Easy Chicken Parmesan

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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

  • This was a great, easy weeknight dinner….and I am always looking for easy weeknight dinners! My husband and teenage son loved it. I believe “outstanding” is the word I kept hearing 🙂 Thank you, Jenn for another great one. Your recipes never disappoint.

    • — Mollie on May 16, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious, and not too difficult at all! The chicken was tender and crispy. I did not season my chicken as much (based on another reviewer’s comments) but think I could have used the extra salt. Thanks for another keeper!

    • — Ela on May 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made (and reviewed) this dish about a week ago. I didn’t need the entire batch, so I followed Jen’s directions for freezing the breaded tenders. I pulled them out, thawed them in the fridge, and had a quick and easy weeknight meal tonight. I would have never thought to freeze raw, breaded chicken. Thanks for the tip!

    • — Robyn on May 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • Became too salty for our taste
    I would eliminate salt & peppering
    Chicken before batter process
    The 2 cheeses are both salty on there own Very easy & we will make again with the salt & pepper eliminated thank you for your joy of cooking

    • — Sharon on May 2, 2019
    • Reply
  • The best chicken parm I have ever made ! Used to make it with thin breasts but this trick yields much more juicy and tender breasts ! I used a meat mallet to just gently pound the tenderloins what a genius trick ! I love how you don’t add sauce to the chicken itself . This keeps left over chicken from getting soggy . Only thing I changed was that I seasoned the chicken with some garlic powder too along wth salt and pepper . It adds a great flavorful taste to chicken .

    • — Asra on April 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • Oh and used moz instead of fontina and added a lot more cheese !

      • — Asra on April 29, 2019
      • Reply
  • This recipe was so easy and so tasty – the best crispy chicken parm ever!! My family keep thinking that I’m a really good cook now, but I have to keep reminding them that I’m just following your recipes 😉 Recently bought your book too, so looking forward to trying out published recipes not on your site.

    • — Sue H. on April 29, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this last night and it was so good! Chicken parmigiana is my favorite comfort food and I was so excited to see the recipe added this week. I especially appreciate the tips on jazzing up jarred sauce. I followed your instructions exactly– I bought the brand you suggested, added sugar, and added some fresh basil. My family thought it was homemade! Thanks for making me look like a kitchen rock star again!

    • — Robyn on April 27, 2019
    • Reply
  • Jenn, you are soo great! i have your book and every week I cant wait to see what ypu goig tp post. Your recipes make my family HAPPY 🙂 I see often recipes need “fontina” cheese. What kind of cheese is this?

    • — Edith on April 26, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Edith, Fontina is a good melting cheese with a mild, nutty flavor. Italian fontina is the best but it can be expensive and hard to find. Most large supermarkets carry Swedish or Danish fontina (with a red wax rind), which is less expensive and perfectly fine to use here. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 26, 2019
      • Reply
      • found a nice Fontina cheese at the farmers market. Thank you. My whole family enjoyed this recipe. So good and quick. Love love love cooking with you.

        • — Edith on May 6, 2019
        • Reply
        • ❤️

          • — Jenn on May 6, 2019
          • Reply
  • I made these tonight and was trying to use up some whole breasts I had. Well I didn’t get them thin enough so took a long time to cook (my fault). BUT they still tasted wonderful and I have leftovers. I will definitely do this again!

    • — Judi Gibbs on April 25, 2019
    • Reply
  • I think you could use pork here. I use boneless chops and then flatten them (like your chicken piccata recipe). Basically, you then have Schnitzel Parmesan.

    • — Kate on April 25, 2019
    • Reply
  • I am sure, like all of Jenn’s dishes, this is delicious. I have made the cutlets, (always add chopped parsley for a bit of color), but pretty much follow what Jenn suggests. Then freeze. I always have homemade sauce in jars in the freezer, so I don’t have to use bought sauce. I have had people rave about mine. They had no idea that I did all the work a long time in advance. I learned about freezing the chicken from a friend and have always done it this way since.

    • — Cathy on April 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Would you share your recipe for your homemade tomato sauce?

      • — Donna on April 26, 2019
      • Reply
  • This looks great, but I think that the nutritional info has a mistake – there’s no way that this is 12 servings! Thanks!

    • — Sally on April 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Sally, The recipe calls for about 12 tenderloins, so it’s per piece. Sorry for the confusion!

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I see the frying pan you are using comes up on your posts quite often. Is it a Green Pan or Scanpan? (I bought your cookbook and am really enjoying cooking through all the recipes.)

    • — Lu on April 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lu, Glad you’re enjoying the book. 🙂 The pan you see is a 10-in All-Clad nonstick skillet. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2019
      • Reply

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