This chicken parmesan is a cozy classic that’s prepared with a rustic, chunky marinara sauce and a hefty sprinkle of fresh basil—it’s deliciously crispy and cheesy!
Chicken Parmesan, a Beloved Classic
Whenever we go out for Italian, I'm often drawn to order the chicken parmesan, the ultimate form of Italian-American comfort food in my book.
I must admit, however, that I'm not always finding myself head-over-heals in love with the restaurant's version, as it can sometimes lack some homestyle goodness and some flavor.
I really want to love the dish when I order it out, but many times it seems as if the chicken itself isn't all that flavorful, and the outer coating a bit on the greasy side.
So more often than not, when I get that craving for chicken parmesan, I find it most satisfying to prepare it at home, with an abundance of love and of course great ingredients.
How to Make Chicken Parmesan
When I prepare my homemade chicken parmesan recipe, I like to go all out and add lots of flavor and love to all elements in the dish, ensuring that each and every bite is crispy, juicy, cheesy and delicious.
For starters, I always marinate my chicken breasts using lots of garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and even a squeeze of lemon. This ensures a moist, juicy and flavorful piece of chicken, one which serves as a delicious base for the rest of the recipe.
The coating is another component where more flavor can be added, and I use a combination of grated parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs in mine. This provides an extra pop of parmesan flavor and light crispness.
Then there's the sauce, and that can pretty much make or break chicken parmesan for me.
And when it comes to the cheese, I like to add a couple of hefty spoonfuls of grated parmesan over the sauce layer on the chicken followed by a generous sprinkle of whole milk mozzarella over top of that.
Of course fresh herbs are a must, and I love fresh basil and fresh chopped parsley sprinkled over the finished dish for some added flavor and color.
I'm not a fan of the sweeter style of marinara sauce, preferring rather lots of savory, herby, garlicy flavor in mine. I even love it when marinara sauce is slightly chunky, with little bits of diced tomatoes, so I whip up a quick and easy chunky marinara sauce for my version of this recipe that takes only 10 minutes to simmer.
Here's my chicken parmesan recipe at a glance:
- To begin, I marinate my chicken breast cutlets in some delicious, flavorful ingredients for at least 20 minutes, or even overnight if prepping ahead.
- While my chicken marinates, I whip up my quick and easy chunky marinara sauce, and keep that warm.
- Then, I add a coating of parmesan and panko bread crumbs to the marinated chicken before lightly shallow frying until golden and crispy.
- Finally, I spoon over some of my warm sauce, top with my cheeses, then place the chicken under the broiler just until the cheese is melted and gooey.
- I finish by sprinkling over some fresh basil and parsley, and serve with spaghetti and extra marinara sauce on the side!
(The full recipe is below...)
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 324 calories (does not include pasta)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Chicken Parmesan Ingredients:
• 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1 ¾ – 2 pounds total), cut in half lengthwise into 4 thinner cutlets
• Olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• Black pepper
• 1 teaspoon lemon juice
• ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ¾ cup flour
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
• ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided use
• 1 (heaping) cup grated whole milk mozzarella cheese
• Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
• Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
• Spaghetti or other pasta, to serve as an accompaniment
Chunky Marinara Sauce Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• ½ teaspoon dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons red wine
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, drained of juices
• 1 (scant) teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Begin by marinating your chicken breasts: add the cutlets into a bowl, and add in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the 4 cloves of pressed garlic, a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper, the lemon juice and the Italian seasoning, and rub into the chicken; allow it to marinate while you prep your marinara sauce.
- To prepare your chunky marinara sauce: place a sauce pan or small pot over medium heat, and drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil; add the 6 cloves of pressed garlic and stir to combine, and once the garlic becomes aromatic (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), add in the Italian seasoning and the dried oregano, and stir that in to combine.
- Add in the tomato paste and stir to incorporate, then stir in the red wine, followed by the crushed and diced tomatoes; add about a scant teaspoon of salt and a couple of pinches of black pepper, then bring the sauce to a vigorous simmer, reduce the heat, and allow it to gently simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes; keep warm.
