crispy.

sprinkling fontina and parmesan cheese over chicken

Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling; 1 to 2 minutes.

chicken parmesan with melted cheese after broiling

Warm the marinara sauce, then taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. With store-bought sauce, I find a generous pinch of sugar and some fresh basil go a long way.

warming the sauce on the stovetop

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon the marinara sauce over the cheese, again leaving the sides bare so that they stay crispy. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.

For more restaurant-style Italian chicken recipes, check out my Chicken Marsala and Chicken Piccata

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Easy Chicken Parmesan

This recipe takes a few shortcuts, making it doable on a weeknight, yet tastes as good as the chicken parmesan from your favorite Italian restaurant.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1-1/2 cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce, best quality such as Rao's or Victoria
  • 6 oz fontina, shredded (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

Instructions

  1. Using kitchen shears, trim off any white tendons at the ends of the tenderloins. Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten the tenderloins so that they are an even 1/4-inch thickness. Season the chicken all over with 1-1/4 teaspoons of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper.
  2. In a large shallow bowl, combine the panko, 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano, the oregano, the thyme, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Mix well, making sure there are no clumps of cheese.
  3. Place the flour in another shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in a third bowl. Set up a breading station in this order: flour, eggs, panko. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating evenly; dip in the eggs, letting any excess drip off; then dredge in the panko mixture, turning and patting to adhere. Place the breaded chicken on the prepared baking sheet. (The recipe can be prepared up to this point, covered, and refrigerated up to 8 hours ahead of time.)
  4. Preheat the broiler and set an oven rack about 4 inches from the heating element. Bring the marinara sauce to a simmer over low heat. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking (with store-bought sauce, I find a generous pinch of sugar and fresh basil go a long way). Cover and keep warm.
  5. Line another baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment for easy clean up; set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, heat about 1/8 inch of oil over medium heat until shimmering. Place 5 or 6 tenders in the pan in a single layer and cook until the first side is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Place the cooked chicken on the prepared baking sheet. Cook the remaining chicken in the same manner, adding additional oil only if necessary. You may need to lower the the heat as you go, so that the chicken doesn't brown before it is cooked through.
  6. Sprinkle the fontina and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano over the center of the chicken tenderloins, leaving the sides bare so that they remain crispy. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter or individual plates. Spoon the marinara sauce over the cheese, again leaving the sides bare so that they stay crispy. Sprinkle with fresh basil and serve.
  8. Make-Ahead Instructions: The chicken tenders can be breaded and refrigerated up to 8 hours before pan-frying. The chicken is best and crispiest when fried right before baking, but it can also be fried up to 4 hours in advance and refrigerated. Reheat the chicken in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes, before adding the cheese and proceeding with the recipe.
  9. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The breaded chicken tenders can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze the chicken on the baking sheet until firm, about 1 hour, then transfer to a resealable freezer bag or layer in an airtight container with sheets of parchment between the tenders. Defrost in the refrigerator before cooking.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (About 12 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 piece
  • Calories: 410
  • Fat: 25 g
  • Saturated fat: 8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 21 g
  • Sodium: 751 mg
  • Cholesterol: 101 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I made this Chicken Parmesan for dinner this evening and my husband LOVED it! He said “lets add this one to the recurring menu!” I did have the heat a little too high at first when frying the chicken, so I made sure to keep it turned down for the second batch. Thank you for another delish recipe, Jenn. You create marvelous recipes and my family and I appreciate it very much! It’s teaching me to be a better cook every day!

    • — Sally on May 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer,
    I’m looking for a nice veal parmigiana recipe. I have made your easy chicken Parmesan many times and love it. Do you think this would work well for veal?

    Thank you.

    Jan 🇨🇦

    • — Jan on March 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, I think this would work with veal. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! My family loves all your recipes! Where can I find the Japanese style breadcrumbs? I’m having trouble locating them. I’m in Chicago suburbs.

    Thank you!

    • — Gina on March 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Gina, so glad you like the recipes! You should be able to panko at most grocery stores near the traditional bread crumbs. If not, you could get away with using regular bread crumbs here.

      • — Jenn on March 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Wanted to eat this but didn’t feel like cooking. Made it anyway for my husband and step son who is visiting. Served it with whole wheat spaghettini and the extra marinara. And your Caesar salad. They both had seconds. I’m a hero and in a much better mood. Thank you!!

    • — BQB on March 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this last night will definitely be adding this meal to our dinner rotation. Great for weeknight and special occasions. Thanks for the yummy recipe!

    • — Tracy on March 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Very tasty and simple. Reheated quite easily, even in the microwave. I love how you considered the integrity of the crust in this version; the sauce as a last step also makes this dish quite doable for to-go lunches–just reheat the chicken at work in the microwave and pour on some cold marinara sauce (sacrilege, I know, but it’s better this way). Good with a light side salad, as this is a very greasy dish. I’d like to try it in an air fryer to cut down on the oiliness.

