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Easy Chicken Parmesan

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Making traditional chicken parmesan can be quite time-consuming, but this weeknight-friendly version incorporates a few smart shortcuts, so you can have a delicious meal on the table in just 45 minutes!

Easy Chicken Parmesan

Chicken parmesan is a major family pleaser, but the traditional recipe can be time-consuming to make. Between the homemade tomato sauce and pounding, breading, and pan-frying the chicken — not to mention melting the cheese over the chicken in the oven — the classic preparation takes well over an hour and leaves you with a sinkful of dishes. This easy recipe incorporates a few smart shortcuts, like using good-quality jarred sauce and chicken tenderloins, making it totally doable on a weeknight. You’ll notice that I don’t smother the chicken with sauce and cheese; this keeps the crust crispy (and you can always serve more sauce on the side).

Chicken parm is a great dish to serve when you have people over since much of the prep can be done ahead of time. It pairs well with pasta, polenta, spaghetti squash (see how to cook spaghetti squash), an arugula salad, or roasted broccoli.

“Huge hit with the family! Seasoning, moisture, crispness all on point…This is some really great chicken.”

Cassandra

What You’ll Need To Make Chicken Parmesan

ingredients for chicken parmesan
  • Chicken tenderloins: While most recipes call for boneless skinless chicken breasts, which need to be sliced in half horizontally and pounded thin, I use chicken tenderloins, which can be quickly flattened with the palm of your hand to ensure even, quick cooking. Unlike the ready-to-cook thinly sliced chicken cutlets you find at the store, they are guaranteed to be tender and juicy.
  • Marinara Sauce: Since the recipe only calls for 1-1/2 cups of sauce, I recommend using a good-quality jarred marinara sauce, such as Rao’s or Victoria).
  • Panko: Japanese-style panko creates a feathery, crisp crust, and it also stays crispy long after it is cooked, so you don’t have to pan-fry the chicken at the very last minute.
  • Fontina Cheese: While mozzarella cheese is usually called for in chicken parmesan recipes, 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. If you can’t find it, shredded whole milk mozzarella is fine.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prep and Bread the Chicken

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.

flattening chicken tenderloins with palms

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

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. Dredge the chicken in the flour; dip in the eggs, letting any excess drip off; then dredge in the 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 for chicken parmesan

Step 2: Pan-Fry the Chicken

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

Step 3: Top the Chicken with Cheese and Broil

Place the cooked chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet. 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.

crispy chicken sprinkled with cheese

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

chicken parmesan with melted cheese

Step 4: Serve

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.

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Chicken Parmesan

Making traditional chicken parmesan can be quite time-consuming, but this weeknight-friendly version incorporates a few smart shortcuts, so you can have a delicious meal on the table in just 45 minutes!

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

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1½ cups panko
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • Olive oil, for cooking
  • 1½ cups homemade or store-bought marinara sauce, best quality such as Rao's or Victoria
  • 6 oz fontina, shredded (about 1½ 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 ¼-inch thickness. Season the chicken all over with 1¼ teaspoons of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper.
  2. In a large shallow bowl, combine the panko, ¾ cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano, the oregano, the thyme, the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt, and the remaining ¼ 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 ⅛ 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 cooked 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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Comments

  • so delicious! Very simple and the chicken was wonderfully crispy. I used breast cut in half, then pounded and it was a very healthy serving 🙂

    • — Laurel on January 13, 2024
    • Reply
  • Have you ever used an air fryer to prepare the chicken? If so, what temperature and how long?

    I’m making this for my daughter’s birthday dinner. I am needing to 1 1/2 the recipe because of the number of people coming, so I’m hoping I can do half in my air fryer.

    • — Suzanna on November 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Suzanna, Thanks for your note. I don’t own an air fryer so unfortunately, I can’t tell you confidently whether or not this would work in one. These tips may help you to convert this and other recipes for your air fryer. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2023
      • Reply
  • I used boneless chicken breasts, cut them in half lengthwise and lightly pounded them to make them thinner, larger pieces. I breaded the chicken, then froze them in 2 piece packages. I also had homemade frozen noodles. This made it so much easier for dinner. I just defrost and cook the chicken and noodles, and warm up the sauce. The chicken was amazing – so crispy outside, tender inside and flavorful. The sauce was store-bought, so meh! Will definitely be making again but may need a different sauce.

    • — Kim on August 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Huge hit with the family!
    Seasoning, moisture, crispness all on point. No surprise, your recipes are the go to when I want to seem like a chef😊
    Fun modification: I planned a Mexican dinner, but the husband was craving your chicken parm.
    Switched the marinara out for a ranchero sauce, served with Mexican rice. Equally stellar reviews! This is some really great chicken.

    • — Cassandra on June 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Easy and tasty!

    • — Elaine on June 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Love it! Made it tonight and it was a HIT!

    • — Neal Breakfield on May 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • Even with all the steps involved, it was easy and really delicious. Yesterday was service for 12. I did not like working with the tenderloins though: it was a little difficult to remove the tendons and keep a pretty shape. I NEVER bread and fry (this was the request of the bday boy) but I will do these again.

    • — Sandra Martell on April 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • It was quick, easy, and delicious! Such a great recipe when you’re craving some comfort food.

    • — Alme Phelan on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • I found this to be delicious but a bit salty. It will be a keeper but I will eliminate most of the salt.

    • — Kathy on March 1, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was amazing, Jenn! I am not known for my cooking skills and I even impressed myself! Thanks!

    • — Uzma Knouss on January 18, 2023
    • Reply
  • As Always! A winning Recipe!

    • — jan on October 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Tried this last night and it was a HIT! New favorite. I love the simplicity yet overwhelming love for this dish. Great job and thank you! 🙂

    • — Lulu on October 26, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jen could you cook this in the oven or maybe an air fryer?

    • — Gill on October 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Gill, I really think the chicken is best fried. That said, you could probably bake them if you spray them with a generous amount of oil first. Place them on a baking rack over a sheet pan so they can brown on both sides. I’d bake at 350 degrees and start checking them at 20 minutes. They may take longer but 20 minutes is a good place to start. And I don’t have an air fryer or know enough about how to use one to way whether or not these would work in there. Sorry! Please LMK how it turns out if you try it in the oven. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2022
      • Reply

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