- To assemble the chicken parmesan: prepare your dredging station by adding the flour to one large bowl, whisking the eggs in another, and combining the panko with ½ cup worth of the grated parmesan in another.
- Press each chicken cutlet in the flour, then dip into the eggs, then press into the panko/parmesan mixture; place the cutlets on a plate to hold while you heat your oil.
- Place a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and add in enough olive oil to shallow fry (about 2 cups); allow the oil to become hot, then add the breaded chicken cutlets into the pan (work in batches if they don't all fit), frying about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden-brown and cooked through; allow them to drain on a wire rack for a few minutes.
- Preheat your broiler on high.
- Place your cooked chicken cutlets onto a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet, then top with several generous spoonfuls of the warm chunky marinara sauce; next, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon worth of the remaining grated parmesan cheese over the sauce of each piece of chicken, followed by about ¼ cup of the grated mozzarella.
- Place the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Finish with the chicken parmesan with a generous sprinkle of fresh basil and parsley, and serve with spaghetti (or your favorite pasta) as well as some of the remaining chunky marinara sauce.
Tips & Tidbits for Chicken Parmesan:
- Thinner chicken cutlets: I like to use large skinless, boneless organic chicken breasts, and slice them through lengthwise making thinner cutlets. These are quicker and easier to shallow fry, and ensure perfectly cooked-through chicken.
- Crispy coating: Using both grated parmesan and panko crumbs is great way to make the coating extra flavorful and crispy, perfect for chicken parmesan. You can also use traditional breadcrumbs, if you prefer.
- Getting saucy: While you can certainly use a good-quality store bought marinara sauce for this chicken parmesan recipe, my easy chunky marinara requires only a few simple ingredients, and takes only 10 minutes to simmer up. And, it's super delicious!
- Two cheeses: A little sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese along with the grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese adds that additional little pop of parmesan flavor!
- Side to serve with: Spaghetti or angel hair pasta is a classic side to serve with chicken parmesan, but you can serve it on a rustic roll, with garlic bread, or with a green salad!
Hungry for more delicious Italian-inspired recipes? Check out this Baked Ziti, these Lasagna Roll Ups, these Italian “Drunken” Noodles, or this Parmesan Crusted Chicken!
Ingrid, we love this recipe so much! It's #36 of your recipes that I've tried recreating (when I commented on the Roast Turkey Breast back in November, I was at #30), and I've made it twice; the 2nd time I made the sauce, I added 1/2 chopped medium onion in with the garlic because it was leftover from another meal--so good (with the onion, it reminded me of the marinara sauce from the Chicken Parm Meatballs recipe or the sauce from your Italian Grilled Cheese recipe--basically, I love all your tomato sauces!)! Thanks again for sharing your delicious inspiration with us and for gracing our kitchen with your love.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Melissa, I can't tell you how happy I am to read that! And I'm totally impressed you have prepared 36 of my recipes—that is so exciting! 🙂
Thank you for sharing your kind words with me, and for allowing me, through my recipes, to be a little part of your family's meal time. Continued happy cooking to you, and much love!
Ingrid, SOOO today was Day 1 of my brand new job after being laid off last summer! Naturally, I wanted to celebrate with one of our favorite meals and a good bottle of wine, and this dish was the winner. Thank you for being a part of this special day and for filling our bellies once again. It never, ever disappoints. Much love to you and yours. Love, Melissa
The Cozy Apron
Dear Melissa, first things first: CONGRATULATIONS!!
I am so happy for you that you started a new job, and my hope for you is that you enjoy it and are fulfilled by the work!
Secondly, I am so honored to have my recipe be a part of this special, celebratory occasion. Having this dish be a comfort to you and yours on this day is wonderful, and means the world to me. 🙂
Sending lots of good, positive vibes your way for your new endeavor! Enjoy this new chapter. xoxo
This still is, and perhaps will always be, my favorite comfort food. It's what's for supper tonight. Love, Melissa
The Cozy Apron
May you all enjoy this classic again tonight, Melissa! Happy cooking, sending my love!