    • — Corrine on February 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    Do you have any suggestions for what to substitute for the egg if we have an egg allergy in the family? Do you think it would work if I used a vegan mayonnaise to coat the chicken prior to breading? Thank you in advance!

    • — Alex on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Alex, I think vegan mayonnaise would work nicely here. And for future reference, two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume many recipes would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your reply and for the link! I did use Vegenaise after flouring and before breading the chicken and worked great! Delicious!

        • — Alex on February 28, 2021
        • Reply
    • Will this work for eggplant?

      • — Arvind Ponnambalam on March 17, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Arvind, I haven’t tried it, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

        • — Jenn on March 18, 2021
        • Reply
    • If you can get duck eggs, that might work. It does for my son. He can also eat quail eggs. Eggs from different animals have different proteins. My son’s problem is with the whites. Good luck!

      • — Martell Sandra on March 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! This recipe sounds delicious! Can I use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of tenderloins?

    • — Nicole on February 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Nicole, I think you could use thighs here but they’ll take a bit longer to cook. I’d brown them on the stove according to the recipe and before topping with sauce and cheese, finish cooking them in a 350° oven for about 10 minutes or so. Then top them with the sauce and cheese and broil to melt the cheese. (Please keep in mind I haven’t tried them this way.) I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on February 17, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I’m in the process of making this chicken parm. I want to serve it in 2 days. Can I complete the dish today? After I bread and fry the coated chicken, can I bake the chicken with the fontina instead of putting under the broiler? If so, at what temperature and for how long? My oven is small and there is no way I could get the baking sheet under the broiler? Thanks….

    • — ellen bernstein on February 12, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Ellen, while the chicken can be fried up to several hours ahead and refrigerated, I’m not sure how well it would do being fried two days ahead. And if you can’t fit the pan under your broiler, I think you could bake it. I’d recommend an oven temp of 400°F and I put them in for about five minutes or until the cheese is melted. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on February 12, 2021
      • Reply
  • Loved, Loved, Loved this recipe!!!! By far the best chicken parmigiana ever. Can’t wait to cook it at our family dinner! ❤️👏

    • — Bonnie Finn on February 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • Went to the 2 stores to find Fontina cheese….they did not have it. The internet said that Gouda
    was the closest cheese to Fontina. Will Gouda work in this recipe?

    • — Beverly on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Beverly, I think your best bet would be whole milk mozzarella. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 2, 2021
      • Reply
      • I didn’t see your note until after I had made your dish. In the words of my son, “This is amazing.” So Good!! The chicken is so tender. I had to use the Gouda which did not melt with a softness. So next time with the Fontina….it is will be more amazing! Thank you!!!

        • — Beverly on February 3, 2021
        • Reply
  • My family loves this recipe. Jenn’s use of chicken tenderloins here is so smart, they are always tender and saves the step of cutting up chicken breasts like I used to do before. I love that a professional chef recommends a store-bought sauce…so easy to add a couple of ingredients for a more homemade flavor!

    • — Polly Frampton on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is our go-to recipe for Chicken Parmesan! The use of tenderloins makes the frying quicker and the fontina cheese melts so much better than mozzarella.

    • — Patti B on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this recipe for my family and it was a huge hit. My 5 yr. old grandson loved it and left his plate clean. We adults also loved the tender juicy chicken. This recipe is easy and tasty.
    This will be my go to chicken parmesan recipe from now on!

    • — Rosaline Boehm on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent!
    I used 1/2 Panko and 1/2 bread crumbs. It was still crispy and the breading stuck.

    • — Khris on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe for a rainy winter night! I sometimes substitute dried tarragon for the oregano, and I bake the chicken (instead of frying) at 375 for about 40 minutes after spraying the dish with olive oil then pouring melted butter over the chicken after sprinkling parmesan. Of course, the recipe is delicious just as it is, but I like to experiment!

    • — Karen on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for 6 party birthday dinner. It was the guest of honors request. Everything went very smooth in the kitchen. The chicken breasts were of top quality from a local butcher shop
    which turned out to be a key factor. We also did Caesar salad & a decadent Mac & cheese. Major thumbs up. Of course I dropped your name Jen. Thanks so much for your help!

    David Hall – Lake Forest, CA.

    • — David Hall on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My daughter is super picky about chicken and she LOVES Jen’s chicken parmesan. I’ve made it for extended family, too, with rave reviews. Definitely a keeper!

    • — Jess R. on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is so simple, yet absolutely delicious. It was my first introduction to fontina cheese, which I now use in other recipes! I don’t even bother to order chicken parm from a menu anymore, as I feel like I can make a better version myself. I have even forgotten to season the chicken with salt and pepper before dredging it in the flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, and it was still delicious. I might add a pinch of cayenne next time, just because we love spicy! I already used a spicy store-bought sauce (Classico Spicy Tomato and Basi), which was great. Definitely make this!

    • — Karen on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • A family favourite. Great to add individual amounts of sauce.

    • — Sharon Griffin on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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