I don’t have any tomato paste. Is this crucial for the marinara or is it ok without it? Or a suggested substitution?
The Cozy Apron
Hi Holly, no worries!
Just leave it out, and proceed with the rest of the recipe/ingredients. Make any substitutions necessary, and feel free to reach out if you have any more questions!
Hope you enjoy!
This was absolutely FANTASTIC!! My family loved it! This will definitely be a new family favorite! Thank you for sharing this recipe for Chicken Parmesan!
I did make one change because we are watching carbs so I used Italian Nut Crumbs instead of Panko Bread crumbs. I was not sure how it would taste but it was good! We also did not serve on pasta for the same carb reason but I served it with broccoli. Honestly, it is all by itself!
I will be looking forward to making other recipes that you graciously share on Pinterest Ingrid!
The Cozy Apron
Susan, thrilled to read that!
Perfect substitutions for lower-carb options, and the broccoli accompaniment sounds tasty and healthy.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience with the recipe, Susan, and I hope you have a chance to peruse and enjoy many more of my recipes!
This was just simple to make and outstanding. It was full of flavor including the chunky marinara sauce. Marinating the chicken prior was the key to these tasty chicken breasts. Usually I find chicken parm boring. This took it to a new level. I’ve made several of your recipes and they have all made the “make again” list. Thanks for sharing your flavorful recipes, Ingrid.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Diane, thank you so much—thrilled you enjoyed the flavor of the recipe!
It makes me so very happy to read that you've prepared a handful of my recipes so far, and have had success with them. My heart is warmed, and I hope you continue to be nourished and comforted by my offerings here.
Happy cooking to you, Diane!
I made this for the second time tonight and left a previous comment. Again, I must commend you in a delicious Chicken Parm. So nice on the stove and just a few minutes under the broiler. Such tender breasts. I will never just cook them fully in the oven ever again. They were as tasty tonight as they were the first night. Almost beats your Italian Drunken Noodles! Fabulous recipe saving recipes. Thank you for making me look like a way better chef then I really am.
The Cozy Apron
Diane, what a sweetheart you are! I really appreciate how much you've been enjoying this recipe. It warms my heart! (After all, the experience that you say you're having is why I love to do what I do! 😉 )
Happy cooking to you, and may you find more tasty recipes to showcase your cooking talent and have some fun with in your kitchen!
I made this only in air fryer, my husband loved this...delicious!
The Cozy Apron
Thanks for sharing your method, Christy! So glad you both enjoyed the recipe!
Have made this recipe numerous times and it is delicious. I use chicken cutlets and make a double recipe ... we use the cutlets in other meals as well, over a Cesar or Watercress Salad or in a sandwich with melted cheese, to name a few. I then decided to experiment with pork and veal cutlets...and they were delicious as well. I have shared your recipe with many and they totally agree it’s the best Chicken Parmesan ever. Thanks Ingrid for such a versatile recipe
The Cozy Apron
Hi Diane, thank you so very much for sharing your experience with this recipe! I'm beyond happy to learn that you've had such success with it, utilizing extras in other dishes (super smart!), and even enjoying preparing it with other types of meat. That's fantastic! (By the way, if you like pork prepared in this way, please check out my "Schnitzel" recipe, or my "Fried Pork Chops" by using our search box...)
And by the way, I really appreciate you sharing my recipe with others. This is the best kind of compliment I can receive, and I'm humbled by you all agreeing that this is the "best" chicken parmesan. 😉
Again, thanks for taking some time to comment, and I hope you gain much more comfort and coziness from this dish as well as many others on the site! Happy cooking, Diane!
Make Ahead planning for a group? Thank you.
The Cozy Apron
Hi Rhonda, you can prepare the sauce ahead and keep it in the fridge, then gently reheat before using. And you could also marinate and then coat the chicken breasts in the breadcrumb mixture, and place the coated breasts onto a large plate or platter to hold, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge. Remove from fridge about an hour before you'd like to fry (to allow to come to room temp), and then proceed with recipe.
Hope that helps! May you and your guests enjoy. 😉